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[344] Sherman was near by with his sixty thousand men to help ‘bag the game.’

It has occurred to me as at least possible that Sherman's recollection of the suggestions I had repeatedly made to him during the Atlanta campaign may have been in his mind when he ordered me back to report to Thomas, and when he wrote his special field order. If so, I must protest my innocence of any intention to play the role of ‘decoy’ at Franklin when one of the great gunners was twenty miles away, and the other several hundred!

Yet, accepting even the most unfavorable view of Sherman's tactical as well as of his strategical operations in connection with the operations of all the other armies under Grant's general plans and direction, there was nothing in them all that could possibly have prevented their complete ultimate success in the capture of Lee's army. If Grant had not captured that army, Sherman would. And the surrender of Lee was necessarily followed by that of all the other Confederate armies. Hence, whatever might have happened if Sherman's great march had not been made, that march with so large an army made the end of the rebellion in the spring of 1865 sure beyond any possible doubt. In view of a public service so original in its conception, so grand in its magnitude, and so brilliant in its execution, any criticism respecting details cannot diminish the fame of the general who planned and executed that grand campaign, nor that of the general-in-chief, the success of whose far-reaching plans had made the brilliant exploit of his subordinate possible. Such criticisms are justifiable only in the interest of exact truth and of exact military science, so that imperfections in the operations of the greatest commanders may not be mistaken by the military student as having been among the causes which led to success.

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