Diary of Orrin Brown—Dec 17, 1864

Review of the Artillery of Sherman's Corps

Diary of Orrin Brown—

Saturday–Dec. 17th

We had orders to be ready for drill this morning at 7 AM and drill two hours but did not go out till 9 AM. The rebs threw some shell into our camp again today but no harm done but there was two men of the 17th NY wounded pretty bad about 20 rod from our camp. The weather is still very warm and dry.

Stalemate at Savannah

The chessboard was set, with both US Gen. William T. Sherman and CSA Gen. William J. Hardee, who had attended West Point at the same time, grandmasters of war games.  From The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records… , Sherman wrote to Hardee:

You have doubtless observed from your station at Rosedew that sea-going vessels now come through Ossabaw Sound and up Ogeechee to the rear of my army, giving me abundant supplies of all kinds, and more especially heavy ordnance necessary to the reduction of Savannah. I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied; and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts, and shall await a reasonable time your answer before opening with heavy ordnance,. Should you entertain the proposition I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army – burning to avenge a great national wrong they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war.

Hardee’s reply refused the offer:

The position of your forces, a half a mile beyond the outer line for the land defenses of Savannah is, at the nearest point, at least four miles from the heart of the city. That and the interior line are both intact. Your statement that you “have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied” is incorrect. I am in free and constant communication with my department. Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused. With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraph of your letter, of what may be expected in case your demand is not complied with, I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in the future.



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