I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History Center.
It is mid-December and General William Tecumseh Sherman is closing in on Savannah.
The capture of nearby Fort McCalister opens the Ogeechee River to Union supply ships off the Georgia coast.
Guarding savannah are 15,000 Confederates led by General William Hardee.
They are in a perilous position.
On December 17, Sherman telegrams Hardee…
“I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people …of Savannah can be supplied, and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city…and shall wait a reasonable time for your answer, before opening with heavy ordinance.”
Hardee does not surrender.
Instead, he escapes across the Savannah River into South Carolina.
Savannah Mayor Richard Arnold does surrender, provided the city’s citizens and property are protected from Sherman’s army.
Sherman accepts the terms and Union troops march into the city.
A triumphant Sherman telegrams President Abraham Lincoln.
“I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”
Sherman’s eight month march through Georgia is over.
I’m Masud Olufani and this is week thirty five.