The united and strenuous efforts of Generals Wheeler
, and McLaws
, aided by Generals Beauregard
, were powerless to arrest the devastating march of General Sherman
's columns through the heart of Georgia
; and the Federal
army, nearly sixty thousand strong, exclusive of an ample complement of field artillery and cavalry, on the 10th of December, 1864, came into position before the Confederate
works recently erected to cover the land approaches to the city of Savannah
Although every attempt had been made to obstruct the advance of the enemy and to concentrate a force sufficient for the protection of the commercial metropolis of Georgia
, such was the pressure upon the Confederacy
, and so painful the lack of available troops, that at the inception and during the progress of the siege there were within the Confederate
lines around that city only about ten thousand men fit for duty.
More than a third of these consisted of Reserves and Georgia
State troops, while strong details were employed in garrisoning the forts and fixed batteries along the water front.
In anticipation of General Sherman
's arrival on the coast, the Federal
war vessels had multiplied in the vicinity of Savannah
and their demonstrations became more frequent and more forcible.
The city of Oglethorpe
lay between the upper and the nether millstone with no hope of relief from any quarter.
Until General Sherman
, abandoning his base at Atlanta
, pointed his banners toward the coast, the attention of the Confederate engineers in the Military District of Georgia had been chiefly directed to the construction of batteries and strong lines for the defense of the water approaches to Savannah
So judiciously located were they, and so efficiently armed, that the Federals
in this direction were thoroughly kept at bay.
Commencing at Red Bluff
, on the Carolina
shore, a series of advanced works extended across the Savannah river
, along St. Augustine creek
, by the way of Whitemarsh Island
, Thunderbolt Bluff, the Isle of Hope
, Beaulieu, and Rose Dew, until it rested upon the Great Ogeechee river
As, during the siege, few changes were made in the armament of those fixed batteries, the following enumeration of guns in position along the water front of the Savannah
defenses may be accepted as substantially correct.
Red-Bluff battery—an enclosed work on the Carolina
shore armed with two 24-pounder rifle guns, one 8-inch columbiad, one 24, and two 12-pounder howitzers—constituted the left of the line.
At the extremity of the bay in the city of Savannah
a 32-pounder gun was