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THE CAPTURE OF SAVANNAH
AFTER having completed his grand march through Georgia, from Atlanta to Savannah, General SHERMAN’S first object was to communicate with the fleet off Savannah. This he accomplished by the capture of Fort McAllister, the only serious obstruction to the navigation of the Ogechee River. The fort was sixteen miles from the mouth of the Savannah. This was the first fort ever bombarded by our Monitors. It was now, however, taken by direct assault.
The party to whom the work was assigned was General HAZEN’S Division. The garrison of the fort was insignificant in point of number, there being only men enough to man the guns, of which there were twenty-one. The assault was most spirited. The men marched at double-quick, penetrated the abatis, and, crossing the ditch, scaled the parapets of the fort, and in three minutes the garrison were prisoners. The capture of the fort gave us a large quantity of ordnance stores, guns, ammunition, etc. The guns were taken to the headquarters of the ordnance-officer, Lieutenant SPENCER, near the fort.
Pretty closely investing the city, except at a point on the north side directly across the river, SHERMAN at length determined to make an assault. Previous to this attempt, however, he sent a message to General HARDER demanding the surrender of the city. The latter assumed a rather defiant attitude and refused. But during the night he slipped across the Savannah on a pontoon with his fifteen thousand men.
The movement was soon observed by General GEARY, who immediately pushed his division (the Second of the Twentieth Corps) on into the city. Before his arrival he was met by the Mayor and Commonalty of Savannah, who surrendered the city unconditionally. The forts were then taken possession of with all their ordnance The captures included 150 guns, 13 locomotives, and 35,000 bales of cotton.
The rebels had destroyed their shipping. A floating battery was sunk. The Savannah, a formidable war vessel, was blown up. When the troops entered the city there was no disorder except that occasioned by ill-disposed people in the city, who plundered every thing within reach. Even the rebel soldiers had been participating in acts of violence. Order was soon restored, and the next Sabbath the churches were attended as usual.
General GEARY has been appointed commander of the city, which is divided into two Departments, the Eastern and Western, commanded respectively by Colonel WOOD and Colonel BARNUM.
GEARY took all the Commissary stores which be found in the city and placed them at the disposal of the Mayor and Common Council. It is estimated that 25,000 inhabitants remained in the city. The illustration on the first page shows our troops entering Savannah at sunrise.
Savannah is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Chatham County, Georgia, USA. Savannah was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors, who enjoy the city’s architecture and historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South’s first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America).
Today Savannah’s downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District and 21 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966). Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Savannah has a total area of 78.1 square miles (202.3 km²), of which 74.7 square miles (193.6 km²) is land and 3.4 square miles (8.7 km²) is water (4.31%). Savannah is the primary port on the Savannah River and the largest port in the state of Georgia. It is also located near the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway. Georgia’s Ogeechee River flows toward the Atlantic Ocean some 16 miles (26 km) south of the city.
Savannah is prone to flooding. Four canals and several pumping stations have been built to help reduce the effects: Fell Street Canal, Kayton Canal, Springfield Canal and the Casey Canal, with the first three draining north into the Savannah River.
Savannah’s climate is classified as humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa) and is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic coast, Savannah experiences milder winters and cooler summers than the Georgia interior. Despite this, temperatures as high as 105°F and as low as 3°F have been recorded. Summers tend to be humid with many thunderstorms. Nearly half of Savannah’s precipitation falls during the months of June through September, characteristic of monsoon-type climates. As the city is south of the snow line, it rarely receives snow in winter. Occasional Arctic cold fronts in winter can push nighttime temperatures into the 20s, but usually not much further than that.
Savannah is at risk for hurricanes, particularly of the Cape Verde type. Because of its location in the Georgia Bight (the arc of the Atlantic coastline in Georgia and northern Florida) as well as the tendency for hurricanes to re-curve up the coast, Savannah has a lower risk of hurricanes than some other coastal cities such as Charleston, South Carolina. Savannah was seldom affected by hurricanes during the twentieth century, with one exception being Hurricane David in 1979. However, the historical record shows that the city was frequently affected during the second half of the nineteenth century. The most prominent of these storms was the 1893 Sea Islands hurricane, which killed at least 2,000 people. (This estimate may be low, as deaths among the many impoverished rural African-Americans living on Georgia’s barrier islands may not have been reported.)
Savannah’s population was estimated to be 132,410 in 2008, slightly up from the official 2000 U.S. Census report of 131,510 residents. However, between 2000 and 2008, the estimated population of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties, grew from 293,000 to 334,353, an increase of 14 percent. Savannah’s MSA is ranked third among Georgia cities. Savannah is the largest principal city of the Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart CSA, a larger Combined Statistical Area that includes the Savannah and Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan areas, which had a combined estimated population of 404,296 in 2008 (up from 364,914 at the 2000 census).
In the 2000 census of Savannah, there were 131,510 people, 51,375 households, and 31,390 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,759.5 people per square mile (679.4/km²). There were 57,437 housing units at an average density of 768.5/sq mi (296.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.08% African American, 38.86% White, 1.52% Asian, 0.23% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.23% of the population.
There were 51,375 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 13.2% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,038, and the median income for a family was $36,410. Males had a median income of $28,545 versus $22,309 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,921. About 17.7% of families and 21.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 15.1% of those age 65 or over.
Agriculture was essential to Savannah’s economy during its first two centuries. Silk and indigo production, both in demand in England, were early export commodities; by 1767 almost a ton of silk per year was exported to England.
Georgia’s mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which became the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production under the plantation system and shipment through the Port of Savannah helped the city’s European immigrants to achieve wealth and prosperity.
In the nineteenth century, the Port of Savannah became one of the most active in the United States, and Savannahians had the opportunity to consume some of the world’s finest goods, imported by foreign merchants. Savannah’s port has always been a mainstay of the city’s economy. In the early years of the United States, goods produced in the New World had to pass through Atlantic ports such as Savannah’s before they could be shipped to England.
Today, the Port of Savannah, manufacturing, the military and the tourism industry are Savannah’s four major economic drivers. In 2006, the Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau reported over 6.85 million visitors to the city during the year. Lodging, dining, entertainment, and visitor-related transportation account for over $2 billion in visitors’ spending per year and employ over 17,000.
For years, Savannah was the home of Union Camp, which housed the world’s largest paper mill. The plant is now owned by International Paper, and it remains one of Savannah’s largest employers. Savannah is also home to the Gulfstream Aerospace company, maker of private jets, as well as various other large industrial interests.
In 2000, JCB, the third largest producer of construction equipment in the world and the leading manufacturer of backhoes and telescopic handlers, built its North American headquarters in Savannah on I-95 near Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport.
Savannah has four colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and professional or doctorate degree programs: Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah State University, and South University. In addition, Georgia Tech Savannah offers engineering degrees, and Georgia Southern University has a satellite campus in the downtown area. Savannah Technical College, a two-year technical institution, and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, a marine science research institute located on the northern end of Skidaway Island, offer educational programs as well.
Mercer University began a four-year doctor of medicine program in August 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. Mercer, with its main campus in Macon, received additional state funding in 2007 to expand its existing partnership with Memorial by establishing a four-year medical school in Savannah (the first in southern Georgia). Third- and fourth-year Mercer students have completed two-year clinical rotations at Memorial since 1996; approximately 100 residents are trained each year in a number of specialities. The expanded program opened in August 2008 with 30 first-year students.
Johnny Mercer Bio
John Herndon “Johnny” Mercer (November 18, 1909 – June 25, 1976) was an American songwriter and singer. As a songwriter, he is best known as a lyricist, but he also composed music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time. He wrote the lyrics to more than a thousand songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Academy Award nominations. Mercer was also a co-founder of Capitol Records.
Mercer was born in Savannah, Georgia. His father, George Armstrong Mercer, was a prominent attorney and real estate developer, and his mother, Lillian Elizabeth (née Ciucevich), George Mercer’s secretary and then second wife, was the daughter of Croatian-Irish immigrants who came to America in the 1850s. Lillian’s father was a merchant seaman who ran the Union blockade during the U.S. Civil War. Mercer was George’s fourth son, first by Lillian. His great-grandfather was Confederate General Hugh Weedon Mercer and he was a direct descendant of Revolutionary War General Hugh Mercer, a Scottish soldier-physician who died at the Battle of Princeton. Mercer was also a distant cousin of General George S. Patton. The Mercer House in Savannah was built by General Hugh Weedon Mercer in 1860, later the home of Jim Williams, whose trial for murder was the centerpiece of John Berendt‘s book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, although neither the General nor Johnny ever lived there.
Mercer liked music as a small child and attributed his musical talent to his mother, who would sing sentimental ballads. Mercer’s father also sang, mostly old Scottish songs. His aunt told him he was humming music when he was six months old and later she took him to see minstrel and vaudeville shows where he heard “coon songs” and ragtime. The family’s summer home “Vernon View” was on the tidal waters and Mercer’s long summers there among mossy trees, saltwater marshes, and soft, starry nights inspired him years later.
Mercer’s exposure to black music was perhaps unique among the white songwriters of his generation. As a child, Mercer had African-American playmates and servants, and he listened to the fishermen and vendors about him, who spoke and sang in the Creole dialect known as “Geechee”. He was also attracted to black church services. Mercer later stated, “Songs always fascinated me more than anything”. He never had formal musical training but was singing in a choir by six and at eleven or twelve he had memorized almost all of the songs he had heard and he had become curious about who had written them. He once asked his brother who the best songwriter was, and his brother said Irving Berlin, among the best of Tin Pan Alley.
Despite his early exposure to music, Mercer’s talent was clearly in creating the words and singing, not playing music, though early on he hoped to become a composer. In addition to the lyrics Mercer memorized, he was an avid reader and wrote adventure stories. His attempts to play the trumpet and piano were not successful, however, and he never could read musical scores with any facility, relying instead on his own notational system.
As a teenager in the Jazz Era, he was a ”product of his age”. He hunted for records in the black section of Savannah and played such early black jazz greats as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong. His father owned the first car in town, and Mercer’s teenage social life was enhanced by his driving privilege, which sometimes verged on recklessness. The family would motor to the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina to escape the Savannah heat and there Mercer learned to dance (from Arthur Murray himself) and to flirt with Southern belles, his natural sense of rhythm helping him on both accounts.
Mercer attended exclusive Woodberry Forest boys prep school in Virginia until 1927. Though not a top student, he was active in literary and poetry societies and as a humor writer for the school’s publications. In addition, his exposure to classic literature augmented his already rich store of vocabulary and phraseology. He began to scribble ingenious, sometimes strained rhymed phrases for later use. Mercer was also the class clown and a prankster, and member of the “hop” committee that booked musical entertainment on campus.
Already somewhat of an authority on jazz, Mercer’s yearbook stated, “No orchestra or new production can be authoritatively termed ‘good’ until Johnny’s stamp of approval has been placed upon it. His ability to ‘get hot’ under all conditions and at all times is uncanny”. Mercer began to write songs, an early effort being ‘’Sister Susie, Strut Your Stuff.” and quickly learned the powerful effect songs had on girls.
Given his family’s proud history and association with Princeton, New Jersey, and Princeton University, Mercer was destined for school there until his father’s financial setbacks in the late 1920’s changed those plans. He went to work in his father’s recovering business, collecting rent and running errands, but soon grew bored with the routine and with Savannah, and looked to escape.
Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19. The music he loved, jazz and blues, was booming in Harlem and Broadway was bursting with musicals and revues from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. Vaudeville, though beginning to fade, was still a strong musical presence. Mercer’s first few jobs were as a bit actor (billed as John Mercer). Holed up in a Greenwich Village apartment with plenty of time on his hands and a beat-up piano to play, Mercer soon returned to singing and lyric writing.He secured a day job at a brokerage house and sang at night. Pooling his meager income with that of his roommates, Mercer managed to keep going, sometimes on little more than oatmeal. One night he dropped in on Eddie Cantor backstage to offer a comic song, but although Cantor didn’t use the song, he began encouraging Mercer’s career. Mercer’s first lyric, for the song “Out of Breath (and Scared to Death of You)”, composed by friend Everett Miller, appeared in a musical revue The Garrick Gaieties in 1930. Mercer met his future wife at the show, chorus girl Ginger Meehan. Meehan had earlier been one of the many chorus girls pursued by the young crooner Bing Crosby. Through Miller’s father, an executive at the famous publisher T. B. Harms, Mercer’s first song was published. It was recorded by Joe Venuti and his New Yorkers.
The 20-year-old Mercer began to hang out with other songwriters and to learn the trade. He traveled to California to undertake a lyric writing assignment for the musical Paris in the Spring and met his idols Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. Mercer found the experience sobering and realized that he much preferred free-standing lyric writing to writing on demand for musicals. Upon his return, he got a job as staff lyricist for Miller Music for a $25 dollar-a-week draw which give him a base income and enough prospects to win over and marry Ginger in 1931. The new Mrs. Mercer quit the chorus line and became a seamstress, and to save money the newlyweds moved in with Ginger’s mother in Brooklyn.
In 1932, Mercer won a contest to sing with the Paul Whiteman orchestra, but it did not help his situation significantly. He made his recording debut, singing with Frank Trumbauer’s Orchestra, on April 5 of that year. Mercer then apprenticed with Yip Harburg on the score for Americana, a Depression-flavored revue famous for “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (not a Mercer composition), which gave Mercer invaluable training. After several songs which didn’t catch fire, during his time with Whiteman, he wrote and sang “Pardon My Southern Accent”. Mercer’s fortunes improved dramatically with a chance pairing with Indiana-born Hoagy Carmichael, already famous for the standard “Stardust“, who was intrigued by the “young, bouncy butterball of a man from Georgia”. The two spent a year laboring over “Lazybones“, which became a hit one week after its first radio broadcast, and each received a large royalty check of $1250. A regional song in pseudo-black dialect, it captured the mood of the times, especially in rural America. Mercer became a member of ASCAP and a recognized “brother” in the Tin Pan Alley fraternity, receiving congratulations from Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter among others. Paul Whiteman lured Mercer back to his orchestra (to sing, write comic skits and compose songs), temporarily breaking up the working team with Carmichael.
During the golden age of sophisticated popular song of the late Twenties and early Thirties, songs were put into revues with minimal regard for plot integration. During the 1930s, there was a shift from revues to stage and movie musicals using song to further the plot. Demand diminished accordingly for the pure stand-alone songs that Mercer preferred. Thus, although he had established himself in the New York music world, when Mercer was offered a job in Hollywood to compose songs and perform in low-budget musicals for RKO, he accepted and followed idol Bing Crosby west.
It was only when Mercer moved to Hollywood in 1935 that his career was assured. Writing songs for movies offered two distinct advantages. The use of sensitive microphones for recording and of the lip-synching of pre-recorded songs liberated songwriters from dependence on the long vowel endings and long sustained notes required for live performance. Performers such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers could now sing more conversationally and more nonchalantly. Mercer, as a singer, was attuned to this shift and his style fit the need perfectly.
Mercer’s first Hollywood assignment was not the Astaire-Rogers vehicle of which he had dreamed but a B-movie college musical, Old Man Rhythm, to which he contributed two undistinguished songs and even worse acting. His next project, To Beat the Band, was another flop, but it did lead to a meeting and a collaboration with Fred Astaire on the moderately successful Astaire song “I’m Building Up to an Awful Let-Down”.
Though all but overwhelmed by the glitter of Hollywood, Mercer found his beloved jazz and nightlife lacking. As he wrote, “Hollywood was never much of a night town. Everybody had to get up too early… the movie people were in bed with the chickens (or each other).” Mercer was now in Bing Crosby’s hard-drinking circle and enjoyed Crosby’s company and hipster talk. Unfortunately, Mercer also began to drink more at parties and was prone to vicious outbursts when under the influence of alcohol, contrasting sharply with his ordinarily genial and gentlemanly behavior.
Mercer’s first big Hollywood song “I’m an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande” was inspired by a road trip through Texas (he wrote both the music and the lyric). It was performed by Crosby in the film Rhythm on the Range in 1936, and from thereon the demand for Mercer as a lyricist took off. His second hit that year was “Goody Goody“. In 1937, Mercer began employment with the Warner Brothers studio, working with the veteran composer Richard Whiting (Ain’t We Got Fun?), soon producing his standard, “Too Marvelous for Words“, followed by “Hooray for Hollywood“. After Whiting’s sudden death from a heart attack, Mercer joined forces with Harry Warren and created “Jeepers Creepers“, which earned Mercer his first Oscar nomination for Best Song. It was given a memorable recording by Louis Armstrong. Another hit with Warren in 1938 was “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby“. The pair also created “Hooray For Spinach”, a comic song produced for the film Naughty But Nice in 1939.
During a lull at Warners, Mercer revived his singing career. He joined Bing Crosby’s informal minstrel shows put on by the “Westwood Marching and Chowder Club”, which included many Hollywood luminaries and brought together Crosby and Bob Hope. A duet “Mr. Crosby and Mr. Mercer” was recorded and became a hit in 1938.
In 1939, Mercer wrote the lyrics to a melody by Ziggy Elman, a trumpet player with Benny Goodman. The song was “And the Angels Sing” and, although recorded by Bing Crosby and Count Basie, it was the Goodman version with vocal by Martha Tilton and memorable trumpet solo by Elman that became the Number One hit. Years later, the title was inscribed on Mercer’s tombstone.
Mercer was invited to the Camel Caravan radio show in New York to sing his hits and create satirical songs with the Benny Goodman orchestra, then becoming the emcee of the nationally broadcast show for several months. Two more hits followed shortly, “Day In, Day Out” and “Fools Rush In,” and Mercer in short order had five of the top ten songs on the popular radio show Your Hit Parade. Mercer also started a short-lived publishing company during his stay in New York. On a lucky streak, Mercer undertook a musical with Hoagy Carmichael, but Walk With Music (originally called Three After Three) was a bomb, with story quality not matching that of the score. Another disappointment for Mercer was the selection of Johnny Burke as the long-term songwriter for the Hope-Crosby “Road” pictures. In 1940, the Mercers adopted a daughter, Amanda. Mercer was thirty and his life and career were riding high.
In 1941, shortly after the death of his father, Mercer began an intense affair with nineteen-year-old Judy Garland while she was engaged to composer David Rose. Garland married Rose to temporarily stop the affair, but the effect on Mercer lingered, adding to the emotional depth of his lyrics. Their affair revived later. Mercer stated that his song “I Remember You” was the most direct expression of his feelings for Garland.
Shortly thereafter, Mercer met an ideal musical collaborator in the form of Harold Arlen whose jazz and blues-influenced compositions provided Mercer’s sophisticated, idiomatic lyrics a perfect musical vehicle. Now Mercer’s lyrics began to display the combination of sophisticated wit and southern regional vernacular that characterize some of his best songs. Their first hit was “Blues in the Night” (1941), which Arthur Schwartz claimed was “probably the greatest blues song ever written.”
Frank Sinatra was particularly successful with the first two and Bing Crosby with the third. “Come Rain” was Mercer’s only Broadway hit, composed for the show St. Louis Woman with Pearl Bailey. “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” was a big smash for Judy Garland in the 1946 film The Harvey Girls, and earned Mercer the first of his four Academy Awards for Best Song, after eight unsuccessful nominations.
Mercer re-united with Hoagy Carmichael with “Skylark” (1941), and the Oscar-winning “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (1951). With Jerome Kern, Mercer created You Were Never Lovelier for Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in the movie of the same name, as well as “I’m Old Fashioned“. Mercer co-founded Capitol Records (originally “Liberty Records”) in Hollywood in 1942, along with producer Buddy DeSylva and record store owner Glen Wallichs. He also co-founded Cowboy Records.
Mercer by the mid-1940’s enjoyed a reputation as being among the premier Hollywood lyricists. He was adaptable, listening carefully and absorbing a tune and then transforming it into his own style. Like Irving Berlin, he was a close follower of cultural fashion and changing language, which in part accounted for the long tenure of his success. Mercer preferred to have the music first, taking it home and working on it. He claimed composers had no problem with this method provided that he returned with the lyrics. Only with Arlen and Whiting did Mercer occasionally work side-by-side.
Mercer was often asked to write new lyrics to already popular tunes. The lyrics to “Laura“, “Midnight Sun”, and “Satin Doll” were all written after the melodies had become hits. He was also asked to compose English lyrics to foreign songs, the most famous example being “Autumn Leaves“, based on the French “Les Feuilles Mortes”.
In the 1950’s, the advent of rock and roll and the transition of jazz into “bebop” cut deeply into Mercer’s natural audience, and dramatically reduced venues for his songs. His continual string of hits came to an end but many great songs were still to come. Mercer wrote for some MGM films, including Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) and Merry Andrew (1958). He collaborated on three Broadway musicals in the 1950s – Top Banana (1951), L’il Abner (1956), and Saratoga (1959) – and the West End production The Good Companions in 1974. His more successful songs of the 1950s include “The Glow-Worm” (sung by the Mills Brothers) and “Something’s Gotta Give“. In 1961, he wrote the lyrics to “Moon River” for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and for Days of Wine and Roses, both with music by Henry Mancini, and Mercer received his third and fourth Oscars for Best Song. The back-to-back Oscars were the first time a songwriting team had achieved that feat. Mercer, also with Mancini, wrote Charade in 1964, for the Cary Grant–Audrey Hepburn romantic thriller. The Tony Bennett classic “I Wanna Be Around” was written by Mercer in 1962 and the Sinatra hit “Summer Wind” in 1965.
An indication of the high esteem in which Mercer was held can be observed in that in 1964 he became the only lyricist to have his work recorded as a volume of Ella Fitzgerald‘s celebrated ‘Songbook’ albums for the Verve label. Yet Mercer always remained humble about his work, attributing much to luck and timing. He was fond of telling the story of how he was offered the job of doing the lyrics for Johnny Mandel‘s music on The Sandpiper, only to have the producer turn his lyrics down. The producer offered the commission to Paul Francis Webster and the result was The Shadow of Your Smile which became a huge hit, winning the 1965 Oscar for Best Original Song.
In 1969, Mercer helped publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond found the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1971, Mercer presented a retrospective of his career for the “Lyrics and Lyricists Series” in New York, including an omnibus of his “greatest hits” and a performance by Margaret Whiting. It was recorded live as An Evening with Johnny Mercer. In 1974, Mercer recorded two albums worth of his songs in London, with the Pete Moore Orchestra, and with the Harry Roche Constellation, later compiled into a single album and released as “…My Huckleberry Friend: Johnny Mercer Sings the Songs of Johnny Mercer”. In 1975, Paul McCartney approached Mercer for a collaboration but Mercer was ill, and an inoperable brain tumor was diagnosed. He died on June 25, 1976 in Bel Air, California. Mercer was buried in Savannah’s historical Bonaventure Cemetery.
Well regarded also as a singer, with a folksy quality, Mercer was a natural for his own songs such as Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive, On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), and Lazybones. He was considered a first-rate performer of his own work.
It has been said that he penned One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)—one of the great torch laments of all times—on a napkin while sitting at the bar at P. J. Clarke’s when Tommy Joyce was the bartender. The next day Mercer called Joyce to apologize for the line “So, set ’em up, Joe,” “I couldn’t get your name to rhyme.” Mercer, like Cole Porter before him, was more interested in the words than the emotion in lyric. This may be why One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) was sung more effectively by him than other singers who often turned it into a tear-jerker.
In his last year, Mercer became fond of pop singer Barry Manilow, in part because Manilow’s first hit record was of a song titled Mandy, which was also the name of Mercer’s daughter Amanda. After Mercer’s death, his widow, Ginger Mehan Mercer, arranged to give some unfinished lyrics he had written to Manilow to possibly develop into complete songs. Among these was a piece titled “When October Goes“, a melancholy remembrance of lost love. Manilow applied his own melody to the lyric and issued it as a single in 1984, when it became a top 10 Adult Contemporary hit in the United States. The song has since become a jazz standard, with notable recordings by Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, and Megon McDonough, among other performers.
He was honored by the United States Postal Service with his portrait placed on a stamp in 1996. Mercer’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1628 Vine Street is a block away from the Capitol Records building at 1750 Vine Street.
Mercer was given tribute in John Berendt‘s book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. When the book was published, and then the movie of the same title by Clint Eastwood, it propelled Savannah and the Bonaventure Cemetery into the spotlight and made the city a major tourist destination.
The Johnny Mercer Collections, including his papers and memorabilia, are preserved in the library of Georgia State University in Atlanta. GSU occasionally holds events showcasing Mercer’s works.
The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer will be published by Knopf in October 2009.The Complete Lyrics contains the texts to nearly 1,500 of his lyrics, several hundred of them appearing in print for the first time.
Sherman’s March to the Sea
Sherman’s March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted across Georgia during November-December 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War. The campaign began with Sherman’s troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia on November 15 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21. It is widely remembered for inflicting significant property damage, particularly to industry and infrastructure (as per the doctrine of total war), but also to civilian property. A military historian wrote that Sherman “defied military principles by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communication. He destroyed much of the South’s potential and psychology to wage war.”
…Sherman’s armies reached the outskirts of Savannah on December 10 but found that Hardee had entrenched 10,000 men in good positions, and his soldiers had flooded the surrounding rice fields, leaving only narrow causeways available to approach the city. Sherman was blocked from linking up with the U.S. Navy as he had planned, so he dispatched cavalry to Fort McAllister, guarding the Ogeechee River, in hopes of unblocking his route and obtaining supplies awaiting him on the Navy ships. On December 13, William B. Hazen’s division of Howard’s army stormed the fort in the Battle of Fort McAllister and captured it within 15 minutes. Some of the 134 Union casualties were caused by torpedoes, a name for crude land mines that were used only rarely in the war.
Now that Sherman had connected to the Navy fleet under Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, he was able to obtain the supplies and siege artillery he required to invest Savannah. On December 17, he sent a message to Hardee in the city:
I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied, and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah, and its dependent forts, and shall wait a reasonable time for your answer, before opening with heavy ordnance. Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army—burning to avenge the national wrong which they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war.
– William T. Sherman , Message to William J. Hardee, December 17, 1864, recorded in his memoirs
Hardee decided not to surrender but to escape. On December 20, he led his men across the Savannah River on a pontoon bridge hastily constructed of rice flats. The next morning, Savannah mayor R. D. Arnold rode out to formally surrender, in exchange for General Geary’s promise to protect the city’s citizens and their property. Sherman’s men, led by Geary’s division of the XX Corps, occupied the city the same day.
Sherman telegraphed to President Lincoln, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.” On December 26, the president replied in a letter:
Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift – the capture of Savannah. When you were leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained’ I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honour is all yours; for I believe none of us went farther than to acquiesce. And taking the work of Gen. Thomas into the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success.
Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantage; but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole – Hood’s army – it brings those who sat in darkness, to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave Gen. Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful acknowledgements to your whole army – officers and men.
From Savannah, Sherman marched north in the spring through the Carolinas, intending to complete his turning movement and combine his armies with Grant’s against Robert E. Lee. After a successful two-month campaign, General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his forces to Sherman in North Carolina on April 26, 1865.
Sherman’s scorched earth policies have always been highly controversial, and Sherman’s memory has long been reviled by many Southerners. Many slaves—some of whom left their plantations to follow his armies—welcomed him as a liberator. A Confederate officer estimated that 10,000 slaves fled their plantations to follow Sherman’s army, and hundreds died of “hunger, disease, or exposure” along the way.
We are not only fighting armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying papers into the belief that we were being whipped all the time, realized the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the same experience.
—Letter, Sherman to Henry W. Halleck, December 24, 1864.
The March to the Sea was devastating to Georgia and the Confederacy. Sherman himself estimated that the campaign had inflicted $100 million in destruction, about one fifth of which “inured to our advantage” while the “remainder is simple waste and destruction.” The Army wrecked 300 miles (480 km) of railroad and numerous bridges and miles of telegraph lines. It seized 5,000 horses, 4,000 mules, and 13,000 head of cattle. It confiscated 9.5 million pounds of corn and 10.5 million pounds of fodder, and destroyed uncounted cotton gins and mills.
Military historians Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones cited the significant damage wrought to railroads and Southern logistics in the campaign and stated that “Sherman’s raid succeeded in ‘knocking the Confederate war effort to pieces’.” David J. Eicher wrote that “Sherman had accomplished an amazing task. He had defied military principles by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communication. He destroyed much of the South’s potential and psychology to wage war.”
Mercer Film Festival
Presented by Live Oak Public Libraries
3:00 p.m. Southwest Branch (behind Target at Savannah Mall)
Film: Days of Wine and Roses
January – December 2009
Mercer at the Library
Presented by Live Oak Public Libraries
At various library branches throughout Savannah
Rush in to one of the many local library branches for a year full of reading, learning and fun, highlighting Savannah’s Huckleberry Friend.
November 18th to December 31st, 2009
Tribute to Johnny Mercer Art Exhibit
Presented by: The Gallery, 20 Jefferson Street, Center Court City Market.
He has been called a spinner of dreams, the greatest folk poets, and a musical legend. Johnny Mercer, a Savannah native, captured the heart and soul of a nation with his songs. See his lyrics take shape in the artwork of local artists, showcased from November 18th to December 31st. The Gallery will donate a portion of the proceeds from “Tribute to Johnny Mercer” show to the FJM Centennial Fund.
November 17 – December 26, 2009
Andrea Marcovicci in “Skylark: Marcovicci Sings Mercer”
Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th Street, NY, NY
Tues – Sat 8:30PM; Additional late shows Fri & Sat 11PM
Andrea Marcovicci, the Queen of Cabaret, celebrates the four-time Oscar winner through rarelyheard anecdotes and Andrea’s trademark interpretations of Mercer’s pensive, often impish, lyrics. This show was originally commissioned for the Savannah Music Festival. Marcovicci’s research into the Georgia State University Special Collections Mercer archives has uncovered several gems from his vast repertoire, such as “Out Of Breath And Scared To Death Of You,” his very first published song, from The Garrick Gaieties of 1930 and “Getting A Man” from the stage musical “Saratoga” to represent Mercer’s Broadway career. She even sings “My Sugar Is So Refined,” a charming radio hit for Mercer (as a vocalist). In addition, conversations with Mercer’s intimate friends – such as Alan Bergman, the Oscar winning lyricist and Mercer protégé and Ginny Mancini, the widow of Mercer’s “Moon River” collaborator Henry Mancini – helped paint a most intimate portrait of this trailblazer of popular music. “Skylark” also includes familiar hits like the title song as well as: Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, That Old Black Magic, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), You Were Never Lovelier, Autumn Leaves, Goody, Goody and of course, Moon River.
Cover and minimum, please call for details Reservations: (212) 419-9331 or (212) 840-6800
http://www.andreamarcovicci.com/ AND http://www.algonquinhotel.com/oak-room-supper-club
Related Previous Posts:
Son Of The South: General Sherman Entering Savannah Georgia
Savannah Morning News: Johnny Mercer Memories & Melodies