to be done, and General Grant
even more clearly, as was shown in his despatches of October 11, 1864, and others.
It seems hardly possible to speak seriously of many of the reasons given by Sherman
for finally deciding to leave his old adversary to the care of Thomas
's inferior force.
He said, for instance, in his despatch to Grant
of November 2: ‘If I could hope to overhaul Hood
, I would turn against him with my whole force. . . . No single army can catch him.’1 Sherman
had been ‘catching’ Hood
with a single army all summer, and without the slightest difficulty.
What reason had he to conclude that it would be impossible to do so later?
As my experience proved, it was as easy to ‘catch’ him in November, though with a smaller force, as it had been in July and August with a much larger force, and Thomas
had the same experience in December.
knew from his own experience, as well as I, whether the pursuing force was larger or smaller, Hood
was about the easiest man in the world to ‘catch,’ even by a ‘single’ army.
had under his command at that time, in Georgia
, as he said with great emphasis and confidence, two armies, each larger than Hood
's, even assuming the largest estimate then made of the strength of Hood
It appears that Sherman
credit at that time for only thirty thousand infantry, besides cavalry.2
If that was his estimate, then he had at least three or four armies (including the reinforcements he counted on for Thomas
), each equal in strength to Hood
's. Is it possible Sherman
thought he could not catch Hood
with three or four armies?
But another despatch from Sherman
, dated November 2, seems to show that his estimate of Hood
's army was more than 50,000, instead of 30,000; for in that despatch he said in substance that unless he drew Slocum
's corps back from Atlanta