HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE OHIO,
In the Field, Columbia, December 27, 1864.
Lieut. Gen. U.S. GRANT,
Commanding U. S. Armies, City Point, Va.:
GENERAL: My corps was sent back to Tennessee by General Sherman instead of remaining with him on his march through Georgia, according to his original design, for two reasons, viz: First, because General Thomas was not regarded strong enough after it became evident that Hood designed to invade Tennessee, and, second, in order that I might fill up my corps from the new troops then arriving in Tennessee. These reasons now no longer exist. By uniting my troops to Stanley’s we were able to hold Hood in check at Columbia and Franklin until General Thomas could concentrate at Nashville and also to give Hood his deathblow at Franklin. Subsequent operations have shown how little fight was then left in his army, and have taken that little out of it. He now has not more than 15,000 infantry, about 10,000 of whom only are armed, and they greatly demoralized. With time to reorganize and recruit he could not probably raise his force to more than half the strength he had at Franklin. General Thomas has assigned several new regiments to my command, and I hope soon to make them effective, by distributing them in old brigades. I will have from 15,000 to 18,000 effective men, two-thirds of whom are the veterans of the campaign in East Tennessee and Georgia. A small force, it is true, yet one which would at least be an appreciable addition to your army in Virginia or elsewhere, where decisive work is to be done. It may not be practicable now for me to join General Sherman, but it would not be difficult to transfer my command to Virginia. I am aware that General Thomas contemplates a “spring campaign” into Alabama or Mississippi, with the Tennessee River as a base, and believe he considers my command a necessary part of the operating force.
Without reference to the latter point permit me to express the opinion that such a campaign would not be an economical or advantageous use of so many troops. If aggressive operations are to be continued in the Gulf States, it appears to me it would be much better to take Mobile, and operate from that point, thus striking vital points (if there are any such) of rebel territory by much shorter lines. But it appears to me that Lee’s army is virtually all that is left of the rebellion. If we can concentrate force enough to destroy that we will destroy with it the rebel Government, <ar94_378> and the occupation of the whole South will then be but a matter of a few weeks’ time. Excuse, general, the liberty I have taken in expressing my views thus freely and unsolicited. I have no other motive than a desire for the nation’s good and a personal wish to serve where my little command can do the most. The change I suggest would, of course, deprive me of my department command; but this would be a small loss to me or to the service. The present arrangement is an unsatisfactory one at best. Nominally, I command both a department and an army in the field; but in fact, I do neither.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. SCHOFIELD,
O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME XLV/2 [S# 94]
UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN KENTUCKY, SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND NORTH GEORGIA, FROM DECEMBER 1, 1864, TO JANUARY 23, 1865.(*)–#15