Thursday, December 8, 1864

Pooler’s Station, Eight Miles From Savannah

The country is more marshy and difficult, and we meet obstructions in the way of felled trees, where the roads cross the creeks, swamps, or narrow causeways. Our pioneer companies are well organized, and remove these obstructions in an incredibly short time. Opposition from the enemy was encountered within fifteen miles of Savannah, where all the roads leading to the city are obstructed more or less by felled timber, with earth-works and artillery. But these have been easily turned and the enemy driven away. McLaw’s division is falling back before us, and we occasionally pick up a few of his men as prisoners, who insist that we will meet with strong opposition at Savannah.

As I rode along, I found the column turned out of the main road, marching through the fields. Close by, in the corner of a fence, was a group of men standing around a handsome young officer, whose foot had been blown to pieces by a torpedo planted in the road. He was waiting for a surgeon to amputate his leg, and told me that he was riding along with the rest of his brigade-staff when a torpedo trodden on by his horse had exploded, killing the horse and literally blowing off all the flesh from one of his legs. I saw the terrible wound, and made full inquiry into the facts. There had been no resistance at that point, nothing to give warning of danger, and the rebels had planted eight-inch shells in the road, with friction-matches to explode them by being trodden on. This is not war, but murder, and it made me very angry. I immediately ordered a lot of rebel prisoners to be brought from the provost-guard, armed with picks and spades, and made them march in close order along the road, so as to explode their own torpedoes, or to discover and dig them up. They begged hard, but I reiterated the order, and could hardly help laughing at their stepping so gingerly along the road, where it was supposed sunken torpedoes might explode at each step. They found no other torpedoes. Tonight we reached Pooler’s Station, eight miles from Savannah.

Howard visited my headquarters and left with these instructions drafted by Dayton:
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION, OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, December 8, 1864. 7 p.m.

Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
We are at a point on the road from Millen to Savannah, about two miles north of Numbers 2, called Mount Zion Church. General Slocum is but a short distance from us, and will move tomorrow on a road which branches off from this road and comes into the Augusta road ten miles north of Savannah, where he will effect a junction with General Davis, destroy that railroad, drive the enemy within his intrenchments, and then work to the right an form a junction with us, on this road, as near Savannah as we may get. General Blair will move on this road by Pooler, and so on until we drive the enemy within the intrenchments of Savannah, wherever they may be.

The general wishes you to get down in the neighborhood of Beverly, Silk Hope, or Litchfield, so as to advance in the direction of the plank road until we come together, or communicate by the road which leads from Silk Hope to Cherokee Hill. He aims to push the enemy far enough into Savannah to have the use of the Shell road as a route of supply. If you can possibly to do so, he wishes you to send a note by a canoe down the Ogeechee, pass the railroad bridge in the night, and inform the naval commander that we have arrived in fine condition and are moving directly against Savannah, but, for the present, do not risk giving any details.

I am, General, with respect, &c.,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

Slocum reports that he is advancing. Davis has been slowed by rebels felling trees and placing obstructions in the road and he must build a bridge across the Ebenezer Creek. It will take him all day to cross. Kilpatrick continues to skirmish with Wheeler’s cavalry to his rear.

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