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The Grand strategy of the last year of the War.1

by William T. Sherman, General, U. S. A.
On the 4th day of March, 1864, General U. S. Grant was summoned to Washington from Nashville to receive his commission of lieutenant-general, the highest rank then known in the United States, and the same that was conferred on Washington in 1798. He reached the capital on the 7th, had an interview for the first time with Mr. Lincoln, and on the 9th received his commission at the hands of the President, who made a short address, to which Grant made a suitable reply. He was informed that it was desirable that he should come east to command all the armies of the United States, and give his personal supervision to the Army of the Potomac. On the 10th he visited General Meade at Brandy Station, and saw many of his leading officers, but he returned to Washington the next day and went on to Nashville, to which place he had summoned me, then absent on my Meridian expedition.2 On the 18th of March he turned over to me the command of the Western armies, and started back for Washington, I accompanying him as far as Cincinnati. Amidst constant interruptions of a business and social nature, we reached the satisfactory conclusion that, as soon as the season would permit, all the armies of the Union would assume the “bold offensive” by “concentric lines” on the common enemy, and would finish up the job in a single campaign if possible. The main “objectives” were Lee's army behind the Rapidan in Virginia, and Joseph E. Johnston's army at Dalton, Georgia. [248]

On reaching Washington, Grant studied with great care all the minutiae of the organization, strength, qualities, and resources of each of the many armies into which the Union forces had resolved themselves by reason of preceding events, and in due time with wonderful precision laid out the work which each one should undertake. His written instructions to me at Nashville were embraced in the two letters of April 4th and April 19th, 1864, both in his own handwriting, which I still possess, and which, in my judgment, are as complete as any of those of the Duke of Wellington contained in the twelve volumes of his published letters and correspondence.

With the month of May came the season for action, and by the 4th all his armies were in motion. The army of Butler at Fort Monroe was his left, Meade's army the center, and mine at Chattanooga his right. Butler was to move against Richmond on the south of James River, Meade straight against Lee, intrenched behind the Rapidan, and I to attack Joe Johnston and push him to and beyond Atlanta. This was as far as human foresight could penetrate. Though Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac, Grant virtually controlled it, and on the 4th of May, 1864, he crossed the Rapidan, and at noon of the 5th attacked Lee. He knew that a certain amount of fighting, “killing,” had to be done to accomplish his end, and also to pay the penalty of former failures. In the “wilderness” there was no room for grand strategy, or even minor tactics; but the fighting was desperate, the losses to the Union army being, according to Phisterer, 18,387,3 to the Confederate loss of 11,400--the difference due to Lee's intrenchments and the blind nature of the country in which the battle was fought. On the night of May 7th both parties paused, appalled by the fearful slaughter; but Grant commanded, “Forward by the left flank.” That was, in my judgment, the supreme moment of his life; undismayed, with a full comprehension of the importance of the work in which he was engaged, feeling as keen a sympathy for his dead and wounded as any one, and without stopping to count his numbers, he gave his orders calmly, specifically, and absolutely--“Forward. To Spotsylvania.” But his watchful and skillful antagonist detected his purpose, and, having the inner or shorter line, threw his army across Grant's path, and promptly fortified it. These field intrenchments are peculiar to America, though I am convinced they were employed by the Romans in Gaul in the days of Caesar. Troops, halting for the night or for battle, faced the enemy; moved forward to ground with a good outlook to the front; stacked arms; gathered logs, stumps, fence-rails, anything which would stop a bullet; piled these to their front, and, digging a ditch behind, threw the dirt forward, and made a parapet which covered their persons as perfectly as a granite wall.

When Grant reached Spotsylvania, May 8th, he found his antagonist in his front thus intrenched. He was delayed there till the 20th, during which time there was incessant fighting, because he was compelled to attack his enemy behind these improvised intrenchments. His losses, according to Phisterer, were 12,564,4 while the Confederates lost 9000. Nevertheless, his renewed [249] order, “Forward by the left flank,” compelled Lee to retreat to the defenses of Richmond.

Grant's Memoirs enable us to follow him day by day across the various rivers which lay between him and Richmond, and in the bloody assaults at Cold Harbor, where his losses are reported 14,9315 to 1700 by his opponent. Yet ever onward by the left flank, he crossed James River and penned Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia within the intrenchments of Richmond and Petersburg for ten long months on the pure defensive, to remain almost passive observers of local events, while Grant's other armies were absolutely annihilating the Southern Confederacy.

While Grant was fighting desperately from the Rapidan to the James, there were two other armies within the same “zone of operations”--that “of the James” under General Butler, who was expected to march up on the south and invest Petersburg and even Richmond; and that of Sigel at Winchester, who was expected to march up the Valley of Virginia, pick up his detachments from the Kanawha (Crook and Averell), and threaten Lynchburg, a place of vital importance to Lee in Richmond. Butler failed to accomplish what was expected of him; and Sigel failed at the very start, and was replaced by Hunter, who marched up the valley, made junction with Crook and Averell at Staunton, and pushed, on with commendable vigor to Lynchburg, which he invested on the 16th of June.

Lee, who had by this time been driven into Richmond with a force large enough to hold his lines of intrenchment and a surplus for expeditions, detached General Jubal A. Early with the equivalent of a corps to drive Hunter away from Lynchburg. Hunter, far from his base, with inadequate supplies of food and ammunition, retreated by the Kanawha to the Ohio River, his nearest base, thereby exposing the Valley of Virginia; whereupon Early, an educated soldier, promptly resolved to take advantage of the occasion, marched rapidly down this valley northward to Winchester, crossed the Potomac to Hagerstown, and thence boldly marched on Washington, defended at that time only by militia and armed clerks. Grant, fully alive to the danger, dispatched to Washington, from his army investing Petersburg, two divisions of the Sixth Corps, and also the Nineteenth Corps just arriving from New Orleans. These troops arrived at the very nick of time,--met Early's army in the suburbs of Washington, and drove it back to the Valley of Virginia.

This most skillful movement of Early demonstrated to General Grant the importance of the Valley of Virginia, not only as a base of supplies for Lee's army in Richmond, but as the most direct, the shortest, and the easiest route for a “diversion” into the Union territory north of the Potomac. He therefore cast around for a suitable commander for this field of operations, and settled upon Major-General Philip H. Sheridan, whom he had brought from the West to command the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac.

Sheridan promptly went to his new sphere of operations, quickly ascertained its strength and resources, and resolved to attack Early in the position which he had chosen in and about Winchester, Va. He delivered his attack across [250] broken ground on the 19th of September, beat his antagonist in fair, open battle, sending him “whirling up the valley,” inflicting a loss of 5500 men to his own of 4873, and followed him up to Cedar Creek and Fisher's Hill. Early recomposed his army and fell upon the Union army on the 19th of October, at Cedar Creek, gaining a temporary advantage during General Sheridan's absence; but on his opportune return his army resumed the offensive, defeated Early, captured nearly all his artillery, and drove him completely out of his field of operations, eliminating that army from the subsequent problem of the war. Sheridan's losses were 5995 to Early's 4200 ; but these losses are no just measure of the results of that victory, which made it impossible to use the Valley of Virginia as a Confederate base of supplies and as an easy route for raids within the Union lines. General Sheridan then committed its protection to detachments, and with his main force rejoined General Grant, who still held Lee's army inside his intrenchments at Richmond and Petersburg.

I now turn with a feeling of extreme delicacy to the conduct of that other campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, Savannah, and Raleigh, which with liberal discretion was committed to me by General Grant in his minute instructions of April 4th and April 19th, 1864. To all military students these letters must be familiar, because they have been published again and again, and there never was and never can be raised a question of rivalry or claim between us as to the relative merits of the manner in which we played our respective parts. We were as brothers — I the older man in years, he the higher in rank. We both believed in our heart of hearts that the success of the Union cause was not only necessary to the then generation of Americans, but to all future generations. We both professed to be gentlemen and professional soldiers, educated in the science of war by our generous Government for the very occasion which had arisen. Neither of us by nature was a combative man; but with honest hearts and a clear purpose to do what man could we embarked on that campaign, which I believe, in its strategy, in its logistics, in its grand and minor tactics, has added new luster to the old science of war. Both of us had at our front generals to whom in early life we had been taught to look up,--educated and experienced soldiers like ourselves, not likely to make any mistakes, and each of whom had as strong an army as could be collected from the mass of the Southern people,--of the same blood as ourselves, brave, confident, and well equipped; in addition to which they had the most decided advantage of operating in their own difficult country of mountain, forest, ravine, and river, affording admirable opportunities for defense, besides the other equally important advantage that we had to invade the country of our unqualified enemy and expose our long lines of supply to the guerrillas of an “exasperated people.” Again, as we advanced we had to leave guards to bridges, stations, and intermediate depots, diminishing the fighting force, while our enemy gained strength by picking up his detachments as he fell back, and had railroads to bring supplies and reenforcements from his rear. I instance these facts to offset the common assertion that we of the North won the war by brute force, and not by courage and skill. [251]

From “the Mountain campaigns in Georgia; or, War scenes on the W. & A.” published by the Western & Atlantic R. R. Co.


On the historic 4th day of May, 1864, the Confederate army at my front lay at Dalton, Georgia, composed, according to the best authority, of about 45,000 men [see also p. 281], commanded by Joseph E. Johnston, who was equal in all the elements of generalship to Lee, and who was under instructions from the war powers in Richmond to assume the offensive northward as far as Nashville. But he soon discovered that he would have to conduct a defensive campaign. Coincident with the movement of the Army of the Potomac, as announced by telegraph, I advanced from our base at Chattanooga with the Army of the Ohio, 13,559 men; the Army of the Cumberland, 60,773, and the Army of the Tennessee, 24,465,--grand total, 98,797 men and 254 guns.

I had no purpose to attack Johnston's position at Dalton in front, but marched from Chattanooga to feign at his front and to make a lodgment in Resaca, eighteen miles to his rear, on “his line of communication and supply.” The movement was partly, not wholly, successful; but it compelled Johnston to let go Dalton and fight us at Resaca, where, May 13th-16th, our loss was 2747 and his 2800. I fought offensively and he defensively, aided by earth parapets. He then fell back to Calhoun, Adairsville, and Cassville, where he halted for the battle of the campaign; but, for reasons given in his memoirs, he continued his retreat behind the next spur of mountains to Allatoona.

Pausing for a few days to repair the railroad without attempting Allatoona, of which I had personal knowledge acquired in 1844, I resolved to push on toward Atlanta by way of Dallas; Johnston quickly detected this, and forced me to fight him, May 25th-28th, at New Hope Church, four miles north of Dallas, with losses of 3000 to the Confederates and 2400 to us. The country was almost in a state of nature — with few or no roads, nothing that a European could understand; yet the bullet killed its victim there as surely as at Sevastopol.

Johnston had meantime picked up his detachments, and had received reenforcements from his rear which raised his aggregate strength to 62,000 men, and warranted him in claiming that he was purposely drawing us far from our base, and that when the right moment should come he would turn on us and destroy us. We were equally confident, and not the least alarmed. He then fell back to his position at Marietta, with Brush Mountain on his right, Kenesaw his center, and Lost Mountain his left. His line of ten miles was too long for his numbers, and he soon let go his flanks and concentrated on Kenesaw. We closed down in battle array, repaired the railroad up to our very camps, and then prepared for the contest. Not a day, not an hour, not a minute was there a cessation of fire. Our skirmishers were in absolute contact, the lines of battle and the batteries but little in rear of the skirmishers; and thus matters continued until June 27th, when I ordered a general assault, with the full cooperation of my great lieutenants, Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield, as good and true men as ever lived or died for their country's cause; but we failed, losing 3000 men, to the Confederate loss of 630. Still, the result was that within three days Johnston abandoned the strongest possible position and was in full retreat for the Chattahoochee River. We were on his heels; skirmished with his rear at Smyrna Church on the 4th day of July, and saw him fairly across the Chattahoochee on the 10th, covered and [253] protected by the best line of field intrenchments I have ever seen, prepared long in advance. No officer or soldier who ever served under me will question the generalship of Joseph E. Johnston. His retreats were timely, in good order, and he left nothing behind. We had advanced into the enemy's country 120 miles, with a single-track railroad, which had to bring clothing, food, ammunition, everything requisite for 100,000 men and 23,000 animals. The city of Atlanta, the gate city opening the interior of the important State of Georgia, was in sight; its protecting army was shaken but not defeated, and onward we had to go,--illustrating the principle that “an army once on the offensive must maintain the offensive.”

We feigned to the right, but crossed the Chattahoochee by the left, and soon confronted our enemy behind his first line of intrenchments at Peach Tree Creek, prepared in advance for this very occasion. At this critical moment the Confederate Government rendered us most valuable service. Being dissatisfied with the Fabian policy of General Johnston, it relieved him, and General Hood was substituted to command the Confederate army [July 18th]. Hood was known to us to be a “fighter,” a graduate of West Point of the class of 1853, No. 44, of which class two of my army commanders, McPherson and Schofield, were No. 1 and No. 7. The character of a leader is a large factor in the game of war, and I confess I was pleased at this change, of which I had early notice. I knew that I had an army superior in numbers and morale to that of my antagonist; but being so far from my base, and operating in a country devoid of food and forage, I was dependent for supplies on a poorly constructed railroad back to Louisville, five hundred miles. I was willing to meet the enemy in the open country, but not behind well-constructed parapets.

Promptly, as expected, General Hood sallied from his Peach Tree line on the 20th of July, about midday, striking the Twentieth Corps (Hooker), which had just crossed Peach Tree Creek by improvised bridges. The troops became commingled and fought hand to hand desperately for about four hours, when the Confederates were driven back within their lines, leaving behind their dead and wounded. These amounted to 4796 men, to our loss of 1710. We followed up, and. Hood fell back to the main lines of the city of Atlanta. We closed in, when again Hood, holding these lines with about one-half his force, with the other half made a wide circuit by night, under cover of the woods, and on the 22d of July enveloped our left flank “in air,” a movement that led to the hardest battle of the campaign. He encountered the Army of the Tennessee,--skilled veterans who were always ready to fight, were not alarmed by flank or rear attacks, and met their assailants with heroic valor. The battle raged from noon to night, when the Confederates, baffled and defeated, fell back within the intrenchments of Atlanta. Their losses are reported 8499 to ours of 3641; but among our dead was McPherson, the commander of the Army of the Tennessee. While this battle was in progress, Schofield at the center and Thomas on the right made efforts to break through the intrenchments at their fronts, but found them too strong to assault.

The Army of the Tennessee was then shifted, under its new commander (Howard), from the extreme left to the extreme right, to reach, if possible, [254] the railroad by which Hood drew his supplies, when, on the 28th of July, he repeated his tactics of the 22d, sustaining an overwhelming defeat, losing 4632 men to our 700. These three sallies convinced him that his predecessor, General Johnston, had not erred in standing on the defensive. Thereafter the Confederate army in Atlanta clung to its parapets. I never intended to assault these, but gradually worked to the right to reach and destroy his line of supplies, because soldiers, like other mortals, must have food. Our extension to the right brought on numerous conflicts, but nothing worthy of note, till about the end of August I resolved to leave one corps to protect our communications to the rear, and move with the other five to a point (Jonesboro‘) on the railroad twenty-six miles below Atlanta, not fortified. This movement was perfectly strategic, was successful, and resulted in our occupation of Atlanta, on the 2d of September, 1864. The result had a large effect on the whole country at the time, for solid and political reasons. I claim no special merit to myself, save that I believe I followed the teachings of the best masters of the “science of war” of which I had knowledge; and, better still, I had pleased Mr. Lincoln, who wanted “success” very much. But I had not accomplished all, for Hood's army, the chief “objective,” had escaped.

Then began the real trouble. We were in possession of Atlanta, and Hood remained at Lovejoy's Station, thirty miles south-east, on the Savannah railroad, with an army of about 40,000 veterans inured to war, and with a fair amount of wagons to carry his supplies, independent of the railroads. On the 21st of September he shifted his position to Palmetto Station, twenty-five miles south-west of Atlanta, on the Montgomery and Selma railroad, where he began systematic preparations for an aggressive campaign against our communications to compel us to abandon our conquests. Here he was visited by Mr. Davis, who promised all possible cooperation and assistance in the proposed campaign; and here also Mr. Davis made his famous speech, which was duly reported to me in Atlanta, assuring his army that they would make my retreat more disastrous than was that of Napoleon from Moscow. Forewarned, I took immediate measures to thwart his plans. One division was sent back to Rome, another to Chattanooga; the guards along our railroad were reenforced and warned of the coming blow. General Thomas was sent back to the headquarters of his department at Nashville, Schofield to his at Knoxville, while I remained in Atlanta to await Hood's “initiative.” This followed soon. Hood, sending his cavalry ahead, crossed the Chattahoochee River at Campbelltown with his main army on the 1st of October, and moved to Dallas, detaching a strong force against the railroad above Marietta which destroyed it for fifteen miles, and then sent French's division to capture Allatoona. I followed Hood, reaching Kenesaw Mountain in time to see in the distance the attack on Allatoona, which was handsomely repulsed by Corse. Hood then moved westward, avoiding Rome, and by a circuit reached Resaca, which he summoned to surrender, but did not wait to attack. He continued thence the destruction of the railroad for about twenty miles to the tunnel, including Dalton, whose garrison he captured. I followed up to Resaca, then turned west to intercept his retreat [255] down the Valley of Chattooga [see map, p. 249]; but by rapid marching he escaped to Gadsden, on the Coosa, I halting at Gaylesville, whence to observe his further movements. Hood, after a short pause, crossed the mountains to Decatur, on the Tennessee River, which point, as it was defended by a good division of troops, he avoided, and finally halted opposite Florence, Alabama, on the Tennessee. [See map, Vol. III., p. 6.] Divining the object of his movement against our communications, which had been thus far rapid and skillful, I detached by rail General Schofield and two of my six corps to Nashville, all the reenforcements that Thomas deemed necessary to enable him to defend Tennessee, and began my systematic preparations for resuming the offensive against Georgia. Repairing the broken railroads, we collected in Atlanta the necessary food and transportation for 60,000 men, sent to the rear all impediments, called in all detachments, and ordered them to march for Atlanta, where by November 4th were assembled four infantry corps, one cavalry division, and 65 field-guns, aggregating 60,598 men. Hood remained at Florence, preparing to invade Tennessee and Kentucky, or to follow me. We were prepared for either alternative.

According to the great Napoleon, the fundamental maxim for successful war is to “converge a superior force on the critical point at the critical time.” In 1864 the main “objectives” were Lee's and Johnston's armies, and the critical point was thought to be Richmond or Atlanta, whichever should be longer held. Had General Grant overwhelmed and scattered Lee's army and occupied Richmond he would have come to Atlanta; but as I happened to occupy Atlanta first, and had driven Hood off to a divergent line of operations far to the west, it was good strategy to leave him to a subordinate force, and with my main army to join Grant at Richmond. The most practicable route to Richmond was nearly a thousand miles in distance, too long for a single march; hence the necessity to reach the sea-coast for a new base. Savannah, distant three hundred miles, was the nearest point, and this distance we accomplished from November 12th to December 21st, 1864.6 According to the Duke of Wellington, an army moves upon its belly, not upon its legs; and no army dependent on wagons can operate more than a hundred miles from its base, because the teams going and returning consume the contents of their wagons, leaving little or nothing for the maintenance of the men and animals at the front, who are fully employed in fighting; hence the necessity to “forage liberally on the country,” a measure which fed our men and animals chiefly on the very supplies which had been gathered near the railroads by the enemy for the maintenance of his own armies. “The March to the sea” was in strategy only a shift of base for ulterior and highly important purposes.

Many an orator in his safe office at the North had proclaimed his purpose to cleave his way to the sea. Every expedition which crossed the Ohio River in the early part of the war headed for the sea; but things were not ripe till the Western army had fought, and toiled, and labored down to Atlanta. Not [256]

General William T. Sherman at Atlanta. From a photograph.

till then did a “March to the sea” become practicable and possible of grand results. Alone I never measured it as now my eulogists do, but coupled with Thomas's acts about Nashville, and those about Richmond directed in person by General Grant, the “March to the sea,” with its necessary corollary, the march northward to Raleigh, became vastly important, if not actually conclusive of the war. Mr. Lincoln was the wisest man of our day, and more truly and kindly gave voice to my secret thoughts and feeling when he wrote me at Savannah from Washington under date of December 26th, 1864:
When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering “ nothing risked, nothing gained,” I did not interfere. Now the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce; and taking the work of General Thomas into account, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages, but in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole, Hood's army, it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and yourself to decide.


So highly do I prize this testimonial that I preserve Mr. Lincoln's letter, every word in his own handwriting, unto this day; and if I know myself, I believe on receiving it I experienced more satisfaction in giving to his overburdened and weary soul one gleam of satisfaction and happiness, than of selfish pride in an achievement which has given me among men a larger measure of fame than any single act of my life. There is an old maxim of war, that a general should not divide his forces in the presence of an enterprising enemy, and I confess that I felt more anxious for General Thomas's success than my own, because had I left him with an insufficient force it would have been adjudged ungenerous and unmilitary in me; but the result, and Mr. Lincoln's judgment after the event, demonstrated that my division of force was liberal, leaving to Thomas “enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole, Hood's army,” and retaining for myself enough to march to the sea, and thence north to Raleigh, in communication with the old Army of the Potomac which had so long and heroically fought for Richmond, every officer and soldier of which felt and saw the dawn of peace in the near approach of their comrades of the West, who, having finished their task, had come so far to lend them a helping hand if needed. I honestly believe that the grand march of the Western army from Atlanta to Savannah, and from Savannah to Raleigh, was an important factor in the final result, the overwhelming victory at Appomattox, and the glorious triumph of the Union cause.7

Meantime Hood, whom I had left at and near Florence, 317 miles to my rear, having completely reorganized and resupplied his army, advanced against Thomas at Nashville, who had also made every preparation. Hood first encountered Schofield at Franklin, November 30th, 1864, attacked him boldly behind his intrenchments, and sustained a positive check, losing 6252 of his best men, including Generals Cleburne and Adams, who were [258]

Ration-day at Chattanooga in 1864. from a War-time sketch.

killed on the very parapets, to Schofield's loss of 2326. Nevertheless he pushed on to Nashville, which he invested. Thomas, one of the grand characters of our civil war, nothing dismayed by danger in front or rear, made all his preparations with cool and calm deliberation; and on the 15th of December sallied from his intrenchments, attacked Hood in his chosen and intrenched position, and on the next day, December 16th, actually annihilated his army, eliminating it thenceforward from the problem of the war. Hood's losses were 15,000 men to Thomas's 3057.

Therefore at the end of the year 1864 the conflict at the West was concluded, leaving nothing to be considered in the grand game of war but Lee's army, held by Grant in Richmond, and the Confederate detachments at Mobile and along the sea-board north of Savannah. Of course Charleston, ever arrogant, felt secure; but it was regarded by us as a “dead cock in the pit,” and fell of itself when its inland communications were cut. In January Fort Fisher was captured by a detachment from the Army of the Potomac, aided by Admiral Porter's fleet, and Wilmington was occupied by Schofield, who had been brought by Grant from Nashville to Washington and sent down the Atlantic coast to prepare for Sherman's coming to Goldsboro‘, North Carolina,--all “converging” on Richmond.

Preparatory to the next move, General Howard was sent from Savannah to secure Pocotaligo, in South Carolina, as a point of departure for the north, and General Slocum to Sister's Ferry, on the Savannah River, to secure a safe lodgment on the north bank for the same purpose. In due tine — in February, 1865--these detachments, operating by concentric lines, met on the South Carolina road at Midway and Blackville, swept northward through Orangeburg and Columbia to Winnsboro‘, where the direction was changed to Fayetteville and Goldsboro‘, a distance of 420 miles through a difficult and hostile country, making junction with Schofield at a safe base with two good railroads back to the sea-coast, of which we held absolute dominion. The [259] resistance of Hampton, Butler, Beauregard, and even Joe Johnston was regarded as trivial. Our “objective” was Lee's army at Richmond. When I reached Goldsboro‘, made junction. with Schofield, and moved forward to Raleigh, I was willing to encounter the entire Confederate army; but the Confederate armies--Lee's in Richmond and Johnston's in my front-held interior lines, and could choose the initiative. Few military critics who have treated of the civil war in America have ever comprehended the importance of the movement of my army northward from Savannah to Goldsboro‘, or of the transfer of Schofield from Nashville to cooperate with me in North Carolina. This march was like the thrust of a sword toward the heart of the human body; each mile of advance swept aside all opposition, consumed the very food on which Lee's army depended for life, and demonstrated a power in the National Government which was irresistible.

Therefore, in March, 1865, but one more move was left to Lee on the chessboard of war: to abandon Richmond; make junction with Johnston in North Carolina; fall on me and destroy me if possible — a fate I did not apprehend; then turn on Grant, sure to be in close pursuit, and defeat him. 3ut no! Lee clung to his intrenchments for political reasons, and waited for the inevitable. At last, on the 1st day of April, General Sheridan, by his vehement and most successful attack on the Confederate lines at the “Five Forks” near Dinwiddie Court House, compelled Lee to begin his last race for life. He then attempted to reach Danville, to make junction with Johnston, but Grant in his rapid pursuit constantly interposed, and finally headed him off at Appomattox, and compelled the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, which for four years had baffled the skill and courage of the Army of the Potomac and the power of our National Government. This substantially ended the war, leaving only the formal proceedings of accepting the surrender of Johnston in North Carolina and of the subordinate armies at the South-west.

The “Calico House,” General Sherman's first headquarters in Atlanta — afterward the Office of his Engineers; also for several months a hospital. From a photograph.

1 re-arranged from “the Grand strategy of the War of the rebellion,” by General Sherman, printed in “the century” magazine for February, 1888, and from a letter by General Sherman to the editor, printed in that periodical for July, 1887. the figures in the text are from Phisterer's Statistical record. (Charles Scribner's Sons.)

2 On February 3d, 1864, General Sherman started from Vicksburg with two columns of infantry under Generals McPherson and Hurlbut, and marched to Meridian, Mississippi, to break up the Mobile and Ohio and the Jackson and Selma railroads. His force was about 20,000 strong. A force of cavalry, 10,000 strong, under General W. Sooy Smith, set out from Memphis on the 11th, intending to cooperate by driving Forrest's cavalry from northern Mississippi, but Smith was headed off by Forrest and defeated in an engagement at West Point, Mississippi, on the 21st. After destroying the railroads on the route, General Sherman abandoned the enterprise, and on February 20th put his troops in motion toward central Mississippi, whence they were transferred, later, to Vicksburg and Memphis.--editors.

3 Later official compilation, 17, 666.--editors.

4 Later official compilation, 18,399.--editors.

5 Later official compilation, 12,737.--editors.

6 The army reached the vicinity of Savannah, December 10th, but did not get possession of the city until the 21st.--editors.

7 One single fact about the “March to the sea,” unknown to me, revealed by General Grant in his “Memoirs,i” Vol. II., p. 376:

I was in favor of Sherman's plan from the time it was first submitted to me. My chief-of-staff, however, was very bitterly opposed to it, and as I learned subsequently, finding that he could not move me, he appealed to the authorities at Washington to stop it.

I had been acquainted with General John A. Rawlins, General Grant's “chief-of-staff,” from the beginning of the war. He was always most loyal and devoted to his chief, an enthusiastic patriot, and of real ability. He was a neighbor of General Grant in Galena at the breaking out of the war, a lawyer in good practice, an intense thinker, and a man of vehement expression; a soldier by force of circumstances rather than of education or practice, yet of infinite use to his chief throughout the war and up to the hour of his death as Secretary of War, in 1869. General Rawlins was enthusiastically devoted to his friends in the Western army, with which he had been associated from Cairo to Vicksburg and Chattanooga, and doubtless, like many others at the time (October, 1864) feared that I was about to lead his comrades in a “wild-goose chase,” not fully comprehending the objects aimed at, or that I on the spot had better means of accurate knowledge than he in the distance. He did not possess the magnificent equipoise of General Grant, nor the confidence in my military sagacity which his chief did, and. I am not at all surprised to learn that he went to Washington from City Point to obtain an order from the President or Secretary of War to compel me, with an army of 65,000 of the best soldiers which America had ever produced, to remain idle when an opportunity was offered such as never occurs twice to any man on earth. General Rawlins was right according to the light he possessed, and I remember well my feeling of uneasiness that something of the kind might happen, and how free and glorious I felt when the magic telegraph was cut, which prevented the possibility of orders of any kind from the rear coming to delay or hinder us from fulfilling what I knew was comparatively easy of execution and was sure to be a long stride toward the goal we were all aiming at — victory and peace from Virginia to Texas. He was one of the many referred to by Mr. Lincoln who sat in darkness, but after the event saw a great light. He never revealed to me the doubts he had had.--W. T. S.

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Atlanta (Georgia, United States) (23)
Washington, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (12)
Edgefield (Tennessee, United States) (11)
Savannah (Georgia, United States) (9)
Chattanooga (Tennessee, United States) (7)
Raleigh (North Carolina, United States) (5)
Dalton, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (5)
Resaca (Georgia, United States) (4)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (4)
Goldsboro (North Carolina, United States) (4)
Allatoona (Georgia, United States) (4)
Winchester, Va. (Virginia, United States) (3)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (3)
United States (United States) (3)
Lynchburg (Virginia, United States) (3)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (3)
Florence, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (3)
Dallas, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (3)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (2)
Spottsylvania (Virginia, United States) (2)
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (2)
Peach Tree Creek (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Ohio (United States) (2)
Mississippi (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Meridian (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Meadow Mills (Virginia, United States) (2)
Marietta (Georgia, United States) (2)
Kenesaw (Nebraska, United States) (2)
Chattahoochee River, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (2)
Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (2)
Winnsboro (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Wilmington, N. C. (North Carolina, United States) (1)
West Point (Mississippi, United States) (1)
West Point (Georgia, United States) (1)
Texas (Texas, United States) (1)
Tennessee River (United States) (1)
Staunton, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Sevastapol (Indiana, United States) (1)
Savannah (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Pocotaligo (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Orangeburg, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Moscow, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (1)
Louisville (Kentucky, United States) (1)
Lost Mountain (Georgia, United States) (1)
Knoxville (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (1)
Kenesaw Mountain (Georgia, United States) (1)
Jonesboro (Georgia, United States) (1)
Hagerstown (Maryland, United States) (1)
Gaylesville (Alabama, United States) (1)
Galena (Illinois, United States) (1)
Gadsden (Alabama, United States) (1)
Franklin (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Fortress Monroe (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fort Fisher (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Five Forks (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fishers Hill (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fayetteville (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Dinwiddie Court House (Virginia, United States) (1)
Decatur, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Danville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Columbia (South Carolina, United States) (1)
City Point (Virginia, United States) (1)
Cincinnati (Ohio, United States) (1)
Charleston (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Cassville (Georgia, United States) (1)
Calhoun, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Cairo, Ill. (Illinois, United States) (1)
Brandy Station (Virginia, United States) (1)
Blackville (South Carolina, United States) (1)
America (Indiana, United States) (1)
America (Illinois, United States) (1)
Adairsville (Georgia, United States) (1)

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