M50-DECEMBER 1864

The U.S. Congress began debating the abolition of slavery and restoration of the Union. John Bell Hood launched a desperate attack on Nashville in one final effort to reverse the overwhelming Federal momentum. William T. Sherman wreaked havoc through Georgia, and Federals sought to capture the last major Confederate seaport.

Elements of XVI Corps advance | Image Credit: Harper’s Weekly, Vol. IX, No. 420, 14 Jan 1865

Opposing Armies Gather Outside Nashville

1 Dec – Following the Battle of Franklin, the Federals fell back to Nashville as planned, and John Bell Hood’s demoralized Confederate Army of Tennessee followed.

Sherman’s March: The Waynesborough Engagement

4 Dec – Federal and Confederate cavalry forces clashed for several days as William T. Sherman’s Federal march to the sea seemed unstoppable.

From Andrew Moon, 104th Ohio

4 Dec – Letter from Private Andrew Moon of the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry to his sister.

Nashville: Hood Weakens as Thomas Prepares

5 Dec – John Bell Hood further weakened his Confederate Army of Tennessee by detaching a force to capture Murfreesboro. Meanwhile, George H. Thomas continued preparing to attack Hood south of Nashville.

Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 Annual Message to Congress

6 Dec – The Thirty-eighth U.S. Congress received President Abraham Lincoln’s annual message. With the Confederacy on the verge of defeat, the message focused mainly on winning the war and restoring the southern states to the Union.

Nashville: The Standoff Continues

8 Dec – The Federal and Confederate armies south of Nashville continued their standoff, as neither of the opposing commanders was quite ready for battle yet.

Sherman’s March: Federals Close in on Savannah

10 Dec – Main elements of William T. Sherman’s Federal armies arrived on the outskirts of Savannah after cutting a path of destruction through Georgia from Atlanta to the sea.

Nashville: Both Armies Immobilized

11 Dec – George H. Thomas faced increasing pressure from his Federal superiors to attack the Confederate Army of Tennessee south of Nashville, but a bitter cold front prevented that.

Sherman’s March: Federals Target Fort McAllister

12 Dec – Elements of William T. Sherman’s Federal armies prepared to attack Fort McAllister, which blocked Sherman from linking with the Federal navy on the Atlantic below Savannah.

The Fall of Fort McAllister

13 Dec – As William T. Sherman’s Federal armies surrounded Savannah on the Atlantic coast, a division of XV Corps prepared to capture Fort McAllister, on the Ogeechee River south of the city.

Sherman’s March: Federals Target Savannah

14 Dec – After taking Fort McAllister, William T. Sherman’s Federal armies shifted their focus to Savannah itself.

The Battle of Nashville

15 Dec – After numerous delays, George H. Thomas finally launched his long-awaited Federal assault on the Confederate Army of Tennessee south of Nashville.

The Battle of Nashville: Day Two

16 Dec – George H. Thomas renewed his Federal assault on the weakened and demoralized Confederate Army of Tennessee south of Nashville.

Sherman’s March: Savannah is Doomed

17 Dec –  William T. Sherman’s Federal armies assumed attack positions outside Savannah, hoping to capture this vital port city on the Atlantic coast and complete their march to the sea.

Confederates Prepare to Evacuate Savannah

19 Dec – William Hardee, commanding the small Confederate force defending Savannah on the Atlantic coast, issued orders for his troops to evacuate the city in the face of overwhelming Federal numbers.

Federals Stalled in Tennessee

21 Dec – George H. Thomas’s Federals struggled to pursue and destroy the rapidly disintegrating  John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee as it retreated south toward Alabama.

The Fall of Savannah

22 Dec – William T. Sherman’s Federals completed their devastating march to the sea by capturing the vital Confederate port city of Savannah.

Fort Fisher: The Federal Fleet Assembles

23 Dec – A joint Federal army-navy force assembled to attack Fort Fisher, which guarded the last viable Confederate seaport at Wilmington, North Carolina.

Fort Fisher: The Federal Fleet Attacks

24 Dec – The powder ship U.S.S. Louisiana exploded, signaling the beginning of the Federal assault on Fort Fisher on the North Carolina coast.

Fort Fisher: The Federal Fleet Withdraws

25 Dec – Federal naval forces bombarded Fort Fisher on the North Carolina coast, but the Federal commander decided not to land his troops for an assault.

The Tennessee Campaign Ends

28 Dec – George H. Thomas decided to end his pursuit of the beaten, demoralized Confederates as they left Tennessee for the last time.

The Blair Peace Initiative

30 Dec – Francis P. Blair, Sr., a 74-year-old political advisor to every president since Andrew Jackson, wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis asking permission to come to Richmond and discuss the possibility of ending the war. This was the most notable of many efforts to negotiate peace between North and South.

Fort Fisher: Who to Blame

30 Dec – The Federal high command prepared for a second effort to capture Fort Fisher on the North Carolina coast and tried to determine why the first effort failed.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2019

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