HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, GA.,
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, Numbers 143. December 26, 1864.
The city of Savannah and surrounding country will be held as a military post and adapted to future military uses; but as it contains a population of some 20,000 people who must be provided for, and as other citizens may come, it is proper to lay down certain general principles that all within its military jurisdiction may understand their relative duties and obligations.
I. During war the military is superior to civil authority, and where interests clash the civil must give way, yet where there is no conflict every encouragement should be given to well-disposed and peaceful inhabitants to resume their usual pursuits; families should be disturbed as little as possible in their residences, and tradesman allowed the free use of their shops, tools, &;c.; churches, schools, and all places of amusement and recreation should be encouraged, and streets and roads made perfectly safe to persons in their pursuits. Classes should not be exacted within the line of outer pickets, but if any person shall abuse these privileges by communicating with the enemy, or doing any act of hostility to the Government of the United States, he or she will be punished with the utmost rigor of the law. Commerce with the outer world will be resumed to an extent commensurate with the interests of the citizens, governed by the restrictions and rules of the Treasury Department.
II. The chief quartermaster and commissary of the army may give suitable employment to the people, white and black, or transport them to such points as they may choose where employment can be had, and may extend temporary relief, in the way of provisions and vacant houses, to the worthy and needy, until such time as they can help themselves; they will select, first, the buildings for the necessary uses of the army, next, a sufficient number of stores to be turned over to the Treasury agent for trade stores; all vacant store-houses or dwellings and all buildings belonging to absent rebels will be construed and used as belonging to the United States until such times as their titles can be settled by the courts of the United States.
III. The mayor and city council of Savannah will continue, and exercise their functions as such, and will, in concert with the commanding officer of the post and the chief quartermaster, see that the fire companies are kept in organization, the streets cleaned and lighted, and keep up a good understanding between the citizens and soldiers; they will ascertain, and report to the chief commissary of subsistence as soon as possible, the names and number of worthy families that need assistance and support. The mayor will forthwith give public notice that the time has come when all must choose their course, viz., to remain within our lines and conduct themselves as good citizens, or depart in peace. He will ascertain the names of all who choose to leave Savannah, and report their names and residence to the chief quartermaster, that measures may be taken to transport them beyond the lines.
IV. Not more than two newspapers will be published in Savannah, and their editors and proprietors will be held to the strictest accountability, and will be punished severely in person and property for any libelous publications, mischievous matter, premature news, exaggerated statements, or any comments whatever upon the acts of the constituted authorities; they will be held accountable even for such articles though copied from other papers.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, December 26, 1864
Brigadier General R. SAXTON, Commanding District of Beaufort, S. C.:
I am directed by the General-in-chief to acknowledge your communication to him under date of 22nd instant, and to express his appreciation of your readiness to aid him in respect to the disposition of the contrabands. He regards your suggestions as to the islands you mention as well worthy of consideration, especially with reference to the women and children. For the able-bodied men, General Easton, chief quartermaster, to whom the subject is referred, seems to think he can find employment for most, if not all, of them, and Lieutenant-General Grant has also signified his wish that a number shall be sent to him, including a due proportion of women and children. the general would be pleased to see you here to confer with himself and General Easton on the subject.
I am, General, respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY HITCHCOCK, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE, Savannah, GA., December 26, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding:
In accordance with your instructions, I have the honor to submit the accompanying rough sketch of plans for the defense of this city I have reduced the garrison to the lowest probable limit; a smaller one would render it difficult to use any part of it for such offensive operations as might be desirable. The proposed line will be so close to the city that some of the building will have to be torn down, and in case of attack all parts of the city will be under artillery fire. Still, the presence of the women and children of the enemy within our lines will render such a fire extremely improbable; and should it be decided by the enemy that they ought to bombard the city, all stores and other valuable property will be quite secure at or near the levee. It is proposed to hold Fort Jackson only because a temporary occupation of it by the enemy would cause us serious inconvenience; to destroy it would require much labor, and even then its site would remain, which would be as detrimental to our interests as the fort itself.
Fort Boggs should be dismantled, and so much of it as can give a fire upon the city should be destroyed, because, being an inclosed work, an enemy might effect a lodgment and hold it for a limited time, much to our annoyance. All the remainder of the enemy’s old line, being open to the rear, can do us no injury, and can therefore stand as it is. It is a good line, but too extensive for any garrison that will probably be left in the city; it would require 15,000 men to man it completely. The accompanying sketch does not show the character of the works proposed, but merely the approximate position of the line. The line of works should consist of a system of detached redoubts, in defensive relations, which could be connected by infantry parapet at our leisure.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
O. M. POE, Captain and Chief of Engineers
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, December 26, 1864.
Major General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington City, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th instant, before receiving which, however, I had already written you fully. General Easton is busily engaged in reducing to order and system all matters pertaining to his department, and your letters are referred to him to act in accordance with them. You may rely upon my drawing from this country everything it affords for our wants, and adding as little as possible to the burdens of the Government. I am much pleased to hear of the efficient service rendered by the quartermaster’s employees in Tennessee. I shall always favor their organization for such purposes, and furnish them with anything subject to my order.
Very truly, your friend and obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
Washington, December 26, 1864
MY DEAR GENERAL SHERMAN: Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah. When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that “nothing risked, nothing gained,” I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce. And taking the work of General Thomas into the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole – Hood’s army – it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men.
Yours, very truly,
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF UNITED STATES, City Point, Va., December 26, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Savannah, GA.:
Your very interesting letter of the 22nd instant, brought by the hands of Major Gray, of General Foster’s staff, is just at hand. As the major starts back at once, I can do no more at present than simply acknowledge its receipt. The capture of Savannah, with all its immense stores, must tell upon the people of the South. All well here.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, GA., December 26, 1864
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, City Point:
Your letter of the 19th instant is received. I have already written you fully since arriving here, in answer to your previous letters. I am very glad to learn that Jeff. Davis is in the condition reported to you, and hope that before this time he is dead and out of the way. From my intercourse with the people of Georgia I think it would give great satisfaction to them generally to know that this was so. Still I shall, of course, go on with my preparations without reference to anything of the kind, and as though the Southern Confederacy possessed all the vitality which they boast of.
Very truly, your friend, and obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Savannah, GA., December 26, 1864. 1 p.m.
Lieutenant-General GRANT, City Point:
In my letter to you of this morning I omitted to answer your inquiry in relation to our prisoners held by the rebels. I have reason to know that they were hurried down from Millen to Savannah, and from here, on our approach, were sent down the Gulf railroad to its termination at Thomasville, and have since been taken back to the old place at Andersonville. I have had my cavalry down to the Altamaha, some fifty miles down the Gulf road, and do not think this is the point from whence they could be reached; but if an expedition were sent up the Appalachicola River, and the Apalachicola Arsenal taken, I think they could be reached from that direction.
Very truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Savannah, December 26, 1864
Admiral JOHN A. DAHLGREN, Commanding South Atlantic Squadron, near Savannah, GA.:
ADMIRAL: Your note of this date is received. Captain Boutelle and Captain Fillebrown had already reported to me, night before last, to the same effect, that the Wilmington River was the best channel, and navigable up to Thunderbolt for vessels of fifteen feet draught; but I had not heard further from them. I will refer your letter to General Easton, who is instructed to arrange so as to get sea-going vessels up to the city wharves, which, if possible, I am very anxious to do, even at considerable expense of labor and money, as I desire to avoid lightening and trans-shipment if possible. I am informed by the Quartermaster-General, from Washington, that six light-draft steamers are new en route to us from the Chesapeake. We had a very pleasant Christmas; I trust you had the same.
Very truly, yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General