GRANT, Ulysses S. Autograph draft telegram signed ("U. S. Grant"), as Lt. General, to Gen. William T. Sherman, City Point, Va., 1 November 1864. 1¼ pages, 4to, on stationery of Head Quarters Armies of the United States, neatrly inlaid. Marked by Grant "(Cipher)" in top left corner.
PREPARING FOR THE MARCH TO THE SEA: "IF YOU CAN SEE THE CHANCE FOR DESTROYING HOOD'S ARMY...MAKE YOUR OTHER MOVE SECONDARY"
Grant plots Sherman's moves, two weeks before launching the March to the Sea: "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 our 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 your other move secondary."
Atlanta was a smoldering ruin, but Grant is still worried about Hood's 40,000 strong Confederate Army, which was harassing Sherman's men along the rail lines to Chattanooga--and exacting a steady toll of Union casualties. "On the 1st of November I suggested to Sherman...the propriety of destroying Hood before he started on his campaign," Grant writes in his Memoirs. But Sherman talked him out of this in favor of a bolder plan: "I could cut a swath through to the sea," Sherman argued, "divide the Confederacy in two, and come up on the rear of Lee." Grant was skeptical but relented when Sherman proposed to assign Gen. George Thomas to deal with Hood. On 15th November, an eager Sherman began his historic trek: "I can make the march," he promised, "and make Georgia howl!" (McPherson, Battle Cry, 808). In the end, both Grant and Sherman were right. Sherman did indeed "make Georgia howl" delivering a devastating blow to the Confederacy. But Hood moved north to challenge him, just as Grant feared. It was not until mid-December that Thomas was able to decisively defeat Hood at Nashville.