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[614] the artillery, refused to surrender until he was disabled by three sabre and two gun-shot wounds, and faint from loss of blood.

When Sherman saw the Federal flag raised upon Fort McAllister, he seized a slip of paper, and telegraphed to Washington: “I regard Savannah as already gained.” The possession of the fort opened Ossabaw Sound, effected communication with Dahlgren's fleet, and indeed made the capture of Savannah, where Hardee appeared to be shut up with ten or twelve thousand men, but a question of time. But it was Sherman's hope to capture Hardee's army with the city; and movements were made to close up all avenues of escape, Sherman's army stretching from the Savannah to the Ogeechee River, while Foster's troops covered the railroad to Charleston. It was intended to place a division to operate with Foster by way of Broad River; but while Sherman's flank movement was in process of operation, Hardee outwitted him, and on the night following the enemy's demand for the surrender of the city, the Confederates had evacuated it, and were on the Carolina shore.

The evacuation was a complete surprise to Sherman. On the night of the 28th December, Hardee opened a fierce bombardment, expending his ammunition without stint. After dark, he threw his men on rafts and steamboats across the river to the South Carolina shore. The night was dark, with a fierce gust of wind deadening the sounds of the wagons and the tramp of the troops. As morning broke, the attention of the enemy was excited at last by unusual sounds, and his pickets were advanced on the extreme left of the line. Meeting no opposition, they pushed still further, crawled through the abatis, floundered through dikes and ditches, scaled the first line of works, and found it deserted. All the ordnance stores and supplies which Hardee could not transport, had been destroyed before the evacuation; he had burned the ship-yard and sunk two ironclads; but all the rest of the uninjured city fell into the hands of the enemy.

Sherman announced his success in a characteristic despatch. He wrote to President Lincoln : “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.” And thus ended the story of the march to the sea. In his official report of his achievements, Gen. Sherman wrote: “We have consumed the corn and fodder in the region of country thirty miles on either side of a line from Atlanta to Savannah, as also the sweet potatoes, cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry, and have carried away more than ten thousand horses and mules, as well as a countless number of their slaves. I estimate the damage done to the State of Georgia and its military resources at one hundred millions of dollars; at least twenty millions of which has inured to our advantage, and the remainder is simple waste and destruction.”

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