December 11, 1864: Still trying to reach the fleet.

Gen. O.O. Howard
Gen. O. O. Howard

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Howard says the best bet is to take Fort McAllister, just south of Savannah. He’s still trying to communicate with the Union fleet offshore. Meanwhile, the defenders are trying to block Sherman’s advance, but lack troop strength.


HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, [OR 92:683]
Little Ogeechee, near Savannah, December 11, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: I have carefully reconnoitered this part of the rebel position. I find that there are at least five batteries, one of them mounting four guns and the others probably one each. The marsh extending along their whole front is impassable either to foot or horsemen, and the only way by which it can be crossed, leading from Doctor Cheves’ plantation, has a battery planted at the other shore. Their line runs along the eastern branch of the Little Ogeechee, terminating near its mouth, where it cannot be approached owing to the swamps bordering the river.

At Screven’s there is a good landing, opposite which is Fort McAllister. The fort is well supplied with guns; some of the negroes saying that there are thirty-five mounted – others, less – and that there are but fifty men fit for duty.

I have given General Kilpatrick four pontoons, and ordered him to cross the Cannouchee and take the fort if possible. If he is unsuccessful I shall march down a division. King’s Bridge will be finished to-morrow night, and from there to Fort McAllister there is a good road, without obstructions.

We have tried in every way to communicate with the fleet, but have thus has been unsuccessful. I hope that by to-night we shall be able to do so with signal rockets. I find that about 150 feet of the Ogeechee railroad bridge at each end had been destroyed at the first breaking of the road. We find no trains between Way’s and Fleming’s Stations.

Respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD,
Major-General.

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COLUMBIA, December 11, 1864. [OR 92:949]
President DAVIS:

It is to be feared the force at Coosawhatchie is insufficient to save the road. I have ordered out all the State forces that can be spared. Cannot some of the infantry and cavalry from this State be sent to her assistance? The loss of that road will isolate Savannah.

M. L. BONHAM.

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Savannah, December 11, 1864-6 p. m.
Major-General WHEELER,
Commanding Cavalry:

Lieutenant-General Hardee is apprehensive that the enemy may cross the Savannah River between the railroad bridge and the city on flats captured on the island plantations and get on his line of communication. He considers it important to provide against such a contingency, and desires you to transfer to the left bank of the river a sufficient force to protect his left flank. He also thinks it best that you should cross the river and establish your headquarters at Hardeeville, or some other convenient locality.

Respectfully, General, your obedient servant,
T. B. ROY,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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