Monday, September 2, 2013

Special Field Orders No. 6.

In the Field, Savannah, Ga.,
January 8, 1865.

The general commanding announces to the troops composing the Military Division of the Mississippi that he has received from the President of the United States, and from Lieutenant-General Grant, letters conveying their high sense and appreciation of the campaign just closed, resulting in the capture of Savannah and the defeat of Hood's army in Tennessee.

In order that all may understand the importance of events it is proper to revert to the situation of affairs in September last. We held Atlanta, a city of little value to us, but so important to the enemy that Mr. Davis, the head of the rebellious faction in the South, visited his army near Palmetto and commanded it to regain it, as well as to ruin and destroy us by a series of measures which he thought would be effectual. That army, by a rapid march, gained our railroad near Big Shanty, and afterward about Dalton. We pursued it, but it moved so rapidly that we could not overtake it, and General Hood led his army successfully far over toward Mississippi, in hopes to decoy us out of Georgia; but we were not then to be led away by him, and preferred to lead and control events ourselves. Generals Thomas and Schofield, commanding the departments to our rear, returned to their posts and prepared to decoy General Hood into their meshes, whilst we came on to complete the original journey. We quietly and deliberately destroyed Atlanta and all the railroads which the enemy had used to carry on war against us, occupied his State capital, and then captured his commercial capital, which had been so strongly fortified from the sea as to defy approach from that quarter. Almost at the moment of our victorious entry into Savannah came the welcome and expected news that our comrades in Tennessee had also fulfilled nobly and well their part; had decoyed General Hood to Nashville and then turned on him, defeating his army thoroughly, capturing all his artillery, great numbers of prisoners, and were still pursuing the fragments down into Alabama. So complete a success in military operations, extending over half a continent, is an achievement that entitles it to a place in the military history of the world.

The armies serving in Georgia and Tennessee, as well as the local garrisons of Decatur, Bridgeport, Chattanooga, and Murfreesborough, are alike entitled to the common honors, and each regiment may inscribe on its colors at pleasure the words "Savannah" or "Nashville." The general commanding embraces in the same general success the operations of the cavalry column, under Generals Stoneman, Burbridge, and Gillem, that penetrated into Southwest Virginia and paralyzed the efforts of the enemy to disturb the peace and safety of East Tennessee. Instead of being put on the defensive, we have at all points assumed the bold offensive, and completely thwarted the designs of the enemies of our country.

By order of Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman:


SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 44 (Serial No. 92), p. 16-7.  A copy of this order was forwarded from Major General William T. Sherman to the General’s brother, Senator John Sherman.  It was included in John Sherman’s letter book and therefore also included in Rachel Sherman Thorndike’s The Sherman Letters: Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 242-4.

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