On This Day in 1864…

On this day 150 years ago, General William T. Sherman ended his “March to the Sea” by capturing Savannah, Georgia. In its 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Sherman’s army laid waste to Georgia’s economic resources in a path of destruction that was roughly fifty miles wide. By December 20th, Sherman had placed men and batteries around the city, demanding that the Confederate garrison surrender or face assault. By the next morning it was discovered that the Confederate army commanded by General Hardee had evacuated the city, so Sherman immediately moved in to occupy it. The army had thus reached Savannah in time for Christmas, and Sherman was therefore able to “present” the city, along with 150 cannons and an enormous amount of cotton, to Lincoln. The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph expressed excitement about Savannah’s capture in its December 28th, 1864 issue, saying that the Confederacy was nothing but a “shell” and that now “Charleston and Wilmington must soon fall.”  Southern newspapers were less than enthusiastic, and in South Carolina worries were already growing, as seen in the Edgefield Advertiser of December 28th, which noted that “the day of Carolina’s trial is certainly near at hand.”

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