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[372] his whole army once more in hand as a moving column. He had no idea of wasting time on either Charleston or Augusta, but he determined to play upon the fears of the rebels, and compel them to retain a force to protect those places, which might otherwise be concentrated in his front, and render the passage of the great rivers that crossed his route more difficult and dangerous. Accordingly he gave out with some ostentation that he was moving upon either Charleston or Augusta.

Early in January the heavy winter rains set in, rendering the roads almost impassable; and the Savannah river became so swollen that it filled its many channels, and overflowed the vast extent of rice-fields on its eastern bank. This flood delayed the departure of the column for quite two weeks; it swept away a pontoon bridge at Savannah, and came near drowning an entire division of the Fifteenth corps, with several heavy trains of wagons, on the way from Savannah to Pocotaligo by the causeways. Sherman had also difficulties to encounter at Sister's ferry, where the Savannah river was three miles wide from the flood, and it became almost impossible to cross on the frail pontoons.

This delay, however, in no way disarranged Grant's plans or interfered with his manifold operations. There were no combinations obstructed by Sherman's inaction, no other armies whose advance could be interrupted or rendered dangerous because he was unable to start. There was no enemy in his own immediate front to become bolder and more defiant because undisturbed, no possibility of a contrary campaign because he remained in camp. His column was at this juncture the central one, and the

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