I learned something very interesting about the “War of Northern Aggression” when Joe spoke about his life in Savannah, which Johnny Bullard’s column reminded me of.
1864, Union General William T. Sherman and his cavalry came upon Midway. General Sherman asked a young child to get his mama’s matches for which the young boy did immediately and ran back and gave them to General Sherman. Once the matches were given to General Sherman, he burnt down the church at Midway. To this date, most people shun the Rozier family who still holds an enormous amount of land and Joe went to school with Dean Rozier.
One hundred fifty years ago in December 1864, General William T. Sherman and his troops completed their “March to the Sea” which had begun in mid November with the burning of Atlanta. Sherman’s Savannah Campaign was nearing completion as the two masses comprised of 30,000 men each had left behind parallel scorched paths through Georgia. Savannah’s destruction would complete the grim mission.
A preliminary step was to force the city’s residents to evacuate. With time on the Union side, the siege did not take long. After Fort McAllister fell and Confederate defenders within the city retreated, the mayor, realizing that Savannah was completely vulnerable, surrendered. In a December 22 telegram Sherman presented to President Lincoln an early Christmas gift, the spared city of Savannah (complemented by 150 heavy guns, abundant ammunition, and 25,000 bales of cotton).
Karin for the blog
Sherman did not burn Atlanta. The Confederates did. When Sherman arrived, it was already ablaze. This misconception was made popular in books like Gone with the Wind. The only town that Sherman burned in Georgia was Milledgeville, after his troops found some prisoners from Andersonville. What people think Sherman did to Georgia, he actually did to South Carolina, with vigor.
Savannah’s destruction was not his mission, its capture was. His purpose was to destroy the Confederates’ war-making capabilities. He had hoped for surrender. He even wrote a letter to the governor of Georgia offering to pay for his army’s food. A good concise account of this is available in Osprey Publishing’s “Sherman’s March to the Sea,” by David Smith
John M., Savannah, GA.