Heavy Ordinance Necessary to the Reduction of Savannah ~ December 1864 ~ the 16th to 19th

Heavy Ordnance Necessary to the Reduction of Savannah ~ William Tecumseh Sherman

Having reached the coast and resupplied by numerous Federal ships, Sherman demands to surrender of Savannah. Confederate General Hardee refuses. In Tennessee the weakened Confederates retreat. The siege of Petersburg drags on with no end yet in sight. Abolitionists consider what comes next after total emancipation on all slaves.

Confederate artillery shells captured by General Sherman

Confederate artillery shells captured by General Sherman

December 16– Friday– outside of Savannah, Georgia– “If [Confederate] General Hardee is alarmed, or fears starvation, he may surrender; otherwise I will bombard the city. I think Hardee, in Savannah, has good artillerists, some 5,000 or 6,000 infantry, and it may be a mongrel mass of 8,000 to 10,000 militia. There must be 25,000 citizens– men, women, and children – in Savannah that must also be fed, and how he is to feed them beyond a few days I cannot imagine, as I know that his requisitions for corn on the interior counties were not filled, and we are in possession of the rice fields and mills which could alone be of service to him in this neighborhood. He can draw nothing from South Carolina, save from a small corner down in the southeast, and that by a disused wagon road.” ~ Letter from General William Tecumseh Sherman to General Ulysses S Grant.

December 17– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Myrtilla Miner, educator, reformer, abolitionist and advocate for the education of African American women, dies at 49 years of age.

Myrtilla Miner

Myrtilla Miner

December 17– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs that, except immigrant passengers directly entering an American port by sea, henceforth no traveler shall be allowed to enter the United States from a foreign country without a passport. If a citizen, the passport must be from this Department [of State] or from some United States minister or consul abroad; and if an alien, from the competent authority of his own country, the passport to be countersigned by a diplomatic agent or consul of the United States. This regulation is intended to apply especially to persons proposing to come to the United States from the neighboring British Provinces. Its observance will be strictly enforced by all officers, civil, military, and naval in the service of the United States, and the State and municipal authorities are requested to aid in its execution. It is expected, however, that no immigrant passenger coming in manner aforesaid will be obstructed, or any other persons who may set out on their way hither before intelligence of this regulation could reasonably be expected to reach the country from which they may have started.” ~ Order issued by the State Department upon the direction of President Lincoln.

December 17– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am well at present and enjoying excellent health and would be tolerable well satisfied if I could I would see an end to this dreadful and cruel war. I am very much afraid the Yankees paid you a visit, as I heard one of our company say that he saw a letter from home stating the Yanks had passed. I am afraid they have destroyed your stock and perhaps stole some of your Negroes off, but I think they surely have better sense than to leave you to follow Yanks. If they have, I guess they will well wish they were back before long if they don’t already. I fear I shall hear some bad news perhaps that you have been visited by the Yanks and perhaps all you have destroyed by those scoundrels or perhaps you may be in the army, enduring all the hardships and privations of a soldier. I have traveled enough, seen enough, heard enough to convince me there is no place like home, sweet home.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his father in Georgia.

December 17– Saturday– Maury County, Tennessee– “Hood’s army is leaving Nashville and falling back, the Federals in pursuit after a great defeat, many of his men killed, many taken prisoner. The wagons of the Southern army have been passing all night going south. They are camping all around hunting everything, some are wounded. There is not much left forthem or his neighbor in the country. They are the worse looking and most broken down looking set [of soldiers] I ever laid eyes on.” ~ Diary of Nimrod Porter.

December 17– Saturday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “You have doubtless observed from your station at Rosedew that sea-going vessels now come through Ossabaw Sound and up Ogeechee to the rear of my army, giving me abundant supplies of all kinds, and more especially heavy ordnance necessary to the reduction of Savannah. I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied; and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts, and shall await a reasonable time your answer before opening with heavy ordnance,. Should you entertain the proposition I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army– burning to avenge a great national wrong they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war.” ~ Message from Union General William Tecxumseh Sherman to Confederate General William J. Hardee.

Federal siege artillery

Federal siege artillery

December 17– Saturday– Savannah, Georgia– “I have to acknowledge receipt of a communication from you of this date, in which you demand ‘the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts,’ on the ground that you have ‘received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shots into the heart of the city,’ and for the further reason that you ‘have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied.’ You add that should you be ‘forced to resort to assault, or to the slower and surer process of starvation, you will then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and will make little effort to restrain your army,’ &c. The position of your forces, a half a mile beyond the outer line for the land defenses of Savannah is, at the nearest point, at least four miles from the heart of the city. That and the interior line are both intact. Your statement that you ‘have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied’ is incorrect. I am in free and constant communication with my department. Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused. With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraph of your letter, of what may be expected in case your demand is not complied with, I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in the future.” ~ Reply from Confederate General William J. Hardee to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman

December 18– Sunday– Johnson’s Island, Ohio– “The anniversary of my arrival at Johnson’s Island has just passed. I am cheerful and hopeful. Providence is kind. Do not be uneasy about me. Exchange will come by and by. Meantime I employ my time in regularly reading books of law or history and miscellanies germane to my profession, besides current newspapers. My room is pleasant and my companions are agreeable. I have been very uneasy about you. That God may preserve you and others in Monroe from harm is my earnest prayer! Kind remembrances to all. Cherishing above all things your memory.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry McDaniel to his sweetheart Hester Felker.

December 18– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining. The old dull sound of bombs down the river. Nothing further from Savannah. It is now believed that the raiders in Western Virginia did not attack Saltville, and that the works are safe. For two days the speculators have been buying salt, and have put up the price to $1.50 per pound. I hope they will be losers. The State distributes salt to-morrow: ten pounds to each member of a family, at 20 cents per pound. The President’s malady is said to be neuralgia in the head– an evanescent affliction, and by no means considered dangerous. At least such is the experience in my family. It was amusing, however, to observe the change of manner of the Secretaries and of heads of bureaus toward Vice-President Stephens, when it was feared the President was in extremis. Mr. Hunter, fat as he is, flew about right briskly. If Savannah falls, our currency will experience another depreciation, and the croaking reconstructionists will be bolder.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

December 18– Sunday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Sunday again and with it peace and quiet. The battle is over. Confederates have retreated, General Thomas pursuing. Last night our army was at Franklin. Glorious Thomas! (I cannot speak his name without tears and from that I know I am pretty well shattered by all the recent excitement.) Countless blessings on his noble head! Captain LaMotte and Dr. De Graw spend today with us—they had visited the battlefield yesterday, and described it as they saw it, still covered with dead and dying. I don’t care to write or to think of what they told me of what they saw. I sicken to think of all the sad changes since I was at beautiful Belmont a few weeks ago! And now this terrible dread of who are lying dead out there onthat battle-fields hangs over us! Van went out to the field yesterday—but he is sick at heart—boy as he is—and will say nothing but that he is haunted by the terrible sight, and would give everything to blot it out, and have his mind as clear as it was.” ~ Journal of Maggie Lindsley.

Confederate prisoners

Confederate prisoners

December 18– Columbus, Georgia– “Sherman’s army passed on via Sandersville and to Waynesboro, Burke County, skirmishing all the way without any important fight. A branch of his force turned to the west and reached Thomasville near the Florida line, and thence on to Savannah, where they now are, from the reports that reach us. George, Sims and Gilmer are at Savannah. Had no letters from them for some days. Reports say Sherman has surrounded Savannah. This is a day of great anxiety with us. Our forces, or a part of them, have crossed the Savannah river and had a fight at Grahamville, some miles from Savannah in South Carolina. The result seems to be uncertain. We are daily looking for a decisive battle at Savannah. Provisions still going higher and higher. Corn, $10 per bushel, wheat, $40, pork, gross, $24. Cotton, 75 to 80 cents.” ~ Journal of John Banks.

December 18– Sunday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “At my camp by the side of the plank-road, eight miles back of Savannah, I received General Hardee’s [December17] letter declining to surrender, when nothing remained but to assault. The ground was difficult, and, as all former assaults had proved so bloody, I concluded to make one more effort to completely surround Savannah on all sides, so as further to excite Hardee’s fears, and, in case of success, to capture the whole of his army. We had already completely invested the place on the north, west, and south, but there remained to the enemy on the east the use of an old dike or plank-road leading into South Carolina.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

December 19– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “Our prime and supreme duty at this moment is to educate the black man. We owe it to him; and we owe it not less to ourselves. For these educated slaves are to be enfranchised citizens. The one is a logical and inevitable consequence of the other. The forces– of which the anti-slavery movement was one– that produced the former, are at work to being about the latter. This work of emancipation will go on till it shall be complete. It will not be complete till the black man and the white man stand equal before the law. In political as well as in natural rights, there must be no respect of color. To your school-houses, then, O Abolitionists! Not forsaking the rostrum; not abating the tone of your editorial demands; not omitting say opportunity of making and shaping public opinion; but demonstrating as well as asserting the black man’s right to all the franchises of humanity. B. Grats Brown– to whom all honor! – will doubtless repeat in the Senate his plea of The Cosmos in favor of ‘opening up the franchise to all save the criminal’; but however eloquent, it will not equal in cogency the argument that comes from the twenty Freedmen’s schools around the base of the Capitol. Let Abolitionists everywhere take hold of and promote this school enterprise. They can they can be both practical and theoretical. They can lift up the black man with one hand, and fend off the white man with the other. They can be both Abolitionists and Elevationists. They can be in the State, and yet– if they choose– not of it. They can shape politics, and be above their atmosphere. The Freedmen’s cause is the Slave-man’s cause. It is the Freedmen, just now, that is knocking at our door. ‘Do the duty,’ saith Wisdom, ‘that lieth nearest to you.” ~ Letter from James Miller Mc Kim to William Lloyd Garrison.

James Miller McKim

James Miller McKim

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