Hazen has taken Fort McAllister, just south of Savannah, opening up direct communication with the Union Fleet. Sherman sends his first report to the Secretary of War since September from the deck of the US ship Dandelion, telling him that the army “is in splendid order, and equal to anything.” As he now has access to all the supplies he wants from the fleet, while they have cut off Savannah from any hope of resupply, he concludes that “I regard Savannah as already gained”. Meanwhile, Jefferson Davis responds to Beauregard’s request for more troops to defend South Carolina in the negative. “Events have rendered it impracticable,” which is of course just what Grant intended from the first when he planned simultaneous assaults in all the theaters of the war.
ON BOARD DANDELION,
Ossabaw Sound, December 13, 1864 – 11. 50 p. m.
Honorable . M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
To-day, at 5 p. m., General Hazen’s division of the Fifteenth Corps carried Fort McAllister by assault, capturing its entire garrison and stores. This opened to us Ossabaw Sound, and I pushed down to this gun-boat to communicate with the fleet. Before opening communication we had completely destroyed all the railroads leading into Savannah and invested the city. The left of the army is on the Savannah River, three miles above the city, and the right on the Ogeechee, at King’s Bridge.
The army is in splendid order, and equal to anything. The Weather has been fine, and supplies were abundant. Our march was most agreeable, and we were not at all molested by guerrillas. We reached Savannah three days ago, but owing to Fort McAllister could not communicate; but now that we have McAllister we can go ahead. We have already captured two boats on the Savannah river, and prevented their gun-boats from coming down. I estimate the population of Savannah at 25,000 and the garrison at 15,000; General Hardee commands. We have not lost a wagon on the trip, but have gathered a large supply of negroes, mules, horses. We have utterly destroyed over 200 miles of rails, and consumed stores and provisions that were essential to Lee’s and Hood’s armies. The quick work made with McAllister, the opening of communication with our fleet, and our consequent independence as to supplies, dissipate all their boasted threats to head us off and starve the army.
I regard Savannah as already gained.
W. T. SHERMAN,
RICHMOND, VA., December 13, 1864.
General G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Charleston, S. C.:
I have anxiously desired to send re-enforcements, but events have rendered it impracticable to add to those forwarded some time since. Should a charge of circumstances render it possible to do more no time will be lost in doing so. Should the enemy’s fleet be detached for operations against Savannah the opportunity will be presented for our squadron at Charleston to assume the offensive, and perhaps to destroy his depot at Port Royal.