October 11, 1864, 11:30 P. M.Your despatch of to-day received. If you are satisfied the trip to the sea-coast can be made, holding the line of the Tennessee firmly, you may make it, destroying all the railroad south of Dalton or Chattanooga, as you think best.
Atlanta I propose to organize an efficient army of from 60,000 to 65,000 men, with which I propose to destroy Macon, Augusta, and, it may be, Savannah and Charleston, but I will always keep open the alternatives of the mouth of Appalachicola and Mobile. By this I propose to demonstrate the vulnerability of the South, and make its inhabitants feel that war and individual ruin are synonymous terms. To pursue Hood is folly, for he can twist and turn like a fox and wear out any army in pursuit. To continue to occupy long lines of railroads simply exposes our small detachments to be picked up in detail, and forces me to make countermarches to protect lines of communication. I know I am right in this, and shall proceed to its maturity. As to details, I propose to take General Howard and his army, General Schofield and his, and two of your corps, viz., Generals Davis and Slocum. . . . I will send General Stanley, with the Fourth Corps, across by Will's Valley and Caperton's to Stevenson to report to you. . . . I want you to retain command in Tennessee, and before starting I will give you delegated authority over Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, etc., whereby there will be unity of action behind me. I will want you to hold Chattanooga and Decatur in force, and on the occasion of my departure, of which you shall have ample notice, to watch Hood close. I think he will follow me, at least with his cavalry, in which event I want you to push south from Decatur and the head of the Tennessee for Columbus, Miss., and Selma, not absolutely to reach these points, but to divert or pursue according to the state of facts. If, however, Hood turns on