; that conquest was valuable only in the opportunity it gave him to destroy everything of military importance in that territory—that is, Atlanta
and the railroads.
The question then arises, What possible difference could it make in which direction he moved after having decided not to hold any part of that territory, but to destroy it?
Why would a move toward the west any more than a move toward the east have the appearance of losing all that had been gained, after he had destroyed it?
The simple fact is, the Confederate
commander had abandoned Georgia
to its fate in the vain hope of putting Sherman
on the defensive, not realizing, apparently, that Sherman
had ample force for defensive purposes, besides an army superior to Hood
's for aggressive operations.
The Southern army was thus placed where Sherman
could operate against it by a much shorter line, and hence with a much larger force, if that was what he wished to do. He could at the same time, if he thought it necessary or desirable, inflict upon Georgia
the destruction which the Confederate
commander wanted to prevent, but had in fact invited by abandoning that State, and that without materially impairing the strength of his (Sherman
's) main army operating against the main force of the enemy.
As suggested by Grant
, a cavalry raid through Georgia
would have accomplished that destruction as well as a march of 60,000 men. Hence, in the light of all that appears in the records up to the time when Sherman
actually started on his march, no valid military reason had been given why Sherman
should not have sent a cavalry raid into Georgia
, as Grant
suggested, to destroy everything there, and thus negative Mr. Davis
's promise of protection, while he (Sherman
) pursued relentlessly the strictly military plan Grant
had prescribed for him to break up Hood
's army or capture it, which Sherman
had as yet failed to accomplish.
Manifestly some other motive besides the motives stated