This Day in Georgia History
December 21, 1864
Savannah Surrendered to Sherman
In the early morning hours of Dec. 21, a regiment of General William T. Sherman’s 20th Corps advanced on the Confederate defensive earthworks around Savannah. Although fires were burning, the Union advance force found no Confederate defenders. As they advanced toward Savannah, by dawn they could see Hardee’s rear guard on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River. On the morning of the 21st, Savannah mayor R. D. Arnold and his staff rode out to offer the formal surrender of the city. They were met by Gen. Geary, who accepted their offer and promised to try to protect Savannah citizens and their property. Geary sent a force to occupy Fort Jackson. By 8 a.m., Savannah was in federal hands. Sherman’s capture of Savannah left the captain and crew of the C.S.S. Savannah trapped in the Savannah River. The sluggish ironclad ram - a converted paddle wheeler - was so slow it couldn’t advance upstream against the river current, and downstream were Union gunboats. In one last gesture of defiance, the crew fired on Fort Jackson as Union troops raised the Stars and Stripes. The captain then ordered the crew ashore and had the ship blown up.