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Dec December

In Their Own Words

December 23, 1864

Sherman’s Orders for Occupation of Savannah

From Savannah, Gen. Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 139, which provided:

“Savannah, being now is our possession, and the river partially cleared out, and measures have been taken to remove all obstructions, will at once be made a grand depot for future operations.

“1. The chief-quartermaster, General Easton, will, after giving the necessary orders touching the transports in Ogeechee River and Ossabaw Sound, come in person to Savannah, and take possession of all public buildings, all vacant store-rooms, warehouses, &c., that may be now or hereafter needed for any department of the army. No rents will be paid by the Government of the United States during the war, and all buildings must be distributed according to the accustomed rules of the quartermaster’s department, as though they were public property.

“2. The chief commissary of subsistence, Col. A. Beckwith, will transfer the grand depot of the army to the city of Savannah, secure possession of the needful buildings and offices, and give the necessary orders, to the end that the army may be supplied abundantly and well.

“3. The chief engineer, Captain Poe, will at once direct which of the enemy’s forts are to be retained for our use and which dismantled and destroyed; and the chief ordnance officer, Captain Baylor, will, in like manner, take possession of all property pertaining to his department captured from the enemy and cause the same to be collected and carried to points of security. All the heavy sea-coast guns will be dismounted and carried to Fort Pulaski.

“4. The troops, for the present, will be grouped about the city of Savannah, looking to convenience of camps, General Slocum taking from the Savannah around to about the seven-mile post, on the canal, and General Howard thence to the sea. General Kilpatrick will hold King’s Bridge until Fort McAllister is dismantled and the troops withdrawn from the south side of the Ogeechee, when he will take post about Anderson’s plantation, on the plank road, and picket all the roads leading from the north and west.

“5. General Howard will keep a small guard at Forts Rosedale, Beaulieu, Wimberly, Thunderbolt, and Bonaventura, and he will cause that shore and Skidaway Island to be examined very closely, with a view to finding many and convenient points for the embarkation of troops and wagons on sea-going vessels.”

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. 793-794.