Diary of Orrin Brown, Savannah, Georgia
We left camp at about 6.30 and were marched down to the city and worked on the breastworks. The 2nd Brigs. of our div. mooved down to the City and went into camp there. We had a pretty cold night last night and a heavy frost this morning but it came off warm and we have had a beautifull day, but it is cool again this evening. I came by the Hospital in returning to camp and saw Mr. Meeker, he is gaining slowly. We received orders this evening to be ready for Picket at 8 AM tomorrow.
After Stanton’s meeting with Savannah’s black ministers on 12 January, Sherman worked with the War Secretary to issue Special Field Orders, No. 15 on the 16th. This directive confiscated 400,000 acres of land in a 30-mile strip along the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina and Georgia, to the St. John’s River in Florida, abandoned by fleeing Confederate Low Country plantation owners. Young men were encouraged to enlist in Union forces to secure their new freedoms, but the land was to be opened for settlement in 40-acre parcels by freedmen with families and no place else to go. The March had also accumulated surplus livestock from across the state, including more mules than the troops knew what to do with. Although Andrew Johnson ignored Lincoln’s approval and revoked the order following the President’s death, thus was born the idea of “40 Acres and a Mule.”