The Horrors of Sherman’s March ~ December, 1864 ~ 6th to 7th

The Horrors of Sherman’s March ~ Richmond Times Dispatch

Newspapers South and North are covering Sherman’s campaign in Georgia. A report to the governor of Georgia provides a detailed description of the damage in Atlanta. There is fighting in Virginia and in Tennessee and artillery fire in Charleston harbor. Lincoln nominates a former cabinet member as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Secretary of the Navy expresses hope that the President will not regret his choice.

damage in Atlanta

damage in Atlanta

December 6– Tuesday– Newburgh, New York– Birth of William S. Hart, who will become a famous American silent film actor, making more than 75 films in his career. [Dies June 23, 1946.]

William S Hart

William S Hart

December 6– Tuesday– New York City– “We have again the report, this time apparently reliable, of the near approach of General Sherman to the city of Savannah. The transport steamship General Lyon, which arrived at Fortress Monroe with exchanged Union soldiers on Sunday evening, having left the Savannah river on last Friday, brings the announcement that at the time of her departure the advance Union cavalry were within six miles of Savannah. Great efforts were being made by the rebels for the purpose of holding the city; but, as their force was small, and portions of the defenses very weak, it was not thought that any serious opposition to Sherman could be maintained. His occupation of Millen, about seventy miles from Savannah, and the scouting of his cavalry several miles out from that town, were among the current exciting items in the latter place regarding his progress when the General Lyon sailed from the Savannah river; and Richmond papers admit his occupation of Millen. Young boys of thirteen and even women, are said to have been pressed into service for labor in the trenches by the rebel officers in Georgia.” ~ New York Herald .

December 6– Tuesday– New York City– “The President’s [State of the Union] message seems characteristically sensible and straight-forward. Chase said to have been nominated and confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Not a bad appointment. We hear nothing about Sherman or Thomas.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

December 6– Tuesday– Moffett’s Creek Virginia–”We are all well and doing very well considering every thing. Jinnie and I received your letter Saturday. I was at the office when the stage come. I saw John W. Henry and Frank McNutt come home last Saturday evening on detail for 20 days and I think very likely he can get his detail extended. He got it to come home and bail his hay and get up his corn and gather up all he can. Elec went home last week [and] he brought a man down with him to help put up corn or to do any thing we have for him to do he is not very smart he never says any thing with out we ask him questions. They are putting up corn every day the weather will admit. Old Peet and Barkley won’t work half the time. We expect to butcher tomorrow. Frank McNutt was here yesterday– he says Miss Ann R. Mc. is not well she has sore throat. Doctor Bill has moved in Mr Robert McNutt’s house Mr Black and James Cooper went to town to day with your account book. We had been talking a bout getting up a petition and sending down to Richmond to get you off [of active duty].I was very glad to hear that you got your box – we were very fearful that some one might brake [sic] it open, but it was a very common looking box they thought there wasn’t much in it. . . . they are drafting the Negroes – they notified me to report Alf [the family slave] last Friday. I got Mr Black attend to it for me. I told him I could not spare him. Doctor McChesney went to town Saturday to hire a hand– we understood he did not get any. I do not know what there going to make of it. Henry says positively Alf is not to go. Jinnie and Charlotte sends there love to you.” ~ Letter from Margaret Ott to Enos, her brother.

December 6– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln nominates the abolitionist Salmon P Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to replace the pro-slavery Roger Taney who died two months previously.

Salmon P Chase

Salmon P Chase

December 6– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “Nothing of moment at the Cabinet. Neither Seward nor Fessenden was present. The new Attorney-General declines to be sworn in until confirmed. Shortly after leaving the Cabinet I heard that Chase had been nominated to, and confirmed by, the Senate as Chief Justice. Not a word was interchanged in the Cabinet respecting it. . . . Dennison informs me that he went to the theatre with the President last evening and parted with him after 11 o’clock, and not a word was said to him on the subject. I hope the selection may prove a good one. I would not have advised it, because I have apprehensions on that subject. Chase has mental power and resources, but he is politically ambitious and restless, prone to, but not very skillful in, intrigue and subtle management. If he applies himself strictly and faithfully to his duties, he may succeed on the bench, although his mind, I fear, is not so much judicial as ministerial. He will be likely to use the place for political advancement and thereby endanger confidence in the court. He, though selfishly stubborn sometimes, wants moral courage and frankness, is fond of adulation, and with official superiors is a sycophant. I hope the President may have no occasion to regret his selection.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 6– Charleston, South Carolina– “During the progress of the exchange of prisoners, now going on in this harbor, and which will probably last for two weeks or thereabouts, the bombardment of the city by the enemy is to be suspended. Under this arrangement there was no shelling of the city yesterday. We understand that the truce was also to apply to the various hostile batteries in the harbor; but by some mistake, the cause of which we have not learned, the terms of the truce were not fully known at Fort Sumter, and one of our sharpshooters at that post shot and killed or wounded a Yankee who showed himself at Battery Gregg. Thereupon several of the enemy batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter. Finally, however, by the activity of Captain Hatch, the enemy was apprised by flag of truce of the nature of the mistake, and an apology tendered for the unintentional violation of the truce. The harbor then resumed its former quiet aspect.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

December 6– Tuesday– approaching Savannah, Georgia– “By dispatches of today we learn that XX’s [Corp’s] advance is now a little ahead of ours, on the Springfield road..Davis XIV advance was at Buck’s Post Office last night and will be tonight at Sisters’ Ferry on Savannah River. XVII [Corp] is at Ogeechee Church and Howard’s XV [Corp] west of Ogeechee River, is at Branham’s Store. Howard has all facilities for crossing the river if necessary, and there is nothing between him and us to interfere, nor can be. Tomorrow we move again on Savannah. I begin now to understand as never before what a science war is in the hands of a master, and what ‘strategy’ means. We have had an easy march, practically without opposition, because our movements have been directed as to utterly confound the enemy, and to circumvent him– literally. They have done exactly right five times in abandoning their purpose to stand and fight, because each time our position gave us great advantage.” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

December 7– Wednesday– New York City– “Dr McDonald (from City Point) tells me that Grant is quietly establishing heavy guns in a position four miles from Richmond and will soon be pitching shell into that nest of treason. Nothing from Sherman, about whom there is deep anxiety. The President’s [State of the Union] message is well received.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

Federal soldiers occupying Atlanta

Federal soldiers occupying Atlanta

December 7– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “In answer to the Senate’’s resolution of yesterday, requesting information in regard to aid furnished to the rebellion by British subjects, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State and the documents by which it was accompanied.” ~ Message to the Senate from President Lincoln

December 7– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “We find in the Georgia papers some history of the horrors of Sherman’s march through that State. In a long letter, written from Milledgeville after the Yankees had left, and written in a calm, dispassionate style, without any attempt at exaggeration, we find the following terrible paragraph: ‘The most dreadful thing was their violence towards the ladies. At least six or seven suffered the last extremity [i.e., rape]. One young girl became crazed in consequence, and has been sent to the asylum. Other ladies were stripped of their garments, and, in such a plight, compelled to play the piano; and, in the event of a refusal, switched [beaten] unmercifully. Let Georgians remember these things in the day of battle!’ The same writer, speaking of the condition of Sherman’s army, says:’The soldiers were admirably clothed and appointed. Each man had eighty rounds of ammunition, while their wagons contained fixed material without prepared, and they suffered for nothing.’ A gentleman who left Atlanta after its evacuation by Sherman reports that ‘The rear guard of Sherman’s army left there on Wednesday week, leaving some one hundred of their sick and wounded in the place. Before leaving, they burned all the railroad and other public buildings, including the hotels, banking and business houses. The Masonic Hall, churches, dwellings and college buildings were left undisturbed. The State road is reported destroyed as far north as Chickamauga.’” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

December 7– Wednesday– in the vicinity around Murfreesboro, Tennessee– On this the third day of heavy skirmishing, raids and counter-raids, Federal forces finally drive away Confederate cavalry. Total Union casualties– killed, wounded, missing– amount to 225; Confederate total reaches 197.

Atlanta burning

Atlanta burning

December 7– Wednesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “The property of the State was destroyed by fire, yet a vast deal of valuable material remains in the ruins. Three-fourths of the bricks are good and will be suitable for rebuilding if placed under shelter before freezing weather. There is a quantity of brass in the journals of burned cars and in the ruins of the various machinery of the extensive railroad shops; also, a valuable amount of copper from the guttering of the State depot, the flue pipes of destroyed engines, stop cocks of machinery, etc. The car wheels that were uninjured by fire were rendered useless by breaking the flanges. In short, every species of machinery that was not destroyed by fire was most ingeniously broken and made worthless in its original form– the large steam boilers, the switches, the frogs, etc. Nothing has escaped. . . . The [railroad] car shed, the depots, machine shops, foundries, rolling mills, merchant mills, arsenals, laboratory, armory, etc., were all burned. In the angle between hunter Street, commencing at the City hall, running east, and McDonough Street, running southern, all houses were destroyed. The jail and calaboose were burned. All business houses, except those on Alabama Street, commencing with the Gate City Hotel, running east to Lloyd Street, were burned. All the hotels, except the Gate City were burned. . . . by this estimate, the enemy have destroyed 3200 houses. . . . Two-thirds of the shade trees in the Park and city, and of the timber in the suburbs have been destroyed. The suburbs present to the eye one vast, naked, ruined, deserted camp. The Masonic Hall is not burned, though the corner-stone is badly scarred by some thief, who would have robbed it of its treasure, but for the timely interference of some mystic brother. The City Hall is damaged but not burned. The Second Baptist, Second Presbyterian, Trinity and Catholic churches and all the residences adjacent between Mitchell and Peters streets, running south of east, and Lloyd and Washington streets running south of west, are safe, all attributable to Father O’Reilly, who refused to give up his parsonage to Yankee officers, who were looking out for fine houses for quarters, and there being a large number of Catholics in the Yankee army, who volunteered to protect their Church and Parsonage, and would not allow any homes adjacent to be fired that would endanger them. . . . Dr. Quintard’s, Protestant Methodist, the Christian, and African churches were destroyed. All other churches were saved. The Medical College was saved . . . . The Female College was torn down for the purpose of obtaining the brick with which to construct winter quarters. All institutions of learning were destroyed. . . . Very few Negroes remained in the city. Thirteen 32-pound rifle cannon, with cascabels and trunnions broken off and jammed in the muzzles, remain near the Georgia R.R. shop. . . . There are about 250 wagons in the city on my arrival, loading with pilfered plunder: pianos, mirrors, furniture of all kinds, iron, hides without number, and an incalculable amount of other things, very valuable at the present time. This exportation of stolen property have been going on ever since the place had been abandoned by the enemy. Bushwhackers, robbers and deserters, and citizens from the surrounding country for a distance of fifty miles have been engaged in this dirty work. Many of the finest houses, mysteriously left unburned, are filled with the finest furniture, carpets, pianos, mirrors, etc., and occupied by parties who six months ago lived in humble style. About fifty families remained during the occupancy of the city by the enemy, and about the same number have returned since its abandonment. From two to three thousand dead carcasses of animals remain in the city limits. Horses were turned loose in the cemetery to graze upon the grass and shrubbery. The ornaments of graves, such as marble lambs, miniature statuary, souvenirs of departed little ones are broke and scattered abroad. The crowning act of all their wickedness and villainy was committed by their ungodly for in removing the dead from the vaults in the cemetery, and robbing the coffins of the silver name plates and tipping, and depositing their own dead in the vaults.” ~ Report from W. P. Howard to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown.

December 7– Wednesday– in the field, south Georgia– “Camp opposite and two miles west of Station No. 3, Georgia Central Railroad. Marched about fourteen miles– camp in pine grove on right of road. T. R. Davis (our own artist on the spot) is finishing his sketches of Madison, Georgia, for Harper’s Weekly– we hear the General’s [Sherman’s] voice in his tent reading to Frank Blair his letter to Grant from Kingston [Georgia]. This letter, dated November 2, ended ‘I am clearly of opinion that the best results will follow my contemplated movement through Georgia.’” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

Sherman's headquarters on the march

Sherman’s headquarters on the march

December 7– Wednesday– Jenks’ Bridge, Georgia; Buck Creek, Georgia; Cypress Swamp, Georgia; near Franklin, Missouri; near Paintr Rock Bridge, Alabama; near Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas– Skirmishes and firefights.

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