Today in History:

89 Series I Volume XLIV- Serial 92 - Savannah


farther to their left, and their fire annoyed Generals Smith's and Corse's lines to some extent; however, the guns used in these batteries were light field pieces, and it appeared that the enemy thought their left sufficiently secured by the natural obstructions; at least, its lines of infantry there were weak, and I did not wish to disturb this belief by an ostentatious display of activity. The ground on our side was covered with timber, and thus permitted us to prepare for any operations that might become desirable in perfect concealment.

On the 19th of December I received your ordersything for an assault on December 21. The closest investigation of the ground before us showed that the stream could be crossed in two places (in addition of the Savannah road), where it is but very narrow and the approaches to it practicable. One of these points was in General Woods', the other in General Corse's front. Both places never had drawn the enemy's attention, and parties of General Woods and General Corse had gone across in boats without being observed by the rebels. Trestles were built and pontoon-boats gotten ready; the rifle-pits were pushed within 150 to 200 yards of the rebel works. Major Stolbrand, chief of artillery, brought ten pieces of artillery on and to the left of the Savannah road, keeping the remaining eight pieces in reserve, and in a convenient place where they could be ordered to any point where the contemplated attack might demand them. On the morning of December 20 an impression was created that the rebels were withdrawing their pieces from the fort on the Savannah road. To prevent such an undertaking I ordered Captain Zickrick (Twelfth Wisconsin) on the Savannah road battery and Captain Arndt on the Cemetery battery to open on the fort. Their practice was splendid. The enemy, who, after considerable work, succeeded in opening his heavy batteries, had to cease firing very soon under the terrific accuracy of our guns. General Woods' advanced line of infantry, which was rather less than 150 yards from the rebel main line, kept the enemy's sharpshooters completely silent and behind their breast-works. This morning's experience gratified the best hope of a successful assault in the coming night, but orders from General Sherman postponed the attack. During the night of the 20th General Woods' pickets kept the enemy closely under their control, always fearing they would get away. Their fears were correct. Leaving their guns and ammunition in the fort, the rebels sneaked away in the darkness of the night, and the Sixth Iowa Infantry entered, before daylight, their fortifications. Savannah was ours. It proved the richest capture of the war. In my immediate front on the Little Ogeechee and in the portion of the lines around Savannah, which was assigned to the Fifteenth Army Corps on the morning of 21st of December, forty-seven guns, with all ammunition, were found, not counting in the armament at McAllister.

In order to recapitulate, I state that since October 4 to December 21, the Fifteenth Army Corps had marched, in forty-six actual marching days, 684 miles; cut, corduroyed, and otherwise constructed thirty-two miles of road, and built 1,502 yards of bridge; while it destroyed most effectually over 60 miles of railroad. Being on an exposed flank, the corps had a large share of the fighting during the campaign, and the actions at Allatoona, Griswoldville, and McAllister will shine as bright stars in the record of the corps.

Our losses in battle were comparatively light, and I am happy to state that, thanks to the very efficient and skillful medical corps under the direction of Doctor Niccolls, surgeons of volunteers, not a single man