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1864 December 17: The Very Latest from the Savannah Campaign

December 23, 2014

The following report on General William T. Sherman’s expedition in Georgia is from the December 17, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  This news is coming to the Prescott newspaper from New York newspapers and is a week behind the news in the Levings brothers’ letters that we’ve been reading.  This news, however, reached the Levings’ parents long before those letters did as it often took close to a month for letters to arrive from the war zones.

The Very Latest from General Sherman.

NEW YORK, Dec. 14.—The “World’s” Washington special has an account of a battle in front of Savanah [sic], on Saturday the 10th inst., which it says comes direct from a loyal resident of Richmond.

He says 20,000 of Sherman’s men at an early hour crossed the Ogeechee River below Bloomingdale, some twelve miles south of Savanah [sic], and massing between that point and Telfair, the left wnig [sic: wing] and Savanah [sic] Railroad.

Communication had been effected on the preceeding [sic] day with Foster [John G. Foster], who was again rapidly advancing on Grahamsville.

The rebels had retreated from their strong position south of Pocataligo bridge, and were evidently alarmed at finding themselves threatened both in front and rear by superior forces.

Sherman, who was on the field, found himself confronted by a large force of regulars and militia.

An intrenched battle began early in the day, and was continued with great fury on both sides, the garrison at Savanah [sic], numbering twelve thousand veterans, participating.

Toward noon a grand charge was made by the Union troops, which carried some of the works on the enemy’s left and centre, threatening to cut him off from the inlet to the city.

This was followed by an advance of the whole line, which doubled up the rebel formation in confusion, and they fell back to the immediate vicinity of the works in the rear of Savanah [sic], our troops pursuing to Telfair on the south, and a corresponding distance along the upper railroad.

Here our troops rested, finding the enemy’s works very strong and our men from a heavy march the previous night, and the severe fighting, being worn out.

The loss was severe on both sides—2,500 Union, and between 3,000 and 4,000 rebels, among whom were fully 1,200 prisoners of rank.  Colors, cannon, small arms, wagons and caissons were captured.

Smith [G. W. Smith], Hardee [William J. Hardee] and Cobb (Howell Cobb), were in command of the rebels whose loss at first was less than ours, owing to their protection, but at the close of the action they suffered tremendously.

It is believed that all the rebels at the head of the inlet, four or five thousand would be captured.

The facts, says the “World” correspondent have been carefully concealed by the rebel authorities.  The greatest consternation prevails at Charleston.

The last word left Sherman close to the coast, either able to form a junction with Foster and the fleet, or to attack Savanah [sic] with prospects of success.

 NEW YORK, Dec. 14.—Richmond papers report Sherman moving on in close proximity to Savanah [sic].  Beauregard [P.G.T. Beauregard] commands the defences of the city, assisted by Hardee, Smith, and and probably Taylor [Richard Taylor].

The rebel papers say a battle may be progressing to-day, and express themselves confident of success.  Bragg was at Augusta at last accounts.  [Braxton Bragg]

WASHINGTON, Dec, 14.—Special to the “Commercial” says the Richmond papers of 12th, contain no news from Sherman, but there are rumors that Union prisoners report Kilpatrick killed [Judson Kilpatrick].  Also that a Union cavalry force left Baton Rouge for Mobile.

Gen. Hayes and Col. Wilo have been paroled by the rebels to distribute supplies to Union prisoners.

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