Many Thanks for Your Christmas Gift ~ December 1864 ~ 26th and 27th

Many Thanks for Your Christmas Gift ~ President Lincoln

CW graves-3

Lincoln sends thanks to Sherman for the generous gift at Christmas. Sherman makes plans. George Templeton Strong takes note of Northern joy. The governor of West Virginia encourages citizens to take action against rebel bandits. In Richmond there is talk of making General Lee a dictator and arming thousands of slaves, all in desperate attempts to save the Confederacy.

December 26– Monday– New York City– “Great news today, official and indubitable. Savannah surrendered to Sherman last Wednesday . . . . the city is reclaimed and occupied by the national army. Its people seems quite resigned to the change and we have secured a new and most valuable water-base for operations on the Gulf States and on South Carolina. . . . So much for Sherman’s desperate enforced retreat to the coast and for the braying and bragging . . . of all rebel newspapers. . . . They out-lie any Northern paper I know.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

December 26– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We invite the attention of our readers to the terse and vigorous address of Governor Boreman, which appears in our advertising columns this morning. To the people of the interior counties infested by gangs of robbers and murderers it has an especial interest. The Governor recommends that the citizens form organizations among themselves for the purpose of exterminating, or otherwise ridding their sections of these outlaws. He promises to furnish arms and ammunition to all squads and companies organized for this purpose. This is the true policy. The citizens can do this work better than the military. Let them shoot down every scoundrel known to be guilty, and we shall soon see an end of this devilish work. It will only need then that restitution be made off of the home rebels who have been harboring and encouraging these bandits, for losses already sustained. We would be glad to see the Commander of this Department issue such an order.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 26– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah. When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained,’ I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce. And taking the work of General Thomas into the counting, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the [of] whole Hood’s army, it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.


December 26– Monday– Savannah, Georgia– “We have an order to move to the north side of the river tomorrow, there to camp for the present; that will take us into South Carolina, that hot-bed of secession. If the people of that state had been listeners to the conversations of officers and soldiers here lately, they would know that their doom is no enviable one. It seems to be a favorite contemplation with all, how they will plunder upon getting into South Carolina. I think General Sherman will take his army into the interior of that state before long. It is a good plan. Soldiers like sweet potatoes and young pork, varied with poultry, much better than lean beef and hard tack. It is cheaper also for the United States. Then there are some railroads there too, that ought to be fixed. I think we will operate some this winter without very hard work, and what is still better, won’t be cut off from communication. I have read the President’s Message and Secretary Fessenden’s Report today. The latter is a very interesting document; I have never studied finances at all, but it becomes a subject of great interest now. The weather is like summer. We are commencing our daily drills again.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

General Sherman

General Sherman

December 26– Monday– Savannah, Georgia– “The city of Savannah and surrounding country will be held as a military post, and adapted to future military uses, but, as it contains a population of some twenty thousand people, who must be provided for, and as other citizens may come, it is proper to lay down certain general principles, that all within its military jurisdiction may understand their relative duties and obligations. 1. During war, the military is superior to civil authority, and, where interests clash, the civil must give way; yet, where there is no conflict, every encouragement should be given to well-disposed and peaceful inhabitants to resume their usual pursuits. Families should be disturbed as little as possible in their residences, and tradesman allowed the free use of their shops, tools, etc.; churches, schools, and all places of amusement and recreation, should be encouraged, and streets and roads made perfectly safe to persons in their pursuits. Passes should not be exacted within the line of outer pickets, but if any person shall abuse these privileges by communicating with the enemy, or doing any act of hostility to the Government of the United States, he or she will be punished with the utmost vigor of the law. Commerce with the outer world will be resumed to an extent commensurate with the wants of the citizens, governed by the restrictions and rules of the Treasury Department. 2. The chief quartermaster and commissary of the army may give suitable employment to the people, white and black, or transport them to such points as they may choose where employment can be had; and may extend temporary relief in the way of provisions and vacant houses to the worthy and needy, until such time as they can help themselves. They will select first the buildings for the necessary uses of the army; next, a sufficient number of stores, to be turned over to the Treasury agent for trade-stores. All vacant storehouses or dwellings, and all buildings belonging to absent rebels, will be construed and used as belonging to the United States, until such time as their titles can be settled by the courts of the United States. 3. The Mayor and City Council of Savannah will continue to exercise their functions, and will, in concert with the commanding officer of the post and the chief-quartermaster, see that the fire-companies are kept in organization, the streets cleaned and lighted, and keep up a good understanding between the citizens and soldiers. They will ascertain and report to the chief commissary of subsistence, as soon as possible, the names and number of worthy families that need assistance and support. The mayor will forthwith give public notice that the time has come when all must choose their course, viz. remain within our lines, and conduct themselves as good citizens, or depart in peace. He will ascertain the names of all who choose to leave Savannah, and report their names and residence to the chief-quartermaster, that measures may be taken to transport them beyond our lines. 4. Not more than two newspapers will be published in Savannah; their editors and proprietors will be held to the strictest accountability, and will be punished severely, in person and property, for any libelous publication, mischievous matter, premature news, exaggerated statements, or any comments whatever upon the acts of the constituted authorities; they will be held accountable for such articles, even though copies from other papers.” ~ Orders from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Federal cavalry officers

Federal cavalry officers

December 27– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your note of the twentieth of December, conveying the announcement that the Trustees of the College of New Jersey had conferred upon me the degree of Doctor of Laws. The assurance conveyed by this high compliment, that the course of the Government which I represent, has received the approval of a body of gentlemen of such character and intelligence, in this time of public trial, is most grateful to me. Thoughtful men must feel that the fate of civilization upon this continent is involved in the issue of our contest. Among the most gratifying proofs of this conviction is the hearty devotion everywhere exhibited by our schools and colleges to the national cause. I am most thankful if my labors have seemed to conduct to the preservation of those institutions, under which alone we can expect good government and in its train sound learning, and the progress of the liberal arts.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Dr. John Maclean

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

December 27– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “A night of rain– morning of fog and gloom. At last we have an account of the evacuation of Savannah. Also of the beginning of the assault on Port Fisher and Caswell below Wilmington, with painful apprehensions of the result; for the enemy have landed troops above the former fort, and found no adequate force to meet them, thanks to the policy of the government in allowing the property holders to escape the toils and dangers of the field, while the poor, who have nothing tangible to fight for, are thrust to the front, where many desert. Our condition is also largely attributable to the management of the Bureau of Conscription . . . . It is reported that Sherman is marching south of Savannah, on some new enterprise; probably a detachment merely to destroy the railroad. An expedition is attacking, or about to attack, Mobile. All our possessions on the coast seem to be the special objects of attack this winter. If Wilmington falls, ‘Richmond next,’ is the prevalent supposition. The brokers are offering $50 Confederate States notes for $1 of gold. Men are silent, and some dejected. It is unquestionably the darkest period we have yet experienced. Intervention on the part of European powers is the only hope of many. Failing that, no doubt a Negro army will be organized– and it might be too late! And yet, with such a preponderance of numbers and material against us, the wonder is that we have not lost all the sea-board before this. I long since supposed the country would be penetrated and overrun in most of its ports, during the second or third year of the war. If the government would foster a spirit of patriotism, the country would always rise again, after these invasions, like the water of the sea plowed by ships of war. But the government must not crush the spirit of the people relied upon for defense, and the rich must fight side by side with the poor, or the poor will abandon the rich, and that will be an abandonment of the cause. It is said General Lee is to be invested with dictatorial powers, so far as our armies are concerned. This will inspire new confidence. He is represented as being in favor of employing Negro troops.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

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