On the following morning, (tenth December,) the corps moved down to Monteith Station, on the Charleston Railroad, and after destroying some miles of the road, marched to near the five-mile post, on the Augusta and Savannah Railroad. At this point, meeting with the enemy's strong line of defences behind swamps and artificial ponds, the corps was ordered to encamp for the night. During the afternoon a party of foragers, with some cavalry, succeeded in bringing to and capturing near the foot of Argyle Island, a rebel despatch-boat called the Ida, having on board Colonel Clynch of General Hardee's staff, with despatches for gunboats above. The boat was unfortunately set on fire and burned. On the eleventh, Geary's division was moved to the left, encountering some opposition from rebel pickets. They were, however, driven back into the main works, and our line was established from the Savannah River, near Williamson's plantation, in advance of Pipe Maker's Creek, across the Charleston Railroad to the Central Railroad, a few hundred yards from the junction of the two roads, connecting with the Fourteenth corps, Third division, on the right, First division in the centre, and Second division on the left. On the twelfth, Winnegar's battery, (four three-inch guns,) which had been placed in position at Tweedside, to command the channel between Argyle Island and the Georgia shore, drove back two gunboats attempting to descend the river, and so crippled the tender Resolute, as to drive her aground, in which position she was taken possession of by Colonel Hawley, Third Wisconsin volunteers, whose regiment was on duty on Argyle Island. Five naval officers and nineteen men were captured, besides a quantity of ordnance and subsistence stores. The boat, which was without armament, was subsequently turned over to the Quartermaster's department, and is now in our service. From the thirteenth to the twentieth, several changes were made in the positions of the troops. Robinson's brigade of the First division was sent back to Cherokee Hill, to cover the roads in our rear. Two regiments from Geary's division occupied the upper end of Hutchinson's Island. Carman's brigade, First division, was sent to Argyle Island, and subsequently across to the Carolina shore, with a section of battery I, First New-York artillery. He took up a strong position on the nineteenth, in advance of Izzard's House, and made several demonstrations and reconnoissances toward Clydesdale Creek and the Union causeway road from Savannah to Hardeesville. The enemy opposed these movements in strong force. The nature of the country for miles back (being rice plantations crossed by dykes and canals) effectually prevented any thing beyond a menace. These threatening movements, however, undoubtedly hastened the evacuation of Savannah. In the mean time our main line was pushed toward the enemy's works, and preparations for assault made by close reconnoissances, construction of light bridges, and experiments with baulks of the pontoon-train and fascines of straw and cane for bridging canals. Strong field-works were constructed for the heavy guns and for the field-guns, some of them masked on the road within one hundred and fifty yards of the enemy's line. These preparations were completed on the twentieth. The assailable points in our front were very few. Almost every fort was covered deep by artificial ponds from the irrigating canals, behind which, and upon the approaches, were strong earthworks for artillery, connected throughout by rifle-pits well constructed. The confidence of the troops in carrying these works was, however, perfect and earnest. During the day of the twentieth, the fire from the enemy's works and gunboats was unusually heavy and continuous. Reports from Carman's brigade indicated that large columns were crossing to the Carolina shore, either to cover their only line of communication, or preparatory to a final evacuation of the city. In the night, General Geary reportedly to me, that the movements across the river were apparently still going on. Division commanders were instructed to keep on the alert and press their pickets closer to the rebel works; but the enemy, intending to abandon his heavy guns, kept up a fire until the moment of quitting their defences. At half-past 3 o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first, Geary reported that Barnum's brigade wa in the rebel main line. Orders were sent him and General Ward to advance the picket-lines and follow with their divisions into the city. By six o'clock A. M., Geary's division, without opposition, had entered the city. Patrols were sent out to preserve order. Two regiments were ordered to occupy Fort Jackson and other works below the city. General Geary was temporarily assigned to command of the post, and his division placed within the city. The retreating rebels had disconnected the pontoon-bridge to Hutchinson's Island, and set fire to that connecting with the Carolina shore. The ram Savannah still lay off Seriven's Ferry, two miles or so away, and occasionally fired a shot toward the town. She was evidently covering the removal of supplies up the causeway road. There were no means of reaching her; and our guns, though well served, plainly did her no damage. At night she was destroyed as had been all the other rebel pubic vessels the day previous. The troops of the corps, while in front of the rebel works, suffered a number of casualties. Amongst those killed, was Lieutenant C. A. Ahruts, One. Hundred and Thirty-fourth New-York volunteers, assistant to Lieutenant-Colonel Asmussen, Inspector-General of the corps — an excellent and faithful young officer. Amongst the severely wounded was Colonel John H. Ketcham, One Hundred and Fiftieth New-York volunteers, an officer of superior intelligence and worth. Major Wright, Twenty-ninth Ohio volunteers, an excellent officer, also received a painful wound. I append hereto a series of campaign maps, prepared by Captain McDowell, Chief Topographical
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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