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[303] is, Upon what military theory was Sherman's ‘march to the sea’ based?

Sherman himself explains it as a change of base, and he estimates its value in comparison with that of his subsequent operations in the ratio of one to ten. But why those subsequent operations, or a change of base with a view to any such ulterior purpose? Grant had not at that time even suggested the need of Sherman's aid against Lee, and events proved that no such need existed. When Sherman started for Savannah from Atlanta, the Confederate force in the Gulf States was quite equal to Lee's army in Virginia, while Grant's army was larger than Sherman's. Could Sherman have contemplated at that time such a thing as going to Grant's assistance, where he was not needed, and leaving Hood's army behind him?

A change of base to Savannah or Mobile had been contemplated as a probable necessity of future operations in Georgia or in the Gulf States, upon the capture of Atlanta; but that of course upon the supposition that there would still be a formidable army of the Confederacy in those States against which operations were to be conducted. When that Confederate army, under Hood, marched toward the west, with the evident intention to carry the war into Tennessee and Kentucky, why a change of base by Sherman in the opposite direction, to Savannah?

Sherman appears to have supposed at first that Hood would follow him when he started on his march through Georgia, as Hood had supposed that Sherman would follow him into Tennessee. Was there any more reason for the one supposition than the other? Ought not Sherman as well as Hood to have known his antagonist better than such a supposition would imply? Was it not extremely unreasonable to suppose that Hood, after he had marched hundreds of miles west from Atlanta and reached the base

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William T. Sherman (10)
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