Tuesday, May 13, 2014

March 21, 1864 (Friday): News of Changes In Command Reaches Bragg and Johnston

RICHMOND, March 21, 1864.
    Recent Northern papers report Grant superseded Halleck, who becomes chif of staff. Sherman takes Grant's command. Your dispatch of 19th* does not indicate an acceptance of the plan proposed. The troops can only be drawn from other points for advance. Upon your decision of that point further action must depend.+


*See VOL. XXXII, Part III, p. 653. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 654.

It is interesting to think often the best intelligence source available to either government was the newspapers published in the other's territory.  In this case, the papers accurately describe a series of moves in the management of the Union armies which would greatly strengthen them.  Halleck was an able logistical administrator, but no strategist.  Grant could not be whipped and would respond instinctively to challenges by pressing his advantages in men and material.  And Sherman was destruction personified.  If his means violated the accepted codes of warfare they also served to demoralize the civilian populations within a considerable distance of his troops.  Much of the Union's success in 1864-1865 would rest on their shoulders.


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