than that of the Confederates
—and this Confederate force composed in large part of detailed men, reserves, militia, and boys unused to action—it seems marvellous that General Sherman
should have contented himself with sitting down before our lines, erecting counter batteries, engaging in artillery duels and sharp-shooting, feeling for weak points day after day—after the capture of Fort McAllister
making arrangements for the transportation of heavy guns with which to shell Savannah
at great distance over the heads of her defenders, and finally suffering the garrison to withdraw by pontoon bridges and canal banks to the Carolina
Had he indicated that activity and energy demanded by the situation, the probabilities are that he could have captured the entire Confederate army.
The evacuation of Savannah
and the subsequent seizure of many thousand bales of cotton afforded the Federal
general an opportunity for a festive interchange of dispatches with the President
of the United States
, in which his famous ‘Christmas present’ figures largely, but he pillaged a nest from which the eagle had flown, and all the balderdash which has been written and spoken about this vaunted ‘march to the sea’ can never, in the clear light of history, cover up or excuse the lack of dash and the want of military skill betrayed by General Sherman
, with the formidable force at his command, in permitting the Confederate
garrison to retire unmolested by a route so precarious in its character, and by a flank movement which could easily have been frustrated by a single division.
Anticipating the retreat of the Confederates
, the Federal
commander did throw a considerable force on the left bank of the Savannah river
particularly upon the upper end of Hutchinson's Island
and upon Argyle Island
—with instructions to intercept the line of communication with the high ground in Carolina
In the attempt to carry these orders into effect the enemy encountered continuous and bloody resistance in the rice fields and along the dams.
As the retention of this route was essential to the ultimate safety of the troops employed in the defense of Savannah
, General Wheeler
's available forces, assisted by General P. M. B. Young
's command and such South Carolina light batteries as could be spared from points along the line of the Charleston and Savannah railroad, were concentrated for its protection.
By these troops all efforts of the enemy to move upon and possess this avenue of retreat were stubbornly resisted and successfully frustrated.
In these skirmishes on the left bank of the Savannah
, and in the heavy fighting for the retention of this route,