150 Years Ago Today: Savannah, Sherman's Christmas Gift to Lincoln
On December 22, 1864 President Abraham Lincoln received an early Christmas present from General William Tecumseh Sherman - the city of Savannah. He announced this in a now famous telegram which stated:
"I beg to present you, as a Christmas Gift, the city of Savannah, with one-hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."
Sherman's army reached the outskirts of the city on December 20. Confederate General William Hardee could not hope to hold Savannah, as his small force of 10,000 was outnumbered six to one. Hardee managed to save his army and their field artillery, but was forced to abandon the many guns in the harbor forts. One of his final orders was to scuttle and burn the CSS Savannah, a powerful casemate ironclad that had been built to help defend the city and harbor. Union forces entered Savannah on December 21, just as the ironclad was blown up by her crew. Sherman officially took possession of the city on the following day.
Confederate ironclads play a vital role in the defense of ports in GMT's strategic naval game of the Civil War - Rebel Raiders on the High Seas - at least when those ports are attacked from the sea by the Union Navy. When city's such as Savannah are taken from the land side, as Sherman did, they are lost. Although Rebel Raiders is primarily a game of naval strategy, the land war is represented, and the Union player has many cards at his disposal, including Sherman himself, to help replicate that general's famous March to Sea.