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demonstration against Augusta, and thoroughly deceiving the enemy as to Sherman's real plan. From Madison Slocum marched to Milledgeville, which was reached November 22d; and the two wings were thus brought together again.
A few days before, when Gov. Brown and the legislature (then in session) waked up to the fact that Sherman's army was about to enter the city, they fled in a very great hurry, carrying off what they could, the public archives, funds, etc., and escaping to Augusta, and Macon, and anywhere, to get out of the way of the dreaded Yankee host. In fact, the leaders of the rebellion could no longer evade the unwelcome truth, that our army was moving directly and successfully through the heart of Georgia to the sea coast, and that, unless it could be stopped, disastrous results must inevitably follow. Beauregard came to the rescue, in his peculiar way, and issued an address, November 18th, calling on the Georgians to "obstruct and destroy all the roads in Sherman's front, flank and rear, and then his army will soon starve in your midst." So, too, rebel congressmen urged upon the people to devastate and destroy everything in Sherman's path, a kind of advice which, as might be expected, was treated with indifference or contempt. Gov. Brown set forth a proclamation, and ordered a levy, en masse, of all the white population, in the effort to stay the progress of our army. But it was all in vain. The resistance which troops, thus gathered for an emergency, were able to make, amounted to almost nothing
against a large and well appointed army, such as Sherman's was *
On the 24th of November, the army left Milledgeville, having Millen, seventy-four miles distant, in view. The main body crossed the Oconee at Milledgeville, destroying the bridge over that river, and the railroad bridge over Fisher's Creek, south of the city. A large force of Kilpatrick's cavalry demonstrated at the Central Railroad bridge over the Oconee, twentyfive miles south-east of Milledgeville, which was defended by earthworks, by the rebel Gen. "Wayne, with a body of stragglers and militia which had been picked up between Milledgeville and Augusta. This road here runs for several miles through a swamp, which borders the west bank of the Oconee. Wheeler, who had been left in the rear at Macon, by the excellent strategy practiced in his case, as above 1 noted, made extraordinary efforts and succeeded in getting across the Oconee, j in order, with Wayne's help, to dispute the passage of the river. Howard, finding the bridge strongly guarded, sent the 15th corps some eight miles below to a ford where a pontoon bridge was laid. The rebels thereupon retreated hastily, and by the 26th of November, the whole right wing was across the river, moving eastward along
* " Sherman's march assumes the aspect of a great swinging movement the pivot of which was the army before Potersburg. But it was a swinging movement described on a radius of half a continent—one of those colossal enterprises whereof there are few exemplars in military history, and which fill up the measure of the imagination with the shapes of all that is vast and grandiose in war."—Swinton's "Army of the Potomac," p. 566.
the railroad, and destroying it effectually as the column advanced.
Slocum crossed the Oconee at the same time with the right wing, and moved northwardly, aiming for Sparta in Hancock County. On the evening of the 24th of November, Slocum's advance encamped at Devereaux, seven miles west of Sparta, and the cavalry scoured the whole country, one of the most fertile and thickly settled in the whole state, and vast quantities of forage and provisions, and many horses and mules were obtained, and much cotton burned. The Georgia Railroad, on Slocum's left flank was not neglected. While the army lay at Milledgeville, a portion of the cavalry force was actively engaged in different directions, striking the railroad repeatedly, burning the bridge over the Oconee at Blue Spring, destroying public property, etc.
The army being now east of the Oconee, the rebels were much frightened, not knowing whether Sherman would strike at Augusta or Savannah. His own purpose was clear enough to himself, but by the exceeding activity and skill of the cavalry, and by various apparent indications that Augusta was the point immediately in view, the rebels were again deceived; Wheeler's cavalry fell back, and foroes from every quarter were gathered at Augusta in order to defend it; Sherman, all this while, was quietly advancing towards
Millen, and securing an unobstructed
i ... passage of the Ogeechee with his main
body. Kilpatrick, having driven
Wheeler back through Waynesborough
and beyond Brier Creek, within twenty
miles of Augusta, destroyed the rail
road bridge, and then took up his posi tion as a guard in Sherman's rear.
Howard passed through Sandersville, November 26th, and Louisville, November 30th. Slocum marched through Sparta and then moved upon Louisville. Millen was reached on the 2d of December, Sherman having moved slowly, but with a purpose. As it was somewhat uncertain as to supplies when he moved on to Savannah, Sherman paid special attention to foraging, and also to the complete destruction of the railroads, including the bridge over the Ogeechee, twenty-five miles west of Millen.
Savannah was now about eighty miles distant, and Sherman having left the rebel troops in his rear, where they could do no harm, advanced rapidly and regularly forward. Howard, on the 9th of December, struck the canal which connects the Ogeechee with the Savannah, about ten miles in the rear and west of the city. From this point he communicated, by means of scouts, with a gun boat in Ossabaw Sound, and gave intelligence of his success thus far. On the 10th of December, Sherman advanced to within five miles of Savannah, where the rebels had erected the first of a line of defences. Sherman resolved to capture Fort McAllister and thus open the Ogeechee, so as to communicate with the fleet, and cut off communication between Savannah and the southern part of the state. Accordingly, as Sherman stated in a dispatch, dated 11.50, P.m, December 13th, on board the gun boat Dandelion, Ossabaw Souud: "To-day, at five o'clock, P.m., Gen. Hazen's division of the 15th corps carried Fort McAllister by assault, capturing its entire garrison and stores. This opened to us the 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 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 are abundant. Our march was most agreeable, and we were not at all molested by the guerrillas. We reached Savannah three days ago, but, owing to Fort McAllister, could not communicate; but now 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 in a large supply of negroes, mules, horses, etc., and our teams are in far better condition than when we started. My first duty will be to clear
the army of surplus negroes, mules and horses. We have utterly destroyed over two hundred miles of rails, and consumed stores and provisions that were essential to Lee's and Hood's armies. The quick work made with Fort McAllister, and the opening of communication with our fleet, and the consequent independence of supplies dissipates* all their boasted threats to head me off and starve the army. I regard Savannah as already gained."
Hardee, in Savannah, undertook to hold out for a while; but, on the 20th of December, he considered the case hopeless, and destroying whatever he could, he fled to Charleston. On the 21st, Savannah was occupied, and Sherman sent a message to the president begging to present him with the city "as a Christmas gift," with its 150 heavy guns, its ammunition, and some 25,000 bales of cotton. Gen. Geary was placed in command, and Sherman's order, December 26th, with reference to the government of the city, was judicious and considerate. The disposition of the citizens was to quiet and orderly behavior, and little if any trouble was given to the constituted authorities in the changed condition of affairs.
Ch. XVI.] SHERIDAN BEGINS HIS WORK 49a
SHERIDAN IN THE VALLEY: ARMY OP THE JAMES: WILMINGTON AND FORT FISHER.
Sheridan in command in the Shenandoah Valley — Enters upon his work with spirit — Defeats Early at Opequan Creek — Early's attack upon our forces at Cedar Creek — Nearly a rout, but turned to a victory by Sheridan's arrival — Extracts from Sheridan's dispatches — Early's chagrin — Grant's plans and purposes in neighborhood of Richmond — Fort Harrison taken — Cavalry expeditions and service—Reconnaissances and engagements— Attempt at Hatcher's Run — Subsequent movements — Strategic importance of Wilmington — Expedition against Fort Fisher — Porter and the naval part of the expedition — Weitzel to command the land troops—Butler accompanies the troops — Naval attack — The troops landed, but not allowed by Butler to assault the fort — Expedition given up by Butler, who is superseded by Gen. Ord — Starts anew under Terry and Porter — Extracts from Gen. Terry's report, January, 1865 — Gallaut conduct of the navy and army — Value and greatness of our success.
Gen. Grant, clearly possessed of the dea that it was necessary to have some one efficient commander in the departments of West Virginia, Washington, Susquehanna, and the middle department, recommended that Gen. Sheridan be placed in charge; which was accordingly done, and Sheridan, on the 7 th of August, assumed command of
the "middle military division."
The enemy, at the time, were concentrated in the neighborhood of Winchester, and our forces occupied, the line of the Monocacy, at the cross ing of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, leaving open to the rebels Western Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania.
Sheridan entered vigorously upon his work. He pushed forward a column from Harper's Ferry up the Shenandoah Valley to Winchester, and beyond, to Fisher's Hill, in the vicinity of Strasburg, where Early was in position.
Severe skirmishing ensued, here and elsewhere, and Sheridan found it expedient to retire again to the neighborhood of the Potomac. The month of August and the first half of September passed in this way, without any general engagement. "The two armies lay in such a position—the enemy on the west bank of the Opequan Creek covering Winchester, and our forces in front of Berrysville—that either could bring on a battle at any time. Defeat to us would lay open to the enemy the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania for long distances, before another army could be interposed to check him. Under these circumstances, I hesitated about allowing the initiative to be taken. Finally, the use of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which, were both obstructed by the enemy, became so indispensably necessary to us, and the importance of relieving Pennsylva
nia and Maryland from continuously threatened invasion was so great, that I determined the risk shou.d be taken. But fearing to telegraph the order for an attack without knowing more than I did G f Gen. Sheridan's feelings as to what would be the probable result, I left City Point, on the 15th of September, to visit him at his headquarters, to decide, after conference with him, what should be done. I met him at Charleston, and he pointed out so distinctly how each army lay; what he could do the moment he was authorized; and expressed such confidence of success, that I saw there were but two words of instructions necessary—Go in! For the convenience of forage, the teams for supplying the army were kept at Harper's Ferry. I asked him if he could get out his teams and sup plies in time to make an attack on the ensuing Tuesday morning. His reply was, that he could before daylight on Monday. He was off promptly to time, and I may here add that the result was such that I have never since deemed it necessary to visit Gen. Sheridan before giving him orders.
"Early on the morning of the 19th of September, Gen. Sheridan attacked Gen. Early at the crossing of the Opequan Creek, and after a most sanguinary and bloody battle, lasting until five o'clock in the evening, defeated him with heavy loss, carrying his entire position from Opequan Creek to Winchester, capturing several thousand prisoners and five pieces of artillery. The enemy rallied and made a stand in a strong position at Fisher's Hill, where he was attacked and again defeated
with heavy loss on the 20th. Sheridan pursued him with great energy through Harrisonburg, Staunton, and the gaps of the Blue Ridge. After stripping the Upper Valley of most of the supplies and provisions for the rebel army, he returned to Strasburg, and took po sition on the north side of Cedar Creek." *
• The rebel commander, having been reinforced, again returned to the Valley, and while Sheridan was absent on business at Washington, he made an assault on our army, which nearly resulted in complete rout and overthrow. On the night of the 18th of October, the rebels crossed the mountains which separated the branches of the Shenandoah, forded the North fork, and early on the morning of the 19th, under cover of the darkness and the fog, surprised and turned our left flank, and captured the batteries which enfiladed our whole line. Affairs were in a most painfully critical condition. Panic was fast demoralizing the army, and in a brief space, had not help arrived, all would have been lost. Most opportunely, that help came in the person of Sheridan himself. He was on his return from Washington, on this eventful morning, and at Winchester, thirteen miles distant, heard the booming of cannon. Instantly, aware of the importance of his presence, he set off at | full speed, and never drew rein till he reached the battle field, his horse covered with foam and he himself in a state of intense excitement. He took in the situation at once. He rode along the lines; he shouted to the men, "turn,
* "Report of Lieut-Gen. U. 8. Grant," pp. 29, 3a