Fort McAllister Taken ~ December 1864 ~ 11th to 14th

Fort McAllister Taken ~ William Tecumseh Sherman.

Signal station at Fort McAllister

Signal station at Fort McAllister

Federal forces take Fort Mc Allister outside Savannah, Georgia and the city lies open for siege or assault. The siege of Petersburg drags on and on. Nashville is ready for a major confrontation. Canada wins no friends in the North as a Canadian court releases the Confederate raiders who attacked St Albans, strengthening anti-British sentiment in some quarters.

December 11– Sunday– Montgomery, Alabama– “It is impossible to describe the delight and apparent rapture with which our presence caused the fair Florentines. Ladies lined the streets [of Florence, Alabama] in every direction, beautiful in the excitement of agreeable surprise, cheering the army with tender words and gentle looks, clasping husbands, brothers, sons, in a gush of joy and love. Never was there a time of more real enjoyment. The tired army grew sprightly and buoyant under the patriotic impression, and there was not a soldier there who did not inwardly feel a pride in lifting such a people from the humiliation of Yankee presence. After passing through the city we come to a halt near the outskirts, threw up breastworks and here, pleasantly encamped, we have remained for the past week. All is life, gaiety and festivity in our little city now. A few nights ago the officers of Lee corps gave an entertainment in the college. It was singular to notice the friendship that existed between Mars and Cupid, as, side by side, they swept the floor of the building with fantastic feet.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to the editor of the Montgomery Advertiser.

victorian-C-20

December 12– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “James S. Scott was on Saturday morning brought before the Mayor on the charge of feloniously shooting and killing D. H. Bevans, conductor on the Fredericksburg railroad. The shooting took place at Millford, on the 5th of November. Bevans was brought to this city, and on or about the 20th of November, died at the officers’ hospital (City Alms House).” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 12– Monday– Confederate lines outside Petersburg, Virginia– “This morning finds me alive and tolerable well . . . . I Suppose you know not what has become of me – well we are in what is called Dinwiddie County about 10 miles to the right of Petersburg, about thirty miles from Richmond – the railroad runs [as] a crows [flies] from Richmond to Petersburg – we are 8 or ten miles from the railroad– we have been on picket [duty] nearly all the time since we came here– was relieved yesterday evening – are today in quarters– there is plenty of cabins here– we occupy cabins that other troops built and were then ordered away father to the right of the lines – there was some fighting on the right of the line Day before yesterday– it is said the Yankees were drove back. This is a very cold day here– there is some snow on the ground . . . . I am now in a part of the world I never was before – it does not look like home. . . . well I must stop for this time – hoping this may find you alive and well – have not had any mail since wee came here – some will soon– I will write soon again. Remember me at [the] throne of grace.” – Letter from Confederate soldier John P. Dull to his wife Ginny.

typical entrenchments at Petersburg

typical entrenchments at Petersburg

December 12– Monday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Two nights without sleep has a tendency to make me sleepy. Winter campaigning is cold work, but it is all for the Union, and I will not complain. I thank God that I have such good health and can stand it.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 12– Monday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Having a little leisure this evening I will improve it in writing You a few lines. Since my return to the regiment we have been very busy, and we still have a great deal to do in the way of Picket duty. The next day after my return we received orders to be ready to move at a moment’s notice which we did about noon the Same day took our backward track to the front of Petersburg, near to the place where Captain Sims was killed, We can stand in our bombproofs and See the very place where he fell. At the present time there is a heavy fight going on our left but for once the 51st have been left behind in Company with the 48th Tennessee, 36th Massachusetts and 58th Massachusetts – all small regiments, to hold the lines in our front while the rest of our Division have gone to participate in the present engagement. It is rumored that we have the South Side Rail Road now in Earnest. I hope it may be So, but as yet we have no Official report and only have the news from men that Say they have been to the front they Say it is correct. Yet I don’t write it for Sure as we have been fooled So many times with the Same news. I have found Your Brother’s large Trunk– it was Stored at City Point. I had it fetched up and the Same is now in Charge of our Regimental Quarter Master and I will Send it home with the first Officer of my regiment that has the good luck to get a leave of absence. And if there don’t a chance occur, Lieutenant Schoonmaker will muster out of the Service on the 15th of January and I will Send it by him. There is no news of importance with us that would inerest you So I will close by Sending my best respects to Your Mother and Yourself, likewise to all inquiring friends hoping to hear from You Soon.” ~ Letter from Union officer William E. Babcock to Walt Whitman.

December 12– Monday– St Louis, Missouri– Birth of Paul Elmer More, educator, journalist, essayist and religious writer. [Dies March 9, 1937.]

Paul Elmer More

Paul Elmer More

December 12– Monday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “I instructed General Howard to send a division with all his engineers to King’s Bridge, fourteen and a half miles southwest from Savannah, to rebuild it. On the evening . . . I rode over myself, and spent the night at Mr. King’s house, where I found General Howard, with General Hazen’s division of the Fifteenth Corps. His engineers were hard at work on the bridge, which they finished that night, and at sunrise Hazen’s division passed over. I gave General Hazen, in person, his orders to march rapidly down the right bank of the Ogeechee and without hesitation to assault and carry Fort McAllister by storm. I knew it to be strong in heavy artillery, as against an approach from the sea, but believed it open and weak to the rear. I explained to General Hazen fully that on his action depended the safety of the whole army and the success of the campaign.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

part of Fort McAllister

part of Fort McAllister

December 13– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A few of us belonging to the Pocahontas State Guard, held an election in the county, the first since the reign of terror in 1861. We cast 21 votes at the State election and 23 at the Presidential election. – We were united for ‘Father Abraham.’ The county is almost depopulated of men, many of whom have come out and joined our army. It would do the soldiers of any State good to see the patriotism of those mountaineers and especially the women and children, who still reside there, a large majority of whom are true to the Union. Those devoted women and old men begged us to remain in the county and protect them from rebel rule, and they would feed and support us out of their hard earnings. Although my old homestead – my native county – the Indian Queen of the evergreen mountains – Pocahontas has been overrun with Southern vandals for almost four years, still the love and attachment for the old Union in the hearts of the people has not abated. Mountain people will be free.” ~ letter from Mr S Young of Beverly, West Virginia, to the editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 13– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln submits to the Senate for ratification a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation with Honduras and a separate treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, and for the extradition of fugitive criminals with Haiti.

December 13– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Hood still lies in front of us with his army, and still Destruction is our ruler!The officers say that the suburbs of the city have been so changed in every direction during this fortnight that we have been kept at our own post, that we of Springside would not know them. Trees all gone, beautiful houses pulled down, as the would interfere with the cannons range, hills turned into threatening fortifications, and lines of soldiers drilling everywhere! Hood himself is at Mr. Rains’s, the next place to Uncle John Trimble’s– think of it, as near as that! No wonder the poor blacks are terrified out of their wits.” ~ Journal of Maggie Lindsley.

December 13– Tuesday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “About 2 p.m. we observed signs of commotion in the fort and noticed one or two guns fired inland and some musket-skirmishing in the woods close by. This betokened the approach of Hazen’s division, which had been anxiously expected, and soon thereafter the signal-officer discovered about three miles above the fort a signal-flag, with which he conversed, and found it belonged to General Hazen, who was preparing to assault the fort and wanted to know if I were there. On being assured of this fact and that I expected the fort to be carried before night, I received by signal the assurance of General Hazen that he was making his preparations and would soon attempt the assault. The sun was rapidly declining, and [I] Was dreadfully impatient. At that very moment someone discovered a faint cloud of smoke and an object gliding, as it were, along the horizon above the tops of the sedge toward the sea, which little by little grew till it was pronounced to be the smoke-stack of a steamer coming up the river. Soon the flag of the United States was plainly visible, and our attention was divided between this approaching steamer and the expected assault. When the sun was about an hour high, another signal-message came from General Hazen that he was all ready, and I replied to go ahead, as a friendly steamer was approaching from below. Soon we made out a group of officers on the deck of this vessel, signaling with a flag, ‘Who are you?’ The answer went back promptly, ‘General Sherman.’ Then followed the question ‘Is Fort McAllister taken?’ ‘Not yet, but it will be in a minute!’ Almost at that instant of time, we saw Hazen’s troops come out of the dark fringe of woods that encompassed the fort, the lines dressed as on parade, with colors flying, and moving forward with quick, steady pace. Fort McAllister was then all alive, its big guns belching forth dense clouds of smoke, which soon enveloped our approaching lines. One color [color bearer] went down, but [the flag] was up in a moment. As the lines advance, faintly seen in the white sulphurous smoke, there was a pause, a cessation of fire; the smoke cleared away, and the parapets were blue with our men, who fired their muskets in the air and shouted so that we actually heard them, or felt we did. Fort McAllister was taken, and the good news was instantly sent by the signal-officer to our navy friends on the approaching gunboat.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

one of the Fort McAllister guns captured by Federal troops

one of the Fort McAllister guns captured by Federal troops

December 14– Wednesday– New York City– “The Richmond papers of yesterday report General Sherman at Bloomingdale, fifteen miles from Savannah, on Saturday, December 10. . . . The severity of the weather has prevented any important movements by either side at Nashville. Nothing of importance is reported to day from the Armies of the Potomac or of the Shenandoah.” ~ New York Herald.

December 14– Wednesday– New York City– “The St Albans raiders and bank robbers discharged by the Canadian court for want of jurisdiction; whereupon General Dix issues a stringent order to military authorities along the Canadian frontier, bidding them to be watchful and militant, and requiring them in case of another raid to pursue the raiders across the line. This is right and sustained by British precedent in the case of the Caroline, when American sympathizers were aiding provincial rebellion. It may lead to complication and war with England but we must take that disaster, if it comes, as in our day’s work. It’s a great inducement to southern refugees and agents in Canada to repeat the St Albans experiment but I think the Canadian government is honestly trying to prevent its repetition.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [For a detailed study of the Caroline affair, see, Border Diplomacy- The Caroline and Mc Leod Affairs in Anglo-American-Canadian Relations, 1837-1842 by Kenneth R. Stevens (1989).

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