The war in the west seems to be winding down, and as such, there are a great number of troops that could be safely sent east. These men could provide the final push to break the deadlock around Petersburg. I am sending Gen. Rawlins to make efforts in this direction. I wrote him,
CITY POINT, VA., October 29, 1864.
Brigadier General J. A. RAWLINS,
Chief of Staff:
The necessity of re-enforcing the armies actually confronting the principal armies of the enemy – Lee’s and Beauregard’s – is of such vital importance that you are selected to go West as bearer of orders intended to accomplish this end. Your position as chief of staff makes it proper to instruct you with authority to issue orders in the name of the lieutenant-general to further the object of your mission. Now that Price is retreating from Missouri, it is believed that the whole force sent to that State from other departments can be spared at once. The fact, however, that a considerable force is pursuing Price, and may go so far that some time may elapse before they can be returned to Missouri and be distributed for the proper protection of the State, has induced me to make two separate orders, one for the withdrawal only of the command of Major General A. J. Smith, the other embracing also the command of Major-General Mower. You will deliver whichever of these orders you may deem best; or, in case of doubt, telegraph to these headquarters for instruction. The destination of troops withdrawn will depend on circumstances. If it is found that the enemy, under Hood or Beauregard, have actually attempted an invasion of Tennessee, or those under Forrest are approaching the Ohio River, you will send them directly to Major-General Thomas, to confront and frustrate such movement. Under other circumstances, they will be send to join this army. The aim will be to get all the troops possible, especially veterans, with the armies operating against Richmond. General Sherman will be instructed that no force, except that already south of the Tennessee and such as General Canby can send, will be used between the Tennessee River and the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. If he goes south and draws Hood after him, he must take care of himself without the support of a pursuing column. I am satisfied on full and mature reflection that Sherman’s idea of striking across for the sea-coast is the best way to rid Tennessee and Kentucky of threatened danger, and to make the war felt. I do not believe that General Sherman can maintain his communications with Atlanta with his whole force. He can break such an extent of roads that the enemy will be effectually cut in two for several months, by which time Augusta and Savannah can be occupied. Augusta cuts the same line of road that Atlanta does, with the advantage of water communications with the Atlantic. This also has the advantage of cutting the southern line of railroads as well as the central.
You will remain in Missouri until all the troops ordered from there are actually in motion. If in your judgment any other troops than those mentioned in orders can be spared from there you will telegraph the fact here, and orders will be given for their removal.
Being all the time in telegraphic communication with headquarters, you will communicate regularly and ask for such instructions as suggest themselves to you from time to time.
U. S. GRANT,
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 363-4
O.R., I, xli, part 4, p 305-6