Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/71
The Siege and Evacuation of Savannah^ Ga. 63
The united and strenuous efforts of Generals Wheeler, Cobb, Smith, and McLaws, aided by Generals Beauregard and Hardee, were pow- erless to arrest the devastating march of General Sherman's columns through the heart of Georgia ; and the Federal army, nearly sixty thousand strong, exclusive of an ample complement of field artillery and cavalry, on the loth of December, 1864, came into position be- fore the Confederate works recently erected to cover the land ap- proaches to the city of Savannah. Although every attempt had been made to obstruct the advance of the enemy and to concentrate a force sufficient for the protection of the commercial metropolis of Georgia, such was the pressure upon the Confederacy, and so painful the lack of available troops, that at the inception and during the progress of the siege there were within the Confederate lines around that city only about ten thousand men fit for duty. More than a third of these consisted of Reserves and Georgia State troops, while strong details were employed in garrisoning the forts and fixed batteries along the water front. In anticipation of General Sherman's arrival on the coast, the Federal war vessels had multiplied in the vicinity of Savan- nah and their demonstrations became more frequent and more forci- ble. The city of Oglethorpe lay between the upper and the nether millstone with no hope of relief from any quarter.
Until General Sherman, abandoning his base at Atlanta, pointed his banners toward the coast, the attention of the Confederate engi- neers in the Military District of Georgia had been chiefly directed to the construction of batteries and strong lines for the defense of the water approaches to Savannah. So judiciously located were they, and so efficiently armed, that the Federals in this direction were thoroughly kept at bay.
Commencing at Red Bluff, on the Carolina shore, a series of ad- vanced works extended across the Savannah river, along St. Augus- tine creek, by the way of Whitemarsh Island, Thunderbolt Bluff, the Isle of Hope, Beaulieu, and Rose Dew, until it rested upon the Great Ogeechee river.
As, during the siege, few changes were made in the armament of those fixed batteries, the following enumeration of guns in position along the water front of the Savannah defenses may be accepted as substantially correct.
Red-Bluff battery — an enclosed work on the Carolina shore armed with two 24-pounder rifle guns, one 8-inch columbiad, one 24, and two i2-pounder howitzers — constituted the left of the line. At the extremity of the bay in the city of Savannah a 32-pounder gun was