William Tecumseh Sherman telegram
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William Tecumseh Sherman telegram

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Sherman, William T., (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891.
Title: William Tecumseh Sherman telegram
Dates: 1864
Extent: 0.05 cubic feet (1 folder)
Identification: MS 0728

Biographical/Historical Note

William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), originally named Tecumseh after the Shawnee leader, was born on February 8, 1820 in Lancaster, Ohio. His father, Charles Robert Sherman was a member of the Ohio Superior Court; he died in 1829. At the age of nine, "Cump," as Tecumseh was known, was sent to live with Thomas Ewing, a family friend and neighbor. The Ewing's had him baptized as William Tecumseh Sherman. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West point in 1840, Sherman enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery. He fought in the 2nd Seminole War and was stationed in Georgia and South Carolina. During the Mexican American War, Sherman served in California. He married Thomas Ewing's daughter, Eleanor Boyle Ewing, in 1850. In 1853, he resigned from military service and became a banker in San Francisco; in 1859 he became the superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy (this institution became Louisiana State University).

Upon the South's secession from the United States, Sherman moved to Ohio. He re-enlisted into the Union Army in 1861 as a Colonel of the 13th Infantry; he was appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers that same month. He commanded a Brigade at Bull Run in July of 1861. In 1862, he was promoted to Major-General of Volunteers; he was wounded at Shiloh the same year. Sherman was involved in various battles and campaigns, including Vicksburg.

In 1864, Sherman replaced Ulysses S. Grant as the Union leader of the Western Theater, commanding the armies of the Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia. By September 1864, he had captured Atlanta, Georgia. From Atlanta, Sherman led his troops on a march through Georgia, known as his "march to the sea." Burning everything that could prove useful to the Confederate Army, including entire towns, Sherman physically divided the South. When he arrived at Savannah in December 1864, Sherman offered the city to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present. He continued on his march through South Carolina and North Carolina, leaving a path of destruction behind him. He received the surrender of the Confederate forces in the South in May of 1865.

Sherman remained in active military duty until his retirement in February of 1884. He died in New York City on February 14, 1891.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of a negative photocopy of William Tecumseh Sherman's telegram to President Abraham Lincoln, presenting the City of Savannah to the President as a Christmas gift. The telegram was sent from Savannah, Georgia, on December 22, 1864. The original telegram is in the National Archives.

Index Terms

Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Savannah (Ga.)--History--Siege, 1864.
Sherman's March to the Sea.
Sherman, William T., (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891.

Location of Originals

Original telegram in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Administrative Information

Custodial History


Preferred Citation

[item identification], William Tecumseh Sherman telegram, MS 728, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information



Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List

Item 1: Telegram, W.T. Sherman to President Lincoln, presenting the City of Savannah as a Christmas gift. Savannah, Ga., 1864 December 22 ( 1.0 p. )
Negative photocopy of original.