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10 Series I Volume XLIV- Serial 92 - Savannah

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Page 10 OPERATIONS IN S. C., GA., AND FLA. Chapter LVI.

and covered by his heavy artillery. The only approaches to the city were by five narrow causeways-namely, the two railroads, and the Augusta, the Louisville, and the Ogeechee dirt roads-all of which were commanded by heavy ordnance, too strong for us to fight with our light field-guns. To assault an enemy of unknown strength at such a disadvantage appeared to me unwise, especially as I had so successfully brought my army, almost unscathed, so great a distance, and could surely attain the same result by the operation of time. I therefore instructed my army commanders to closely invest the city from the north and west, and to reconnoiter well the ground in their fronts, respectively, whilst I gave my personal attention to opening communications with our fleet, which I knew was waiting for us in Tybee, Wassaw, and Ossabaw Sounds.

In approaching Savannah General Slocum struck the Charleston railroad near the bridge, and occupied the river-bank as his left flank, where he had captured two of the enemy's river boats, and had prevented two others (gun-boats), from coming down the river to communicate with the city; while General Howard, by his right flank, had broken the Gulf railroad at Fleming's and Way's Stations, and occupied the railroad itself down to the Little Ogeechee, near Station 1; so that no supplies could reach Savannah by any of its accustomed channels. We, on the contrary, possessed large herds of cattle, which we had brought along or gathered in the country and our wagons still contained a reasonable amount of breadstuffs and other necessaries, and the fine rice crops of the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers furnished to our men and animals a large amount of rice and rice straw. We also held the country to the south and west of the Ogeechee as foraging ground. Still, communication with the fleet was of vital importance; and I directed General Kilpatrick to cross the Ogeechee by a pontoon bridge, to reconnoiter Fort McAllister, and to proceed to Saint Catherine's Sound, in the direction of Sunbery or Kilkenny Bluff, and open communication with the fleet. General Howard had previously, by my direction, sent one of his best scouts down the Ogeechee in a canoe for a like purpose. But more than this was necessary. We wanted the vessels and their contents; and the Ogeechee River, a navigable stream, close to the rear of our camps, was the proper avenue of supply.

The enemy had burned the road bridge across the Ogeechee, just below the mouth of the Cannouchee, known as King's Bridge. This was reconstructed in an incredibly short time, in the most substantial manner, by the Fifty-eighth Indiana (Colonel Buell), under the direction of Captain Reese, of the Engineer Corps, and on the morning of the 13th of December the Second Division of the Fifteenth Corps, under command of Brigadier-General Hazen, crossed the bridge to the west bank of the Ogeechee and marched down with orders to carry by assault Fort McAllister, a strong inclosed redoubt, manned by two companies of artillery and three of infantry, in all about 200 men, and mounting twenty-three guns in barbette and one mortar. General Hazen reached the vicinity of Fort McAllister about 1 p. M., deployed his division about the place, with both flanks resting upon the river, posted his skirmishers judiciously behind the trunks of trees, whose branches had been used for abatis, and about 5 p. M. assaulted the place with nine regiments at three points, all of them successfully. I witnessed the assault from a rice mill on the opposite bank of the river, and can bear testimony to the handsome manner in which it was accomplished.


Page 10 OPERATIONS IN S. C., GA., AND FLA. Chapter LVI.

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