command, I had expected upon reducing Savannah instantly to march to Columbia, S. C., thence to Raleigh, and thence to report to you; but this would consume, it may be, six weeks time after the fall of Savannah, whereas by sea I can probably reach you with my men and arms before the middle of January.
I myself am somewhat astonished at the attitude to things in Tennessee. I purposely delayed at Kingston until General Thomas assured me that he was "all ready," and my last dispatch from him, of the 12th of November, was full of confidence, in which he promised me that he would "ruin Hood," if he dared to advance from Florence, urging me to go ahead and give myself no concern about Hood's army in Tennessee. Why he did not turn on Hood at Franklin, after checking and discomfiting him, surpasses by understanding. Indeed, I do not approve of his evacuating Decatur, but think he should have assumed the offensive against Good from Pulaski in the direction of Waynesburg [Waynesborough]. I know full well that General Thomas is slow in mind and in action, but he is judicious and brave, and the troops feel great confidence in him. I still hope he will out-maneuver and destroy Hood.
As to matters in the Southeast, I think Hardee, in Savannah, has good artillerists, some 5,000 or 6,000 infantry, and it may be a mongrel mass of 8,000 to 10,000 militia and fragments. In all our marching through Georgia he has not forced me to use anything but a skirmish line, though at several points he had erected fortifications and tried to alarm us by bombastic threats. In Savannah he has taken refuge behind a line constructed behind swamps and overflowed rice fields, extending from a point on the Savannah River about three miles above the city around by a branch of the Little Ogeechee, which stream is impassable from its salt marshes and boggy swamps, crossed only by narrow causeways or common corduroy roads. There must be 25,000 citizens-men, women, and children-in Savannah that must also be fed, and how he is to feed them beyond a few days I cannot imagine, as I know that his requisition for corn on the interior counties were not filled, and we are in possession of the rice fields and mills which could alone be of service to him in this neighborhood. He can draw nothing from South Carolina, save from a small corner down in the southeast, and that by a disused wagon road. I could easily get possession of this, but hardly deem it worth the risk of making a detachment, which would be in danger by its isolation from the main army.
Our whole army is in fine condition as to health, and the Weather is splendid; for that reason alone, I feel a personal dislike to turning northward. I will keep Lieutenant Dunn here until I know the result of my demand for the surrender of Savannah; but, whether successful or not, shall not delay my execution of your order of the 6th, which will depend alone upon the time it will require to obtain transportation by sea.
I am, with respect, &c., your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, U. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, December 16, 1864. (Via Hilton Head.)
GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Grant informs me that in his last dispatch sent to you he suggested the transfer of your infantry to Rich-