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[418] ‘Lee has depleted his army but very little recently, and I learn of none going south. The determination seems to be to hold Richmond as long as possible. I have a force sufficient to hold our lines, all that is necessary of them, and move out with plenty to whip his whole army. But the roads are entirely impassable. Until they improve, I shall content myself with watching Lee, and be prepared to pitch into him if he attempts to evacuate the place. I may bring Sheridan over. I think I will, and break up the Danville and Southside railroads. These are the last avenues left to the enemy.’

To Sherman on this day he wrote: ‘When I hear that you and Schofield are together with your back upon the coast, I shall feel that you are entirely safe against anything the enemy can do. Lee may evacuate Richmond, and he cannot get there with force enough to touch you. His army is now demoralized, and deserting very fast, both to us and to their homes. A retrograde movement would cost him thousands of men, even if we did not follow.’ ‘My notion,’ he continued, ‘is that you should get Raleigh as soon as possible, and hold the railroad from there back. . . . From that point all the North Carolina roads can be made useless to the enemy, without keeping up communication with the rear.’ ‘Recruits have come in so rapidly at the West that Thomas has now about as much force as when he attacked Hood. . . . I told him to get ready for a campaign towards Lynchburg, if it became necessary. He never can make one there or elsewhere, but the steps taken will prepare for any one else to take his troops and come East, or go towards Rome, whichever may be necessary. I do not believe either will.’

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