While this isn’t exactly how it worked out in the long run, Grant’s suggestion to Sherman is the germ of a very famous expedition. Meanwhile, in any case, Sherman still needs to reinforce Burnside.
CHATTANOOGA, December 1, 1863.
Maj. General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding East Tennessee Expedition:
When you start upon your return to this place, after it is known that East Tennessee is cleaned of all formidable bodies of the enemy, if you deem it at all feasible, start a cavalry expedition to strike through into South Carolina to destroy their east and west roads.
A force going in this way should move without transportation, and live entirely on the country. They ought to do all the harm to the roads they can, burn stores accumulated along them, and take all the good horses they find.
If they should succeed in what they go for, it would make but little difference where, within our lines, they should return.
The cavalry for such an expedition can be taken from either Foster or Thomas, or a part of each. I think 1,200 or 1,500 men will be enough. They do not go to fight, but to avoid fighting if possible.
Crook or Wilson would be the best men I know of to command such an expedition.
All the cavalry of the Cumberland Army with you, not taken for the expedition referred to above, bring back to Chattanooga with you. I do not want them to go back where they started from. I do not insist upon this expedition, but if you deem it at all practicable start it. I leave this matter to you, because you are where the troops start from, and can learn more of the practicability and the roads than I know. You see the condition of men and horses, and also know better what the enemy are doing in that direction either to defeat such a move or to make our cavalry necessary elsewhere.
U. S. GRANT,