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[42] events reached Sherman, at that time contemplating his final circuit around Atlanta, and he telegraphed at once: ‘If there be any possibility of Admiral Farragut and the land forces under Gordon Granger taking Mobile, and further, of pushing up to Montgomery, my best plan would be to wait awhile, as now, and operate into the heart of Georgia from there.’

This was just at the time when Hood's cavalry under Wheeler had been sent to cut the railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga, and on the 13th of August, Sherman learned that Wheeler was threatening Dalton. ‘Before cutting loose, as proposed,’ he continued, ‘I would like to know the chance of my getting the use of the Alabama river. I could easily break up the railroad back to Chattanooga, and shift my army down to West Point and Columbus, a country rich in corn, and make my fall campaign from there.’ Large ideas were evidently floating in his brain, but as yet without form and void. The same day he said: ‘If ever I should be cut off from my base, look out for me about St. Mark's, Florida, or Savannah, Georgia.’ This was the first mention in the correspondence of either Grant or Sherman, of the destruction of the railroad to the rear, or of the possibility of a campaign in Georgia, like that behind Vicksburg, entirely without a base. Doubtless, the idea was presented to Sherman by the menace to his communications offered by Wheeler's cavalry, as well as by his memory of the strategy which had been so successful in Mississippi, the year before.

On the 18th, Grant replied: ‘I never would advise going backward, even if your roads are cut so ’

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