December 18, 1864: Preparing an assault on Savannah

Sherman and men in Atlanta

Sherman, now that Hardee has declined to surrender Savannah, orders artillery readied for an assault. He also directs that the road to Charleston be broken to prevent Savannah’s resupply. Note that he has been ordered to take his troops by ship to Virginia to reinforce Grant, but the transport is not yet available.

Official Records 92:750


CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. MILITARY DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Savannah, GA., December 18, 1864-8 a. m.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of the South:

GENERAL: In compliance with the plan I indicated to you some days since, I made a demand during yesterday on General Hardee for the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts, and to-day received his answer declining to accede.

You are aware that I am ordered to carry this army to Virginia by sea, but I hope still to be able to get possession of Savannah before sufficient transportation can be had to enable me to comply with General Grant’s orders.

The 30-pounder Parrotts which you sent me are now being hauled to batteries prepared for them, and in about two days’ time, if we can possibly get the ground to stand upon, we shall assault the enemy’s lines at four or more points. It is all important that the railroad and telegraph wire should be broken between the Savannah River and Charleston, and the very best point is where your force is represented to be, near the Tullifinny.

It seems to me that our operations here, especially along the Savannah River, must have drawn away every man from that quarter that they could possibly spare, and a bold rush on the railroad would probably develop a weaker force there than is supposed to be; or it may be that you could diminish that force and use the balance in a small, handy detachment east of the Tullifinny over about Old Pocotaligo.

I merely throw out these ideas, and merely reiterate that it would aid us very much in this quarter if that force of yours be kept most active, more especially if you succeed in breaking the railroad and the telegraph wire-the farther toward Charleston the better. Even if nothing better can be done let them whale away with their 30-pounder Parrotts and break the road with cannon balls.

It is possible, as a part of the general movement, that I may send a force, in co-operation with the navy, toward the Union plank-road, in the direction of Bluffton. I will go over and see the admiral again to-morrow, and it may be that I will see you, as in your last note you said that you would return again.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

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