[Scraps for Youth] “The Capture of Savannah” (from Youth’s Companion, January 5, 1865; p. 2)
Of all the Christmas presents that have been given this year, that received from Gen. Sherman by President Lincoln was assuredly the best. The gallant General’s gift, was the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and 25,000 bales of cotton, and various other valuable accompaniments, too numerous to mention. Gen. Sherman’s march from Atlanta, through the centre of Georgia to Savannah, was a bold undertaking, and occasioned not a little uneasiness as to its result. The Southern papers indulged in a great deal of brag, and fired off many broadsides of bombast to keep up Southern courage, and to alarm, if possible, our officers. But brag and bombast are not deadly weapons, and do not frighten brave men. Sherman went on with his 60,000 soldiers, and soon found that the fierce Southern threatenings were something after the Chinese style of warfare, where grotesque warriors come out in front of an advancing army, and make fearful faces and beat ferocious gongs, at the approaching enemy.
Our forces, as they passed through Georgia, fared sumptuously every day. They found the keystone State of the South like the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey. To be sure, they did not discover the grapes of Eshcol, but the fowls of Georgia were quite as good, and much more substantial eating. Many a plump turkey, that in the morning had possibly eaten a ragout of grasshoppers, and chuckled over his quiet life, was gobbled up, and down, too, before night, without being embalmed, except in the memories of those in whose stomachs he was honored with a soldier’s grave. Many an innocent pig, whose sensual days—before the Yankees came upon him, like marauders on the fold, with their cohorts all gleaming with purple and gold—had been passed in tranquillity [sic] that a Turk might envy, was made to suffer as the innocent sometimes do, for being found in bad company. We are sure that the cackle of many a matronly hen was a mournful announcement of the “lay of the last minstrel” of many a Georgia barnyard.
Some of our readers have doubtless read of a famous campaign of old called “The Retreat of the Ten Thousand.” It took place about twenty-two centuries ago, and has always been famous. Those who never heard of it must ask their fathers, who Gen. Xenophon was. History tells us also of the wonderful retreat of Gen. Moreau through the Black Forest. Any reader ignorant of this great military achievement must stir up papa again for information. Gen. Sherman has equalled the exploits of both these great men, and won a name which history will be proud to honor. Never was a military expedition better managed than his. He and his troops lived on the country they passed through, so that Uncle Sam did not have to pay any thing for their board. They liberated thousands of negroes, and captured thousands of cattle. They have shown the Southern Confederacy to be, as Gen. Grant said, nothing but a shell. It is like a drum, all fuss and noise outside, but empty within. Wilmington, we trust, will soon be ours, and our flag waves over Savannah. The Confederacy is crumbling, and before long our noble country will be a unit again.
[Some notes: “The Lay of the Last Minstrel" was a popular poem by Sir Walter Scott. Wilmington, North Carolina, was captured by Federal troops February 22, 1865.]