On October 9, 1864 Sherman was still in pursuit of Hood but he recognized the futility of such operations to protect his railroad supply lines, as he made clear in a telegram to Grant on that date:
It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hood’s movements indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma & Talladega road, at Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I propose that we break up the railroad from Ohattanooga forward, and that we strike out with our wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless for us to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people, will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl! We have on hand over eight thousand head of cattle and three million rations of bread, but no corn. We can find plenty of forage in the interior of the State.
Sherman had learned in his march to Meridian, Mississippi how easy it was to live off the land in the dead of winter in February 1864 in an agriculturally rich country. How much easier to do so after the harvest had just been gathered, as would be the case in a fall march across Georgia. Union military operations had been hampered and limited since the outset of the War by the necessity of maintaining and protecting Union supply lines in the teeth of aggressive Confederate raiding. Now Sherman realized that such protection of supply lines was not necessary if the goal was to destroy rather than to hold territory. He had a war winning theory, and he would soon get to put it into practice.