14 JANUARY 1865, Page 9


IN the Spectator of September 24 we showed how General Sher- man, by main strength and skill, drove the Confederate army under General Johnston over the Chattahoochee, and tumbled the same army, under General Hood, out of Atlanta. We have now to describe how he made use of his success to march through the State of Georgia and capture Savannah.

The capture of Atlanta, both in a military and political point of view, shook the Confederacy to its centre. Regarded from a military point of view, we see that it planted a Federal army clear beyond the Georgian mountains, laid bare the plains, and offered to the invader a choice of lines of operation. Regarded from a political point of view we see that it afforded strong support to those Georgians and Alabamians who were meditating on the means of rejoining the Union. Mr. Davis felt the danger to be so great that he hurried to the south-west, endeavoured by his speeches to counteract the tendency to desert the Confederacy, and sought to infuse a new spirit into the army. He harangued the citizens, diplo- matized with the Governor, and so far succeeded that they agreed to support him in a fresh attempt to force the Federals to relax their hold on the State and press them back to the Tennessee. In order the more fully to show his sense of the danger, and to secure the great object in view, he confided the entire command of the south-west to the petted and overrated Beauregard. Between them, Davis, Beauregard, and Hood, devised a great plan for the salvation of the State. It was determined that a Southern army should again assume the offensive, and it was confidently predicted that one short month would see the Confederate flag triumphant on the Tennessee.

The plan of the campaign was based on the position of the - Federal& General Sherman, with his main force at Atlanta, drew his supplies from Nashville through Chattanooga. The intervening country was held by a chain of Federal posts guarding the railway. It was relatively weaker between the Chattahoochee and the Tennessee, than it was between the Tennessee and the Cumberland, because the latter was defended by three or four intrenched camps, which were virtually fortresses, between which an army would find it hazardous to move, while the latter was a single line. The calculation of the Confederates was based on their knowledge of the effect which an attack upon a line of retreat produces upon the majority of generals. They thought that at the first news of the presence of a Confederate force on the road between Atlanta and Chattanooga Sherman would evacuate the former and endeavour to retreat on the latter. Thus with or without a battle Georgia would be redeemed. They had miscal- culated two things—the strength of the Federal works at Alla- toona and the depth of Sherman's military ability. Hood crossed the Chattahoochee towards the end of September on a line parallel with the railroad. Sherman, getting news of this, followed with an army, but he did not quit his hold of Atlanta. Hood strack- at Allatoona, but recoiled with loss, and having gained two or three days' marches upon his adversary, he pushed on over the Etowah, and leaving a force in Snake Creek Gap he sent part of his army towards Dalton. But Sherman was now coining up rapidly. Dalton fell, but Sherman was in front of Snake Creek Gap, and Mod, unable to live anywhere on or near the line, saw that if he did not withdraw before Sherman could force the gap he would be beaten in detail. He therefore retreated in haste by one of the Georgian valleys to Gadsden in Alabama. Sherman fol- lowed, and took post at Gaylesville. This was the end of the first series of movements. It was not, though they thought it was, favourable to the Confederates. Hood had failed to interrupt to any serious extent the railway line of communication. Ile was forced off it, and there was Sherman with communications iqtact watching for the next Confederate move. Now Hood, h wing failed in the first requisite of success, had he been wise, would have returned to the left bank of the Chattahoochee, but having, as he thought, "drawn" Sherman so far, he imagined he might draw him further. Beauregard had come up, riding by cross country roads, and instead of returning to cover Georgia, 13.2.aure- gard, rounding the rougher parts of the mountains, plunged forward to the Tennessee. He had designed a great combination in which Forrest played a part, and he evidently reckoned that he could reach Nashville before Sherman, or at all events that to defend Nashville Sherman would cross the Tennessee.

He was mistaken. He had under-estimated the military skill, and what is of equal moment, the moral courage of the Federal General. Sherman saw his opportunity at a glance ; he saw that the Confederate army was committed beyond recall ; he knew that he could dispose of troops enough to make Tennessee safe ; and he knew, moreover, that there could be no force throughout the length and breadth of Georgia capable of resisting one of his corps d'armee. He determined to leave General Thomas to account for

General Hood, and to march himself to Savannah. He might have adopted a strategy less bold and original. He might have contented himself with holding Atlanta and the railroad, and front- ing Hood on the Tennessee. But, with a quick eye, he saw one of those opportunities by which a great general delights to profit. He saw the blunder of the Confederates in all its magnitude, and he took full advantage. As soon as he knew of the march of Hood from Gadsden he fell back upon the railroad, and then, abandoning Rome, Kingston, Resaca, Allatoona, every post on his line of advance, tearing up the track and burning the bridges as he went, he con- centrated four corps and some thousands of horsemen at Atlanta, and, applying the torch to all that remained of that place, set forth, vanishing for the moment from the view of his compatriots, and for a month's space only heard of through the columns of the Confederate journals. The army marched on the 14th, Atlanta

was destroyed on the 15th. Three days later, Beauregard, then at Corinth, was astounded by a report that the result of his fine

strategy had been to open the most fertile breadth of Georgia to the unopposed march of the Federal army. Beauregard. sent Hood forward to destruction, and _hastened himself by devious paths to succour Georgia. But as he was of no use, and did nothing further, we need say no more about him.

In order to reach Savannah, which was his objective point, Gene- ral Sherman had to traverse two hundred and fifty miles, but this dis- tance measured on the map is only an approximation to the real length of the march. There were only three places in the country capable of making any defence —Macon, Augusta, and Savannah.

It was the object of Sherman to operate on the two great railways, the main arteries of Georgia, and to move in such a manner that the handful of Confederates scraped up to defend the State could not be sure until it was too late whether he intended to attack Macon or Augusta, or to leave both alone. The two rail-

ways,—one leading from Atlanta to Augusta, the other from Atlanta through Macon to Savannah, —form to a certain paint the

framework of the Federal lines of march. That point is Millen, on the Savannah road, where a branch starts off north-west to Augusta. Between these two lines is a flat and flourishing country, hitherto untouched by war, swarming with negroes, horses, mules, cattle, and poultry, and covered with a'aundant crops of grain and vegetables. It is a tract of land where the mountains subside and the plains begin. Three considerable streams run through it, the Ocmulgee and the Oconee, which unite to form the Ahem ilea and the Ogeechee, which lingers through rice swamps and pine barrens, and flows into Omabaw Sound, a few miles south-west of Savannah. A glance at the map will show that if the Federal army reached Millen, between the Ogeechea and Savannah rivers, it would be safe from all attacks save those in front or rear.

To accomplish his object Sherman had selected from his army four of his beat corps ; the left wing, consisting of the 14th and 20th, was given to General Slocum; the right, composed of the 15th and 17th, was entrusted to General Howard. The cavalry were placed under Kilpatrick, but received special orders from Sherman himself. Quitting Atlanta the army at once spread out like a fan, the extreme left sweeping down the Augusta road, the extreme right marching towards Mixon, the space between being

covered by two corps, one from each wing, and the horse riding well on the flanks. Milledgeville, on the Oconee, was the first point of concentration for the left wing. The right wing, pre-

ceded and flanked by cavalry, went down the roads towards Macon, sweeping away the small opposing forces mustered by Cobb and Wheeler, and advancing as far as Griffin. The left wing went by Covington to Madison, and there, sending the horse towards Augusta, turned southward by way of Eatonton to Milledgeville. The right, after manceuvring in the direction of Macon, crossed the Ocmulgee above it, and passing by Clinton descended upon Gordon, whence a branch line leads to Milledgeville. The movement of troops on so many points had confounded the Confederates.

The authorities at Augusta believed their town was the object of the march, those at Macon were certain it was against them the enemy was coming, for were they not close to the place, and had not the left wing drawn towards the right? In reality, Sherman had turned Macon, and had cut off at least the infantry force there, and rendered it useless. They showed fight, however,

attacking a small Federal force, pushed up to Griswoldville to protect the men destroying the railroad, and were punished severely for their courage. On the 23rd, a week after quitting Atlanta, the left wing was united at Milledgeville and the right at Gordams while the cavalry were scouring the flanks.

In the meantime General Wheeler had ridden round the right flank, and crossing the Oconee, had turned to defend the passage of the swampy stream. But his resistance was vain. Slocum moved out from Milledgeville upon Sandersville, and Howard marched on both sides of the Savannah railway, thrusting Wheeler away from the bridge over the Oconee, and crossing himself without the loss of a man. The left wing was now con- verging on Louisville, while the right struck across the country by Swainsboro upon Millen. It was now plain that the Confederates had no troops strong enough to interrupt the march, for the efforts of Wheeler did not arrest the forward movement of the columns. In this way, covering a wide front, now filing through swamps, now spreading out on a broad front under the tufted pines, now halting to tear up, twist, and burn rails and sleepers, now collecting cattle and forage, and everywhere welcomed and followed by the negroes, the army pressed forward towards its goal. The left flankers came down through Sparta, the solid body of the left wing marched through Davieboro, the right moved steadily forward upon Millen, while Kilpatrick was in the front threatening Waynesboro, and destroying the bridges on the road to Augusta. At length the whole force, save one corps, crossed the Ogeechee and united at Millen.

Here, again, Sherman kept his opponents in doubt respecting the course ha would pursue. At Millen he threatened both Augusta and Savannah, and he made such strong demonstrations on the Augusta road that he led the Confederates to fear for Augusta, and so prevented them from concentrating troops at Savannah. Kilpatrick, supported by two infantry brigades, very effectually disposed of Wheeler. The army halted two days, and, refreshed and united, began on the 2nd of December its final march upon Savannah. The whole force, save one corps, went steadily down the strip of laud between the Savannah and the Ogeechee, while the one corps on the right bank, marching in two columns, a day in advance of the main body, effectually prevented the Confederates from making any stand on the main road by constantly flanking every position. The precaution was a sound one, but it was not needed. General Hardee was in no condition to fight a battle. And so the main body arrived before Savannah five and twenty days after it quitted Atlaate, and the flanking corps crossing the 0g,eechea at Eden the whole force was united. It was richer than when it started, having so many negroes, horses, cattle, and mules as '0 be almost an incumbrauce. On tile 13th Sherman carried Fort M'Allister by storm, and thus he was in communication with the fleet, for this fort guarded the mouth of the Ogeechee, and its capture opened Omabaw Sound to the gunboats. The first stop was to get rid of the impedimenta, the next to invest the place. This was difficult. There was an outlet over the river into South Carolina, which it would take time to close. On the 20th the fleet on one side and the land forces on the other had got within striking distance of the ferry, and Hardee, feeling that he could not be relieved, and that if he stayed a moment longer the outlet would be stopped, slipped through in the night, and plunged over the rice swamps to Charleston. On the 21st, thirty-six days after leaving Atlanta, Sherman was master of Savannah, having suc- cessfully accomplished the greatest march and delivered the heaviest stroke yet accomplished and delivered during the war, and having done this "without the lose of a waggon," and with a loss of men less than that frequently incurred in some paltry skirmish.