Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A Not So Merry Christmas 145 Years Ago.
Sherman's army marched into Savannah on December 22. The next day, Sherman telegraphed President Lincoln with the message "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.."
1864.Sherman's "scorched earth" campaign began on November 15th when he cut the last telegraph wire that linked him to his superiors in the North. He left Atlanta in flames and pointed his army south. No word would be heard from him for the next five weeks. Unbeknownst to his enemy, Sherman's objective was the port of Savannah. His army of 65,000 cut a broad swath as it lumbered towards its destination. Plantations were burned, crops destroyed and stores of food pillaged.
After a two week seige of Savannah, and fearing the destruction of the town, Confederate General Hardee withdrew his forces across the Savannah River on a hastily constructed pontoon bridge. It was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Sherman stayed in Savannah until the end of January. He set up temporary headquarters in the Green-Meldrin House which can be toured today.
He then continued his scorched earth campaign through the Carolinas.