By the end of 1864, though the Civil War was still a year or more away from its end, the Union Army had made considerable advances, including General William T. Sherman as he marched through the Confederate states eventually making it to Savannah, Georgia on his famous “March to the Sea.” After taking over Savannah, Sherman sent a telegram to President Lincoln on December 21st, presenting him the city as a Christmas Present, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah.”
Sherman’s troops were resting in Georgia during mid-late December before their advance north to support General Ulysses S. Grant at the beginning of 1865.
For the troops of Onondaga County’s Company A 117th Regiment, the last days of 1864 allow for time to reflect. David W. Nelson looks back on the year that’s past and what his hopes are for the upcoming year:
“Friday, 30 December 1864: Writing, Reading. The year draws to a close and soon the New Year will open upon us. God grant that with it peace may come to us.”
Saturday, 31 December, 1864: This year is done. With it we have passed through it many a varied scene. The beginning found me in south Carolina, its close finds me in Massachusetts.”
1 January 1865: “Another New Year dawns upon us & finds me on the bleak Isle of Gallops in Boston Harbor. This is my third New Year spent in the army. 8 months & if I have my life spared, I shall be done, I think, with military life. Last night a Transport load of troops left here for the South. I expect to go in a few days. There are no religious services here today. We leave Barracks 7 for 18. Weather cold with a little snow.”