Reflections Summer Issue | Volume 17, Number 3 - Page 18

LEGACY and LORE
n 1864 , Fort McAllister was the center of attention in the concluding hours of the Civil War and Sherman ’ s infamous , " March to the Sea .” In the years 1862 – 1863 , Fort McAllister was attacked by sea seven times and repelled each attack . The fort would just not fall by naval shelling . Fort McAllister was an “ earthen fort ” built by hired slave labor and compacted into impenetrable mountains of sand . It blocked Sherman ’ s rear supply line and his personal ambition to take the South on horseback —“ his ” horseback . Fort McAllister was Sherman ' s last obstacle in his quest to level everything to the ground from Atlanta to Ossabaw .
The two-year bombardment from the sea was by no means constant . Not every day was full of the drudgery of war . One garrison officer , William Daniel Dixon , of the famed Republican Blues militia , frequently took day trips to Savannah for both business and pleasure . Dixon often brought lady-friends back from Savannah or hosted them for leisurely tours of the fort with a proper chaperone alongside . He entered one such sojourn in his daily log :
During those isolated attacks by sea , however , Union state-of-the-art ironclad warships besieged the sandhill fort — hour after hour — with an endless tonnage of cannonball . Most of the shot struck the piled-up sand of the fort with a resounding , “ PLOOMPH !”
A “ Letter to the Editor ” of The Savannah Republican , dated Friday 13th , 1863 observed :
Newspaper accounts in the 1860s were the only source of information other than handwritten letters and of course , gossip — which was rampant . Curiously , in surveying hundreds of handwritten letters dating back to 1860 – 1865 , none of them made reference to slavery or what it was that the Blues and the Greys were actually fighting for . The common folk on both sides just kept referring to each other as either , “ them Yankees ” or “ them Rebs .”
Disregarding gossip , the ironclad warships of the Union Navy proved extremely accurate . This was not reported as such in some Georgian newspapers : The Weekly Chronicle and Sentinel in Augusta on March 10 , 1863 , reported :
“ There could not have been less than from 50 to 60 tons of iron ball directed against Fort McAllister during the bombardment , which lasted some 20 hours without cessation , and most wonderful to state the only two casualties were two men slightly wounded . All damages to the Fort have been repaired . The men are in best of spirits . They were , as we learn , cracking jokes at the Yankee ' s failed success at shelling , shouting to them , “ Too far to the right ,” and ,“ Too far to the left ,” as each shell failed to strike the fort .”
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