narrow causeways. But our pioneer companies were well organized, and removed these obstructions in an incredibly short time. No opposition from the enemy worth speaking of was encountered until the heads of the columns were within fifteen miles of Savannah, where all the roads leading to the city were obstructed more or less by felled timber, with earthworks and artillery. But these were easily turned and the enemy driven away, so that by the tenth of December the enemy was driven within his lines at Savannah. These followed substantially a swampy creek which empties into the Savannah River about three miles above the city, across to the head of a corresponding stream which empties into the Little Ogeechee. These streams were singularly favorable to the enemy as a cover, being very marshy, and bordered by rice-fields which were flooded either by the tide-water or by inland ponds, the gates to which were controlled and covered by his heavy artillery. The only approaches to the city were by five narrow causeways, namely, the two railroads, and the Augusta, the Louisville, and the Ogeechee dirt roads, all of which were commanded by heavy ordnance, too strong for us to fight with our light field-guns. To assault an enemy of unknown strength at such a disadvantage, appeared to me unwise, especially as I had so successfully brought my army, almost unscathed, so great a distance, and could surely attain the same result by the operation of time. I therefore instructed my army commanders to closely invest the city from the north and west, and to reconnoitre well the ground in their fronts respectively, whilst I gave my personal attention to opening communication with our fleet, which I knew was waiting for us in Tybee, Wassaw, and Ossabaw Sounds. In approaching Savannah, General Slocum struck the Charleston Railroad near the bridge, and occupied the river-bank as his left flank, where he had captured two of the enemy's river-boats and had prevented two others (gunboats) from coming down the river to communicate with the city; while General Howard, by his right flank, had broken the Gulf Railroad at Fleming's and Way Station, and occupied the railroad itself down to the Little Ogeechee, near Station 1, so that no supplies could reach Savannah by any of its accustomed channels. We, on the contrary, possessed large herds of cattle, which we had brought along or gathered in the country, and our wagons still contained a reasonable amount of breadstuffs and other necessaries, and the fine rice crops of the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers furnished to our men and animals a large amount of rice and rice-straw. We also held the country to the south and west of the Ogeechee as foraging ground. Still, communication with the fleet was of vital importance, and I directed General Kilpatrick to cross the Ogeechee by a pontoon-bridge, to reconnoitre Fort McAllister, and to proceed to St. Catherine's Sound, in the direction of Sunbury or Kilkenny Bluff, and open communication with the fleet. General Howard had previously, by my direction, sent one of his best scouts down the Ogeechee in a canoe for a like purpose. But more than this was necessary. We wanted the vessels and their contents, and the Ogeechee River, a navigable stream close to the rear of our camps, was the proper avenue of supply. The enemy had burned the road-bridge across the Ogeechee, just below the mouth of the Camochee, known as “King's Bridge.” This was reconstructed in an incredibly short time in the most substantial manner by the Fifty-eighth Indiana, Colonel Buel, under the direction of Captain Reese, of the Engineer corps, and on the morning of the thirteenth December, the Second division of the Fifteenth corps, under command of Brigadier-General Hazen, crossed the bridge to the west bank of the Ogeechee, and marched down with orders to carry by assault Fort McAllister, a strong inclosed redoubt, manned by two companies of artillery and three of infantry, in all about two hundred men, and mounting twenty-three guns, en barbette, and one mortar. General Hazen reached the vicinity of Fort McAllister about one P. M., deployed his division about the place, with both flanks resting upon the river, posted his skirmishers judiciously behind the trunks of trees whose branches had been used for abattis, and about five P. M. assaulted the place with nine regiments at three points, all of them successfully. I witnessed the assault from a rice-mill on the opposite bank of the river, and can bear testimony to the handsome manner in which it was accomplished. Up to this time we had not communicated with our fleet. From the signal-station at the rice-mill our officers had looked for two days over the rice-fields and salt marsh in the direction of Ossabaw Sound, but could see nothing of it. But while watching the preparations for the assault on Fort McAllister, we discovered in the distance what seemed to be the smoke-stack of a steamer, which became more and more distinct, until about the very moment of the assault she was plainly visible below the Fort, and our signal was answered. As soon as I saw our colors fairly planted upon the walls of McAllister, in company with General Howard, I went in a small boat down to the Fort, and met General Hazen, who had not yet communicated with the gunboat below, as it was shut out to him by a point of timber. Determined to communicate that night, [ got another small boat and a crew, and pulled down the river till I found the tug Dandelion, Captain Williamson, U. S.N., who informed me that Captain Duncan, who had been sent by General Howard, had succeeded in reaching Admiral Dahlgren and General Foster, and that he was expecting them hourly in Ossabaw Sound. After making communications to those officers, and a short communication to the War Department, I returned to Fort McAllister that night, and before daylight was overtaken by Major Strong, of General Foster's staff, advising me that General Foster had arrived in the Ogeechee,
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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