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Home » 150 anniversary » This Day In the Civil War – Sherman’s Christmas Gift to Lincoln

This Day In the Civil War – Sherman’s Christmas Gift to Lincoln


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.
abrahamlincoln150 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.

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Watch a video of the historic letter: William Tecumsah Sherman’s Christmas letter to Abraham Lincoln


  1. bethtrissel says:

    Interesting post. As a Southerner with deep roots, the name Sherman doesn’t sit well with me. Or Sheridan. He burnt the Shenandoah Valley. One of my husband’s ancestors lost their farm house and only saved the old family Bible, and they were Mennonite so pacifists.

  2. Hebby Roman says:

    Fascinating post. War is awful. I’m a southerner, too, and I know about how terrible Sherman’s march was. Fortunately, though, I believe it shortened the war, which was lost by the South by then, anyway.
    And like Truman who had to decide to drop the atomic bomb to shorten World War II, probably Sherman’s march was necessary to keep the war from dragging on and killing more people. That’s the problem with any kind of war, a leader’s decision limited to least of the two evils usually.
    However, I can sympathize with Beth’s comment, too, especially considering her ancestors were pacifists. But that’s the problem with war, so many innocents, along with soldiers, pay the price.

  3. Hi, Beth! It’s a fact that Southerners didn’t like Sherman or his tactics. And I agree with you too, Hebby, in that Lincoln really didn’t have another choice that would bring the war to a swift close. War is sad, no matter what the outcome.

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