in running to the rear the sick and wounded and worthless, and all the vast amount of stores accumulated by our army in the advance, aiming to organize this branch of my army into four well-commanded corps, encumbered by only one gun to 1,000 men, and provisions and ammunition which can by loaded up in our mule teams, so that we can pick up and start on the shortest notice. I reckon that by the 10th instant this end will be reached, and by that date I also will have the troops all paid, The Presidential election over and out of our way, and I hope the early storms of November, now prevailing, will also give us the chance of a long period of fine healthy weather for campaigning. Then the question presents itself, What shall be done? On the supposition always that Thomas can hold the line of the Tennessee, and very shortly be able to assume the offensive as against Beauregard, I propose to act in such a manner against the material resources of the South as utterly to negative Davis' boasted threat and promises of protection. If we can march a well- appointed army right through his territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power which Davis cannot resist. This may not be war, but rather statesmanship, nevertheless it is overwhelming to my mind that there are thousands of people abroad and in the South who will reason thus: if the North can march an army right through the South, it is proof positive that the North can prevail in this contest, leaving only open the question of its willingness to use that power.
Now, Mr. Lincoln's election, which is assured, coupled with the conclusion thus reached, makes a complete, logical whole. Even without a battle, the result operating upon the minds of sensible men would produce fruits more than compensating for the expense, trouble, and risk. Admitting this reasoning to be good, that such a movement per se be right, still there may be reasons why one route would be better than another. There are three from Atlanta, southeast, south, and southwest, all open, with no serious enemy to oppose at present. The first would carry me across the only east and WEST railroad remaining in the Confederacy, which would be destroyed and thereby sever the communications between the armies of Lee and Beauregard. Incidentally, I might destroy the enemy's depots at Macon and Augusta and reach the seashore at Charleston or Savannah, from either of which points I could re-enforce our armies in Virginia. The second and easiest route would be due south, following substantially the valley of the Flint River, which is very fertile and well supplied, and fetching up on the navigable waters of the Appolochicola, destroying en route the same railroad, taking up the prisoners of war still at Andersonville, and destroying about 40,000 bales of cotton near Albany and Fort Gaines. This, however, would leave the army in a bad position for future movements. The THIRD, down the Chattahoochee to Opelika and Montgomery, thence to Pensacola or Tensas Bayou, in communication with Fort Morgan. This latter route would enable me at once to co- operate with General Canby in the reduction of Mobile and occupation of the line of the Alabama. In my judgment the first would have a material effect upon your campaign in Virginia, the second would be the safest of execution, but the THIRD would more properly full within the sphere of my own command and have a direct bearing upon my own enemy, Beauregard. If, therefore, I should start before I hear further from you or before further developments turn my course, you may take it for granted that I have moved via Griffin to Barnesville; that I break up the road between Columbus and Macon good, and then, if I feint on Columbus, will move, via Macon and Millen, to Savannah, or if I feint