Savannah Surrenders ~ December 1864 ~ 21st & 22nd

Savannah Surrenders

With Confederate troops gone, the mayor of Savannah surrenders the city to General Sherman and his Federal army. Many parts of Georgia continue to suffer from the ravages of Sherman’s march to the sea. Conditions in southern prison camps deteriorate. Cold weather and scarcities bother many, soldiers and civilians alike.


December 21– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Mr. Dillon yesterday received a letter from Lieutenant Melvin Richards, of Carlin’s battery, who was captured by the rebels on the Hunter raid and who has since been confined in different Southern prisons. . . . says the prisoners have nothing to eat but meal, rice and Sorghum which they are not even allowed to prepare to suit their tastes. . . . The prisoners have had no meat or lard or any animal food of any kind issued to them since October last. . . . Lieutenant Richards has never received any of the money sent him by his friends. He has received several letters but the money sent in them had been abstracted from the envelope. Captain Craig of the 1st West Virginia Infantry received a letter a short time ago which had been broken open and the money abstracted. The only way prisoners can get money is to have it secreted in a box, which may be done in various ways, one of the best of which is to knock the box apart at the end. Then bore a three-eighth hole with the grain of the wood, put in ten gold dollars, plug up and nail together, putting a drop of ink or some such significant mark on the spot.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 21– Wednesday– Moffett’s Creek Virginia– “Have not had a letter from you of later date than September 15th. Heard through J Hanger. Have looked long and anxiously for letters but disappointed until we have almost ceased to expect a letter, but know it is not your fault that we do not hear. Wrights, Beards & ourselves started a box to you. Hope will have received it. There was a suit of clothes apiece for you and H Wright, also some eatables. Aunt Lizzie had a ham to send but wasn’t room for it. Beards sent a box [of] tobacco and [a] pair [of] socks. Nothing of much interest transpiring. Friends of the boys well so far as I know. We are all in good health at present– pa suffered very much a couple of weeks from severe pain in breast could not rest at nights but is relieved of that now. How Houston died of wound received a few days before, sometime last month. Miss N Emerson was buried Monday. Mr Bill Steele and Miss Annie McNult are to be married to- morrow. Both nearly old enough for such a step. . . . Oh, how I wish you were here.” ~ Letter from Mary A. Smiley to her brother Thomas, a Confederate soldier.


December 21– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Intelligence of the death of Mr. Dayton, our Minister to France, creates some commotion among public men. The event was sudden and his loss will be felt. . . . I had a light and pleasant acquaintance with him when in the Senate some fifteen or eighteen years ago, and we had some correspondence and one or two interviews in the Fremont campaign in 1856, when he was pleased to compliment me, on comparing Connecticut and New Jersey, with having done much to place my own State in a right position. We met again in the spring of 1861. He was a dignified and gentlemanly representative, not a trained diplomat, and unfortunately not acquainted with the language of the French Court. A numerous progeny has arisen at once to succeed him. John Bigelow, consul at Paris, has been appointed Charge, and I doubt if any other person will be selected who is more fit.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 21– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Henry Richards, alias C. Smith, came into our lines on Monday and represented himself as a Yankee deserter. He was recognized and identified as a deserter from the 21st Mississippi Regiment. He was sent to the Castle. W. T. Jones, Company C, 17th Mississippi, was sent to the Castle yesterday from the Jackson hospital, charged with larceny.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 21– Wednesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “A wet stormy day and nothing going on to report. We are glad to stay in our huts and keep dry and warm.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 21– Wednesday– Savannah, Georgia– “The city of Savannah was last night evacuated by the Confederate military and is now entirely defenseless. As chief magistrate of the city I respectfully request your protection of the lives and private property of the citizens and of our women and children. Trusting that this appeal to your generosity and humanity may favorably influence your action, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant.” ~ Letter from Savannah Mayor R. D. Arnold to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. In his memoirs Sherman wrote, “General Hardee had crossed the Savannah River by a pontoon-bridge, carrying off his men and light artillery, blowing up his iron-clads and navy-yard, but leaving for us all the heavy guns, stores, cotton, railway-cars, steamboats, and an immense amount of public and private property.”

General Sherman

General Sherman

December 21– Wednesday– Savannah, Georgia– “To the Citizens of Savannah: By the fortunes of war we pass today under the authority of the Federal military forces. The evacuation of Savannah by the Confederate army, which took place last night, left the gates to the city open, and General Sherman, with his army will, no doubt, to-day take possession. The Mayor and Common Counsel leave under a flag of truce this morning, for the headquarters of General Sherman, to offer the surrender of the city, and ask terms of capitulation by which private property and citizens may be respected. We desire to counsel obedience and all proper respect on the part of our citizens, and to express the belief that their property and persons will be respected by our military ruler. The fear expressed by many that General Sherman will repeat the order of expulsion from their homes which he enforced against the citizens of Atlanta, we think to be without foundation. He assigned his reason in that case as a military necessity, it was a question of food. He could not supply his army and the citizens with food, and he stated that he must have full and sole occupation. But in our case food can be abundantly supplied for both army and civilians. We would not be understood as even intimating that we are to be fed at the cost of the Federal Government, but that food can be easily obtained in all probability, by all who can afford to pay in the Federal currency. It behooves all to keep within their homes until General Sherman shall have organized a provost system and such police as will insure safety in persons as well as property. Let our conduct be such as to win the admiration of a magnanimous foe, and give no ground for complaint or harsh treatment on the part of him who will for an indefinite period hold possession of our city. In our city there are, as in other communities, a large proportion of poor and needy families, who, in the present situation of affairs, brought about by the privations of war, will be thrown upon the bounty of their more fortunate neighbors. Deal with them kindly, exercise your philanthropy and benevolence, and let the heart of the unfortunate not be deserted by your friendly aid.” ~ front page of the Savannah Republican.

December 21– Wednesday– Ballynure, County Antrimi, Ireland– Birth of James Whiteside Mc Cay, who will become a Lieutenant General in the Australian Army, and a member of the Australian Parliament. [Dies October 1, 1930.]

December 22– Thursday– New York City– “Shakespeare uses words as nobody but Beethoven has ever used musical notes, conveying the most intense impressions in the most accountable way. . . . Details come in of Sherman’s grand adagio movement through Georgia, and most interesting they are. That seems to have been among the best and boldest conceptions of the war and to have been most triumphantly executed. Savannah is fully invested now by land and water. Rebel newspapers have not the least misgivings as to safety of that city.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

December 22– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We have received a note from several members of Carlin’s Battery, now stationed at Fort Boreman, Parkersburg, requesting us to state for the information of friends in this city who may desire to visit the boys about Christmas, that they intend to give a grand ball on the evening of the 23rd.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 22– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and cold. We have nothing from below. From Wilmington, we learn there is much commotion to resist the armada launched against that port. General Lee is sending troops via the Danville Road in that direction. The wire has been cut between this and Gordonsville, by the scouts of the raiders launched in that direction. We breakfast, dine, and sup on horrors now, and digest them all quite sullenly. I am invited to a turkey dinner to-day (at Mr. Waterhouse’s), and have some hesitation in accepting it at a time like this. Ought I to go? He is a skilled artisan and has made money, and no doubt the turkey is destined to be eaten by somebody. . . . There were some commissaries and quartermasters present, who are supposed to have stolen much from the government, and desire to exchange the currency they have ruined for imperishable wealth [exchanging almost worthless Confederate paper money for gold and silver]. They, too, will run away the first opportunity. The sun shines brightly this beautiful cold day; but all is dark in Congress. The Tennessee members say Hood’s army is destroyed, that he will not get 1000 men out of the State, for the Tennesseans, Kentuckians, etc. refuse to retire farther south, but straggle and scatter to their homes, where they will remain. I am told we have but a thin curtain of pickets on the north side of the James River, between us and 15,000 Negro troops.” ~ Diary of John Jones.


December 22– Thursday– near Duck River, Tennessee– “I have come through so far all safe. I was in the charge the two first days in front of Nashville. All the boys came out safe that went down from out section. It has been raining and snowing ever since we left Nashville and has been very hard traveling. It is very cold here now. We are waiting to get across the river.We may cross today and go to Columbia about two miles from here. We have taken many prisoners and pieces of artillery. I don’t know how many. I suppose you know more about it than I do as we have not had any mail for several days. Our brigade captured six pieces of artillery [on] the first charge and I helped to haul them off the field. I will send my fine shirt by first mail. I fixed it up to send the day before we left Nashville but did not get to send it out. I will write again as soon as I can get the chance. I have to write this laying on my belly and am getting very cold so no more this time. Take care of yourself and the babies. Kiss them for me.” ~ Letter from Union soldier John C. Seibert to his wife Rachel.

December 22– Thursday– Covington, Georgia– “Tuesday, the nineteenth of the month, I attended Floyd Glass’s [daughter’s] wedding. She was married in the morning to Lieutenant Doroughty. She expected to have been married the week after the Yankees came, but her groom was not able to get here. Some of the Yankees found out in some way that she was to have been married, and annoyed her considerably by telling her that they had taken her sweetheart prisoner; that when he got off the train at the Circle they took him and, some said, shot him. The Yankees found Mrs. Glass’s china and glassware that she had buried in a box, broke it all up, and then sent her word that she would set no more fine tables. They also got Mrs. Perry’s silver.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: