Sherman tells Halleck that he’s trying to disencumber himself of all the stuff people have accumulated, in preparation for his march. He proposes that Thomas push up the Tennessee while Canby uses the Alabama River, and “These co-operating movements would completely bewilder Beauregard, and he would burst with French despair.”
KINGSTON, GA., November 3, 1864-7 p. m.
(Received 11 a. m. 4th.)
The situation of affairs now is as follows: Beauregard, with Hood’s army, is now at Florence, with a pontoon bridge, protected from our gun-boats below by the Colbert Shoals; from above by the Muscle Shoals. He has with him Wheeler’s and Roddey’s cavalry. Forrest’s cavalry is down about Fort Heiman. The country round about Florence has been again and again devastated during the past three years, and Beauregard must be dependent on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which also has been broken and patched up in its whole extent. He purposes and promises his men to invade Middle Tennessee, for the purpose of making me let go Georgia.
The moment I detected that he had passed Gadsden, I detached the Fourth Corps (General Stanley’s) 15,000 strong, which is now at Pulaski, and subsequently the Twenty-THIRD Corps (Schofield’s), 10,000, which is now on the cars, moving to Nashville. This gives Thomas two full corps, and about 5,000 cavalry, besides, 10,000 dismounted cavalry and all the new troops recently sent to Tennessee, and the railroad guards, with which to encounter Beauregard, should be advance farther. Besides which, Thomas will have the active co-operation of the gun-boats above and below the shoals, and the two DIVISIONS of Smith and Mower, en route from Missouri. I therefore feel no uneasiness as to Tennessee, and have ordered Thomas to assume the offensive, in the direction of Selma, Ala.
With myself I have the Twentieth Corps at Atlanta, the Fifteenth and Seventeenth near Kenesaw, and the Fourteenth here. I am sending to the rear, as fast as cars will move, the vast accumulation of stuff that, in spite, of my endeavors, has been got along the lines, and am sending forward just enough bread and meat to enable me to load my wagons, destroy everything of value to the enemy, and start on my contemplated movement. I can be ready in five days, but am waiting to be more certain that Thomas will be prepared for any contingency that may arise. It is now raining, which is favorable to us and unfavorable to the enemy. Jeff. Davis has utterly failed in his threat to force me to leave in thirty days, for my railroad is in good order from Nashville to Atlanta, and his army is farther from my communications now than it was twenty days ago.
I would advise the accumulation of all troops available up the Tennessee, now in good boating stage, up about Clifton, subject to Thomas’ orders, and that General Canby leave the MISSISSIPPI to be watched by gun- boats and local garrison, and push, with about 15,000 men, for the Alabama River and Selma. These co-operating movements would completely bewilder Beauregard, and he would burst with French despair.
I propose to adhere as nearly as possible to my original plan, and, on reaching the sea-coast, will be available for re- enforcing the army in Virginia, leaving behind a track of devastation, as well as a sufficient force to hold fast all that is of permanent value to our cause. When I leave Atlanta it will contain little that will be of use or comfort to the enemy.
W. T. SHERMAN,