Morgantown, WV. 4/28/2013:
On December 22, 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman presented the city of Savannah, GA to Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas gift. The city was too beautiful to burn.
Sherman had disappeared into the "wilds" of Georgia six weeks before. As he stepped off, he cut his communication and supply lines behind him, declaring that his army would live off the land as it destroyed the state's capacity to make war. And he did.
Lincoln told those around him that he knew where Sherman had gone in, but had no idea where he would come out. In the course of his march, Sherman took three of Georgia's capitols, Savannah, Milledgeville and capitol-to-be, Atlanta. But he needed a place to stop and Savannah was the prize. An important port, it had abundant stores of cotton and other supplies for the taking. And, as stated, it was beautiful to boot. It still is.
General James Oglethorpe laid out a city plan upon his arrival in 1733. That wasn't his first priority--he was sent there by King George the second to protect the Carolinas from the Spanish in Florida and the French in Louisiana. But in the course of events, the city shaped into streets centering on 22 public squares and a laid-back but sophisticated architecture that make it so interesting today.
I run down the Carolina and Georgia coastlines on my way to Cape Canaveral every year or so, knowing that Savannah will be a stop either going or coming. It's irresistible. If you have a camera and good walking shoes, Savannah's your oyster. Spend the day prowling for pictures and in the evening, take your pick of dozens of fine restaurants. Hint: if Paula Deen's Lady and Sons is on your must-try list, ask your hotel when you should go to line up for a reservation. If the line's too long for you, be assured you'll do very well somewhere else; for instance, try the City Market, which is known for good dining and art galleries. But that's just one suggestion among many.
One of my quiet passions is photography..and Savannah's a prime place to go for it. The following shots are just samples.
(Left) The door to one of Savannah's historic churches.
General Sherman settled into a rich cotton trader's mansion in what is now the historic district after marching into the city. His troops pitched their tents in a graveyard, among other places, but Sherman needed a headquarters and it might as well be comfortable. Needless to say, neither he nor his soldiers were high on Savannah's popularity list.
The mansion Sherman chose--the Green-Meldrim House--was right next to St. John's Episcopal Church. Annoyed by their constant ringing, Sherman threatened to melt the church's bells into bullets for his troops. Citizens of Savannah telegraphed President Lincoln, imploring him to countermand Sherman. Lincoln did.
As you march through Savannah, look closely; elegant details are everywhere. Take a look at the design work on this lamp post (right).
The town is known for fancy ironwork on its garden gates, too. But those touches are virtually everywhere you look. An old door, a downspout with a metalwork flourish and a dolphin mouth. Porch galleries running two or three floors up the front or sides of old houses. Spanish moss draping the trees, huge ferns by the curbstones. In some ways, Savannah feels very much like New Orleans. Even though Oglethorpe tried to keep the French and Spanish well south of the Savannah River, their influence is clear.
|My camera does pencil sketches, too.|
Treat yourself. Visit Savannah. I'll bet you can't do it just once.