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He proposed to march into Tennessee, and, by
threatening Sherman's communications, compel him to withdraw from
Georgia. But Sherman was not to be caught thus easily. He followed Hood
to the north of the Chattahoochee, and, then letting him go whither he
chose, turned back to Atlanta. Hood kept right on through northern
Alabama, and advanced against Nashville. General Thomas had been sent
by Sherman from Atlanta, with the Army of the Cumberland, to look after
Hood. General Schofield, in command in the southern part of the State,
fell back to Franklin, eighteen miles south of Nashville, where he was
attacked November 30th by Hood. It was a savage battle, but the
Confederates were held in check until night, when Schofield retreated
across the river, and took refuge in Nashville. There General Thomas
gathered all his troops, and threw up a line of intrenchments to the
south of the city. Hood appeared in front of them December 2d, and began
building works and counter batteries. He was certain of capturing the
place and its defenders by regular siege operations. Never did the
genius of Thomas shine more brilliantly than at the siege of Nashville.
He industriously gathered reinforcements, perfected his defenses, and
refused to move until fully prepared. The whole country became
impatient; even General Grant sent him urgent messages, and at one time
issued an order for his removal. But Thomas could not be shaken from his
purpose. Not until December 15th did he feel himself ready to strike,
and then he did it with the might of a descending avalanche. He sallied
forth, captured several redoubts, and drove back the Confederates for a
number of miles. He renewed the battle on the 16th, and utterly routed
Hood's army. The panic-stricken troops fled in confusion, drawing
Forrest and his cavalry into the disorganized flight, while Thomas
vigorously pursued until the fugitives scrambled over Duck River toward
the Tennessee, which was crossed on the 27th of December.

Hood's army was virtually destroyed. He lost more than 13,000 prisoners,
including several general officers, and many guns, while more than 2,000
deserters joined Thomas. The disgusted Hood asked to be relieved of his
command, and Dick Taylor, who had defeated Banks some months before in
Texas, assumed his place, but he really was left with no army to
command. The proud host which had promised so much existed no longer.
The Rock of Chickamauga had fallen upon it and ground it to powder.


SHERMAN'S MARCH FROM ATLANTA TO THE SEA.

Sherman proved his confidence in Thomas by not waiting for him to
complete his wonderful task, before beginning his march from Atlanta to
the sea, 300 miles distant. Since it was impossible to maintain the long
and increasing slender line of communications behind him, Sherman made
no effort to do so. He "cut loose" entirely, proposing to live off the
granary of the South, through which his 60,000 veterans began their
famous tramp. Weeks passed, during which the national government heard
not a word from Sherman, except such as filtered through the Confederate
lines, and which was always tinctured by the hopes of the enemy. There
were continual rumors of the Union army meeting "a lion in its path,"
and of its being overwhelmed by disaster, but nothing of a positive
nature was learned, and naturally there was considerable uneasiness,
though Grant knew Sherman too well to feel any distrust of his success.

At the beginning of his march, Sherman aimed to deceive the enemy as to
his real destination. The secret was shared only with his corps
commanders and General Kilpatrick, leader of the cavalry. The advance
was in two columns, the right under General Howard and the left under
General Slocum. Atlanta was burned on the night of November 15th, and
Sherman himself rode out from the city the next day with the left wing.

It was impossible for the Confederates to present any serious opposition
to the invaders. Frantic appeals were issued to the South to rise and
crush the enemy, but they accomplished nothing. The bands of militia
were brushed aside like so many children, and the march "From Atlanta to
the Sea" was simply a huge picnic for Sherman and his army. The opening
of the Mississippi had sliced off the left limb of the Southern
Confederacy, and Sherman was now boring his way through the heart.

Milledgeville, the capital of the State, was reached on the 21st, but
before the Federals arrived the Legislature adjourned precipitately and
took to its heels. Governor Brown and most of the members ran to
Augusta, which was surrendered two days later, plundered, and partly
burned. Kilpatrick made a demonstration against Macon, and could easily
have captured it, but his movement was intended only as a feint. Rightly
surmising by this time that the seacoast was Sherman's destination,
General Hardee did all he could to obstruct the roads leading thither,
but he was powerless to check the invaders. Thousands of negroes
followed the army, singing the "Day of Jubilee has Come," but many of
the poor people perished amid the dismal wastes and barrens of Eastern
Georgia.

Finally Sherman passed down the peninsula formed by the Ogeechee and
Savannah Rivers and approached Savannah. The enemy were easily driven
from their field-works, and by December 10th all the Confederates were
forced into their lines and the whole Union army was in front of
Savannah. The 300 miles had been passed in twenty-five days and the
listening ears could now hear the faint boom of the distant Atlantic
breakers.

But Hardee was in Savannah with 15,000 men, capable of offering a strong
defense. To meet his heavy cannon, Sherman had only field artillery,
and, instead of making a direct attack, which would have involved
considerable loss of life, he decided to starve the garrison to terms.
Admiral Dahlgren was lying off the coast, but the mouth of the river was
commanded by Fort McAllister, and it was dangerous work to attempt to
communicate with the Union fleet. Sherman sent off three scouts, who
paddled cautiously down the river at night, hiding in the rice-fields by
day, until they finally succeeded in attracting the notice of a gunboat
which ran in and picked them up. The glorious news was carried to
Admiral Dahlgren, who immediately dispatched it North, where, as may be
supposed, it caused unbounded rejoicing.

Fort McAllister, fifteen miles below the city, was such an obstacle to
the co-operation of the fleet that Sherman determined to capture it. It
was taken with a rush on the 13th of December, and the way opened for a
supply of ammunition and heavy guns from Hilton Head. General Forster,
the Union commander of that department, was ordered to occupy the
railroad connecting Savannah and Charleston. When that should be done,
Savannah would be completely invested.


PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S UNIQUE CHRISTMAS GIFT.

On the 17th, Sherman demanded the surrender of the city. Hardee refused
and Sherman prepared to bombard it. But the Confederates, who still had
control of Savannah River, retreated across that stream on the night of
the 20th, and tramped into South Carolina. Sherman entered the city the
next day and wrote at once to President Lincoln "I beg to present you,
as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and
plenty of ammunition; also about 25,000 bales of cotton." It was a
unique Christmas gift indeed, and President Lincoln sent back the thanks
of the government and nation to the Union commander, his officers and
soldiers.

[Illustration: WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN.

(1820-1891.)]

One pleasing feature of Sherman's entrance into Savannah was the
widespread Union sentiment which manifested itself among the citizens.
They were tired of the war and glad to see this evidence that its close
was near. They did not destroy their cotton or property, but were quite
willing to turn it over to their conquerors. General Geary was appointed
commandant and ruled with tact and kindness. Here we will leave Sherman
for a time, and give our attention to the single remaining, but most
important, campaign of all--that of General Grant against Lee.


GRANT'S ADVANCE AGAINST LEE.

When the Army of the Potomac was ready to move against Lee and Richmond,
it consisted of three instead of five corps. Hancock commanded the
Second, Warren the Fifth, and Sedgwick the Sixth. Beside this, the Ninth
Corps, which included many colored troops, was under command of
Burnside, and was left for a time to guard the communications with
Washington. This force numbered 140,000 men, and, as has been stated,
was the largest number ever assembled by the Unionists.

In addition to this stupendous host, 42,000 troops were in and about
Washington, 31,000 in West Virginia, and 59,000 in the department of
Virginia and North Carolina. In South Carolina, Georgia, and at other
points were 38,000. General Lee had less than 58,000 under his immediate
command, and the whole number of Confederates in the region threatened
by Grant's 310,000 was about 125,000.

General Meade retained command of the Army of the Potomac, and the
cavalry corps was under General Philip H. Sheridan. Best of all, the
veterans were now inspired by a feeling of confidence to which they had
long been strangers. They felt that they had a commander at last who was
competent to lead them to victory.

Lee was acting on the defensive and held a powerful position. Longstreet
was at Gordonsville, Ewell on the Rapidan, and A.P. Hill at Orange
Court-House. The Rapidan itself was held by small bodies of troops,
whose duty it was to keep watch of the movements of the Union army.

Grant's plan was to advance directly to Richmond. He intended to cross
the Rapidan, attack Lee's right, cut his communications, and compel him
to fight. At the same time Butler was to ascend the James from Fort
Monroe, seize City Point, and, advancing along the south bank of the
river, cut the Confederate communications south of the James, and, if
possible, capture Petersburg.

If Grant succeeded in defeating Lee, he intended to follow him to
Richmond.



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