Savannah: A Moonlight Departure, Viewed from Factor’s Walk, c. 1870


A major port since its earliest development by General James Oglethorpe, the city of Savannah became the focal commercial hub of the southeast in the era of merchant sail. Its prominent export was upland and Sea Island cotton, which was in great demand by Europe’s mills, which produced the finely woven cotton clothing sought after the world over. Imports were primarily steel, railroad iron, coffee and salt.

On the south side of the Savannah River was a bluff, described in the diaries of the earliest travelers as somewhat reminiscent of the White Cliffs of Dover on England’s south coast. Although of much lesser height, this cliff was cleverly utilized in the development of wharf side warehouses that featured here or four convenient levels of street access on the city side, most of which can be seen to be still in use today.

This scene shows a ship with sails hanging in their gear, being turned from mooring at slack water on the north side of the river and toward to the mouth of the river to await departure on the ebb tide.

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