Our member George Sedberry introduced Michael Jordan, the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, on Wednesday morning.  Michael is also a veteran broadcaster, filmmaker, and historian who has traveled around the world with local troops to gather material for his work on military history.  Most of Michael’s award winning videos focus on local history, including Savannah’s role in the Civil War.  This was his subject today, and his videos accompanied his presentation.


Savannah 's claim to distinction in the Civil War went beyond not being burned by General Sherman, Michael told us.  It was a big navy town.  The Civil War was "our Vietnam," Michael said, "A terrible time."  Savannah's importance was based, among other things, on the export of cotton; the South needed this trade for its income, and Savannah was the port from which this precious commodity, in large quantities, went to England. Savannah and its river was a busy scene of shipping – and fighting – and, unfortunately for the South, it was an easy port to blockade because of its topography.  In his pictures, Michael showed shipping in the Savannah river, a "ragtag fleet of merchant ships," several 'iron-clads' so weighed down by their iron sheaths that they could hardly move, including the Georgia, CSS Atlanta, (which became grounded on the sand banks and forced to surrender,) the CSS Savannah, which was bottled up by the blockade.  He showed us the beautiful USS Water Witch in the spring of 1854, the source of a commando raid ……but General Lee could not defend the BarrierIslands and ultimately could not withstand the Union army.  General Sherman did take Savannah and the railroad hub at McAllister, (the fort there was destroyed) and Savannah did burn in places.  We saw pictures of the Union troops crossing the Savannah River by means of a line of end-to-end barges and of Sherman's officers in Savannah.  Michael also reported to us that the Union prisoners, held in an encampment in ForsythPark, were miserably treated.  In short, Savannah played a significant part in the Civil War of which it can be justly proud, and suffered with the rest of the Confederacy as a result of that war.