03494 - Confederate Gun; Fort McAllister, Savannah, Ga, December 1864 [LC-DIG-cwpb-03493]
Fort McAllister was built to defend from Union attacks from the sea. During its three years of operation it effectively performed that role and was able to repulse a determined attack by Union gunboats. With Sherman’s march to the sea all of this changed in December of 1864.
Fort McAllister was key to Sherman’s taking of Savannah. On December 13th he ordered the fort be stormed by 4,000 men. Defending the fort was approximately 230 troops. They had placed land mines (knows as land “torpedoes” at the time) to defend from attacks by land. Since the area was surrounded by swamps that would slow or impede an advancing army it was felt that from a defensive position the fort was well suited.
Sherman watched the assault from the top of an abandoned rice mill just before sunset. At the same time Union ships approached from the sea. With simultaneous attacks from both land and sea and being outnumbered seventeen to one the entire battle was over in fifteen minutes. One week later the city of Savannah had surrendered and Sherman turned his sites north to South Carolina.