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[334] march as soon as possible, with the ulterior purpose to ‘reinforce our armies in Virginia.’ He telegraphed his determination to Grant on November 1, and on November 6 wrote him very fully, giving his reasons, including that to reinforce Grant. Hence Sherman was well able to say at Savannah on December 24: ‘I feel no doubt whatever as to our future plans. I have thought them over so long and well that they appear as clear as daylight.’

It should be observed that Sherman's letter of November 6 to Grant was strictly confidential. ‘I have still some thoughts . . . that should be confided to you [that is, to Grant and to nobody else] as a key to future developments.’ Neither Grant nor Sherman appears to have made any use of that ‘key’ for the public benefit. But it now unlocks the store-house of Sherman's mind, and shows to the world more of the real character of the great strategist than any other public document he ever wrote.

Then Grant was ready with his plan, first to seize and hold the Southern railroads by which supplies could reach Lee, and second, for Sherman and the most of his army to come to Virginia by sea, to which Sherman responded with all the loyalty of his most loyal nature, only mentioning incidentally his own plan. Thereupon, when Grant gave him an invitation to speak freely, he replied as above quoted, and explained in detail his plans for the northward march, to ‘be on the Roanoke, either at Raleigh or Weldon, by the time the spring fairly opens; and if you feel confident that you can whip Lee outside of his intrenchments, I feel equally confident that I can handle him in the open country.’

But Sherman's ‘busy brain’ had provided in advance even for the worst possible contingency—that after all his long march, however long it might prove to be, that march might have to ‘stand alone’—he might not actually take part in the capture of either of the Confederate

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