Historic America

Civil War Ballads: Savannah

“Savannah” was written by the heavy metal band Civil War for their album The Last Full Measure (2016), named after Jeff Shaara’s historical novel. Guitarists Oskar Montelius and Rikard Sundén, drummer Daniel Mullback, and keyboardist Daniel Mÿhr left the band Sabaton to form Civil War in 2012. Like the traditional song “Marching through Georgia,” “Savannah” recounts Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.”

Come along now boys we’ve got so many miles to go
It has been so many fights and now it’s time to show
What a boy is really made of
What a man’s prepared to die for
Be a killer angel in the army under God

Mississippi soldiers, Army of the Tennessee
If you talk the talk you’d better walk the walk with me
It is time to play with fire, being judge without a trial
Army of Georgia set the devil in you free

We’re rolling like thunder, we burn and we plunder
The Principle of the scorched earth
Civilians are dying the children are crying
But this is the way of the world

Savannah here we come, this is the final march
The star spangled banner waving over us tonight
Savannah, soon it’s done; you must surrender
There is no glory in defeat but Hell is far away

Major General William Tecumseh Sherman

When I read the story of this long and bloody war
I realized what they were really fighting for
Memories will live forever, be the stupid or the clever
or this wicked war will rage on and on and on

The Atlantic ocean came closer everyday
And Sherman made a vow: now it’s time to pay
It was just around the corner and before it’s getting colder
This war shall end I guarantee you President

The tactic was brutal, but God Hallelujah
In gun smoke the justice was made
Bloodshed and chaos the northern invaders
Completing the inglorious raid

Savannah here we come, this is the final march
The star spangled banner waving over us tonight
Savannah, soon it’s done; you must surrender
There is no glory in defeat but Hell is far away

From November 15 to December 21, 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman and his 60,000-strong Army of the Tennessee, led by Major General Oliver O. Howard, and Army of Georgia, led by Major General Henry W. Slocum, marched from Atlanta, Georgia, to Savannah on the Atlantic coast.

When Sherman captured Savannah on December 22, 1864, he wired to President Abraham Lincoln, “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.” Unlike other Southern cities, retreating Confederates did not attempt to burn Savannah. Mayor Richard Dennis Arnold surrendered the city under the condition that Sherman’s army protect citizens and their property, to which he agreed.

Sherman’s goal was to punish the State of Georgia for supporting secession and the Confederacy. “I am going into the very bowels of the Confederacy, and will leave a trail that will be recognized fifty years hence,” he said. It’s difficult to estimate the damage done along the march. Sherman himself estimated his army destroyed $100 million in livestock, railroads, and military hardware. That’s roughly $1.56 billion today.

They wrecked 300 miles of railroad (bending the rails around trees to form “Sherman’s neckties”), destroyed bridges, cotton gins, mills, and telegraph lines, and confiscated 5,000 horses, 4,000 mules, 13,000 cattle, 9.5 million pounds of corn, and 10.5 million pounds of fodder. It’s for this reason Sherman is often credited with conducting total war against the Confederacy.

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