For a full understanding of the plan referred to in this despatch, I quote from the letter sent by Colonel Porter: “I will therefore give my opinion, that your army and Canby's should be reinforced to the maximum; that after you get Wilmington, you strike for Savannah and the river; that Canby be instructed to hold the Mississippi river, and send a force to get Columbus, Georgia, either by the way of the Alabama or the Appalachicola, and that I keep Hood employed and put my army in final order for a march on Augusta, Columbia, and Charleston, to be ready as soon as Wilmington is sealed as to commerce, and the city of Savannah is in our possession.” This was in reply to a letter of mine of date September twelfth, in answer to a despatch of his containing substantially the same proposition, and in which I informed him of a proposed movement against Wilmington, and of the situation in Virginia, etc.Centreville, Ga., October 10--noon.Despatch about Wilson just received. Hood is now crossing Coosa river, twelve miles below Rome, bound west. If he passes over the Mobile and Ohio road, had I not better execute the plan of my lefter sent by Colonel Porter, and leave General Thomas, with the troops now in Tennessee, to defend the State? He will have an ample force when the reinforcements ordered reach Nashville.
City Point, Va., October 11, 1864--11 A. M.Your despatch of October tenth received. Does it not look as if Hood was going to attempt the invasion of Middle Tennessee, using the Mobile and Ohio and Memphis and Charleston roads to supply his base on the Tennessee river, about Florence or Decatur? If he does this, he ought to be met and prevented from getting north of the Tennessee river. If you were to cut loose, I do not believe you would meet Hood's army, but would be bushwhacked by all the old men and little boys, and such railroad guards as are still left at home. Hood would probably strike for Nashville, thinking that by going north he could inflict greater damage upon us than we could upon the rebels by going south. If there is any way of getting at Hood's Army I would prefer that; but I must trust to your own judgment. I find I shall not be able to send a force from here to act with you on Savannah. Your movements, therefore will be independent of mine; at least until the fall of Richmond takes place. I am afraid Thomas, with such lines of road as he has to protect, could not prevent Hood from going north. With Wilson turned loose, with all your cavalry, you will find the rebels put much more on the defensive than heretofore.
Kingston, Ga., October 11--11 A. M.Hood moved his army from Palmetto station across by Dallas and Cedartown, and is now on the Coosa river, south of Rome. He threw one corps on my road at Acworth, and I was forced to follow. I hold Atlanta with the Twentieth corps, and have strong detachments along my line. This reduces my active force to a comparatively small army. We cannot remain here on the defensive. With the twenty-five thousand men, and the bold cavalry he has, he can constantly break my roads. I would infinitely prefer to make a wreck of the road, and of the country from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city, send back all my wounded and worthless, and, with my effective army, move through Georgia, smashing things, to the sea. Hood may turn into Tennessee and Kentucky, but I believe he will be forced to follow me. Instead of my being on the defensive, I would be on the offensive; instead of guessing at what he means to do, he would have to guess at my plans. The difference in war is full twenty-five per cent. I can make Savannah, Charleston, or the mouth of the Chattahoochee. Answer quick, as I know we will not have the telegraph long.
It was the original design to hold Atlanta, and by getting through to the coast, with a garrison left on the southern railroads, leading east and west, through Georgia, to effectually sever the east from the west. In other words, cut the would-be confederacy in two again, as it had been cut once by our gaining possession of the Mississippi river. General Sherman's plan virtually effected this object. General Sherman commenced at once his preparations for his proposed movement, keeping his army in position in the meantime to watch Hood. Becoming satisfied that Hood had moved westward from Gadsden across Sand mountain, General Sherman sent the Fourth corps Major-General Stanley commanding, and the Twenty-third corps, Major-General Schofield commanding, back to Chattanooga to report to Major-General Thomas, at Nashville, whom he had placed in command of all the troops of his military division, save the four army corps and cavalry division he designed to move with through Georgia. With the troops thus left at his disposal, there was little doubt that GeneralCity Point, Va., October 11, 1864--11:30 P. M.Your despatch of to-day received. If you are satisfied the trip to the sea-coast can be made, holding the line of the Tennessee river firmly, you may make it, destroying all the railroad south of Dalton or Chattanooga, as you think best.