with the news that Hardee
, with a force reported at 15,000 men, had evacuated the city during the dark and windy night of the 20th; crossing the Savannah
on a pontoon-bridge, and marching up the causeway road toward Charleston
The movement had been unsuspected by our pickets; and, when next morning broke, Savannah
was ours, and Hardee
beyond the reach of pursuit.
He had destroyed, under cover of a heavy fire, which he kept up through the day and evening of the 20th, the Navy Yard
, two iron-clads, many smaller vessels, and a large quantity of ammunition, ordnance stores, and supplies of all kinds.
His guns he could not even wait to spike, lest his flight should be detected.
As our bombardment had barely commenced, the city was surrendered almost intact; while, of its cotton, a large share had been made over to the Confederacy
, and so was an incontestable prize.
We had lost, in that march of 255 miles, which was substantially the conquest of Georgia
, six weeks time and 567 men; whereof 63 were killed, 245 wounded, and 159 missing. To offset these, we had taken 1,328 prisoners and 167 guns.
Our ammunition expended was inconsiderable; while our 65,000 men and 10,000 horses had lived generously off a State wherein our captives in thousands had died of virtual starvation and kindred agonies because (as was alleged) their captors were unable to subsist them.
Aside from sheep, swine, fowls, sweet potatoes, and rice, whereof they had found an abundance, 13,000 beeves, 160,000 bushels of corn, and over 5,000 tons of fodder, had been gathered from the country and issued to our men and animals; while 5,000 horses and 4,000 mules had been “pressed” into the National
Of cotton, 20,000 bales had been burned; while 25,000 more were captured in Savannah
Of negroes, 10,000 had abjured the delights of bondage to follow the National
flag; beside thousands more — most of them women and children — who had had been most shamefully driven back by certain of our officers1
at the crossings of rivers; and pitilessly reconsigned to Slavery, and thus to their masters' vengeful wrath.
made some little atonement for this cruelty by assigning lands on the Sea
Islands, deserted by Rebels, to the Blacks who had followed him to the coast.
The merit of Sherman
's achievement is dwarfed to vulgar appreciation by circumstances which should rather exalt it. It is true that Hood
's movement on Nashville
had withdrawn the main obstacle from his path; yet it was still possible to have confronted him on the Oconee
, and then on the Ogeechee
, with 30,000 men, one-third of them mounted; and thus have compelled him to repeated concentrations, assaults, and flank marches, which might have exhausted his food if not his munitions, and left him helpless while encircled by foes and vast stretches of inhospitable swamps and forests.
The country, which yielded bounteous subsistence to an army covering a breadth of 40 miles and advancing from 10 to 20 miles per day, would have proved utterly inadequate in the face of a foe able to detain him a week at each considerable river and drive in or cut