Sherman… Atlanta… REPUBLICAN party -
July 30th, 2012, 05:39 PM
Sherman… Atlanta… REPUBLICAN party
[from the book Grant and Sherman by Charles Flood, concerning the Atlanta Campaign]
[My comments in brackets]
When in early August [‘64] Sherman sent Grant a report in which he sounded apologetic for his inability to cut right through to Atlanta [Sherman seemed to lack adequate self confidence at times], Grant replied with a telegram in cipher that said,
“Your progress instead of appearing slow has received the universal commendation of all loyal citizens as well as of the President [and] War Dept…”
Sherman answered this… with a telegram that began with, “I was gratified to learn you were satisfied by my progress.
Let us give these southern fellows all the fighting they want and when they are tired we can tell them we are just warming up to the work… Any sign of a let up on our part is sure to be falsely construed
… [The] siege of Troy lasted six yeas and Atlanta is a more valuable town than troy.” [emphasis added]
[These (emphasized) words were prophetic in light of what followed
Grant wired Washington for replacement troops for Sherman. He also asked that Sherman be promoted to the rank of Major General, which Lincoln did.
Halleck in Washington mentioned a riot in protest of the draft in NYC that had resulted in 1000 deaths, telling him that troops were needed there to maintain order since the draft was still needed.
But that would mean that Grant would lose men, resulting in his forces having to withdraw
Grant could lose] his bitterly won strategic position in front of Petersburg.
[If Grant had to abandon the gains he had made] Lee would be able to send… reinforcements south to defend Atlanta.
Lincoln…] wired Grant concerning, “your dispatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold… Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bulldog grip…”
In the midst of the gathering political storm [The Democrats wanted to immediately end the war (Some things never change)—& would have gotten their way if they had won the ’64 election]
Sherman [suddenly] sent [Washington] these electrifying words: “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.”
[This Union victory was in some part due to Confederate General Hood’s mistakes. He had attempted to cut Sherman’s supply line, which not only did not inflict much damage, but deprived Hood of… much-needed intelligence concerning Sherman’s movements.]
Thus Hood missed the fact that Sherman… boldly marched away from his [supply base]… letting his men feed themselves on the march by roasting the ears of corn that had now ripened along the way, quietly [moving] almost his entire army [to Atlanta’s] vulnerable… side.
When [rebel] spies told Hood that… they had seen Sherman’s men marching… without supplies, he concluded that Sherman was breaking off the siege [!] rather than moving to attack
[Hence Sherman’s “prophecy”: “Any sign of a letup on our part is sure to be falsely construed.”
Thank God for falsely construed notions!]
[Confederate General Hood] telegraphed Richmond that this was a “great victory.” [But he] finally realized that Sherman’s forces had much of the railway mileage around Atlanta in their hands and might soon surround it completely.
[Hood] evacuated his forces… detonating powder magazines and burning warehouses filled with supplies as he withdrew.
Sherman, having [captured] the Confederacy’s second most important city after Richmond, in effect let Hood go without further bloodshed. [Sherman said] “I do not wish to waste lives by an assault,” …and Sherman’s columns marched in[to the city, rather than pursue].
[This failure to pursue is interesting in light of the fact that Lincoln had previously been very irritated, depressed even, concerning other Union generals who had refused to pursue the enemy as they were retreating (McClellan, Meade…)
If the army itself were destroyed, obviously it could not fight another day, thus hastening the end of the war.
Some of those generals who let the enemy go were removed from command by Lincoln.
Lincoln had also tried to end the war by declaring that if the South did not re-join the Union, their slaves would be set free… It is odd the South refused to comply, considering the extent to which the war was based on (and initiated because of) the issue of slavery… But apparently the South believed they would win the war… How they thought such a thing is beyond me…
In any case, Sherman knew how Lincoln hated this lack of pursuit of retreating armies, yet in Atlanta he let the Confederates go anyway… rather strange… He probably realized the end was near for the South anyhow]
[Sherman’s] timely march into Atlanta muffled the cries for peace throughout the North [not in the South, apparently] and saved the election for Lincoln…
[The Democrat] candidate McClellan [one of the generals relieved of command by Lincoln for inaction & failure to pursue] promptly repudiated the plank of his party’s platform that called the war a failure
[Some things never change]
and the prominent Republicans who had been planning to… produce a candidate other than Lincoln abandoned that idea.