Sherman's Gift For The Union

24 de diciembre de 2007

December 24, 2007 (LPAC)

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light..." -- Isaiah, Chapter 9, verse 2; part of Handel's {Messiah}, performed in America since 1770.

General William T. Sherman's Union forces had captured Atlanta in September 1864, the resulting boost in public confidence crucially contributing to the November re-election of President Abraham Lincoln.

Sherman then marched his army to the sea, on the plan of General Ulysses Grant to use Sherman to paralyze the slaveowners' Confederacy, and hasten the end of the Civil War.

Savannah, Georgia was captured on December 22.

In his memoirs, Sherman wrote:

"Mr. A.G. Browne, ... United States Treasury Agent for the Department of the South, made his appearance to claim possession, in the name of the Treasury Department, of all captured cotton, rice, buildings, etc.... Mr. Brown ... told me that a vessel was on the point of starting [on a voyage that might] reach Fortress Monroe by Christmas-day, and he suggested that I might make it the occasion of sending a welcome Christmas gift to the President, Mr. Lincoln, who particularly enjoyed such pleasantry. I accordingly sat down and wrote on a slip of paper, to be left at the telegraph-office at Fortress Monroe for transmission, the following:

"Savannah, George, December 22, 1864

"To His Excellency President Lincoln, Washington, D.C.:

"I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.

"W.T. Sherman, Major-General.


"This message actually reached him on Christmas-eve, was extensively published in the newspapers, and made many a household unusually happy on that festive day..."

Lincoln replied with the following letter:

"Executive Mansion, Washington, December 26, 1864

"My dear General Sherman:

"Many, many thanks for your Christmas-gift--the capture of Savannah.

"When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that `nothing risked, nothing gained' I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe none of us went farther than to acquiesce. And, taking the work of Gen. Thomas into the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages; but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole--Hood's army--it brings those who sat in darkness, to see a great light.

"But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave Gen. Grant and yourself to decide.

"Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men. Yours very truly, A. Lincoln."