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In Their Own Words

December 17, 1864

Sherman and Hardee Exchanged Letters

After having received a letter from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant the previous day urging him to send a large part of his army by boat to Virginia to help defeat Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, Gen. William T. Sherman sent a letter to Gen. William Hardee, commander of Confederate forces in Savannah, demanding the surrender of Savannah or

“… I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army - burning to avenge the great national wrong they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war… .”

Hardee immediately sent a reply to Sherman in which he refused to surrender. Further, as to Sherman’s threats of burning down Savannah, Hardee noted:

“… I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in the future… .”

Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1893, reprinted by The National Historical Society, 1971), Series I, Vol. XLIV, pp. 737-738.