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[225]

The defense of Savannah.

The task of General Hardee in defending Savannah was one of peculiar difficulty. He had only eighteen thousand men, and he was uncertain where Sherman would strike. Some supposed that Sherman would move at once upon Charleston, but Hardee argued that the Union army would have to establish a new base of supplies on the seacoast before attempting to cross the numerous deep rivers and swamps of South Carolina. Hardee's task therefore was to hold Savannah just as long as possible, and then to withdraw northward to unite with the troops which General Bragg was assembling, and with the detachments scattered at this time over the Carolinas. In protecting his position around Savannah, Fort McAllister was of prime importance, since it commanded the Great Ogeechee River in such a way as to prevent the approach of the Federal fleet, Sherman's dependence for supplies. It was accordingly manned by a force of two hundred under command of Major G. W. Anderson, provided with fifty days rations for use in case the work became isolated. This contingency did not arrive. About noon of December 13th, Major Anderson's men saw troops in blue moving about in the woods. The number increased. The artillery on the land side of the Fort was turned upon them as they advanced from one position to another, and sharpshooters picked off some of their officers. At half-past 4 o'clock, however, the long-expected charge was made from three different directions, so that the defenders, too few in number to hold the whole line, were soon overpowered. Hardee now had to consider more narrowly the best time for withdrawing from the lines at Savannah.

The defender of Savannah: General Hardee.

Fort McAllister--the last barrier to the sea


 

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