October 13, 1864: Grant to Stanton — Let Sherman go.

Ulysses S. Grant

Grant tells Secretary Stanton that he agrees with Sherman’s plan to head for Savannah. He then orders Halleck to prepare supplies to be sent to Savannah to meet Sherman’s armies when they arrive. He tells Halleck that Thomas should abandon the railroad link south from Nashville. When Grant makes up his mind, he doesn’t waste time.

The money quote from Grant: “Such an army as Sherman has (and with such a commander) is hard to corner or capture.”

Official Records 79:239.


CITY POINT, VA., October 13, 1864-3. 30 p. m.

(Received 6 p. m.)

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

On mature reflection, I believe Sherman’s proposition is the best that can be adopted. With the long line of railroad in rear of Atlanta Sherman cannot maintain his position. If he cuts loose, destroying the road from Chattanooga forward, he leaves a wide and destitute country to pass over before reaching territory now held by us. Thomas could retain force enough to meet Hood by giving up the road from Nashville to Decatur and thence to Stevenson and leave Sherman still force enough to meet Hood’s army if it took the other and most likely course. Such an army as Sherman has (and with such a commander) is hard to corner or capture.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

(Copy sent from Washington to General Thomas October 14.)

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CITY POINT, VA., October 13, 1864-11 a. m.

(Received 3 p. m.)

Major-General HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

Vessels should be got ready loaded with grain, ordnance stores, and provisions-say 200,000 rations of grain and 500,000 rations of provisions, and 100 rounds of ammunition for 30,000 men, with proper proportion of artillery ammunition for that number of infantry. The Ordnance Department will have to select the kinds of ammunition based upon what they know of the armament of Sherman’s army. Soon after it is know that Sherman has struck south these vessels should sail and rendezvous at Ossabaw Sound. I take it his first supplies will have to be received by way of that river. General Canby ought to move the force he has in Mobile Bay, with the exception of enough to hold the forts, and any other force he can add to it, to Brunswick and try to strike the Albany and Gulf Railroad, say at Initial Point. Information should be got to Sherman of all preparations made to receive him on the sea-board. If Foster can send men to Brunswick it will be as well to send him as to send Canby, and probably his preparations can e earlier made. The forage rations here indicated might be reduced one-half if there is any difficulty about securing transportation, but the other supplies should rather be increased than diminished. There probably will be no difficulty about securing fifteen to twenty days’ forage in the country, and with a small amount on hand the animals could be kept along until vessels could return for a new supply.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

(Forwarded from Washington for General Sherman’s information and received October 15.)

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CITY POINT, October 13, 1864-9 p. m.

(Received 14th.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK:

I think it will be advisable for General Thomas now to abandon all the railroad from Columbia to Decatur, thence to Stevenson. This will give him much additional force. Has any change of commander in Missouri been ordered? I do think Price could be driven out in a week with the right man after him.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

(First part of dispatch, ending with the words “additional force,” forwarded from Washington to Major-General Thomas.)

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WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington, October 13, 1864-8. 30 p. m.

(Received 15th.)

Major-General SHERMAN:

You will see by General Grant’s dispatch that your plans, are approved by him. You may count on the co-operation of this Department to the full extent of the power of the Government. Supplies will be forwarded with the utmost dispatch to the points indicated. Whatever results, you have the confidence and support of the Government.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

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