not want to cripple Thomas, because I regard his operations as
all-important, and I have ordered him to pursue Hood down into
Alabama, trusting to the country for supplies.
I reviewed one of my corps to-day, and shall continue to review the
whole army. I do not like to boast, but believe this army has a
confidence in itself that makes it almost invincible. I wish you
could run down and see us; it would have a good effect, and show to
both armies that they are acting on a common plan. The weather is
now cool and pleasant, and the general health very good. Your true
W. T. SHERMAN Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI
IN THE FIELD, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, December 24, 1864.
Major-General H. W. HALLECK, Chief-of-Staff; Washington, D. C.
GENERAL: I had the pleasure of receiving your two letters of the
16th and 18th instant to-day, and feel more than usually flattered
by the high encomiums you have passed on our recent campaign, which
is now complete by the occupation of Savannah.
I am also very glad that General Grant has changed his mind about
embarking my troops for James River, leaving me free to make the
broad swath you describe through South and North Carolina; and
still more gratified at the news from Thomas, in Tennessee, because
it fulfills my plans, which contemplated his being able to dispose
of Hood, in case he ventured north of the Tennessee River. So, I
think, on the whole, I can chuckle over Jeff. Davis's
disappointment in not turning my Atlanta campaign into a "Moscow
I have just finished a long letter to General Grant, and have
explained to him that we are engaged in shifting our base from the
Ogeeohee to the Savannah River, dismantling all the forts made by
the enemy to bear upon the salt-water channels, transferring the
heavy ordnance, etc., to Fort Pulaski and Hilton Head, and in
remodeling the enemy's interior lines to suit our future plans and
purposes. I have also laid down the programme for a campaign which
I can make this winter, and which will put me in the spring on the
Roanoke, in direct communication with General Grant on James River.
In general terms, my plan is to turn over to General Foster the
city of Savannah, to sally forth with my army resupplied, cross the
Savannah, feign on Charleston and Augusta, but strike between,
breaking en route the Charleston & Augusta Railroad, also a large
part of that from Branchville and Camden toward North Carolina, and
then rapidly to move for some point of the railroad from Charleston
to Wilmington, between the Santee and Cape Fear Rivers; then,
communicating with the fleet in the neighborhood of Georgetown, I
would turn upon Wilmington or Charleston, according to the
importance of either. I rather prefer Wilmington, as a live place,
over Charleston, which is dead and unimportant when its railroad
communications are broken. I take it for granted that the present
movement on Wilmington will fail. If I should determine to take
Charleston, I would turn across the country (which I have hunted
over many a time) from Santee to Mount Pleasant, throwing one wing
on the peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper. After
accomplishing one or other of these ends, I would make a bee-line
for Raleigh or Weldon, when Lee world be forced to come out of
Richmond, or acknowledge himself beaten. He would, I think, by the
use of the Danville Railroad, throw himself rapidly between me and
Grant, leaving Richmond in the hands of the latter. This would not
alarm me, for I have an army which I think can maneuver, and I
world force him to attack me at a disadvantage, always under the
supposition that Grant would be on his heels; and, if the worst
come to the worst, I can fight my way down to Albermarle Sound, or
I think the time has come now when we should attempt the boldest
moves, and my experience is, that they are easier of execution than
more timid ones, because the enemy is disconcerted by them--as, for
instance, my recent campaign.
I also doubt the wisdom of concentration beyond a certain extent,
for the roads of this country limit the amount of men that can be
brought to bear in any one battle, and I do not believe that any
one general can handle more than sixty thousand men in battle.
I think our campaign of the last month, as well as every step I
take from this point northward, is as much a direct attack upon
Lee's army as though we were operating within the sound of his
I am very anxious that Thomas should follow up his success to the
very utmost point. My orders to him before I left Kingston were,
after beating Hood, to follow him as far as Columbus, Mississippi,
or Selma, Alabama, both of which lie in districts of country which
are rich in corn and meat.
I attach more importance to these deep incisions into the enemy's
country, because this war differs from European wars in this
particular: we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile
people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard
hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this
recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect
in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying
newspapers to believe that we were being whipped all the time now
realize the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the
same experience. To be sure, Jeff. Davis has his people under
pretty good discipline, but I think faith in him is much shaken in
Georgia, and before we have done with her South Carolina will not
be quite so tempestuous.
I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and do not think
"salt" will be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be
on the right of the right wing, and their position will naturally
bring them into Charleston first; and, if you have watched the
history of that corps, you will have remarked that they generally
do their work pretty well. The truth is, the whole army is burning
with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina.
I almost tremble at her fate, but feel that she deserves all that
seems in store for her.
Many and many a person in Georgia asked me why we did not go to
South Carolina; and, when I answered that we were enroute for that
State, the invariable reply was, "Well, if you will make those
people feel the utmost severities of war, we will pardon you for
your desolation of Georgia."
I look upon Colombia as quite as bad as Charleston, and I doubt if
we shall spare the public buildings there as we did at
I have been so busy lately that I have not yet made my official
report, and I think I had better wait until I get my subordinate
reports before attempting it, as I am anxious to explain clearly
not only the reasons for every step, but the amount of execution
done, and this I cannot do until I get the subordinate reports; for
we marched the whole distance in four or more columns, and, of
course, I could only be present with one, and generally that one
engaged in destroying railroads. This work of destruction was
performed better than usual, because I had an engineer-regiment,
provided with claws to twist the bars after being heated. Such
bars can never be used again, and the only way in which a railroad
line can be reconstructed across Georgia is, to make a new road
from Fairbnrn Station (twenty-four miles southwest of Atlanta) to
Madison, a distance of one hundred miles; and, before that can be
done, I propose to be on the road from Augusta to Charleston, which
is a continuation of the same. I felt somewhat disappointed at
Hardee's escape, but really am not to blame. I moved as quickly as
possible to close up the "Union Causeway," but intervening
obstacles were such that, before I could get troops on the road,
Hardee had slipped out. Still, I know that the men that were in
Savannah will be lost in a measure to Jeff. Davis, for the Georgia
troops, under G. W. Smith, declared they would not fight in South
Carolina, and they have gone north, en route for Augusta, and I
have reason to believe the North Carolina troops have gone to
Wilmington; in other words, they are scattered. I have reason to
believe that Beauregard was present in Savannah at the time of its
evacuation, and think that he and Hardee are now in Charleston,
making preparations for what they suppose will be my next step.
Please say to the President that I have received his kind message
(through Colonel Markland), and feel thankful for his high favor.
If I disappoint him in the future, it shall not be from want of
zeal or love to the cause.
From you I expect a full and frank criticism of my plans for the
future, which may enable me to correct errors before it is too
late. I do not wish to be rash, but want to give my rebel friends
no chance to accuse us of want of enterprise or courage.
Assuring you of my high personal respect, I remain, as ever, your
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.[General Order No. 3.]
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE
WASHINGTON, January 14, 1865.
The following resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives
is published to the army:[PUBLIC RESOLUTION--No. 4.]
Joint resolution tendering the thanks of the people and of Congress
to Major-General William T. Sherman, and the officers and soldiers
of his command, for their gallant conduct in their late brilliant
movement through Georgia.
Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of
the people and of the Congress of the United States are due and are
hereby tendered to Major-General William T. Sherman, and through
him to the officers and men under his command, for their gallantry
and good conduct in their late campaign from Chattanooga to
Atlanta, and the triumphal march thence through Georgia to
Savannah, terminating in the capture and occupation of that city;
and that the President cause a copy of this joint resolution to be
engrossed and forwarded to Major-General Sherman.
Approved, January 10, 1865.
By order of the Secretary of War,
W. A. NICHOLS, Assistant Adjutant-General.
SAVANNAH AND POCOTALIGO.
DECEMBER, 1884, AND JANUARY, 1885.
The city of Savannah was an old place, and usually accounted a
handsome one. Its houses were of brick or frame, with large yards,
ornamented with shrubbery and flowers; its streets perfectly
regular, crossing each other at right angles; and at many of the
intersections were small inclosures in the nature of parks. These
streets and parks were lined with the handsomest shade-trees of
which I have knowledge, viz., the Willow-leaf live-oak, evergreens
of exquisite beauty; and these certainly entitled Savannah to its
reputation as a handsome town more than the houses, which, though
comfortable, would hardly make a display on Fifth Avenue or the
Boulevard Haussmann of Paris. The city was built on a plateau of
sand about forty feet above the level of the sea, abutting against
the river, leaving room along its margin for a street of stores and
warehouses. The customhouse, court-house, post-office, etc., were
on the plateau above. In rear of Savannah was a large park, with a
fountain, and between it and the court-house was a handsome
monument, erected to the memory of Count Pulaski, who fell in 1779
in the assault made on the city at the time it was held by the
English during the Revolutionary War. Outside of Savannah there
was very little to interest a stranger, except the cemetery of
Bonaventura, and the ride along the Wilmington Channel by way of
Thunderbolt, where might be seen some groves of the majestic
live-oak trees, covered with gray and funereal moss, which were
truly sublime in grandeur, but gloomy after a few days' camping
Within an hour of taking up my quarters in Mr. Green's house, Mr.
A. G. Browne, of Salem, Massachusetts, United States Treasury agent
for the Department of the South, made his appearance to claim
possession, in the name of the Treasury Department, of all captured
cotton, rice, buildings, etc. Having use for these articles
ourselves, and having fairly earned them, I did not feel inclined
to surrender possession, and explained to him that the
quartermaster and commissary could manage them more to my liking
than he; but I agreed, after the proper inventories had been
prepared, if there remained any thing for which we had no special
use, I would turn it over to him. It was then known that in the
warehouses were stored at least twenty-five thousand bales of
cotton, and in the forts one hundred and fifty large, heavy
sea-coast guns: although afterward, on a more careful count, there
proved to be more than two hundred and fifty sea-coast or siege
guns, and thirty-one thousand bales of cotton. At that interview
Mr. Browne, who was a shrewd, clever Yankee, told me that a vessel
was on the point of starting for Old Point Comfort, and, if she had
good weather off Cape Hatteras, would reach Fortress Monroe by
Christmas-day, and he suggested that I might make it the occasion
of sending a welcome Christmas gift to the President, Mr. Lincoln,
who peculiarly enjoyed such pleasantry. I accordingly sat down and
wrote on a slip of paper, to be left at the telegraph-office at
Fortress Monroe for transmission, the following:
SAVANNAH GEORGIA, December 22, 1884.
To His Excellency President Lincoln, Washington, D. C.:
I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah, with
one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also
about twenty five thousand bales of cotton.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
This message actually reached him on Christmas-eve, was extensively
published in the newspapers, and made many a household unusually
happy on that festive day; and it was in the answer to this
dispatch that Mr. Lincoln wrote me the letter of December 28th,
already given, beginning with the words, "many, many thanks," etc.,
which he sent at the hands of General John A. Logan, who happened
to be in Washington, and was coming to Savannah, to rejoin his
On the 23d of December were made the following general orders for
the disposition of the troops in and about Savannah:[Special Field Order No. 139.]
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
IN THE FIELD, NEAR SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, December 23, 1864.
Savannah, being now in our possession, the river partially cleared
out, and measures having been taken to remove all obstructions,
will at once be made a grand depot for future operations:
1. The chief-quartermaster, General Euston, will, after giving the
necessary orders touching the transports in Ogeechee River and
Oasabaw Sound, come in person to Savannah, and take possession of
all public buildings, vacant storerooms, warehouses, etc., that may
be now or hereafter needed for any department of the army. No
rents will be paid by the Government of the United States during
the war, and all buildings must be distributed according to the
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