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The Civil War Month by Month: Dec 1864

CW - 150

Civil War 150th anniversary

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.

December 1864

This Month's Events

  • During this month Sherman's "Bummers" destroy everything possible in Georgia as he tries to demonstrate that continued resistance is not worth it. In a speech after the war to a class at the Michigan Military Academy Sherman told his audience, "There is many a boy here to-day who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations to come. I look upon war with horror."

  • 7-27 December. The Union launches a combined land-sea attack on Fort Fisher which defends the approaches to Wilmington, North Carolina. General Lee sends General Robert Hoke and his division to lead the defense. On the day before Christmas the Union fleet arrives to begin bombardment of the fort. However the Union attack fails. [See next month.]

  • 15-16 December. In Tennessee Confederate General John Bell Hood with 31,000 men waits outside Nashville, held by General George H. Thomas and 55,000 troops: Hood hopes to lure Thomas into an attack outside the city. Thomas finally attacks on the 15th and the Confederates are pushed back onto a new line. In the morning another Federal attack forces Hood to retreat, having lost about half of his men.

  • 21 December. Sherman's march to the sea concludes with the capture of Savannah. Sherman telegraphs Lincoln, "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."

  • 31 December. Sherman's troops head to the Carolinas. He plans to go to Columbia and then to Goldsboro North Carolina, going through Fayetteville en route. Goldsboro is targeted because it is a rail center with lines running to New Bern and Wilmington. Troops are sent to mislead the Confederates into thinking that Charleston and Augusta are his actual goals. [See next month.]

  • 31 December. In the Moravians' annual summation of the past year, the mood is mournful. "In general this year partook of the same sad and melancholy character which the preceding one exhibited; only that the horizon is surrounded by clouds, if possible, more ominous and threatening than at the beginning of the year. ... Through the length and breadth of the land only comparatively few families can be found whose fathers and sons or other connections are not from home, and in whose behalf the minds of parents, wives and relatives are not filled with anxious fears and sad forebodings."

    Another sign of bad times: the Committee this month resolved to take payment for burial in their graveyard only in gold or silver, and "on no terms take in Confederate money."

This Month's Fiction

Adult fiction

Sherman's March, by Cynthia Bass, pub. 1994, 228 p. Bass has imaginatively and eloquently written a historically accurate, fictionalized ``primary source'' in three personal narratives. Speakers include Sherman; Nicholas J. Whiteman, Captain XIV Corp, U.S. Army; and Annie Saunders Baker, Southern widow and refugee. They meet briefly as the book closes, but it is Sherman's afterword that allows readers to contemplate the March and the man who led this strategic end to war. Sherman sees his March as the only way to peace--but, as circumstances bring the three narrators together, it's left to the reader to decide whether peace is worth obtaining at such a terrible cost.

Children's Fiction

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

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