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[317]

Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused.

With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraphs of your letter of what may be expected in case your demand is not complied with, I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in future.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

W. J. Hardee, Lieut.-General.

The War Department had approved General Beauregard's views as to the stand to be made at Savannah. It had even indicated that the same programme might be adopted with regard to Charleston. The following telegram1 is given in support of this averment:

Richmond, Dec. 17th, 1864.
To General G. T. Beauregard:
The spirit of your instructions to General Hardee, relative to the defences of Savannah, is approved. It is hoped Savannah may be successfully defended. But the defence should not be too protracted, to the sacrifice of the garrison. The same remarks are applicable to Charleston. We must rely upon your judgment to make the fullest possible defence consistently with the safety of the garrisons.

S. Cooper, A. and Insp.-Genl.

This approbation was a cause of no small relief to General Beauregard, and allowed him more latitude than he would otherwise have had.

Active, urgent preparations for the evacuation were instantly begun. It was now but a question of a few days. So little had yet been done that General Beauregard feared there would be insufficient time to save most of the public property, and destroy what must otherwise fall into the hands of the enemy. Most of the orders then issued were not only suggested by him, but, in many instances, written under his dictation.2 His memorandum for the location of troops, dated December 18th, and left with General Hardee, shows the amount of work accomplished during his last visit to the invested city. On the 19th he completed the order relative to the final evacuation, which was forwarded to the different commands, headed ‘Confidential ’

1 It was a ciphered telegram.

2 See Colonel John. G. Clarke's letter to General Beauregard, in Appendix.

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