Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


Text to Speech

accustomed rates of the Quartermaster's Department, as though they

were public property.

2. The chief commissary of subsistence, Colonel A. Beckwith, will

transfer the grand depot of the army to the city of Savannah,

secure possession of the needful buildings and offices, and give

the necessary orders, to the end that the army may be supplied

abundantly and well.

S. The chief-engineer, Captain Poe, will at once direct which of

the enemy's forts are to be retained for our use, and which

dismantled and destroyed. The chief ordnance-officer, Captain

Baylor, will in like manner take possession of all property

pertaining to his department captured from the enemy, and cause the

same to be collected and conveyed to points of security; all the

heavy coast-guns will be dismounted and carried to Fort Pulaski.

4. The troops, for the present, will be grouped about the city of

Savannah, looking to convenience of camps; General Slocum taking

from the Savannah River around to the seven-mile post on the Canal,

and General Howard thence to the sea; General Kilpatrick will hold

King's Bridge until Fort McAllister is dismantled, and the troops

withdrawn from the south side of the Ogeechee, when he will take

post about Anderson's plantation, on the plank-road, and picket all

the roads leading from the north and west.

5. General Howard will keep a small guard at Forts Rosedale,

Beaulieu, Wimberley, Thunderbolt, and Bonaventura, and he will

cause that shore and Skidaway Island to be examined very closely,

with a view to finding many and convenient points for the

embarkation of troops and wagons on seagoing vessels.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

[Special Field Order No. 143.]

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

IN THE FIELD, NEAR SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, 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 twenty thousand 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.

1. 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

tradesmen allowed the free use of their shops, tools, etc.;

churches, schools, and all places of amusement and recreation,

should be encouraged, and streets and roads made perfectly safe to

persons in their pursuits. Passes 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 wants of

the citizens, governed by the restrictions and rules of the

Treasury Department.

2. 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 time as their titles can be settled by the courts of the

United States.

8. The Mayor and City Council of Savannah will continue to

exercise their functions, 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 forth

with give public notice that the time has come when all must choose

their course, viz., 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 our lines.

4. Not more than two newspapers will be published in Savannah;

their editors and proprietors will be held to the strictest

accountability, and will be punished severely, in person and

property, for any libelous publication, mischievous matter,

premature news, exaggerated statements, or any comments whatever

upon the acts of the constituted authorities; they will be held

accountable for such articles, even though copied from other

papers.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

It was estimated that there were about twenty thousand inhabitants

in Savannah, all of whom had participated more or less in the war,

and had no special claims to our favor, but I regarded the war as

rapidly drawing to a close, and it was becoming a political

question as to what was to be done with the people of the South,

both white and black, when the war was actually over. I concluded

to give them the option to remain or to join their friends in

Charleston or Augusta, and so announced in general orders. The

mayor, Dr. Arnold, was completely "subjugated," and, after

consulting with him, I authorized him to assemble his City Council

to take charge generally of the interests of the people; but warned

all who remained that they must be strictly subordinate to the

military law, and to the interests of the General Government.

About two hundred persona, mostly the families of men in the

Confederate army, prepared to follow the fortunes of their husbands

and fathers, and these were sent in a steamboat under a flag of

truce, in charge of my aide Captain Audenried, to Charleston

harbor, and there delivered to an officer of the Confederate army.

But the great bulk of the inhabitants chose to remain in Savannah,

generally behaved with propriety, and good social relations at once

arose between them and the army. Shortly after our occupation of

Savannah, a lady was announced at my headquarters by the orderly or

sentinel at the front-door, who was ushered into the parlor, and

proved to be the wife of General G. W. Smith, whom I had known

about 1850, when Smith was on duty at West Point. She was a native

of New London, Connecticut, and very handsome. She began her

interview by presenting me a letter from her husband, who then

commanded a division of the Georgia militia in the rebel army,

which had just quitted Savannah, which letter began, "DEAR SHERMAN:

The fortunes of war, etc-., compel me to leave my wife in Savannah,

and I beg for her your courteous protection," etc., etc. I

inquired where she lived, and if anybody was troubling her. She

said she was boarding with a lady whose husband had, in like manner

with her own, gone off with Hardee's army; that a part of the house

had been taken for the use of Major-General Ward, of Kentucky; that

her landlady was approaching her confinement, and was nervous at

the noise which the younger staff-officers made at night; etc. I

explained to her that I could give but little personal attention to

such matters, and referred her to General Slocum, whose troops

occupied the city. I afterward visited her house, and saw,

personally, that she had no reason to complain. Shortly afterward

Mr. Hardee, a merchant of Savannah, came to me and presented a

letter from his brother, the general, to the same effect, alleging

that his brother was a civilian, had never taken up arms, and asked

of me protection for his family, his cotton, etc. To him I gave

the general assurance that no harm was designed to any of the

people of Savannah who would remain quiet and peaceable, but that I

could give him no guarantee as to his cotton, for over it I had no

absolute control; and yet still later I received a note from the

wife of General A. P. Stewart (who commanded a corps in Hood's

army), asking me to come to see her. This I did, and found her to

be a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, wanting protection, and who was

naturally anxious about the fate of her husband, known to be with

General Hood, in Tennessee, retreating before General Thomas. I

remember that I was able to assure her that he had not been killed

or captured, up to that date, and think that I advised her, instead

of attempting to go in pursuit of her husband, to go to Cincinnati,

to her uncle, Judge Storer, there await the issue of events.

Before I had reached Savannah, and during our stay there, the rebel

officers and newspapers represented the conduct of the men of our

army as simply infamous; that we respected neither age nor sex;

that we burned every thing we came across--barns, stables,

cotton-gins, and even dwelling-houses; that we ravished the women

and killed the men, and perpetrated all manner of outrages on the

inhabitants. Therefore it struck me as strange that Generals

Hardee and Smith should commit their, families to our custody, and

even bespeak our personal care and attention. These officers knew

well that these reports were exaggerated in the extreme, and yet

tacitly assented to these publications, to arouse the drooping

energies of the people of the South.

As the division of Major-General John W. Geary, of the Twentieth

Corps, was the first to enter Savannah, that officer was appointed

to command the place, or to act as a sort of governor. He very

soon established a good police, maintained admirable order, and I

doubt if Savannah, either before or since, has had a better

government than during our stay. The guard-mountings and parades,

as well as the greater reviews, became the daily resorts of the

ladies, to hear the music of our excellent bands; schools were

opened, and the churches every Sunday were well filled with most

devout and respectful congregations; stores were reopened, and

markets for provisions, meat, wood, etc., were established, so that

each family, regardless of race, color, or opinion, could procure

all the necessaries and even luxuries of life, provided they had

money. Of course, many families were actually destitute of this,

and to these were issued stores from our own stock of supplies. I

remember to have given to Dr. Arnold, the mayor, an order for the

contents of a large warehouse of rice, which he confided to a

committee of gentlemen, who went North (to Boston), and soon

returned with one or more cargoes of flour, hams, sugar, coffee,

etc., for gratuitous distribution, which relieved the most pressing

wants until the revival of trade and business enabled the people to

provide for themselves.

A lady, whom I had known in former years as Miss Josephine Goodwin,

told me that, with a barrel of flour and some sugar which she had

received gratuitously from the commissary, she had baked cakes and

pies, in the sale of which she realized a profit of fifty-six

dollars.

Meantime Colonel Poe had reconnoitred and laid off new lines of

parapet, which would enable a comparatively small garrison to hold

the place, and a heavy detail of soldiers was put to work thereon;

Generals Easton and Beckwith had organized a complete depot of

supplies; and, though vessels arrived almost daily with mails and

provisions, we were hardly ready to initiate a new and hazardous

campaign. I had not yet received from General Grant or General

Halleck any modification of the orders of December 6,1864, to

embark my command for Virginia by sea; but on the 2d of January,

1865, General J. G. Barnard, United States Engineers, arrived

direct from General Grant's headquarters, bearing the following

letter, in the general's own handwriting, which, with my answer, is

here given:

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNTITED STATES

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, December 27, 1864.

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the

Mississippi.

GENERAL: Before writing you definite instructions for the next

campaign, I wanted to receive your answer to my letter written from

Washington. Your confidence in being able to march up and join

this army pleases me, and I believe it can be done. The effect of

such a campaign will be to disorganize the South, and prevent the

organization of new armies from their broken fragments. Hood is

now retreating, with his army broken and demoralized. His loss in

men has probably not been far from twenty thousand, besides

deserters. If time is given, the fragments may be collected

together and many of the deserters reassembled. If we can, we

should act to prevent this. Your spare army, as it were, moving as

proposed, will do it.

In addition to holding Savannah, it looks to me that an intrenched

camp ought to be held on the railroad between Savannah and

Charleston. Your movement toward Branchville will probably enable

Foster to reach this with his own force. This will give us a

position in the South from which we can threaten the interior

without marching over long, narrow causeways, easily defended, as

we have heretofore been compelled to do. Could not such a camp be

established about Pocotaligo or Coosawhatchie?

I have thought that, Hood being so completely wiped out for present

harm, I might bring A. J. Smith here, with fourteen to fifteen

thousand men. With this increase I could hold my lines, and move

out with a greater force than Lee has. It would compel Lee to

retain all his present force in the defenses of Richmond or abandon

them entirely. This latter contingency is probably the only danger

to the easy success of your expedition. In the event you should

meet Lee's army, you would be compelled to beat it or find the

sea-coast. Of course, I shall not let Lee's army escape if I can

help it, and will not let it go without following to the best of my

ability.

Without waiting further directions, than, you may make your

preparations to start on your northern expedition without delay.

Break up the railroads in South and North Carolina, and join the

armies operating against Richmond as soon as you can. I will leave

out all suggestions about the route you should take, knowing that

your information, gained daily in the course of events, will be

better than any that can be obtained now.

It may not be possible for you to march to the rear of Petersburg;

but, failing in this, you could strike either of the sea-coast

ports in North Carolina held by us. From there you could take

shipping. It would be decidedly preferable, however, if you could

march the whole distance.

From the best information I have, you will find no difficulty in

supplying your army until you cross the Roanoke. From there here

is but a few days' march, and supplies could be collected south of

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