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[281] see that it was still occupied. It then returned, as if the object of the expedition had been accomplished.

On the 11th of February, intelligence was received from Lieutenant-General Polk that General Sherman was leading an army of thirty-five thousand infantry and artillery eastwardly from Vicksburg, had crossed Pearl River at Jackson, and was moving along the railroad toward Meridian. Mobile was assumed to be the object of this expedition. Orders by telegraph were received on the same day from the President, directing me to aid Lieutenant-General Polk, either by sending him reenforcements or by joining him myself “with what force I could.” The President urged that the enemy should be met before he had established a new base to which supplies and reinforcements might be sent by sea. I replied on the same day, and suggested that it would be impossible for troops from Dalton to meet this Federal army before it reached the Gulf, and therefore asked instructions in that view of the case. This dispatch did not reach the.President's hands, and on the 13th he asked me by telegraph what I could do toward striking at the enemy while in motion, and before he had established a new base. I replied that such an expedition would require two-thirds of the Army of Tennessee and would involve the abandonment of “that line.”

On the 16th I was instructed to “detach for temporary service, unless immediately threatened, enough infantry to enable Lieutenant-General Polk to beat the detachment which the enemy had thrown so far into the interior of our country.” My reply,

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