had mapped out for himself and which required a formidable army, and of his responsibility for what might be the result of operations against Hood
, it was a difficult and delicate question to decide what force he should take with him, and what send back.
My own belief always has been, and is now, that in view of his exact knowledge of Thomas
's character and habits of thought and action, Sherman
ought to have sent back another corps of veteran troops, or else have waited to see that Thomas
was actually prepared to cope with Hood
, preferably the latter, before going so far away that he could not render him any assistance.
Yet, as has heretofore been shown, if Thomas
had carried out Sherman
's instructions by promptly concentrating his troops, there would have been no risk of serious results in Tennessee
In connection with Sherman
's operations it is essential to bear in mind the distinction between two radically different kinds of strategy, one of which has for its object the conquest of territory or the capture of places by defeating in battle or out-manoeuvering the defending armies; while the other has for its object the destruction or capture of those armies, resulting, of course, in the conquest of all of the enemy's territory.
The first kind may be all-sufficient, and hence best, in a foreign war having for its object anything less than total conquest; but in the suppression of a rebellion, as in a foreign conquest, the occupation of places or territory ought to be entirely ignored except so far as this contributes to the successful operation of armies against opposing forces.
This fundamental principle appears to have been duly appreciated by the leading Union commanders near the close of the Civil War
, though not so fully in its earlier stages.
Military critics are apt to fall into error by not understanding the principle itself, or by overlooking the change of policy above referred to.
It is necessary not to confound the ‘march to the ’