Following the capture of Atlanta, General William T. Sherman rested his army after four months of constant marching and fighting. Though Sherman made no move to attack General John Bell Hood’s army, he was not idle. Sherman and General Ulysses S. Grant developed a plan to degrade the South’s ability to sustain war.
Hood attacked Union supply lines north of Atlanta. Sherman pursued Hood, but soon returned to Atlanta and directed Generals John Schofield and George Thomas to deal with Hood. Sherman’s 60,000 remaining men began a 285-mile march to the coast on November 15.
Instead of pursuing Sherman, Hood took his army into Tennessee, leaving a force of 12,000 men under General William Hardee to oppose Federal operations. As Sherman marched to the sea, General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry resisted Sherman’s juggernaut at Griswoldville, Buck Head Creek, and Waynesborough with no success. Another Federal force under General John Hatch attempted to link up with Sherman but was repulsed at Honey Hill.
On December 10, Sherman reached the outskirts of Savannah. Hardee’s small army guarded the entrances to the city. Unwilling to besiege the city, Sherman captured Fort McAllister on December 13, allowing the Navy to resupply his men.
Hardee was forced to abandon Savannah to the Federals. Sherman occupied the city on December 20 and telegraphed President Abraham Lincoln, presenting the city as a Christmas present. Sherman covered almost 300 miles, devastated Georgia, and captured Savannah. He was not finished, however, and set his sights on the Carolinas.