Top of page

Highlighting the Holidays: A Special Telegram

Share this post:

On Dec. 22, 1864, William T. Sherman sent President Abraham Lincoln a telegram that included a pretty monumental “gift,” according to the Civil War general.

William T. Sherman to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, Dec. 22, 1864. Manuscript Division.
William T. Sherman to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, Dec. 22, 1864. Manuscript Division.

“I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah with 150 heavy guns & plenty of ammunition & also about 25.000 bales of cotton.

W. T. Sherman

Major Gen”

From Nov. 15 to Dec. 21, 1864, Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army campaigned through Georgia – his famous “March to the Sea” – with troops capturing Savannah on Dec. 21. His forces laid waste to the southern state and its cities, destroying military targets, industry, civilian property and the South’s economy.

Just a few days later, Lincoln sent back correspondence acknowledging the “gift.”

“My dear General Sherman.

Many, many thanks for your Christmas-gift — the capture of Savannah.

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that “nothing risked, nothing gained” I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe none of us went farther than to acquiesce. And, taking the work of Gen. Thomas into the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success.2 Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages; but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole — Hood’s army — it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave Gen. Grant and yourself to decide.

Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men.

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln.”

The Library of Congress continues its holiday highlights with more historical finds. You can read other holiday-related blog posts here.


  1. Ms. Erin Allen is a guardian of memory

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.