President Lincoln’s Christmas Gift

By | December 24, 2019

[December 24, 2019]  The day before Christmas 1864, on this date, Union General William T. Sherman presented the city of Savannah, Georgia, to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.  Sherman captured the city after his famous March to the Sea from Atlanta.  Savannah was the last major seaport that remained open to the Confederates.1

Intellectually, General Sherman was not just smart but creative, although not in a devious way like many commanders.  Leaders learn early on that creativeness is challenging and often not rewarded.  Yet, senior commanders must be imaginative and resourceful if they are to be successful.  Sherman knew that to end the war, he had to starve the Confederate army of its supplies.

To do this, Sherman devised a risky strategy.  He would cut loose from his supply lines and feed his army by forage, thus living off the land.  For an army of 62,000 men, this was a monumental task.  Sherman also divided his force into three parts and attempted to confuse the Confederates of his main goal: Savannah, Georgia.

General Sherman’s march across the state of Georgia is famous for the destruction it wrought.  His forces destroyed anything that could be of use to the Confederate army; all industries, crops, livestock, and railroads.  Savannah was the goal of Sherman because that is where he could link up with the U.S. Navy to receive supplies.

Now all General Sherman had to do was lay siege to the city.  On December 17th, Sherman contacted Confederate General Hardee defending the city with an ultimatum – surrender or the city of Savannah will be destroyed.  Hardee escaped with his command, and on December 21, the mayor of Savannah surrendered the city.

Known as “Sherman’s March to the Sea,” I even heard about it as a child living in the Deep South.  Over 100 years after his destructive drive through Georgia, and the actions of his army still echoed through a century of time.  Sherman telegraphed Lincoln with the message, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”2


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “President Lincoln’s Christmas Gift

  1. Karl J.

    Merry Christmas Eve! Thanks to all of you here that are readers of Gen. Satterfield and his blog, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas. Also, I will note that all our Jewish friends are celebrating Hanukkah. Praise to everyone.

  2. Valkerie

    General Satterfield, thank you once again for another great article worthy of our reading and studying. I too love the forum section and the people in it.

    1. KenFBrown

      Valkerie, you are spot-on here. I might be relatively new to this leadership website but I appreciate what is being done to help us learn more about leadership and more about being a good human.

    2. Lady Hawk

      Yes, thanks Valkerie. I’m one of the long-time readers of this blog and while there are many others that use leadership as a theme, only this one consistently holds my attention, educates and entertains. I see that many new folks have come on line to support the website by directing and encouraging their friends to read the blog also. Note to all, this is a free site and there is no charge for anyone for anything. Also, no advertisements. Good!!!! Let’s hope Gen. Satterfield keeps it that way. Oh, Merry Christmas!

      1. JT Patterson

        Lady Hawk, thank you for the wonderful comment. We all love this leadership website.

  3. Kenny Foster

    Personally, growing up in the US Deep South, I too learned about Sherman’s March to the Sea and how destructive it was, not just in destroyed property, but that he also destroyed town halls where all the records (deeds, birth cert) were kept. Many southerners today cannot trace their ancestry because of his campaign.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Yeah, I heard about it too but can’t remember where but it was in grade school where our teachers were very good about not just teaching history but WHY certain things occurred as they did. I was fortunate that my teachers were NOT like modern grade-school teachers.

  4. Tom Bushmaster

    We should all read more about the US Civil War because of the many lessons that it gives us all. From leadership to logistics, there is a wealth of information on how to execute your mission properly to how not to do it. That is the real lesson for many of us. But also that America lead the effort to abolish slavery and that millions of men were willing to put their lives on the line for it. No where, at anytime in the history of mankind, have so many fought a violent war to abolish slavery. Only the US did that.

    1. Max Foster

      Tom, you are right and something I never gave a second thought. Only the United States fought a bloody civil war over the idea of slavery. That ended it for good. Yes, we may still struggle from its effects but we showed the world we were serious about its abolition.

        1. Bryan Lee

          Ouch! The old gray lady, the New York Times, gets slammed. Hyper liberalism and its neo-Marxist roots along with its anti-American slant might be good reading for Progressive-bound nutjobs in NYC, but for the rest of the country, the NYT is out of step and deserves a hard slam to the ground. Also, of note, is that they employed a number of racists to write it.

      1. Nick Lighthouse

        If you hate America, then you must also hate its slavery abolition movement. And, frankly, that is why I think so many do hate America. They are envious of our track record.

  5. Army Captain

    Of course, I know my Civil War history, so I knew what you were getting at when you titled this article “President Lincoln’s Christmas Gift.” War, when it occurs, does not stop just because there is a holiday (religious or not). In fact, this is often a time of greater risk.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        I remember the article and just re-read it. Thanks for bringing back some of the great ideas that Gen. Satterfield has given us for more than six years now. 😊

      2. Linux Man

        This is why I keep coming back to this site. Gen. Satterfield has made it a pleasure and also entertaining to learn important things about leadership. I especially like his idea that we can often learn more from the mistakes of leaders and thus how NOT to fail.

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