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[414] huge slice of Confederate resources. The battles of Franklin and Nashville had practically annihilated the principal Confederate army in the West. Sherman 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 to Raleigh.

“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.”

Grant 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

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