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[154] before Sherman knew that he would be allowed to start.1

On the 17th, Grant said to Sherman: ‘The moment I know you have started south, stores will be shipped to Hilton Head, where there are transports ready to take them to Savannah. In case you go south, I would not propose holding anything south of Chattanooga, certainly not south of Dalton. Destroy in such case all military stores at Atlanta.’ On the 21st, he said to Halleck: ‘The stores intended for Sherman might now be started for Hilton Head.’

But the general-in-chief was at this time even more anxious for the reinforcement of Thomas than for the supply of Sherman, and was ordering all his armies the better to secure this end. As early as the 12th of October, the day after he had authorized Sherman's movement, he said to Halleck: ‘Thomas should be prepared to concentrate a force on Hood, when he presents himself on the Tennessee river.’ He then proceeded to direct how this force should be accumulated. Thomas himself was to sacrifice all lesser interests to the paramount one: ‘It would be advisable for General Thomas to abandon all the railroad from Columbia to Decatur, thence to Stevenson. This will give him much additional force.’ At the same time Grant planned the transfer of A. J. Smith and Mower's commands from Missouri to Tennessee: ‘If Crook goes to ’

1 ‘It was at Ship's Gap that a courier brought me the cipher message from General Halleck which instructed me that the authorities at Washington were willing I should undertake to march across Georgia.’—Sherman's Memoirs, Vol. II., page 156. Sherman was at Ship's Gap on the 16th and 17th of October.

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