(CIVIL WAR--CONFEDERATE--NAVY.) Archive on the defense of Savannah in anticipation of Sherman's March to the Sea. 16 items in one folder; various sizes and conditions, most with scrapbook mount remnants on the left edge verso. Savannah, GA, 18 November to 15 December 1864
The Union Army under General Sherman began marching from Atlanta to Savannah on 15 November 1864, hoping to connect with the blockading fleet to capture the important Confederate port city. This correspondence detailing the increasingly desperate naval defense of the city was among the papers of Lieutenant Joel S. Kennard (1819-1901), commanding the CSS steamer Macon in the defenses of Savannah. Highlights include:
An exchange of 3 messages from 18-20 November in which Kennard asserts that he does not have sufficient active officers on his ship to send out nightly guard boat patrols.
A note asserting that "it is impossible to obtain trowsers for the Marine Guard stationed on board of C.S. Steamer Macon," 20 November.
An order to defend a railroad bridge to Charleston: "Lieut. Gen. Hardee desires the service above stated & I know no officer to whom it can be better confided," 27 November, along with Kennard's draft response of 29 November reporting that his ship did not have a shallow enough draft to reach the desired position.
A report on the imminent approach of Sherman's feared cavalry officer General Hugh Kilpatrick to Hudson's Ferry: "Kilpatrick's cavalry are reported to be within 8 miles of the ferry near here, and if they intend crossing will make the effort tomorrow," 4 December. The next day, the alarm was called off: "There are no particular indications of the enemy's intention to cross at Hud[son's] Ferry. They were within 4 miles of the ferry yesterday & came no nearer." Kennard reported from Sister's Ferry on 7 December that he heard "Sherman's army was still in the neighborhood of Millen, so that I can't help thinking the troops that appeared at Hudson's Ferry, as at this place, are simply raising parties."
As Sherman's forces drew ever closer, Kennard received an order on 10 December: "Lieut General Hardee directs that you protect the rail road bridge over the Savannah River at all hazards, first destroying one or more spans of the bridge." Kennard replied with confidence the next day: "Have no fear of the enemy's taking this bridge. I can defend it against five times Sherman's army. Yesterday evening and again this morning I have driven back parties attempting to reach it."
The Savannah fleet's flag officer William W. Hunter sent a hurried letter on 14 December: "Should you learn that the enemy have possession of Savannah, proceed with the Macon as far up as she may be safely taken up the Savannah River. . . . It is very desirable to have the Macon & her armament for future uses." Finally, on 15 December, Brigadier General Robert Houstoun Anderson sent a dramatic Letter Signed from Hardeeville: "A considerable force of the enemy have landed at Izzard's Place and have driven in my pickets. A portion of Gen. Ferguson's brigade is here & is just starting with me to engage them. If you could move down the river opposite Izzard's and cooperate with us, we could probably kill or capture the entire party. Send answer by bearer." Confederate troops finally evacuated on 20 December, and Sherman occupied the city the next day. The gunboat Macon remained safely at inland Augusta, GA until the end of the war.
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