Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
Christmas in Savannah 1864
For, Savannah, Christmas 1864 was anything but a time for merriment. Almost four years of war had taken the lives of thousands of Georgians, destroyed millions of dollars in property and left the state in chaos. As the holiday approached, so did the relentless Union Army led by William Tecumseh Sherman. For Union soldiers, it was a time for jubilant celebration as Gen. Sherman telegraphed President Lincoln, "Sir: I beg to present to you as a Christmas gift, the City of Savannah with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition; also about 25,000 bales of cotton."
Innocent Victims of War Face Uncertain Future
In November 1864, Sherman initiated his historic March to the Sea. With 57,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry, the Union Army cut a 40 to 60 mile wide swath through " the soft underbelly of the Confederacy." Within days of Savannah's surrender a Union officer wrote, "We are in Savannah, in the full enjoyment of superb quarters, fish, oysters and other good things and our army relishes the condition of the affairs." In Southern circles, "All talk was of burning homes, houses
(Top center picture)
Pontoon Bridges Hasten Mass Exodus
In anticipation of Sherman's occupation of Savannah, Confederate generals ordered the construction of pontoon bridges to assist in the evacuation of the city. "Boards and timbers from the city wharves and some buildings were pried up to use for flooring, and Rebels scoured the area for rice flats to help float the bridges." An eyewitness compared the stream of wagons, soldiers, and civilians to an "immense funeral procession stealing out of the city at the dead of night."
(l) Burning Confederate Navy Vessels Light Up the Christmas Season Sky, (r) Captured Cotton on the Docks Made a White Christmas
(u) Sherman's Army Marching Down Bay Street
Cartoon Mocks General's Holiday Generosity
"Implacable in war," Sherman was viewed by onlookers as possessing a "nervous, rumpled, irritable" nature. Known by his men as Uncle Billy, he had little toleration and respect for journalists or politicians. Prior to his onslaught on the Southern states, Sherman proclaimed, "War is the remedy of our enemies have chosen and I say let us give them all they want; not a word of argument,
Erected 2009 by U.S. Dept. Of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Georgia Dept. of Transportation. (Marker Number 7.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Military • Notable Events • Notable Places • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln series list. A significant historical month for this entry is November 1864.
Location. 32° 4.864′ N, 81° 5.276′ W. Marker is in Savannah, Georgia, in Chatham County. Marker is on E River Street. Between Abercorn Ramp and Lincoln Ramp, at the Riverside. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Savannah GA 31401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Savannah's Cobblestones (within shouting distance of this marker); Savannah's Wharves (within shouting distance of this marker); Shipping in the Port of Savannah (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Savannah (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation (about 300 feet away); The Georgia Hussars (about 300 feet away); Savannah Marine Korean War Monument (about 400 feet away); River Street Inn (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Savannah.
Also see . . . Sherman's March to the Sea. New Georgia Encyclopedia website entry (Submitted on May 28, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 28, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,760 times since then and 50 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week December 21, 2014. Photos: 1. submitted on May 28, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 2. submitted on May 30, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 28, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.