Observation of almost twenty years of service of this sort had impressed on my mind the belief that the soldiers of the regular army of the United States--almost all Northern men — were equal, in fighting qualities, to any that had been formed in the wars of Great Britain
. General Sherman
's troops, with whom we were contending, had received a longer training in war than any of those with whom I had served in former times.
It was not to be supposed that such troops, under a sagacious and resolute leader, and covered by intrenchments, were to be beaten by greatly inferior numbers.
I therefore thought it our policy to stand on the defensive, to spare the blood of our soldiers by fighting under cover habitually, and to attack only when bad position or division of the enemy's forces might give us advantages counterbalancing that of superior numbers.
So we held every position occupied until our communications were strongly threatened; then fell back only far enough to secure them, watching for opportunities to attack, keeping near enough to the Federal
army to assure the Confederate Administration
could not send reenforcements to Grant
, and hoping to reduce the odds against us by partial engagements.
A material reduction of the Federal
army might also be reasonably expected before the end of June, by the expiration of the terms of service of the regiments that had not reinlisted.
I was confident, too, that the Administration would see the expediency of employing Forrest
and his cavalry to break the enemy's railroad communications, by which he could have been defeated.