November 1, 1864: Grant to Sherman — shouldn’t you get Hood first?

Ulysses S. Grant

Grant suggests to Sherman that maybe he should take care of Hood before heading south, but Sherman isn’t having any. He knows that Hood would just retreat westward, and it would waste Sherman’s efforts so far. He’s determined to head south and let Thomas handle Hood.

Official Records 79:576

CITY POINT, VA., November 1, 1864-6 p. m.
Major-General SHERMAN,
Atlanta, Ga.:

Do you not think it advisable now that Hood has gone so far north to entirely settle him before starting on your proposed campaign? With Hood’s army destroyed you can go where you please with impunity. I believed, and still believe, that if you had started south whilst Hood was in the neighborhood of you he would have been forced to go after you. Now that he is so far away, he might look upon the chase as useless and go in one direction whilst you are pushing in the other. If you can see the chance for destroying Hood’s army, attend to that first and make you other move secondary.



ROME, GA., November 1, 1864-9 a. m.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Armies of the United States, City Point, Va.:

As you foresaw, and as Jeff. Davis threatened, the enemy is now in the full tide of execution of his grand plan to destroy my communications and defeat this army. His infantry, about 30,000, with Wheeler’s and Roddey’s cavalry, from 7,000 to 10,000, are now in the neighborhood of Tusumbia and Florence, and the water being low is able to cross at will. Forrest seems to be scattered from Eastport to Jackson, Paris. and the lower Tennessee, and General Thomas reports the capture by him of a gun-boat and five transport. General Thomas has near Athens and Pulaski Stanley’s corps, about 15,000 strong, and Schofield’s corps, 10,000, en route by rail, and has at least 20,000 to 25,000 men, with new regiments and conscripts arriving all the time; also Rosecrans promises the two DIVISIONS of Smith and Mower, belonging to me, but I doubt if they can reach Tennessee in less than ten days.

If I were to let go Atlanta and North George and make for Hood, he would, as he did here, retreat to the southwest, leaving his militia, now assembling at Macon and Griffin, to occupy our conquests, and the work of last summer would be lost. I have retained about 50,000 good troops, and have sent back full 25,000, and having instructed General Thomas to hold defensively Nashville, Chattanooga, and Decatur, all strongly fortified and provisioned for a long siege, I will destroy all the railroads of Georgia and do as much substantial damage as is possible, reaching the sea-coast near one of the points hitherto indicated, trusting that General Thomas, with his present troops and the influx of new troops promised, will be able in a very few days to assume the offensive. Hood’s cavalry may do a good deal of damage, and I have sent Wilson back with all dismounted cavalry, retaining only about 4,500. This is the best I am do, and shall, therefore, when I can get to Atlanta the necessary stores, move as soon as possible.


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