Archer Jones, "Military Means, Political Ends" (1992)
Jones, Archer. "Military Means, Political Ends: Strategy," chap. 2 in Why the Confederacy Lost. ed. Gabor S. Boritt, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
During the early winter of 1863-64, Grant completed the formulation of a new strategy, one in which the Union would give up its reliance on the persisting strategy of territorial conquest but still pursue its logistic strategy of crippling the Rebel armies by depriving them of their supply base. Instead of a persisting strategy he would use raids to break the southern railroads and thus isolate the armies from the farms, factories, foundries, and ports that sustained them. Rather than using cavalry, he planned to rely primarily on infantry armies which had the manpower to do a thorough job of destruction. The armies would also live at Rebel expense and destroy agricultural and industrial resources as well as railroads.
By changing to raids, the Union would shift to a strategy in which the offensive dominated the defensive. Exploiting the ambiguity of the raiders' objectives and routes of advance and withdrawal, large armies could penetrate the South and do great damage as they moved through. Grant planned three such raids: one for the winter from southeastern Virginia through North Carolina would break the two railroads to Virginia and end with the capture of the port of Wilmington; another, for the spring and using troops from west of the Mississippi, would land to capture the port of Mobile, Alabama , and march inland to destroy the railroads and threaten Atlanta; and the third raid, originating in northern Georgia, would begin after the capture of Atlanta and go to the Atlantic or Gulf coast, breaking Georgia's railroads on the way to the coast.
In February, Sherman demonstrated the new strategy when he led 21,000 men, mostly infantry, on a 300-mile round trip march from Vicksburg to Meridian, Mississippi, to destroy the railroads, warehouses, and works. In wrecking 115 miles of track and destroying 61 bridges, he exhibited the raid's effectiveness in implementing a logistic strategy.
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