The two iron-clads which I had at Wassaw blocked the best way out, and I did not believe that the rebel ram could be brought over the shallows of Savannah River, save under the most favorable circumstances of a high tide and an easterly wind. At this time it was blowing a gale from the north-west. Still it did not seem proper to allow the public interests to incur the least risk in a matter so important. So I ordered the Pawnee to tow the Nantucket to Savannah River, and her commander being too ill to be on deck, Fleet-Captain Bradford volunteered for the duty. It was three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first when I lay down for a few hours' rest; and as my steamer was still aground, got into my barge at seven A. M., pulled to Wassaw, then across that sound into the pass to the Savannah River, and had nearly reached the Savannah River when a tug came along and relieved the faithful seamen of their severe labor in a heavy gale, wet to the skin as they were. I arrived about noon, hoisted my flag in the Wissahickon, Captain Johnson, and proceeded up the river with the Winona, Captain Dana, and two tugs. About four P. M., the obstructions across the channel near the head of Elba Island compelled me to anchor a short distance below the city. This hasty and off-hand narrative will give the department some idea of the events, as seen from my stand-point, that immediately preceded the occupation of Savannah by the Union forces. The glorious flag of the Union once more waved over the ramparts of the forts, and the city, and the vessels of the navy on the water. Savannah has been taken in the only way probably that it was assailable. In every other the defences were complete and powerful, extending over every approach, and including the rivers that traversed the country to the southward; so that an attack in those quarters could not have succeeded. It is one of the first fruits of the brilliant campaign commencing at Atlanta, and of that fine conception — the march through Georgia. But it is not the last, and General Sherman has but to follow out his plans in order to reap still greater advantages for the country and renown for himself. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.
flag-steamer Philadelphia, Savannah River, Jan. 4, 1865.Despatch No. 6. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy: Sir: I have already apprised the department that the army of General Sherman occupied the city of Savannah on the twenty-first December. The rebel army, hardly respectable in numbers or condition, escaped by crossing the river and taking the Union causeway toward the railroad. I have walked about the city several times, and can affirm that its tranquillity is undisturbed. The Union soldiers who are stationed within its limits are as orderly as if they were in New-York or Boston. . . . . One effect of the march of General Sherman through Georgia, has been to satisfy the people that their credulity has been imposed on by the lying assertions of the rebel government, affirming the inability of the United States Government to withstand the armies of rebeldom. They have seen the old flag of the United States carried by its victorious legions through their State, almost unopposed, and placed in their principal city without a blow. Since the occupation of the city, General Sherman has been occupied in making arrangements for its security, after he leaves it for the march that he meditates. My attention has been directed to such measures of cooperation as the number and quality of my force permit. On the second, I arrived here from Charleston, whither, as I stated in my despatch of the twenty-ninth December, I had gone, in consequence of information from the senior officer there, that the rebels contemplated issuing from the harbor, and his request for my presence. Having placed a force there of seven monitors, sufficient to meet such an emergency, and not perceiving any sign of the expected raid, I returned to Savannah, to keep in communication with General Sherman, and be ready to render any assistance that might be desired. General Sherman has fully informed me of his plans, and so far as my means permit, they shall not lack assistance by water. On the third, the transfer of the right wing to Beaufort was begun, and the only suitable vessel I had at hand (the Harvest Moon) was sent to Thunderbolt to receive the first embarkation. This took place about three P. M., and was witnessed by General Sherman and General Barnard (U. S. Engineers) and myself. The Pontiac is ordered around to assist, and the army transports also followed the first move by the Harvest Moon. I could not help remarking on the unbroken silence that prevailed in the large array of troops; not a voice was to be heard, as they gathered in masses on the bluff to look at the vessels. The notes of a solitary bugle alone came from their midst. General Barnard made a brief visit to one of the rebel works (Causten's Bluff) that dominated this water-course — the best approach of the kind to Savannah. I am collecting data that will fully exhibit to the department the powerful character of the defences of the city and its approaches. General Sherman will not retain the extended limits they embrace, but will contract the line very much. General Foster still holds the position near the Tullifinny. With his concurrence, I have detached the Fleet brigade, and the men belonging to it have returned to their vessels. The excellent service performed by this detachment has fully realized my wishes, and exemplified the efficiency of the organization — infantry and