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[67] conception, and this is all his own—he was willing to move to the sea, after he knew that Grant could send no forces to meet him. He destroyed his communications for a hundred and fifty miles to the rear, and he had none for three hundred miles in front, and this distance he had to march, uncertain whether at the close he should find friend or foe. All this was Sherman's own suggestion. There can be no depreciating the daring or the originality of the idea.

Whether an enemy followed him or not, whether he should meet one on the way, or at the end—of all this he was in ignorance. If Grant was able to care for the region that was left behind, so much the better; but if disaster came in the rear, what then? while if by any chance, evil happened at the East, Lee might detach, or Davis assemble, an army between him and the sea. Grant had indeed contemplated opening a line to the coast; and if he had arrived at Atlanta, and found it impossible to hold his communications with Chattanooga, he would undoubtedly have desired to cut loose from both those points; but it still remains that it was Sherman who proposed this severance to Grant. The march to the sea—in ignorance of what the rebels might do in his rear, or what enemy might be found in his front, and without knowing where he should be able to strike the coast—all this was indisputably, and absolutely, and exclusively, the idea of Sherman.

While these great strategic schemes at the West were maturing, Grant had been planning another operation north of the James, in support of the movements of Sherman and Sheridan, and announced his intentions to both commanders in

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