On December 22, 1864 from William Tecumseh Sherman sent a short telegram to Abraham Lincoln: “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” Lincoln had been out of touch with Sherman for several weeks, ever since the major general had left Atlanta on his March to the Sea. The President found great relief in the brief message.
150 years ago today, December 26, 1864, Lincoln sent his reply. “Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift.” He admitted to being “anxious, if not fearful” when Sherman left Atlanta, but put his trust in the general. “Feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained,’ I did not interfere.” Lincoln added, “the honor is all yours.”
Of course, Georgians did not agree. Savannah surrendered without much fuss, but the March to the Sea, cut civilian support for the Confederacy. And it lives in Southern memory as one of the cruelest campaigns of the Civil War.
Watch a video of the historic letter: William Tecumsah Sherman’s Christmas letter to Abraham Lincoln