, and prevent the organization of new armies from their broken fragments.
is now retreating, with his army broken and demoralized. . . . If time is given, the fragments may be collected together, and many of the deserters reassembled.
If we can, we should act to prevent this.
Your spare army, as it were, moving as proposed, will do it.’
The possibility of Lee
's leaving Richmond
in order to attack Sherman
was, however, always present to his mind.
‘This,’ he said, ‘is probably the only danger to the easy success of your expedition.
In the event you should meet Lee
's army, you would be compelled to beat it or find the sea-coast.
Of course, I shall not let Lee
's army escape if I can help it, and will not let it go without following to the best of my ability.’
Accordingly, on the same day he gave explicit orders: ‘You may make your preparations to start on your northern expedition without delay.
Break up the railroads in South
and North Carolina
, and join the armies operating against Richmond
as soon as you can. . . . It may not be possible for you to march to the rear of Petersburg
, but, failing in this, you could strike either of the sea-coast ports in North Carolina
, held by us. . . . From the best information I have, you will find no difficulty in supplying your army until you cross the Roanoke
From there here is but a few days' march, and supplies could be collected south of the river to bring you through.
I shall establish communication with you there by steamboat and gunboat.
By this means your wants can be partially supplied.’
Thus, once again, Grant
were in complete and peculiar accord.
Both had concurred