done than to see in advance what can or ought to be done.
But it can hardly be believed that Sherman
did not think of everything that was possible, as well as many things that were not. At least, so simple a proposition as the following could not have escaped his mind.
was, as he so confidently said, absolute ‘master of the situation’?
before he started for Savannah
had utterly failed so to damage his communications that they could not be put in order again in a few days.
He was able, if he chose, to remain in perfect security at Atlanta
all winter, with two or three corps, while he sent back to Thomas
ample force to dispose of Hood
Then, if the result of the operations of a larger force in Tennessee
had been as decisive as they actually were with the smaller one Thomas
could have recalled to Atlanta
all of the troops he had sent to Tennessee
, and thus marched toward Virginia
with eighty-five or ninety or even one hundred thousand men, instead of sixty thousand.
All this could have surely been accomplished by the middle of January, or before the time when Sherman
actually began his march from Savannah
to Columbia, South Carolina
, crossing the Savannah River
at or above Augusta
, is an easier march than that from Savannah
Or if Sherman
had not cared about paying a visit to Columbia
en route, he could have taken the much shorter ‘Piedmont
route’ to Charlotte, North Carolina
, and thence northward by whichever route he pleased.
Instead of retaining the dominant attitude of ‘master,’ Sherman
lost it the moment he started eastward with his main army, leaving an inferior force to cope with his enemy; and the march through Georgia
and the capture of Savannah
did not by any means restore that mastery to Sherman
It was not restored until Hood
was actually defeated in Tennessee
I have referred to the possibilities of a direct march