With Atlanta taken, we can start to plan the next stage of the campaign. I wrote Gen. Sherman,
CITY POINT, VA., September 12, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Military DIVISION of the Mississippi:
I send Lieutenant-Colonel Porter, of my staff, with this. Colonel Porter will explain to you the exact condition of affairs here better than I can do in the limits of a letter.
Although I feel myself strong enough for offensive operations, I am holding on quietly to get advantage of recruits and convalescents, who are coming forward very rapidly. My lines are necessarily very long, extending from Deep Bottom, north of the James, across the peninsula formed by the Appomattox and the James, and south of the Appomattox to the Weldon road. This line is very strongly fortified and can be held with comparatively few men, but from its great length takes many in the aggregate.
I propose when I do move to extend my left so as to control what is known as the South Side or Lynchburg and Petersburg road; then, if possible, to keep the Danville road cut. At the same time this move is made I want to send a force from 6,000 to 10,000 men against Wilmington. The way I propose to do this is to land the men north of Fort Fisher and hold that point. At the same time a large naval fleet will be assembled there and the iron-clads will run the batteries as they did at Mobile. This will give us the same control of the harbor of Wilmington that we now have of the harbor of Mobile.
What you are to do with the forces at your command I do not see. The difficulties of supplying your army, except when you are constantly moving beyond where you are, I plainly see. If it had not been for Price’s movements Canby could have sent 12,000 more men to Mobile. From your command on the MISSISSIPPI an equal number could have been taken. With these forces my idea would have been to divide them, sending one-half to Mobile and the other half to Savannah. You could then move, as proposed in your telegram, so as to threaten Macon and Augusta equally. Whichever was abandoned by the enemy you could take and open up a new base of supplies. My object now in sending a staff officer is not so much to suggest operations for you as to get your views and have plans matured by the time everything can be got ready. It will probably be the 5th of October before any of the plans herein indicated will be executed.
If you have any promotions to recommend send the named forward and I will approve them. In conclusion, it is hardly necessary for me to say that I feel you have accomplished the most gigantic undertaking given to any general in this war, and with a skill and ability that will be acknowledged in history as unsurpassed, if not unequaled. It gives me as much pleasure to record this in your favor as it would in favor of any living man, myself included.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 154-5
O.R., I, xxxix, part 2, 364-5