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‘ [303] of yours of the 6th, I have initiated measures looking principally to coming to you with fifty thousand or sixty thousand infantry, and incidentally to capture Savannah, if time will allow.’ He was very enthusiastic about his new work. ‘My four corps,’ he said, ‘full of experience and full of ardor, coming to you en masse, equal to sixty thousand men, will be a reinforcement that Lee cannot disregard. Indeed, with my present command, I had expected, after reducing Savannah, instantly to march to Columbia, South Carolina, thence to Raleigh, and thence to report to you. But this would consume, it may be, six weeks time after the fall of Savannah; whereas, by sea, I can probably reach you with my men and arms before the middle of January.’ The letter concluded: ‘Our whole army is in fine condition as to health, and the weather is splendid. For that reason alone, I feel a personal dislike to turning northward. . . . I shall not delay my execution of your order of the 6th, which will depend alone upon the time it will require to obtain transportation by sea.’

Grant, however, had already ascertained that the requisite transportation could not be collected so soon as he had at first supposed. Two months at least would be required for the movement of Sherman's army by sea; and on the very day when Sherman was announcing his readiness to start, the general-in-chief gave him different directions. On the 16th, Halleck wrote to Sherman: ‘Lieutenant-General Grant informs me that, in his last dispatch sent to you, he suggested the transfer of your infantry to Richmond. He now wishes me to say that you will retain your whole force, at least for the ’

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