huge slice of Confederate resources.
The battles of Franklin
had practically annihilated the principal Confederate army in the West
now proposed to Grant
that he would subject the two Carolinas to the same process, by marching his army through the heart of them from Savannah
“The game is then up with Lee
,” he confidently added, “unless he comes out of Richmond
, avoids you, and fights me, in which case I should reckon on your being on his heels. . . If you feel confident that you can whip Lee
outside of his intrenchments, I feel equally confident that I can handle him in the open country.”
promptly adopted the plan, and by formal orders directed Sherman
to execute it. Several minor western expeditions were organized to contribute to its success.
The Union fleet on the coast was held in readiness to cooperate as far as possible with Sherman
's advance, and to afford him a new base of supply, if, at some suitable point he should desire to establish communications with it. When, in the middle of January, 1865, a naval expedition captured Fort Fisher
at the mouth of Cape Fear River
, an army corps under General Schofield
was brought east from Thomas
's Army of the Tennessee, and sent by sea to the North Carolina
coast to penetrate into the interior and form a junction with Sherman
when he should arrive.
Having had five weeks for rest and preparation, Sherman
began the third stage of his campaign on February I, with a total of sixty thousand men, provisions for twenty days, forage for seven, and a full supply of ammunition for a great battle.
This new undertaking proved a task of much greater difficulty and severer hardship than his march to the sea. Instead of the genial autumn weather, the army had now to face