previous next

The evacuation of Savannah — the Latest statements from Southern sources.

The Charleston Courier contains a letter giving a very interesting statement of the evacuation of Savannah. The writer says:

‘ Our fortifications extended from the Savannah river, some four miles above the city, on our right, to the Little Ogeechee river, near the Gulf railroad, some eight miles from the city, on our left.--We held Fort McAllister, on the west bank of the Ogeechee, a few miles below the Gulf railroad. We also had strong batteries at Rose Dew, between the two Ogeechees, at Beaulieu, Thunderbolt, Causlin's Bluff, etc., and troops stationed on Isle of Hope and Whitmarsh islands. Our newly-erected fortifications on the land side of the city were very strong and capable of turning back almost any kind of assault, though they were not commenced till after Sherman had nearly reached Milledgeville. Sherman's army appeared before these works about the 8th or 9th instant, and on Saturday, the 10th, considerable fighting occurred. --Several severe assaults were made, in which the enemy were signally repulsed. Early on Sunday morning, the 11th, a tremendous cannonading began and was kept up for half the day. It was supposed in the city that a heavy engagement was going on, but it proved to be only a general shelling from the heavy guns on our lines. Sherman was in no condition to attack our works. He was scarce of ammunition and had no heavy guns, as well as other difficulties in the way of his giving battle. During the siege, severe assaults were several times made on particular points, with a view of storming our works and breaking through our lines, but all these were handsomely repulsed.

’ On Saturday, the 17th instant, a flag of truce was sent in by Sherman, demanding the surrender of the city; and on Sunday, the 18th, a reply was given by General Beauregard, refusing to comply with the demand. On Monday, the evacuation commenced — the first squad coming out about mid-day; another came out at 4 P. M., and two others at night. How rapidly the evacuation was thereafter conducted, I know not, except from reports. It is said the evacuation took place on Tuesday night. I fear all our soldiers did not get out. Some of them were twelve or fourteen miles from the city, while many were eight miles off. The heaviest fighting of the siege took place on Monday evening and night, the 19th. The enemy were repulsed in all their attempts on our lines; so the soldiers must have been there, and not on the retreat. If so, I cannot perceive how it is possible for all to have come off by Tuesday night, though they may have done so. We had several boats, capable of carrying from five hundred to one thousand each across the river at a trip, and a pontoon bridge besides.

Very few of the citizens left the city. Many would have done so if they could, but the realization of their condition came too late. It found them all unprepared, and escape impossible. There was no alternative but to submit to their terrible fate. It does seem to me that our military authorities should, by some means, have given some notice or hint to the people, or time allowed those who desired to do so either to get away or set their houses in order if they intended to stay. Perhaps I am wrong in this conclusion — I will not say positively. As before stated, the people were in the dark as to what was going on. They hoped we would be able to force Sherman to the coast, either to the right or to the left, and save the city, and, in this belief, very little private property of any description was sent off. Neither of the newspaper offices were removed, and all the material of both, including a considerable supply of paper, fell into the hands of the enemy. If they remain there long, we may expect soon to have them issuing Yankee newspapers from the offices of those hitherto substantial Southern journals.

The last issue of the News was on Saturday morning, the 10th instant. --The enemy had cut all the railroads and telegraphic wires, thus cutting off any outside information by mail or otherwise, and the military authorities desired nothing concerning the situation, or what was there taking place, to be made public. Under these circumstances the paper was stopped, and the editor and printers went into service.

The Republican continued to issue a quarter sheet, but it contained no news, either local or from abroad, and was, under the circumstances, the most unsatisfactory newspaper that I ever tried to read. I never witnessed such a forcible illustration of the value of newspapers in a community. Everybody was in a state of suspense. There was a pretty general hope that the city would be saved, but no one could give any substantial reason for this hope, having no certain grounds upon which to base it; and ignorance of the real condition kept them from arriving at a different conclusion and preparing for the worst.

All was uncertainty and doubt. Hope was mingled with fear, and it was difficult for any one to decide which preponderated in his own mind. Every man, when he met his neighbor, inquired, and was inquired of, after the news, and

neither could gratify the other. All were the victims of every imaginable kind — rumor and opinion, from the best to the worst. I hope never to pass through such dreadful days again. Such suspense is worse agony than any reality, be it ever so dreadful.

The only intelligence from Savannah, Georgia, from Southern sources, since its evacuation, is the following, from the Augusta Register:

It is reported that Sherman has sent a force from his army around to the assistance of Foster's troops, on the Coosa-watchie. The enemy's batteries in that quarter have increased, as evidenced by the continuous shelling of the railroad; doing, however, very little damage. Our cavalry continue to scour the country around Hardeeville. In other respects, affairs in that quarter are unchanged.

A gentleman who left Savannah on Thursday night states that Sherman had sent about three regiments into the city as a guard. The remainder of his army is encamped outside the city. --Sherman, it was stated, had offered the Mayor every assistance in preserving order, and had stationed guards for the protection of private houses, stores and public buildings. So far as our informant had observed, citizens were unmolested and all private property respected.

Our informant states that Sherman demanded the surrender of the city of Savannah unconditionally, stating that, if complied with, favorable terms would be shown to the garrison, but if not, that he would proceed to take it either by assault, investment, or the most sure process of starvation; and if taken in that manner no quarter would be given to the garrison, nor would he be responsible for the conduct of his troops. He afterwards sent a copy of General Hood's demand for the surrender of Dalton.

Sherman's inspector-general, who was bearer of the flag of truce with this, informed one of our officers--Captain Macbeth--that Sherman came very near being killed a day or two previous by a fragment of shell from our side. His body servant was killed, and Sherman barely escaped by dodging behind a rock.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
William Tecumsch Sherman (12)
Macbeth (1)
Hood (1)
Foster (1)
Beauregard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
10th (2)
18th (1)
17th (1)
11th (1)
9th (1)
8th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: