letters at that time confirm this view of the military situation.
Some writers have attempted to explain and justify Sherman
's action in taking with him so large an army, while leaving with Thomas
one so much smaller, on the ground that he might meet in his march to the sea such opposition as possibly to require so large a force to overcome it. But to any one familiar with the facts, and to no one more than to Sherman
, his army of 60,000 men was evidently out of all proportion to any possible resistance it could meet in Georgia
But when he should start northward from Savannah
the case would become vastly different.
At any point in the Carolinas he might possibly meet the whole of Lee
That is to say, Sherman
's ulterior plan could not be prudently undertaken at all without an army as large as that with which he actually marched to the sea, namely, 60,000 men. Indeed, as the records show, Sherman
considered a long time before he decided that he could spare the Twenty-third Corps to go back and help Thomas
If any question can possibly exist as to what was the essential part of Sherman
's plan in marching to Savannah
, what other possible military reason can be given for that march except to make the subsequent march to Virginia
with so large an army?
Why change his base to Savannah
What was he to operate against after he got there?
Nothing could have been clearer to any military mind in the fall of 1864, than that if either Lee
's or Hood
's army could be captured or destroyed, the surrender of the other must necessarily follow very quickly, and the rebellion be ended.
No man could have been more earnest than Sherman
in his laudable desire to make the capture of his own adversary the beginning of the end. Sherman
's well-known character leaves this beyond question.
It is not possible that he could have preferred a manifestation of the power of the nation by destroying Southern