General Sherman Captures Savannah


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 14, 1865

This Civil War Harper's Weekly newspaper is from the last days of the war. It features content on Sherman's march through Georgia, and other news of the war. This issue is part of our extensive collection of original Harper's newspapers. We are creating a digital archive of our collection, and making it available to you on the internet. WE hope you enjoy browsing this historical resource.

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Sherman Entering Savannah

Sherman Entering Savannah Georgia




Wilmington Expedition


Saltville, Virginia

Making Salt

Making Salt

Map Wilmington

Map of Wilmington

Sherman Captures Savannah

Battle for Savannah

General Burbridge

General Burbridge

Fort McAllister

Battle of Fort McAllister


Battle of Waynesborough Georgia

Battle of Nashville

Battle of Nashville


Prisoners of War




JANUARY 14, 1865.]



poise nohow, and we couldn't keep 'em away from you any longer."

" Where have they gone, Mammy?"

"To Gainesville."

"Who went with them?"

"Tilly, and Tom too," she added. "But you are talking too much, honey ; be quiet now, or Aunty Hamilton will find fault with Mammy."

Two days after, a tumultuous barking of the dogs announced an arrival. I listened for the sound of wheels or horses' hoofs in the carriage-way ; there were neither. A soft, careful tread of feet, however, away on the back piazza, satisfied me I was not mistaken. No one else, perhaps, would have detected the footsteps; but so painfully acute had hearing become with sickness, I could think only of the " Warden of the Gods," whose ears were so fine he heard the flowers bloom and the grass grow in the heavenly meadows.

Mammy Rose came in soon, and Madam Hamilton, my new nurse, went out. Only they two, with the doctor, ever entered the apartment during my days of convalescence.

" My dear aunt, tell me exactly what you think of your charge now."

" Very weak and feeble, but gaining strength slowly."

"Can I see her?"

" Not to-night, certainly. Doctor Hempstead is as peremptory as ever about excitement."

"I have to go at daybreak. My dispatches came today. We are on the eve of more battles; if I survive, I will endeavor to return again. You will not leave, Madam, in any event."

"Trust me to do all a mother could. I like your arrangement of going over to the St.John's for a change as soon as she is able."

I buried my face, not only to shut out the sounds, but to conceal my tears. Ile was going away without speaking to me. Madam Hamilton was cruel.

" Tell me what it is, honey !" Mammy Rose said, detecting my emotion, and smoothing my hair caressingly. " So weak and tired, poor heart ! Tell Mammy."

"Nothing ! Nothing !"

" Yes, 'tis something, chile. Tell Mammy Rose."

" It's dreadful to feel alone in the world." "Yes, that's it, honey! All alone ! Mammy knows."

I wept a while, and fell asleep from mere exhaustion.

The next day Aunty Hamilton told me we were all going to the " Green Cone Springs" as soon as I was strong enough to make the journey by short stages. The air was much more bracing there, she said, than at the lake, and the bathing luxurious. The Springs had been a great resort for invalids before the war, and would be a charming place to summer.

I did not care for the Springs that day. I was disappointed and unhappy.

The devotion of the servants was truly affecting. One by one as I was able to see them they came to speak to me, bringing some little offering of fruit or flowers, and their broken words of congratulation went to my very heart. They vied with each other in efforts to tempt my appetite, bringing pet chickens and the rarest wild birds of the marshes. True it is that gratitude and unselfishness abide with the lowly. What arc our best gifts on the altar of humanity to theirs ! Think of an aged slave, toiling in the cotton or cane fields from Monday morning until Saturday night, sacrificing his one day of rest to a stranger walking long, weary miles to pull creases from a spring where he had pulled them in boyhood ! Old Cato did it for me. Is it a wonder I wept when these affectionate creatures gathered around to say farewell the morning I left them, though expecting to return in a few months ?

There was a carriage load of us that morning as we drove through the great gate into the public highway Madam Hamilton, the two little girls, Tilly, and myself in the interior ; Tom on the outside, with boxes and carpet bags filling every inch of space beneath the seats. Fortunately the horses were strong, or we might have foundered in the sand.

The journey occupied three days, riding a few hours only morning and evening, and halting at mid day. Every day I gained strength with the exercise, until we reached the St. Johns, more beautiful even than I had pictured it. The children were astonished at sight of a noble steamer which passed up the river the evening of our arrival the first they had ever seen. I was astonished also, not at the steamer, but at the flag she bore the dear old Flag of the Union the first which had greeted my sight since leaving Fort Taylor.

"Look! Madam," I exclaimed, pointing to the well-beloved ensign. " Is it possible ?"

" Certainly. my dear, the Unionists control the river. Did you not know it ? But how should you ? the operations at Jacksonville have all taken place since your illness."

" Did Colonel Hamilton know it when he made arrangements for us here?"

"Not when he first proposed it. But as he believed the change of air and scene necessary for you, he would not allow the circumstance to reverse his decision."

" Generous, always !" I could not help exclaiming. "But, aunty, as much good as the sight of the old Flag does me, is it agreeable to you here?"

" I understand you," she replied. "I am a Philadelphian by birth and education, and have not lived South long enough to learn to love a fragment of my native land better than the whole. It is wisdom, however, to enjoy one's opinion in silence sometimes."

It was the first time any allusion to the existing troubles between the two sections had been

made by either of us. She was the widow of Colonel Hamilton's uncle, and had had the care of his motherless childhood. I had heard hint speak of her with the affection of a son.

" Does he know your sentiments ?" I asked.

"My nephew, I suppose, you mean, dear?" she returned, smiling. " He has always known them, and loves me none the less for them. He is one of the few noble minds who has grasped a prejudice of education and fancies it a principle. Ile is neither demagogue nor politician, and has none of the selfish ambition of the great secession leaders."

"And is so much the more useful to them!" I interrupted. "What do they care how many noble lives are sacrificed to their Moloch ? I can not bear that his should be one of them."

"He would appreciate your interest, Margy. Nay, don't blush, my child! he has told me every thing. You could have no truer friend. You will never know what he suffered when he believed your sickness would prove fatal."

" Is it not singular we have never heard from him since he went away ?"

She looked at me inquiringly.

"Ah ! the children told you he had been home, did they ? Mammy and I tried to keep it a secret."

"No one told me, Madam ! I heard his voice, and was grieved that he did not come and speak to me."

" He was grieved that we would not allow him, and left you the tenderest messages. I am glad to discover that he is more to you, Margy, than he believes. Pray, my dear, that nothing may have befallen him. There has been dreadful fighting recently."

The next day a gun-boat passed up the river one of those terrible monsters which had wrought such rebel consternation at Roanoke and Port Royal. We sat at the window of the hotel and watched a yawl with a white flag pull out into the current to meet the ship's boat and exchange papers. At dinner the landlord told us another great battle had been fought in Virginia, and promised to send us both the Northern and Southern reports of it. He believed the Yankees had gained another victory.

Joy for my country's success was not cloudless.

The papers contained the particulars of the battle of Williamsburg. The Northern journals claimed a great victory the complete rout of the rebel army, and a thousand prisoners. The dead and wounded of the enemy were left on the field uncared for. Among the dead was found the body of one rebel Colonel ; one General, and half a dozen Colonels and Captains among the wounded.

The Southern papers were as despondent as the Northern ones were jubilant. Calamity was succeeding calamity. Scarcely was the fall of New Orleans heralded before a train of reverses from the Army in Virginia caused weak hearts to faint, while it only roused the brave to firmer resolve. It was a comfort to know that their troops had failed, not from any lack of skill or courage, but from mere weakness and exhaust-ion, having been cut off from their supplies, and going into battle faint and hungry. Some of their best officers were among the dead and wounded. It was impossible to give the list, as the battle-field was in possession of the enemy.

Madam Hamilton read, and I listened calmly.

" We shall get additional details soon," she remarked. "I have no doubt George was in the engagement."

How very impatiently we waited for further particulars! At last Madam sent Tom to Jacksonville. I suspected she had heard rumors she was unwilling to repeat.

On his return he stood convicted of evil tidings at first glance. Neither of us had courage to ask a question as he appeared before us fumbling in his pockets for a letter, which was at length produced.

"Dis yer is for you, Missis, from Massa Gin-'ral Hopkins. He says Massa Cunnal Ward done gone dead sure, and Mars'r George nowhar to be found. 'Spec Linkum's cotched him."

Pale as ashes, Aunty Hamilton took the letter and `read, while I gazed upon her like a petrifaction. After she had finished it, she said :

" I wrote a line to the commanding officer at Jacksonville, asking him for such information as he might possess relative to the recent battle. He writes that Colonel Ward is killed beyond peradventure. Colonel Hamilton was wounded in the right arm in the early part of the engagement, and is at present among the missing, probably a prisoner."

The cries of the children when they comprehended the nature of the intelligence were heart-rending. For a time no one was sufficiently composed to attempt consolation. Madam Hamilton bowed her head over the letter and wept silently. Tom and Tilly caught the children's grief, and sobbed aloud with them.

Hope was ever the ruling element of my nature, and it came to my aid then. Struggling violently to keep down the heart pain and be calm, I said :

"This is not as bad as it might have been, after all! Don't you see, darlings, your papa is not killed like some poor children's. He has only got his right arm hurt so he could not write, maybe. Or, if he is a prisoner, he will be exchanged, you know, some day, and sent home. Don't cry any more ! When we get the next papers we shall know all about it."

I had confidence in what I said, and succeeded in inspiring not only the children, but Tom and Tilly with the same belief. Aunty Hamilton smiled sadly while encouraging us to look on the bright side. I was certain she did not see it herself.

It was weary waiting for official reports, and when we obtained them nothing new was elicited. Wounded and missing, with a mention of the extreme gallantry with which he led his men

into action, was all the record of Colonel Hamilton.

" What do you think now, my dear ?" Madam inquired, when we had searched the papers in vain for tidings more explicit.

" That he is one of those half dozen wounded and captured colonels and captains of whom the Northern papers speak. I'm sure he's not killed, or it would be known."

" God grant it ! I wish, if living, he were assured of our welfare. I know how much he will suffer on our account."

"I will go and relieve him, aunty."

She looked at me as though I had not quite recovered my senses, then smiled faintly as she replied :

"I think he will be most anxious about you, Margy."

All that night I lay, sleepless, my head bursting with projects. The next morning, on my way to the Springs, I met Tom, looking a shade darker than usual.

" Look here, Tom ; I want to ask you a question or two. Can you keep a secret ?"

" Try me, Miss."

"Is it true what Mr. Bates said yesterday, that the darkeys along the river are running away to the gun-boats?"

" Lots on 'em, Miss."

" How do they know when to look for them ?" "One a week goes for to carry coal and 'visions to de blockading vessel up Black Crick." "When may the next one be expected?" "Dis yer night or tomorrow."

"Tom, do you know any one who would dare carry a note to the commander?"

"Know two darkeys who is gwine nex' time. Missis, can you keep de secret ?"

" You can try me, Tom," I said, imitating his own reply.

"Well, den, de berry ole debil's to pay up yer Massa Cunnel Sumbody down to Jacksinville gone brung two big cannon and hid 'em in de brush to shout de gun-boat wid nex' time. I tole ole Hooson's boys de fact, and dey's gwine to 'form de gun-boat of de trap set fur him."

" Why didn't you do it yourself, Tom?"

"Dat's it now! You see, Missis, ef I'd ben home 'twould be different. Some things isn't counted honable. Mars'r George 'posed conferdance in me when he sent me way ober yer to take care fur de ladies. I said to Sam Hooson, `De fact is, Sam, sumbody must tell de gun-boat. I shall be missed ef I go, and 'spected when I come back, 'cause I can't stay in honor. My time isn't 'zactly come.' "

"Were you not afraid to trust him?"

"We boys never feared to trus' one anoder. We's all in de berry same boat. I jes' know'd Sam was waitin' to git off. His masser's grillar, and grillars isn't counted honable by darkeys, no how."

" I will give you a note for him today. Go now and tell Tilly to bring the young ladies for their bath."

" I think you are a little down hearted today, Margy, " Aunty Hamilton said, as we sat silently together.

"I have something to tell you, and don't exactly know how to begin. You see I am nearly well now."

"Very much better, my dear, but not well yet. You mustn't speak about the lessons, for George has prohibited them altogether."

"I wasn't thinking of the lessons, aunty; I was wondering if you had any gold."

"A little, my child."

" Well, I have a little too; don't you think together we have enough for a passage money to the North ? I think a sea-voyage would complete my cure."

The old lady bestowed upon me another of those questioning glances, and, apparently satisfied, replied,

"I don't wonder you should wish to get home, Margy; and if you had a permit, I would do any thing in my power to assist you."

" I don't wish a permit, Aunty. I don't recognize any power in the so called Confederacy to detain me a moment after I get ready to go. I am going to the gun-boats ; but you must not know when nor how, for fear the rebels should have you over the coals for it. There is another thing I have been thinking about. If Colonel Hamilton is wounded, don't you think he would like Tom ,to wait upon him ? I'll give bonds for him if he runs away."

Surprise was written on every feature of Madam Hamilton's benign face.

" Are you certain you have strength and courage for such an enterprise, my dear child? You look like a shadow."

" Courage mounts with occasion, you know. I've never possessed any, I think, because my path has always been smoothed and guarded. Now I must take life as it comes, rough or smooth, and I may as well gird myself now as over."

Here I broke down, laid my head in her lap, and wept.

"Nay, don't say a word to discourage me, aunty ; I know what kind friends I have found in you all, and how willingly you would continue to smooth my path, as you say ; but I have something to do myself now. My father had influential friends. Through their influence I may be able to see Robert's friend and benefactor set at liberty, and restored to his family. Is it an unwomanly thought?"

She kissed my cheek, and said, fervently, " May God prosper you, my child !"

The war-steamer passed up the river that night, as Tom had predicted, and would be back within two days. The note was sent, and, at Tom's suggestion, a place appointed for signaling the steamer on her return. The fellow was quite overjoyed at the thought of going with me in search of his master, especially when I told him it was "honorably arranged."

"I will leave my trunks in your care, dear

, aunty, until I come back for Robert. The carpet-bag and portmanteau will contain every thing I shall need, and Tom can handle them conveniently. Don't fret about me ; I will write from Port Royal, and bribe somebody to send you the letter,"

All that night Tom watched at the plane designated, lest by some mistake the vessel should pass unsignaled. Just after daybreak I heard him tapping at my door.

"Hear 'em gittin' up steam, Miss, round de bend. Be yer in an hour. Don't hurry, Miss; de truck's all dar, and Dick Porter got de white doff all ready to swing. I'll put de saddle on Empress ; Dick gwine to fetch um back."

I went to give the children a parting kiss. Tilly was sleeping soundly on her blanket beside their bed. Without awakening her, I stole back as softly as possible, for fear of disturbing Madam Hamilton, who, I was positive, had slept as little as myself. She heard me, and whispered,

" Come to me, my child ! I am afraid I have done wrong, Margy, to countenance you in so bold an undertaking. If any thing should happen, George would never forgive me, any more than I should forgive myself. Do be cautious, my dear. One more kiss."

Empress stood pawing the ground a short distance from the hotel. Two or three of the house servants were astir, and stood watching me as I mounted, evidently surprised at my early ride. We took an opposite direction from the point, but soon turned our course, paths running every way through the pine groves.

The vessel was in sight, rapidly approaching the shore. I did not dismount until the barge was launched and on its way ; then, ready to faint with agitation, gave the bridle to Dick, my hand to Tom, and a moment after was seated in the little boat along-side the war-steamer.


WE had marched hard all that weary day, And camped at night by a little stream, Where all night long on our arms we lay,

To watch and rest, or to sleep and dream—To dream of the loved ones far away,

Or hear in the wind the shell's wild scream.

As I lay on the ground beneath a tree

That night—my limbs were weary and cold—I dreamed. In my dream all seemed to be At peace, and myself grown lame and old; While a bright-eyed boy sat on ray knee, Begging of the war-times to be told.

His bright eyes filled with childish tears, And his pouting lips parted in pain,

At the tale of woe in those by-gone years, And the battle-fields strewn with the slain, But laughed with joy when told of the cheers That greeted triumphant peace again.

More there was of my vision—much more;

Much more, indeed, of what " might have been:" For peaceful memory was free to soar In realms far away from war and sin; But a voice now, only half heard before, Was repeating—"Third relief—fall in!"


AFTER having completed his grand march through Georgia, from Atlanta to Savannah, General SHERMAN'S first object was to communicate with the fleet off Savannah. This he accomplished by the capture of Fort McAllister, the only serious obstruction to the navigation of the Ogechee River. The fort was sixteen miles from the mouth of the Savannah. This was the first fort ever bombarded by our Monitors. It was now, however, taken by direct assault. The party to whom the work was assigned was General HAZEN'S Division. The garrison of the fort was insignificant in point of number, there being only men enough to man the guns, of which there were twenty-one. The assault was most spirited. The men marched at double-quick, penetrated the abatis, and, crossing the ditch, scaled the parapets of the fort, and in three minutes the garrison were prisoners. The capture of the fort gave us a large quantity of ordnance stores, guns, ammunition, etc. The guns were taken to the headquarters of the ordnance-officer, Lieutenant SPENCER, near the fort.

Pretty closely investing the city, except at a point on the north side directly across the river, SHERMAN at length determined to make an assault. Previous to this attempt, however, he sent a message to General HARDER demanding the surrender of the city. The latter assumed a rather defiant attitude and refused. But during the night he slipped across the Savannah on a pontoon with his fifteen thousand men. The movement was soon observed by General GEARY, who immediately pushed his division (the Second of the Twentieth Corps) on into the city. Before his arrival he was met by the Mayor and Commonalty of Savannah, who surrendered the city unconditionally. The forts were then taken possession of with all their ordnance The captures included 150 guns, 13 locomotives, and 35,000 bales of cotton. The rebels had destroyed their shipping. A floating battery was sunk. The Savannah, a formidable war vessel, was blown up. When the troops entered the city there was no disorder except that occasioned by ill-disposed people in the city, who plundered every thing within reach. Even the rebel soldiers had been participating in acts of violence. Order was soon restored, and the next Sabbath the churches were attended as usual. General GEARY has been appointed commander of the city, which is divided into two Departments, the Eastern and Western, commanded respectively by Colonel WOOD and Colonel BARNUM. GEARY took all the Commissary stores which be found in the city and placed them at the disposal of the Mayor and Common Council. It is estimated that 25,000 inhabitants remained in the city. The illustration on the first page shows our troops entering (Next Page)




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