You have aptly remarked in one of your recent editorials that the "entire South is in a blaze of patriotic enthusiasm." There is not a city, town, village or hamlet that is not now responding to the call upon it for all men capable of bearing arms.
New volunteer companies are springing into existence every day; the old are being strengthened by fresh recruits, and the spirit of resistance begins to resemble the fervid, whole-souled aspirations of our revolutionary forefathers.
Every hand in the community is doing something to aid the cause, even though it be but the widow's mite.
The women are praying and working, and the men are bucking on their armor for the fight.
Homespun has taken the place of silks and satins, and every house is a manufactory where, from the gray-haired grandmother to the child of ten, all are united in the labor of fabricating garments for the soldier.
Such is the aspect of social affairs in every State of the South
, and particularly in Georgia
Not less promising is the military aspect of affairs, and especially so with reference to the condition of defences in and around Savannah
While traveling hither I found everywhere an impression prevailing that the city could not possibly withstand a serious attack of the enemy, and would fall almost of its own accord.
In fact, absurd as were many of the statements made, their continual repetition from various sources had imbued my own mind with a similar belief.
You can, therefore, judge of my gratifying surprise on arriving here and finding how totally different was the reality from the rumor.
There is no city in the Confederacy
, with the same means at its disposal, better fortified than Savannah
If possible, it is even stronger than Charleston
, and any one acquainted with the defences there is aware of its comparative impregnability.
The water defences on the Savannah river
are daily being improved in strength; the best of military skill and ingenuity is employed upon the work; guns are mounted and ready for action; the movements of the enemy are carefully watched; and, in a word, we are ready for the long-expected demonstration.
The same may be said of the fortifications on land.
Entrenchments completely environ the city and guard the avenues of approach; strong batteries protect the assailable creeks and inlets; the troops are all disposed and ready for action; the woods for miles around, containing their encampments, and even the marshes, have been prepared to play their part in the coming drama.
The great delay of the Federals
has led to the supposition in many military minds that their presence off Charleston
is merely a feint to prevent reinforcements from being sent from Georgia
and South Carolina
to other points.
But on the other hand, the high authority of Gen. Lee
has pronounced the belief that the enemy will make an advance, and endeavor to secure these two localities, which they so bitterly despise, and that they are only awaiting reinforcements, and the completion of operations in the creeks, by which they expect to be able to get into the Savannah river
, and thence to the city.
If they know the difficulties they will have to encounter at every step of the undertaking for miles before they reach even the suburbs, they would hesitate long before engaging in an attempt which can only prove disastrous.
Let no one judge of the future by the past.
If the misapprehension has gone forth that the Yankees
can remove other obstructions as easily as they have done the piles planted in the smaller channels, let it be forgotten.--These were intended to obstruct, delay, and give us time, and they have fully answered our purpose.
To defend these obstructions was a matter of impossibility; first, because they were miles beyond the reach of our guns; and, secondly, because the nature of the surrounding marsh prevented the erection of batteries for the purpose.
Complaint has frequently been made by those unfamiliar with the facts, that we did not keep open the communication with Fort Pulaski
did all in their power to effect that object, but the very topography of the country was against them, and a formal consultation decided upon the military necessity of concentrating the troops more nearly around Savannah
, and leaving Fort Pulaski
, with its six months of provisions, to the mercies of Providence
Time will show the wisdom of this step.
The question may be asked by many, what have the Yankees
accomplished since they invested Savannah
The reply is a very brief one.
They have seized three or four islands of no earthly consequence to any body, and less so to themselves, for they are the breeding spot of every foul disorder incident to malarious soil.
One of these is York Island
in the Savannah river
, and divides the north from south channel leading to Fort Pulaski
.--On this is planted a battery of seven guns, and thus the blockade of that stronghold is completed, without the aid of ships.
Opposite to this, about five hundred yards distant, is Jones's Island, on which another battery of five guns is planted for a similar purpose.--The next Island to York
, and nearest Savannah
, is Elba
, a stretch of marsh two and a half or three miles in length and half a mile or more in breadth.
The lower end of this is only a rifle shot from York Island
, and has been alternately visited by Federals and Confederates, but only for purposes of reconnaissance.
I understand that yesterday a detachment of our men applied the torch among the tall reeds at this end, and in an hour, with a brisk wind blowing, the entire marsh was swept clear of all obstructions to the vision.
The distance from the upper end of Elba
to Fort Jackson
, which is two and a half miles below the city, on the right bank, is about two miles--may be, a little less, but within easy shelling distance with mortars.
I understand that the Federals
have secured three or four flats between the two islands above named, and my fear is that on some dark night a force of men will cross the island, land three or four heavy mortars from these flats, and put up a battery which can open upon us in the morning.
When you remember that each mortar is protected by a huge mound of earth in front of it, and occupies a space not much larger than fifteen or twenty feet square at the most, you can readily imagine how little would be the execution we could do at that distance with so small a mark, and how great might be their own when directed against our more extended line of work.
Beyond these demonstrations, which are as yet purely imaginary, there is no danger to anticipate, and I believe I speak the minds of the Generals
in command when I say that they feel the utmost confidence in their ability to check any ufrther advance.
How it will be done, it is of course improper to state, but the means are already in process of creation, and will be effective.
You might well suppose that a city surrounded as is Savannah
with soldiers, must necessarily be a lively place; but I have been surprised during my stay here to see upon the streets comparatively few among the thousands encamped so near.
Straggling from camp is not permitted, and even the officers are brought under a rigid discipline which restricts them to their lines.
There are no drunken people to be seen, and the whole town wears a sober, serious, earnest face, as if it was prepared for the emergency with which it is threatened.
There are no parties, few evening gatherings, little visiting, and little or none of the galley for which, in times past, the beautiful capital has been celebrated.
The deposits in the banks have, to a great extent, been removed, old wares and family plates have taken a similar direction, and some of the ladies who are more frightened than hurt have gone into the interior; but the majority of the residents still remain, and the wheels of trade revolve as usual.
Of course in this attitude of affairs, every man in the city capable of bearing arms, and not legally exempt, is in service, and when the striking hour approaches, the old men too are prepared to fall into the ranks and fight by the side of their sons.
Georgians have not yet run in this revolution, and you may be sure they will never leave their homes while a drop of their blood remains to consecrate the soil.
Among those whom I have found under arms and doing effective, active service on the outposts, is W. H. Wiltberger
, well known for the last thirty or forty years as "mine host" of the Pulaski House
, and the proprietor of the beautiful "Bonaventure" estate.
His portly form now bestrides a cavalry horse, and he has sworn to his company — he is the Captain
of the "Georgia
Hussars"--that until the war is closed he will never ride on wheels again, unless it is to the grave.
His co-partner, Mr. J. O. Bartely
, has recently contributed a son to the Yankees
, he being taken prisoner while making a dangerous reconnaissance down the river.
I presume, however, that I am trespassing on the territory of your excellent Savannah
correspondent, "Mercury," and that neither he, you, nor your readers, will thank me for attempting to add even the great-work to his epistolary plum puddings.
P. S.--The intelligence of the recent exploit of the Merrimac
has just reached here by telegraph, and the glad tidings have raised the spirits of the entire community.
The expression is general, however, that the gallant officer in command will vigorously pursue the advantage he has gained, and strike wherever he can, at big and little of the enemy's shipping.
Yankee ingenuity will soon set to work to create a battery just like her, and the more damage we can do in the meantime the better.
Why is it not possible for the Merrimac
to run outside of the Fortress and take a station on the track of descending Yankees, sink some of their transports with troops, and scatter desolation generally?