This Day in Georgia Civil War History
December 15, 1864
Union Soldier Camped Outside Savannah, Noted Live Oak
A Wisconsin soldier with Sherman’s army wrote home to his wife of being camped outside of Savannah and meeting some minor Confederate resistance; he also noted the beauty of what would become Georgia’s state tree - the live oak.
“We have changed positions several times since arriving in front of Savannah; we are now between the Charleston & Savannah and the Central Railroads. On the right, there is also a turnpike running along the railroad. On these roads the rebels have a very strong fort, mounted with heavy guns; they throw spherical case loaded with balls two inches in diameter from time to time. Quite a number of the balls and pieces of shell have come into our camp, but no one has been hurt. We have strong breastworks, which afford us protection. Just after we came here, I became the owner of a beautiful black mare in a rather peculiar manner. I rode out on the right a ways to see about our connection with the 14th Corps, when I was met by three soldiers, two of them mounted on mules and one on the mare in question. The latter stopped and said, ‘Say, I would like to give you a first-rate blooded mare.’ I looked at him in surprise and asked him what I should give him for her; but he said, ‘I just want to give her to you; I have been detailed on cattle guard and rode her so far; she is a captured horse, unfit for Government use, and I have no forage and want to give her to some one who will take good care of her.’ He was an utter stranger to me. Of course, I took the mare and promised to take good care of her. On the river here is a group of beautiful live oak trees; the trunks are very thick, and the branches extend out in all directions. The trees form a grove with a continuous roof. I don’t know whether the fleet has landed yet. There were obstructions in the river which had to be removed first.” Source: Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, in 26th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers Home Page