James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  Nashville. The army that marched to the sea proved unnecessarily large and 10,000 men more with Schofield would have saved some trial of soul, yet, as the problem appeared at the time, Sherman must be sufficiently strong to defeat Hood and the scattered forces of uncertain number which would gather to protect Georgia. Moreover, as his ultimate aim was to “re-enforce our armies in Virginia” he must have troops enough to oppose Lee until Grant should be at his heels. He reckoned that the force left in Tennessee was “numerically greater” than Hood’s. 1 Considering everything that could have been known between November 1 and 12, it seems clear beyond dispute that he made a fair division of his army between himself and Thomas.  3   Sherman reviewed his decision with deliberation, care and foresight; until within six days of his start southward, he held himself ready, if need were, to coöperate with Thomas in the pursuit of Hood, the one moving directly against the Confederates and the other endeavoring to cut off their retreat, for he admitted that “the first object should be the destruction of that army;” 2 but, as the days wore on, he came to believe that the advantages of the march to the sea outweighed those of any other plan and he took the irrevocable step. Stopping at Cartersville on November 12 on his progress southward he received Thomas’s last despatch 3 and replied “all right”: 4 a bridge was burned, severing the telegraph wire and all communication with Thomas and his government. As was the case with Julian, who “plunged into the recesses of the Marcian or Black forest,” so was Sherman’s fate for many days “unknown to the world.” 5 No direct intelligence from him reached the
Note 1. O. R., XXXIX, Pt. 3, 659, 660. [back]
Note 2. Ibid., 659. [back]
Note 3. That of Nov. 12, ante. [back]
Note 4. O. R., XXXIX, Pt. 3, 757. [back]
Note 5. Gibbon, Chap. XXII. [back]