Monday, January 30, 1865

Pocotaligo, South Carolina

I received a letter from the Mayor of Savannah. They have praised the efforts of the people of Boston and New York for providing them with relief:

SAVANNAH, January 30, 1865

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, U. S. Army, Commanding the Military Department of the Mississippi:
I have the honor to transmit to you an official copy of the proceedings of a meeting of the citizens of Savannah held on the 25th instant. They so fully explain themselves that it would be tautology in me to add anything more, a hearty participant as I was in them.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. D. ARNOLD, Mayor of Savannah.

Proceedings of a public meeting held in the Council Chamber, Savannah, January 25, 1865.

In response to a call in pursuance to the following resolution of the city council, viz-

Resolved, That his honor Mayor Arnold be requested to convene a meeting of our citizens at the Exchange at 12 o’clock on the 25th instant, for the purpose of giving expression to their heartfelt thanks to the citizens of New York and Boston for the very large, valuable, and timely contributions of provisions and other necessaries of life which have been received and are now on their way to this city, and that his honor to mayor invite the several committees from New York and Boston, including the owners and the commander of the Rebecca Clyde, with Captain Veale, of General Geary’s staff, and Lieutenant Charlot, U. S. Army, all of whom have co-operated with us in the good work, to attend the meeting-

A large meeting of the citizens met this day at the Exchange. On motion of Mr. H. Brigham, his honor Mayor Arnold was called to the chair, and Mr. John Gammell was requested to act as secretary. The mayor on taking the chair made the following remarks:

FELLOW-CITIZENS: For the second time since the capture of our city it has been my duty to summon you to meet together in public assembly. The occasion which brings you together today is one which will be ever remarkable, even in the annals of the last few weeks, so pregnant as they have been with events which make epochs in history, and which almost condense a lifetime in a day. A brief review of the circumstances under which we were placed will be necessary for a clearer understanding of our present condition. The capture of Savannah on the 21st of December, 1864, produced greater alterations in our condition than mere military possession and military government. The Confederate currency, already inflated to an almost nominal value, was still the medium of exchange while Savannah was in the Confederacy, but the moment the United States regained Savannah Confederate money was literally not worth the paper on which it was printed, and all, all of us, individuals and the city government, were reduced to a dead level of poverty. Cut off from all communication with the external world, with no means to purchase provisions and no provisions to purchase, I did not exaggerate your condition in my opening remarks on the 28th of December. The want of fuel was supplied as far as practicable by the direction of the noble Geary, and I am happy to state that at the earliest practicable period his successor, Major-General Grover, will take measures to furnish wood to our inhabitants. The statements made at the meeting of the citizens, and the observations of eye-witnesses from the North, struck a sympatric cord in the breasts of many generous citizens of New York and Boston, and recollecting the time-honored adage, bis dat qui cito dat (he gives doubly who give quickly), in the shortest possible time, and at the most inclement season of the year, behold the noble steam-ships wending their way southward freighted with provisions, accompanied by the committees, whose whole-souled philanthropy has been their only guide. These ships, this acceptable freight, these philanthropic gentlemen of the committees of New York and Boston are here, and it is to give you an opportunity of expressing your heartfelt gratitude that you have me together this day. I do not envy the man who is not willing to join heartily and sincerely in this expression of feeling, but I do not believe there is any such within the sound of my voice. I hope that this day will prove that the citizens of Savannah justly appreciate the generosity of New York and Boston, and that they will further show that they look upon the action as the olive branch of peace, and that they will meet it on their part by the fairest, frankest acceptance of it as such. Such, from what I have seen, I believe to be the prevalent sentiment of our people. War stirs up the very foundations of society. We are now in the midst of jarring elements, but a ray of light is dawning. We may expect that it will lead to a more perfect day, and we must in the meantime endeavor to profit by the words of Saint Paul: “Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.”

He then introduced to the meeting the following gentlemen: Messrs. Archibald Baxter, C. H. P. Babcock, Frank Lathrop, representatives of the city of New York; Messrs. H. O. Briggs, W. H. Baldwin, H. D. Hyde, representatives of the city of Boston; Mr. L. E. Crittenden, one of the owners of the steamer Rebecca Clyde; Mr. John M. Glidden, one of the owners of the steamer Greyhound; Captain Veale, U. S. Army, and Lieutenant Charlot, U. S. Army, acting with the relief committee on part of the military authorities.
On motion, the chair appointed the following committee of thirteen gentlemen to report resolutions, viz: Wally Woodbridge, N. B. Knapp, T. R. Mills, William Hunter, G. W. Wally, E. Padelford, A. Champion, A. A. Solomons, John McMahon, Isaac Cohen, T. J. Walsh, John R. Wilder, H. A. Crane.

During the absence of the committee, the meeting was eloquently and appropriately addressed by the following gentlemen, viz: Messrs. Baxter, Crittenden, Briggs, Baldwin, and Hyde, and Captain Veale, U. S. Army. The committee having returned, reported, through their chairman, Wally Woodbridge, esq., the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

The spontaneous and unsolicited liberality and benevolence of the citizens of New York and Boston, in raising contributions and purchasing and forwarding provisions for the use of the destitute of the city of Savannah, call for no ordinary expression on the part of its citizens. Deprived for years of all external trade, but off from the commercial world by a rigid blockade, the resources of the town were gradually wasted away, until we had reached the point of almost positive starvation when the occupation by the army of General Sherman took place. This transition state of society complicates our situation. The military power must obtain, so long as any portion of the Southern States maintain an armed resistance to the Union. Civil government cannot be established nor the channels of ordinary intercourse be opened. While this lasts the people are comparatively helpless. Such is the situation of Savannah, and such, in succession, will be the condition of the various portions of the country as they again fall into possession of the National Government. The hand of sympathy and fellowship so generously extended to us by the citizens of New York and Boston, affords the most gratifying evidence that a large portion of our Northern fellow-citizens are desirous of re-establishing the amicable relations which formerly existed between the various sections of our widespread Republic, and ought to carry conviction to every unprejudiced mind that there is but one course to pursue, and that is to aim at a speedy termination of the unfortunate strife which has been devastating the country for nearly four years. Having appealed to arms to decide the question, the weaker party in such a contest much abide the issue of events and cannot dictate terms. But the proclamation of President Lincoln has pointed out the only way in which the United States, with their unexhausted and inexhaustible materials of war, will consent to peace. One of the largest meetings ever held in this city, on the 28th of December, placed the people of Savannah in the category presented by the Chief Magistrate.

The meeting called today to convey the thanks of our citizens to the generous donors of the provisions which are to be distributed gratuitously to the needy is the direct fruit of this action, dictated as it was by the reasonable hope of retrieving the mistakes of the past and re-establishing as far as possible the prosperity which once blessed our land. Whatever may be the action of the United States Government in the future, this meeting has today to perform to the citizens of New York and Boston in giving expression to the sentiment of the town in relation to the munificent bounty of which it is the grateful recipient. The city is in the same condition as it was when the meeting of the 28th of December was held. The great difficulty is in the fact that the people are without remunerative industrial occupation, which the early opening of our port would speedily relieve. Let us hope that this may be remedied in reasonable time. Meanwhile the contributions of our generous donors are literally a Godsend, for, as the scanty resources of living which were in the city when captured have been gradually consumed, literal starvation started us in the face. We are now relieved from any immediate fear of this calamity, and have at least respite until the present chaotic elements of our situation shall subside into order. Be it, therefore,

Resolved, That the citizens of Savannah tender their heartfelt gratitude to the Chamber of Commerce of New York, to the New York Commercial Association of the Produce Exchange, and all the liberal citizens of the city of New York, who contributed means to purchase provisions, and also to the New York and Washington Steamship Company, which so generously placed the steam-ship Rebecca Clyde at the service of the committee for the transportation of the provisions hither.

Resolved, That the same acknowledgment is due to the citizens of Boston for their prompt and liberal action in raising contributions and sending out provisions for the relief of our citizens, and also to the owners of the steam-ship Greyhound for their generosity in furnishing transportation for the provisions; and that the place of their meeting in Feneuil Hall, the cradle of American Liberty in the days of our common struggle for independence, was an appropriate one for the renewal of those ties which then bound Massachusetts and Georgia in a common bond. The eloquent and touching letter of the Boston Relief Committee to an unfortunate people is treasured for the children of many a family.

Resolved, That these expressions are not along an offering from those whose necessities may induce them to accept the bounty so liberally bestowed, but are the wide utterance of a grateful community.

Resolved, That the thanks of the citizens of Savannah are eminently due, and are hereby gratefully returned, to Colonel Julian Allen, of New York, for his kindness in offering to advance the funds and to make purchases for the corporate authorities of the city of Savannah, until he could be reimbursed by shipments of rice, and also for his philanthropic exertions in bringing to the notice of the citizens of New York and Boston the destitute condition of our people, of which he became personally cognizant while us.

Resolved, That our most cordial thanks are due, and are hereby returned, to Messrs. Archibald Baxter, H. P. Babcock, and Frank Lathrop, the committee on the part of the New York contributors, and to Mr. L. E. Crittenden, and the other owners of the Rebecca Clyde; and to Messrs. H. O. Briggs, W. H. Baldwin, and Henry D. Hyde, committee on the part of the citizens of Boston, who at this inclement season of the year have sacrificed the comforts of home and braved the privations of a winter voyage to fulfill their mission of mercy, and also to Mr. Glidden, and the other owners of the steamer Greyhound, for her gratuitous use in conveying the provisions.

Resolved, That the citizens of Savannah heard with profound regret of the death of the Honorable Edward Everett. His name and fame are the common pride of the country, but the city of Savannah will claim to hold in especial remembrance the fact that the last public act of his life was in behalf of her suffering people, and under circumstances which evinced that the kindness of his heart was not even exceeded by the brilliancy of his intellect. They knew he was great, they fell he was good.

On motion of Mr. A. Wilbur, the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That special copies of the proceedings of this meeting be forwarded to his honor the mayor; to the President of the United States; the president of the Chamber of Commerce of the city of New York; the president of the Produce Exchange of New York; to General W. T. Sherman; to Albert G. Browne, esq., Treasury agent; to Colonel Julian Allen, of New York; to his honor to mayor of the city of Boston, and the president of the Board of Trade of Boston.

On motion the meeting adjourned.
R. D. ARNOLD, Mayor of Savannah.

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