Baptists and the American Civil War: December 13, 1864

fortmcallisterSurely and not altogether slowly, Sherman’s army is advancing upon Savannah. Yet they are also in need of supplies. The goal of taking Savannah and the quest for supplies converge at Fort McAllister this day.

The Battle of Fort McAllister begins late in the afternoon and is over in 15 minutes. The 230 defenders of the lightly-guarded fort are simply no match for the 4,000 Union troops that assault the installation.

Even as the battle takes place, a Union naval ship hovers nearby. Now, the vessel can safely sail into the Ogeechee River over which Fort McAllister stands sentinel. For the first time since leaving Atlanta a month earlier, Sherman has the benefit of a supply line.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Kilpatrick and his troops arrive at the coastal town of Sunbury in Liberty County on the Medway River and near Fort Morris. About the same time as the assault on Fort McAllister commences, Kilpatrick seizes Sunbury.

James M. Morgan, a young boy living in Sunbury when the invasion takes place, describes what happens this day:

The yankee troops reached Sunbury in the early afternoon, and by four they had the Sunbury Baptist Church on fire as a signal to federal gunboats anchored off Saint Catherines Island. The federal gunboats came into the Sunbury harbor the next morning and occupied the town. They would have been unable to take the town without the help of land forces, because Sunbury was well fortified with heavy breastworks.

With Fort McAllister and Sunbury in Federal hands, Savannah beckons.

Sources: Battle of Fort McAllister (link) and (link) and (link); “The Civil War (1864),” Liberty County Historical Society (link); image (link); “Ghost Town of Sunbury, Georgia,” Explore Southern History (link)