Sherman’s Christmas Gift

As the holiday approaches some people have a long Christmas List to fill, and in 1864 General Sherman had one special person at the top of his list; President Lincoln. And the gift he gave was the city of Savannah Georgia.

After General Sherman and his Yankee troops burned Atlanta, he decided to “make Georgia howl” for their impudence and attacked the south’s civilian population. From November 15th to December 21st General Sherman embarked on his historic “March to the Sea” and led 60,000 troops 285 miles from Atlanta to Savannah. His goal was to make southerners give up their cause and to bring a swift end to the war. The northern troops burned, stole, raped and pillaged across Georgia, but nobody was howling. They we’re just really really mad.

When he reached Savannah 10,000 rebel troops flooded the rice fields so the approaching enemy could only come into town one way and that one way was heavily fortified.

But there was no battle and the reason for that gets a bit “fuzzy”. Some say General Sherman was charmed by Savannah’s beauty and could not destroy it. Others say the mayor cut a deal to surrender supplies and the city if the good citizens and their possessions would be safe. Most people believe Sherman realized the importance of Savannah as a seaport and it was in the north’s best interest to keep it intact.

And so, after six weeks of being “gone”, General Sherman sent a telegram to President Lincoln that read “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” The fall of Savannah was given a 300-gun salute Washington DC in celebration.

While in Savannah General Sherman was cordially welcomed to stay at the Green-Meridan house. He was wined and dined with Savannah elegance. His soldiers, who’d camped out in the Old Colonial Cemetery, had a bit of fun changing the birth and death dates on old tombstones. Some people lived to be a thousand years or died before they were born. In true Savannah politeness all was forgiven. (boys will be boys, no matter if they be Yankee or Rebs)

When Savannah General Sherman left Savannah, just to give everyone a scare, he led his army around South Carolina. The residents of Charleston thought he’d burn their town, but he didn’t go there because, like today, it wasn’t on the way to Richmond. He eventually went to Columbia and marched up to Richmond. General Lee surrendered in April 1865 and that was the end of that.

There haven’t been any reports of General Sherman’s ghost haunting Savannah, and the only howling done in Georgia is heard at a UGA game by the Bulldogs.

Merry Christmas!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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It’s a known fact that people in Savannah love to party, and everyone knows the best time to throw a lavish over-the-top stylish party is Christmas. And nobody, dead or alive, could throw a better Christmas Gala than Jim Williams at his home, the Mercer-William House, on Montgomery Square. They say it was “a party to die for”.

Every member of Savannah’s high society wanted an invitation to Jim Williams’ elaborate Christmas party. It was the biggest social event of the year. Women would wear lovely gowns, men dressed in tuxedos, and almost everyone showed up fashionably late. The decorations were extravagant, the food delicious, and the music played to perfection by choice musicians. The second floor ballroom of the Mercer-Williams House was ablaze with lights, music, dancing, and laughter. It was a true Savannah holiday party done just right.

Jim Williams was made famous from John Berendt’s non-fiction book, Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil. (in Savannah we refer to this as The Book). Williams, an antique dealer of substantial wealth allegedly shot his young lover, Danny Hansford in the library.

A game of Clue was solved quickly with Danny’s dead body and Jimmie holding the smoking gun.

Jim Williams was tried four times for the murder, but claimed self-defense and was set free. Nobody knows what happened, and most folks believe Williams was guilty, but Hansford was trouble with a capital “T” and sometimes, people just needed killing. It was justifiable homicide.

After his final overturned conviction, Jim Williams decided to throw one of his famous Christmas parties and it was the last party he would throw as a living person because he died the next month. And…not only did he suddenly drop dead, but he died next to the same spot on the library floor where the poor unfortunate Danny Hansford was shot.

Some believe Hansford got his revenge by scaring Williams to death.

Since Williams’ death, he’s been seen in full apparition form, walking up and down the halls of the house. It is also said that if you pass by the Mercer-Williams House on the night of the annual Christmas party, you’ll see the house ablaze in a ghostly light as misty partygoers drift through the rooms.  And you’ll hear the distant sound of revelers attending a Savannah Christmas Ghostly Gala.

Jim Williams Christmas party at the Mercer-Williams House was indeed “a party to die for”, and if you’re already dead, then apparently it’s “a party to live for!”

Have Yourself A Very Merry Ghostly Christmas!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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