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Winter Campaigns of 1864-6.—Movement of Sherman from Atlanta to Savannah.—Fort MoAllistcr Carried by Assault.—Communication Opened with Admiral Dahlgren's Fleet.—Savannah Occupied by Sherman.—Movements of Hood and Beauregard.—Campaign in Tennessee.—Battle of Franklin.—The Armies Before Nashville.— Raid of Stoneman and Burbridge.—Battle of Nashville.—Defeat and Rout of Hood's Army.—Movements Against Wilmington.— Failure of the First Attack on Fort Fisher.—Success of the Second Expedition.—Fort Fisher Captured by Terry and Porter.—Movements of the Army Before Petersburg.—Sherman's Campaign in tho Carolinas.—Capture of Charleston and Wilmington.—Advance of Schofield and Terry on Goldsboro—Battles of Avcrysboro and Bentonville.—Occupation of Goldsboro and Union of the Three Armies in North Carolina.—Movements in Virginia.—Conference at City Point.
Having swept the army of Hood from the Atlanta and Chattanooga road into the wilds of North-eastern Alabama, Gen. Sherman made energetic preparations for a new campaign. The climate of Georgia permitted wintet operations with little interruption, and no time was to be lost in following up tho decided advantage everywhere gained. Gen. Thomas was left with an ample force in Tennessee to look after Hood, while tho remainder of the army set forward on its "march to tho sea." On the 12th of November, Gen. Sherman left Kingston, where his headquarters had been since his return from the pursuit of the enemy northward, and advanced to Atlanta. He had already caused the inhabitants of this place to remove—an act of some severity, which he justified as necessary to tho execution of his military purposes. The depots and public property in the city were now destroyed, as well as the railroad between Atlanta and Kingston, and trains of supplies were in readiness for a long march—abandoning his base, to seek a new one on the Atlantic coast. This launching of a "movable column' Into the heart of the enemy's country, for a march of throe hundred and fifty miles, might well seem a rash undertaking. Hood was manifestly incredulous, otherwise he would hardly have been now on a wild chase, far away from the State he had just been endeavoring to protect, and which his present movement was intended to relieve from the presence of the "invader." Even Gen. Sherman himself is believed to have doubted the practicability of this undertaking, when first indicated to him by Lieut.-Gen. Grant. The latter, nevertheless, had determined on thus testing his conviction that " the South was but a shell," and his order was given. As yet, the destination of the army was a secret to all but the leaders—friend and foe alike being left in mystery.
The forces taken on this expedition were the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth and Twentieth Corps, together with Gen. Kilpatrick's Division of cavalry—in all, about 70,000 men. The march from Atlanta commenced on the 14th of November.
The right, consisting of the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, under command of Maj.-Gen. Howard, advanced in the direction of Macon, while the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps, on the left, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Slocum, moved toward Augusta, both wings destroying the railroads in their march. On the 16th, Iverson was driven from Rough-and-Ready by Gen. Howard, who occupied Joncsboro and McDonough on the 17th, his advance skirmishing with Rebel cavalry and infantry. Gen. Slocum reached Covington and Social Circle on tho day last named—destroying the depots and other property. On the 18th, the Macon railroad was cut at Forsyth, and the Georgia Legislature, then in session at Milledgeville, together with the State authorities, fled with precipitancy, in alarm at tho close proximity of Gen. Sherman. On the 19th, Howard threw a bridge across tho Oemulgeo River, advancing on tho State Capital, whilo on the extreme left, the same day, a force entered Madison, on the Augusta railroad, destroying public property at that place. On the 20th, Griswoldville, east of Macon, on tho Georgia Central railroad, was taken, and the railroad track and property destroyed. Instead of attacking Macon, which was well fortified, and defended by State militia, our forces passed wide of the town, steadily advancing. Howard entered Milledgoville on the 20th, and Sherman's extreme left, on the same day, crossed the Oconee, and entered Greensboro, half-way from Atlanta to Augusta. On the 21st, after a slight cavalry engagement, Gordon, an important railroad junction, was reached by the right, and the chief remaining communication with Richmond by rail was severed. The following day was occupied in destroying the railroad, and some fighting occurred near Griswoldville, on the 23d; Woleott's brigade, of the Fifteenth Corps, having made a reconnoissance toward Macon, and defeated a party of the enemy advancing for a similar purpose. The portion of the army proceeding along the Georgia Central railroad, crossed the Oconee River on the 26th, Kilpatrick encountering and defeating a Rebel force under Wayne, which contested the passage of the stream. This was the principal fighting done in the interior of the State during the campaign, and a victory over Kilpatrick was proclaimed by the Rebel press, after Sherman's entire forco was beyond the Oconee, having destroyed the bridges in their rear. The Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps had crossed somewhat earlier at Milledgeville, forty miles above.
On the 28th, the Seventeenth Corps was at Sandersvillo, advancing toward the Ogeechee river, while to Slocum's command was left the work of destroying the Georgia Central railroad, between the Oconee and the Ogeecheo. The Seventeenth Corps crossed the latter river on the 30th of November, following the railroad, while the Fifteenth Corps moved down the south bank of the same stream. During the next eight days, the army moved steadily on, in parallel columns, its flanks well guarded, and scarcely even annoyed by the enemy's cavalry. During all the march there had been liberal foraging; the men were well supplied, and the animals were in excellent condition, accessions being made also to their numbers. The incidents of this memorable procession, sweeping over a wide belt across the territory of the Southern Empire State, attracting the wondering eyes and elating the simple hearts of tens of thousands of the faithful race that hailed their deliverers from long-accumulating wrongs; flashing tha light of divine ideas from columns of gleaming bayonets by day, and from cities of camp-fires by night, will live in the pages of history and romance while our country shall endure. For weeks enveloped in a cloud to the world around—even to the Rebels, mainly, who were often only ignorant when affecting to bo reticent—tidings of the great expedition began to be anxiously awaited. A fleet, under Admiral Dahlgren, was, meanwhile, arriving off the coast, near Savannah, prepared to rejoin the long-broken line of communication with Washington.
The enemy had thrown up some rude earth-works at the railroad bridge across the littlo Ogeechee, but retired beforo the First Division of the Seventeenth Corps, deployed for the purpose, had come within attacking distance. The whole force of the enemy was found to be concentrated, on the 9th of December, behind intrenchments, in an apparently strong natural position, thirteen miles from Savannah. A gallant charge of the single division just named, through a swamp in front of the enemy's position—the men sometimes marching waist deep— drove him from his works, in spite of a heavy artillery fire, and they were firmly held by our forces. The Rebels retired within another line of works, three or four miles from the city, which were found, by reconnoissance on tho 10th, to be covered by a more formidable swamp, artificially deepened by a canal cut from the Savannah to the Ogeechee river, and really impassable. Destroying tho Charleston railroad to the Savannah River, and the bridge across that stream, tho Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps took position before the city. The Fifteenth Corps having crossed the Ogeechee at King's Bridge, had previously struck the Gulf Railroad, at a point seven miles from Savannah, and the Seventeenth Corps moved to tho right to relieve tho Fifteenth, which was advanced toward the sea.
On tho evening of the 13th of December, the Second Division of the Fifteenth Corps, commanded by Gen. Hazen, assaulted and carried Fort McAllister, at the point of the bayonet—a brilliant feat of arms, quickly executed, which opened communications with tho fleet of Admiral Dahlgren,- connecting the hitherto floating army with a secure baso, and apprising the country of the success of "Sherman's march to the sea." Fort McAllister is four miles from the mouth of the Ogeechee river, whem.Dahlgren's fleet now lay.
During tho next few days, there was some further destruction of railroads, and more or less shelling and skirmishing. The city of Savannah was taken possession of on the 21st of Decomber, with seme prisoners, and a large amount of cotton and other property. Tho enemy, under Hardee, mostly escaped across the Savannah river, toward Charleston. Tho grand culmination of this remarkable campaign gave joy to the nation, as tho Christmas bells were sounding, giving new assurance of " peace," if not of " good-will," soon to bo restored throughout the land.
Hood, who, aided by Beauregard, menacingly advanced into Tennessee, causing a temporary anxiety, had already ceased to be a subject of concern. The sanguine hopes of Davis in that direction had been terribly crushed. The movement of Hood westward, brought the scene of operations comparatively near the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and their tributaries, so that re-enforcements and supplies were within easy reach of Gen. Thomas, while the cavalry of Grierson, and other forces, made destructive raids through the States of Mississippi and Alabama, in the enemy's rear. On the other hand, Thomas had a long line to defend, on portions of which annoying attacks were occasionally made by raiding parties. At Johnsonville, on the Tennessee, where he had a depot of supplies, Forrest mado his appearance, planting batteries above and below the town, and capturing it on the 4th of November. Three "tin-clad" gunboats, a number of transports and barges, and a largo amount of stores were destroyed. Near Bull's Gap, in East Tennessee, on the extreme left of Thomas' line, also, Gen. Gillem was attacked by a superior force and beaten, losing his trains and artillery, and falling back toward Knoxville.
The movement of Hood, after leaving Gaylesville, in Northeastern Alabama, to which place he was pursued by most of Sherman's force, had been southward to Jacksonville, from