December, 1864: Battle of Savannah Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

By late 1864, the forces of Confederate general John Bell Hood had been driven back into northern Alabama. General William T. Sherman, no longer fearing opposition from the enemy, planned his March to the Sea campaign after occupying Atlanta. His main goal was to continue operations in Georgia and capture Savannah. To achieve this objective, Sherman marched his troops 285 miles. As they marched, they destroyed anything of military value in their path. Sherman wanted to demoralize the southern population by using total warfare tactics. His forces reached Savannah in early December, but Lieutenant General William J. Hardee maintained strong defensive fortifications.

By late 1864, the forces of Confederate general John Bell Hood had been driven back into northern Alabama. General William T. Sherman, no longer fearing opposition from the enemy, planned his March to the Sea campaign after occupying Atlanta. His main goal was to continue operations in Georgia and capture Savannah. To achieve this objective, Sherman marched his troops 285 miles. As they marched, they destroyed anything of military value in their path. Sherman wanted to demoralize the southern population by using total warfare tactics. His forces reached Savannah in early December, but Lieutenant General William J. Hardee maintained strong defensive fortifications.

A siege ensued until December 13, when one of Sherman’s divisions took Fort McCallister along the Ogeechee River. This action allowed Sherman to surround the city and seize it eight days later. Sherman later telegraphed President Abraham Lincoln and presented the city to him as a Christmas gift. The occupation of Savannah signaled the ultimate triumph of Sherman’s March to the Sea. Sherman then continued his path of destruction into the Carolinas.

General William T. Sherman. (National Archives)

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