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CHapTER 5 Sherman Targets South Carolina December 1864–March 1865 Augustine T. Smythe, Charleston, S.C., to Margaret M. Smyth 19 Dec. 1864 My very dear Mother, After spending four or five days tramping along the Savannah River, here I am back again in old No. 12 safe & hearty. Our objective going was to establish a line of signals from Hardeeville to Savannah, but it was impossible to be done. The Islands in the River, Argyle & Hutchinson’s1 were & are in the hands of the enemy, & of course not to be used for signal posts, while all the headlands along the bank which would have answered for that purpose are in such close proximity to the enemy that if we raised our flag there, they could run over in the night & take us without the least trouble, there only being at those points picquets of two or three men. So we have had to return unsuccessful, much to my regret, for I did wish the thing done. It was not possible tho’. The Yankees holding the Islands in the River & the Georgia Shore, we could not have kept the line up, as the only places from which we could signal would be the large rice mills on the banks of the river & they are so isolated, only connected with the mainland by long dams that the Yankees could with no trouble cut us off, & thus break up the line. We got back last night, late in the night, pretty tired for we have done a great deal of walking. So sorry I did not meet Joe here, but I shall see him on his return for of course he will stay with me. There is little news there. Persons from Savannah2 talk pretty blue, some of them, of its chances of holding out. The Yankees have formed a complete cordon around the city, from the Savannah River round to the Ogeechee at Ft. McAlister3 & from there to the sea. This is only broke at one place, Scriven’s Ferry,4 which is now the only way left us of communicating with Savannah. But I don’t believe they will take the city, & so 134 | Sherman Targets South Carolina many from there say. Hardee has a large army, & abundance of provisions, so there is no danger of his being starved out, & the fortifications around the city are excellent. Still it is a ticklish position. There are a great many troops on this side of the River, & the country is despoiled, Wheeler is in command & is there with his cavalry & the people say that it is a question which they should prefer, Wheeler’s cavalry or the Yanks.5 In truth they do act most shamefully, robbing every house they meet, stealing the horses & mules & leaving emptiness behind them. The planters there are in a great state of alarm.6 Many of them have had all their negroes taken from them & their crops burnt by Yankees; while others have saved their servants, but then know not where nor how to send them for safety, nor how even to feed them. At Pocotaligo things seem quiet. The Yankees still shell every train passing along the road. Going down we got thro’ scot-free, but coming up they struck one of the cars in front, a horse car, fortunately not injuring any of the running gear. So we got up all right. Ellison can tell you more about that place however than I can. . . . Tell Adger I am afraid I shall not be able to meet him in Columbia, but to write me & if possible, he may be sure I shall be up. They are very strict about persons going out of the city. Just think! Next Sunday will be Christmas. Oh how differently do we look forward to it now from what we did in the good old times. Oh dear. Well, the war must end before very long, it cannot last always. Beautiful day, soft & pleasant as a Spring morning & as I sit with the windows open & look out on your rose bushes I long so much to see you all again. But cheer up. You have two of your sons any how with you this Christmas & the third will be with you in spirit. Must stop. Feel stiff still. Love to Sue, Sis, Annie & all the dear ones & to Father & Adger. The Yankees have not opened fire yet. I do not believe they have men to man their batteries, all down at Pocotaligo. In a day or two tho’ we shall have it again. Good bye. Ever dear mother your boy Augustine. Augustine...


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MARC Record
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