Yesterday, Halleck wrote to Grant to urge him (although he denied that was what he was doing) to send Sherman to Mobile rather than Savannah. Grant replies that Savannah is the only viable option now.
CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
City Point, Va., October 4, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 2nd instant, in relation to the movements of the Western armies, and the preparation ordered by the staff officers of General Canby, is received. When this campaign was commenced, nothing else was in contemplation but that Sherman, after capturing Atlanta, should connect with Canby at Mobile. Drawing the Nineteenth Corps, however, from Canby, and the movements of Kirby Smith demanding the presence of all of Canby’s surplus forces in another direction, have made it impossible to carry out the plan as early as was contemplated. Any considerable force to co-operate with Sherman on the sea-coast must now be sent from here.
The question is whether, under such circumstances, Augusta and Savannah would not be a better line, than Selma, Montgomery, and Mobile. I think Savannah might be taken by surprise with one corps from here and such troops as Foster could spare from the Department of the South.
This is my view, but before giving positive orders I want to make a visit to Washington and consult a little on the subject. All Canby can do with his present force is to make demonstration on Mobile and up the Appalachicola toward Columbus. He cannot possibly have the force to require the transportation your letters would indicate he has called for, or to consume the supplies.
Either line indicated would cut off the supplies from the rich district of Georgia, Alabama, and MISSISSIPPI equally well. Whichever way Sherman moves he will undoubtedly encounter Hood’s army, and in crossing to the sea-coast will sever the connection between Lee’s army and this district of country.
I wrote to Sherman on this subject, sending my letter by a staff officer. He is ready to attempt (and feels confident of his ability to succeed) to make his way to either the Savannah River or any of the navigable steams emptying into the Atlantic or Gulf, if he is only certain of finding a base open for him when he arrives. The supplies Canby was ordering I presume were intended for the use of Sherman’s army. I do not deem it necessary to accumulate them in any great quantity until the base to which he is to make his way is secured.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT,