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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

December 31, 1864

Weather Caused Delay in Leaving Savannah, Comments on Citizens

A Wisconsin soldier wrote in his diary of their first attempt to cross into South Carolina, foiled by weather and bad conditions. He also had some interesting comments on Savannah and its citizens.

“Savannah, New Year’s Eve. We started out this morning to go across the river. We crossed the South Branch, which took us to Hutchinson’s Island. The broader stream is on the other side of it; this was not bridged, and the South Carolina shore was defended by some rebel cavalry. We crossed some men in boats, but they could not get to a good landing, the ground was so marshy. It was attempted to lay a pontoon bridge, but the wind was so furious and agitated the water so much that it was exceedingly difficult, besides we had not nearly pontoons enough. It was very chilly and rained all day, and we lay there in the mud on the island until night, when all but one brigade was sent back to their old camps. That brigade is to be crossed by means of a steam tug and Sat boats, and I suppose we will start out again tomorrow morning to cross the same way, and then we can easily put a bridge across. Most of our camps had been occupied by other troops when we came back; ours had not been broken up and carried off, but was in the possession of a Quarter Master, who was quickly turned out, so Major L., Captain F. and I have our old room again, which is more comfortable than on that cold swampy island. We have had no mail yet; it is said that one is expected today. I trust we will get it before we leave, as we have orders to be ready to march at any moment. The weather seems to have been rough on the ocean of late, three-mast steamers came in yesterday with top masts gone. They have had a meeting in the city and passed resolutions of submission to the United States, but I think they do not represent the general sentiments of the city; all the educated classes are intensely secesh, still necessity may make them good citizens. Savannah is a very handsome city; private residences are very fine and luxuriously furnished. The Pulaski Monument is the boast of the city; there are several squares with monuments. A large park has lately been much neglected. A large number of streets are inhabited exclusively by negroes. I have seen but little of the city or its citizens. A New York Tribune correspondent publishes a daily paper at ten cents a copy, containing absolutely nothing of interest.” Source: Civil War Letters of Major Fredrick C. Winkler, in 26th Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers Home Page