January 14, 1865: Protecting commerce in Savannah

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

Sherman takes steps to protect the local markets and the nascent reconstruction of the local government.

Official Records:

In the Field, Savannah, Ga., Numbers 12.
January 14, 1865.

It being represented that the Confederate army and armed bands of robbers, acting professedly under the authority of the Confederate Government, are harassing the people of Georgia and endeavoring to intimidate them in the efforts they are making to secure to themselves provisions, clothing, security to life and property, and the restoration of law and good government in the State, it is hereby ordered and made public:

I. That the farmers of Georgia may bring into Savannah, Fernandina, or Jacksonville, Fla., marketing, such as beef, pork, mutton, vegetables of any kind, fish, etc., as well as cotton in small quantities, and sell the same in open market, except the cotton, which must be sold by or through the Treasury agents, and may invest the proceeds in family stores, such as bacon and flour in reasonable quantities, groceries, shoes, and clothing, and articles not contraband of War, and carry the same back to their families. No trade stores will be attempted in the interior, or stocks of goods sold for them, but families may club together for mutual assistance and protection in coming and going.

II. The people are encouraged to meet together in peaceful assemblage to discuss measure looking to their safety and good government and the restoration of State and National authority, and will be protected by the National army when so doing, and all peaceable inhabitants who satisfy the commanding officers that they are earnestly laboring to that end must not only be left undisturbed in property and person, but must be protected as far as possible, consistent with the military operations. If any farmer or peaceable inhabitants is molested by the enemy, viz, the Confederate army or guerrillas, because of his friendship for the National Government, the perpetrator, if caught, will be summarily punished or his family made to suffer for the outrage; but if the crime cannot be traced to the actual party then retaliation will be made on the adherents to the cause of the rebellion. Should a Union man a rebel selected by lot will be shot, or if a Union family be persecuted on account of the cause a rebel family will be banished to a foreign land. In aggravated cases retaliations will be extended as high as five for one. All commanding officers will act promptly in such cases and report their action after the retaliation is done.

* * *
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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