December 13, 1864: Sherman takes Fort McAllister

Fort Macallister

From Sherman’s official report:

The enemy had burned the road bridge across the Ogeechee, just below the mouth of the Cannouchee, known as King’s Bridge. This was reconstructed in an incredibly short time, in the most substantial manner, by the Fifty-eighth Indiana (Colonel Buell), under the direction of Captain Reese, of the Engineer Corps, and on the morning of the 13th of December the Second Division of the Fifteenth Corps, under command of Brigadier-General Hazen, crossed the bridge to the west bank of the Ogeechee and marched down with orders to carry by assault Fort McAllister, a strong inclosed redoubt, manned by two companies of artillery and three of infantry, in all about 200 men, and mounting twenty-three guns in barbette and one mortar.

General Hazen reached the vicinity of Fort McAllister about 1 p. M., deployed his division about the place, with both flanks resting upon the river, posted his skirmishers judiciously behind the trunks of trees, whose branches had been used for abatis, and about 5 p. M. assaulted the place with nine regiments at three points, all of them successfully. I witnessed the assault from a rice mill on the opposite bank of the river, and can bear testimony to the handsome manner in which it was accomplished.

Up to this time we had not communicated with our fleet. From the signal station at the rice mill our officers had looked for two days over the rice fields and salt marsh in the direction of Ossabaw Sound, but could see nothing of it. But while watching the preparations for the assault on Fort McAllister we discovered in the distance what seemed to be the smoke-stack of a steamer, which became more and more distinct, until about the very moment of the assault she was plainly visible below the fort, and our signal was answered. As soon as I saw our colors fairly planted upon the walls of McAllister, in company with General Howard I went in a small boat down to the fort and met General Hazen, who had not yet communicated with the gun-boat below, as it was shut out to him by a point of timber. Determined to communicate that night, I got another small boat and a crew and pulled down the river till I found the tug Dandelion, Captain Williamson, U. S. Navy, who informed me that Captain Duncan, who had been sent by General Howard, had succeeded in reaching Admiral Dahlgren and General Foster, and that he was expecting them hourly in Ossabaw Sound.

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.
(Received 15th.)
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.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

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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.

JEFF’N DAVIS.

This entry was posted in Edwin M. Stanton, Georgia, Jefferson Davis, Pierre G.T. Beauregard, Savannah, Sherman's March, South Carolina, William Tecumseh Sherman. Bookmark the permalink.

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