WTF Fun Fact 13722 – Savannah, Georgia – Lincoln’s Gift

In 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman captured Savannah, Georgia, and presented it as a Christmas gift to President Abraham Lincoln. This marked a pivotal moment in the war and American history.

Sherman’s March and the Preservation of Savannah, Georgia

In his infamous march to the sea, General William Tecumseh Sherman employed harsh tactics that culminated in the burning of Atlanta, a significant act that demoralized the Confederacy and disrupted their supply lines drastically. However, his approach shifted notably as he reached Savannah.

Unlike Atlanta, Savannah was spared from destruction. Sherman found the city’s beauty compelling and decided to preserve it intact. This decision was strategic and symbolic, offering a stark contrast to the devastation left behind in other parts of Georgia.

The fall of Savannah was crucial because it was a key port for the Confederacy, and its capture significantly disrupted southern supply lines.

Sherman’s telegram to President Lincoln encapsulated the significance of this victory. He wrote, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.” This gesture was symbolic, illustrating the shift in the war’s momentum towards the Union forces.

Strategic and Symbolic Importance of Savannah, Georgia

The strategic importance of Savannah’s capture provided the Union with a valuable port and further isolated the southern states. Economically, the seizure of cotton bales disrupted the Confederacy’s ability to trade with European nations, particularly Britain, who relied heavily on Southern cotton.

Symbolically, the gift of Savannah to Lincoln represented hope and victory. It boosted morale among Union supporters and signaled the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. This act also emphasized the power and success of Sherman’s military strategies, which were both revered and reviled.

Implications for the Civil War

The capture of Savannah was a critical component of Sherman’s broader strategy to divide and conquer the Confederacy. By severing the South’s resources and infrastructure, Sherman aimed to hasten the end of the conflict. This approach contributed significantly to the eventual surrender of Confederate forces in April 1865.

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Source: “The must-have Christmas gift of 1864” — The National Archives