“The Georgia Campaign – Atlanta – It’s Military Importance”

new york herald

July 21, 1864

Collection: The Civil War
Publication: The New York Herald
Date: July 21, 1864
Title: TheGeorgiaCampaign – Atlanta – Its Military Importance.
TheGeorgiaCampaign – Atlanta – Its Military Importance.
There no longer remains a doubt of the speedy occupation of
Atlanta by the great Western army of General Sherman. Over the
exceedingly difficult mountainous region from Chattanooga to
the Chattahoochee, for more than one hundred miles, it has
pressed the defensive army of Joe Johnston, by fighting and
flanking, from one strong position to another, till not another
is left him. He is now in a comparatively open country, and by
the superior forces of Sherman may be readily expelled from or
enveloped in any place of shelter to which he may retreat. Of
this daring movement of Sherman, far into the interior of
the confederacy,”the Atlanta Appeal says is certainly the
boldest, not to say the most reckless, on record, not even
excepting the advance of Napoleon upon Moscow;”that an
opportunity for destroying or annihilating an army has never
been offered to an opposing foe,”and that something is not
now done in the gobbling up business we shall think there is a
sad want of combination and cooperation among our military
leaders.”
But this campaign has shown that the insuperable difficulty
to Johnston has not been and is not the want on his part of
hard fighting nor of skilful combinations or cooperation, but
the want of men, which the exhausted confederacy can no longer
supply. Herein lies the unfailing advantage which has enabled
General Sherman to advance to Atlanta over the most difficult
region east of the Rocky Mountains to an invading army, and to
overcome the most formidable defensive positions that military
ingenuity could devise. We have, too, in this superior
strength of Shermanarmy – which can be constantly
reinforced, against an inferior army which cannot be
replenished – a satisfactory guaranty that the game is in his
hands. We come, then, to the inquiry, what are the military
advantages to be gained by General Sherman in gaining Atlanta,
and in what direction from this point will he resume his line
of march?
We answer, first, that in gaining Atlanta we gain the
important centre from which radiates the whole railroad system
of Northern Georgia, and we gain the various military furnaces,
foundries, machine shops and factories established at that
point by the enemy since the beginning of the war. In the
destruction of these manufacturing establishments and the
railroads around the town, together with employment given to
Johnstonarmy, it is believed that, in a military view, we
shall be fully compensated for all the costs of General
Shermancampaign. But the great object here secured by
Sherman is a new base for his future operations, from which by
rail he may move east, west or south, as circumstances may
invite or demand.
In what direction he will resume his line of march will
depend very materially upon the line of retreat that may be
adopted by Johnston. With the demolition and dispersion of
Johnstonarmy, Sherman may move with impunity in any
direction he pleases; for in fact the rebellion from Georgia to
the Mississippi river on the one hand, and to the Gulf on the
other, will be vanquished. Sherman, then, to secure this
crowning result, will continue to follow up Joe Johnston, or
Bragg – if it be true, as reported, that the latter has so far
risen again in favor at Richmond as to recover his old
position, while the former has so far fallen from grace as to
lose it. In any event, the destruction of the rebel army of
Georgia being the grand object of Shermancampaign, it will
be pursued till accomplished. The direction, therefore, in
which that army may retreat from Atlanta will be the next
movement of Sherman.
We conjecture that in order to maintain his communications
with Richmond, Johnston, or Bragg, as the case may be, will
move eastward to Augusta, on the Savannah river. As if in
anticipation of this necessity, it appears that large
quantities of the rebel army supplies have already been moved
from Atlanta to Augusta. The distance between the two points
is one hundred and seventy miles, over a favorable country for
an advancing army, both in regard to its topography and its
abundant supplies. There is no stream along the whole route
which may not be forded at almost any point, or bridged in an
hour in half a dozen places, by such an army as that of
Sherman, and there are no mountains or defiles or swamps in
the way, where a small force may hold in check a large one. The
march for Augusta, therefore, will probably be a race between
the retreating and pursuing army, and, whether broken up en
route, or driven over the Savannah into South Carolina, the
enemy, in losing Augusta, will have no railway communication
left between the States north and those south of the Savannah
river except the solitary remaining connection by way of the
city of Savannah.
With the occupation of Augusta and Savannah not a single
rebel railway train from Richmond, or Raleigh, or Charleston,
can pass beyond theGeorgia border. The safety of Augusta and
Savannah, accordingly, now devolves upon the rebel army of
Georgia; and Shermangrand campaign, we dare say, will not
end short of Savannah or Charleston.

 

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