Most of all, he had to keep a firm eye on his strategic goal, to get from Atlanta to the sea, and then to move north to meet up with Grant. This goal would take precedence over secondary targets, such as taking a city like Augusta; it was the end point that must not be forgotten. All else was a means to an end.The sentence I highlighted above could be a motto for a successful life, let alone an effective and principled way to wage war. It can apply broadly to any goal-directed action. Do you want to find a new job? Save for a vacation? Write a book? Lose weight? Identify your goal, your long-range purpose, develop an integrated strategy taking into account all variables, possible conflicts, and most importantly your principles, and then keep your eyes open for any tactical measures that will move you relentlessly toward your goal.
These observations allowed him to adopt a strategy of "multiple objectives." His goal was the sea and then Lee's army in the north; these were certain. But he left open where he would arrive at the sea; this could depend on circumstances. Major Thomas Osborn wrote that no one—from the generals to line officers—knew Sherman's destination, but "no one had any misgivings about the success." Scipio may have used the same approach when planning the assault on New Carthage, and later when moving by sea to the coast of Africa; the particular terminus could be left open. For both commanders, a firm goal and fluid actions to attain that goal were not incompatible; flexible tactics within an integrated strategy could achieve an inflexible purpose. In this way he could keep the enemy off guard and unsure of where he was going. "I can take so eccentric a course" Sherman wrote "that no general can guess my path." [italics in original, bold added]
Note that this is in no way being pragmatic. An integrated strategy means that it relies on principles, values, and morals, and any particular tactic that would violate those would not ultimately move one closer to his goal. The moral is the practical when one's morality is egoistic and one acts based on reason.
A firm goal and fluid actions to attain that goal are not incompatible; flexible tactics within an integrated strategy can achieve an inflexible purpose.