On this day 10 December American Civil War

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1864 Sherman arrives in front of Savannah

Union General William T. Sherman completes his "March to the Sea" when he arrives in front of Savannah, Georgia.

Since mid-November, Sherman's army had been sweeping from Atlanta across the state to the south and east towards Savannah, one of the last Confederate seaports still unoccupied by Union forces. Along the way, Sherman destroyed farms and railroads, burned storehouses, and fed his army off the land. In his own words, Sherman intended to "make Georgia howl," a plan that was approved by President Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of the Union armies.

The city of Savannah was fortified and defended by 10,000 Confederates under the command of General William Hardee. The Rebels flooded the rice fields around Savannah, so only a few narrow causeways provided access to the city. Sherman's army was running low on supplies and he had not made contact with supply ships off the coast. Sherman's army had been completely cut off from the North, and only the reports of destruction provided any evidence of its whereabouts. Sherman directed General Oliver O. Howard to the coast to locate friendly ships. Howard dispatched Captain William Duncan and two comrades to contact the Union fleet, but nothing was heard of the trio for several days. Duncan located a Union gunboat that carried him to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Supply ships were sent to Savannah, and Duncan continued on to Washington to deliver news of the successful "March to the Sea" to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

For ten day, Hardee held out as Sherman prepared for an attack. Realizing the futility of losing in force entirely, Hardee fled the city on December 20 and slipped northward to fight another day.
 

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