This Day in Georgia Civil War History
December 22, 1864
Sherman Presented Savannah to Lincoln as Christmas Present
Union General William T. Sherman arrived in Savannah after its surrender the previous day. He accepted a citizen’s offer to use his luxurious house as his headquarters. Sherman met with a U.S. Treasury agent, who requested that the Treasury Department be allowed to claim all cotton, rice, and public buildings in Savannah. Sherman agreed to turn over what his soldiers did not need. The agent mentioned that a ship was about to depart Savannah for Fort Monroe and asked if Sherman wanted to send a Christmas message to President Abraham Lincoln. In response to the suggestion, Sherman reached for a piece of paper and wrote a brief note.
“I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”
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, p. 783.
Sherman later wrote in his memoirs of his first day in Savannah.
“On the morning of December 22d I followed with my own headquarters and rode down Bull Street to the custom-house, from the roof of which we had an extensive view over the city, the river, and the vast extent of marsh and rice-fields on the South Carolina side. The navy-yard and the wreck of the iron-clad ram Savannah were still smouldering, but all else looked quiet enough. Turning back, we rode to the Pulaski Hotel, which I had known in years long ago and found it kept by a Vermont man with a lame leg, and I inquired about the capacity of his hotel for headquarters. He was very anxious to have us for boarders, but I soon explained to him that we had a full mess equipment along, and that we were not in the habit of paying board…” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman’s Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), p. 178.