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[358]

At first, it will be remembered, on the arrival of Sherman's army at the coast, it had been Grant's intention to transport it by sea to Richmond, and in the expediency of this plan Sherman himself concurred;1 but it was speedily found that the delay in providing transportation would be so great that the scheme must be abandoned. ‘I did think,’ said Grant, ‘the best thing to do was to bring the greater part of your army here, and wipe out Lee. The turn affairs now seem to be taking has shaken me in that opinion. . . . If you capture the garrison of Savannah, it certainly will compel Lee to detach from Richmond, or give us nearly the entire South.’ Sherman, however, did not capture the garrison of Savannah, and therefore, as at Atlanta, an important force remained in his front after the technical objective point was gained. This fact also materially modified the plans of the general-in-chief.

Grant's determination now was to move Sherman northward through the Carolinas, assigning him somewhat the same task he had already performed in Georgia, and at the same time bringing him towards the point where the two principal armies of the nation and the rebellion were still opposed. On the 16th of December, Halleck wrote to Sherman, by Grant's order: ‘Should you have captured Savannah, it is thought that by transferring the water-batteries to the land side that place may be made a good depot and base of operations on Augusta, Branchville, or Charleston.’ Branchville is at the junction of the railroad leading north from Savannah with that which crosses from Augusta to Charleston. It was, therefore, the first important

1 See page 303.

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