December 20th, 1864

December 20th, 1864:

General Hardee has had his forces quietly construct a pontoon bridge across the Savannah River.  They constructed it out any boat or pretty much any floating object they could use.  On top of the boats, boards were placed to make a road.  They then placed straw and hay on top of the bridge to dampen the noise of travelers.   On the night of Dec. 20th, Confederate forces withdrew from Savannah and crossed the pontoon bridge into South Carolina.

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Looking across the Savannah River from River Street toward Hutchinson Island where the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center now stand near the area where General Hardee had a pontoon bridge constructed.
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Salt Creek looking north.  The Confederates built a large set of earthworks on the right side of the creek and this is where Battery Jones would have been located.  A total of 8 cannons protected the bridge across Salt Creek from the Federal advance.
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Looking towards Salt Creek on what was the Savannah Ogeechee Road.  Battery Jones crossed the road just in the distance and beyond it was the bridge over Salt Creek.  The Confederates here held the Federals at bay for several days and on the night of December 20th they opened fire with at two hour bombardment of Federal forces to cover the evacuation of Confederate forces in Savannah.  After the bombardment, the artillery crews destroyed what they could not carry with them and evacuated to South Carolina.
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The marsh at Shaw’s Bridge and Shaw’s Dam.  Here, the Confederates also had a set of earthworks that covered the cause way over the Ogeechee Canal.  Heavy fighting ensued in the area as the Federals attempted to assault the position and were repulsed twice.  The Confederates held the position until the night of the 20th, when they evacuated to South Carolina with the rest of the Confederate defenders.
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Isle of Hope United Methodist Church was built in 1859 and during the civil war a Confederate artillery battery was placed here on the church grounds and contained 4 guns.  The church itself was used as a hospital and the pews were used as makeshift beds.  This battery was evacuated like the rest when Hardee moved his forces to the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.
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December 17th, 1864

Dec. 17th, General Hardee, commander of the Confederate forces in Savannah, sends a request to Confederate President Jeff Davis for reinforcements from Lee’s Army in Virgina, but receives word that Lee can not spare any troops.  General Sherman, knowing he has the upper hand, sends a request for Hardee’s surrender, but it is rejected by Hardee and the siege continues.

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Savannah was an important Confederate port, and now with it under siege from General Sherman and no reinforcements coming to aid General Hardee’s defense of the city, Hardee plans to evacuate.