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The Savannah Campaign - Sherman's March to the Sea

By the fall of 1864 the American Civil War had dragged on seemingly interminably. It had already been three and a half bloody years and still no end in sight. Though Lincoln had been reelected and another major southern city fallen (Atlanta), General William Tecumseh Sherman decided that something drastic needed to be done to bring the war to swift conclusion. He would cut his supply lines and march clear through a state the Confederacy depended upon for its survival. The Confederates desperately sought to stop him with the limited resources at their disposal. A heroic march and a gallant defense mark one of the last episodes in the bitter struggle of America at war with itself.


During the tour you will hear of the soldiers’ daily lives and how their presence affected the civilians near their columns. Southern civilians had experienced the war since it began, but rarely to this degree and never this deep into the heart of the Confederacy. Armies had usually operated with restraint up until now. Sherman’s General Orders No. 120 changed all that. For the residents of Middle Georgia, the order would ignite a hatred that would last for generations. All the cruel savages of war would now be on their doorstep.


The tour will roughly follow the route of Sherman’s army, first the Right Wing and then the Left Wing before the two linked up outside Savannah. Travel the highways and byways of Middle Georgia to the scenes of the most prominent events of the campaign. In Savannah our accommodations will be on the Savannah River in the building the Confederate commander, General Hardee, used to direct his defense. Meals will allow participants to sample the local cuisine including dishes for which Savannah is known. Our stay on the Savannah River in the Historic District will immerse you in the historic ambience that makes Savannah such a highly sought destination.

DAILY SCHEDULE

Day 1: Welcome/Orientation

Tour participants will meet at our hotel for a welcoming reception. The tour historian will give an introduction and orientation to the tour. Following the welcoming/orientation, we will then go to dinner at a nearby restaurant.

 

Day 2: Macon, Georgia

We will journey south to Macon Georgia in the path of the Right Wing. A tour of the Cannonball House is followed by a tour of the Battle of East Macon site before we move on to the oft neglected Battle of Griswoldville. This battlefield is in pristine condition and is the site of the largest engagement of the campaign other than the Siege of Savannah. Tonight we stay in one of the oldest structures in Macon.

 

Day 3: Statesboro, Georgia

Moving on to the Oconee River, we visit the site of the most contested river crossing of Sherman’s Right Wing. From here we switch over to the route of the Left Wing, just as Kilpatrick’s cavalry did during the March. At the small town of Sandersville there was but a brief skirmish between Wheeler’s cavalry and Federal infantry, but it illustrates the intense nature of combat in a civilian occupied town.

but was attacked by Wheeler and his Confederate cavalry. We will retrace the path of the three-day cavalry fight and the site of the largest cavalry engagement of the campaign.

 

Day 4: Ebenezer/Savannah

The tragedy at Ebenezer Creek is remembered as we make our way to Savannah. Before reaching Savannah, we will stop at the site of outposts constructed by the Confederates that held up Sherman’s advance for an entire day, buying more precious time for the Confederates. We end the day with a visit to Fort McAllister whose capture by the Federals provided contact with the outside world for the first time since Sherman left Atlanta. Tonight we begin our stay in Savannah's beautiful Historic District.

Day 5: Savannah

Today we tour the parts of the Historic District that figured prominently in the Confederate defense of Savannah. A tour of the house where Sherman made his headquarters and wrote the famous telegraph to President Lincoln and Special Field Order No. 15 in the afternoon. Our accommodations in Savannah are in the same building as was Confederate Army and Signal Corps headquarters.

 

Day 6: Savannah

In the morning we explore elements of the little-known Siege of Savannah. Among our stops are the water obstacle before gaining special access to the only known extant earthworks from the siege. After lunch we explore the siege along the Savannah River at several key locations including the two land-naval engagements during the siege. The importance of the South Carolina shore will also be explored.

 

Day 7: Farewell

After breakfast, we'll say our farewells and take a shuttle to the Savannah International Airport.