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[3] and sallying forth from Atlanta through the heart of Georgia, to capture one or more of the great Atlantic seaports. This I renewed from Gaylesville, modified somewhat by the change of events.

On the twenty-sixth of October, satisfied that Hood had moved westward from Gadsden across Sand Mountain, I detached the Fourth corps, Major-General Stanley, and ordered him to proceed to Chattanooga and report to Major-General Thomas at Nashville.

Subsequently, on the thirtieth of October, I also detached the Twenty-third corps, Major-General Schofield, with the same destination; and delegated to Major-General Thomas full power over all the troops subject to my command, except the four corps with which I designed to move into Georgia. This gave him the two divisions under A. J. Smith, then in Missouri, but en route for Tennessee, the two corps named, and all the garrisons in Tennessee, as also all the cavalry of my military division, except one division under Brigadier-General Kilpatrick, which was ordered to rendezvous at Marietta.

Brevet Major-General Wilson had arrived from the army of the Potomac, to assume command of the cavalry of my army, and I dispatched him back to Nashville with all dismounted detachments, and orders as rapidly as possible to collect the cavalry serving in Kentucky and Tennessee, to mount, organize, and equip them, and report to Major-General Thomas for duty. These forces I judged would enable General Thomas to defend the railroad from Chattanooga back, including Nashville and Decatur, and give him an army with which he could successfully cope with Hood, should the latter cross the Tennessee northward.

By the first of November, Hood's army had moved from Gadsden, and made its appearance in the neighborhood of Decatur, where a feint was made; he then passed on to Tuscumbia, and laid a pontoon-bridge opposite Florence. I then began my preparations for the march through Georgia, having received the sanction of the Commander-in-Chief for carrying into effect my plan, the details of which were explained to all my corps commanders and heads of staff departments, with strict injunctions of secrecy. I had also communicated full details to General Thomas, and had informed him, I would not leave the neighborhood of Kingston until he felt perfectly confident that he was entirely prepared to cope with Hood, should he carry into effect his threatened invasion of Tennessee and Kentucky. I estimated Hood's force at thirty-five thousand infantry, and ten thousand cavalry.

I moved the army of the Tennessee by slow and easy matches on the south of the Coosa back to the neighborhood of Smyrna campground; and the Fourteenth corps, General Jeff. C. Davis, to Kingston, whither I repaired in person on the second of November. From that point I directed all surplus artillery, all baggage not needed for my contemplated march, all the sick and wounded, refugees, etc., to be sent back to Chattanooga; and the Fourth corps above mentioned, with Kilpatrick's cavalry, were put in the most efficient condition possible for a long and difficult march. This operation consumed the time until the eleventh of November, when, every thing being ready, I ordered General Corse, who still remained at Rome, to destroy the bridges there, all foundries, mills, shops, warehouses, or other property that could be useful to an enemy, and to move to Kingston.

At the same time the railroad in and about Atlanta, and between the Etowah and the Chattahoochee was ordered to be utterly destroyed. The garrisons from Kingston northward were also ordered to draw back to Chattanooga, taking with them all public property and all railroad stock, and to take up the rails from Resaca back, saving them, ready to be replaced whenever future interests should demand.

The railroad between the Etowah and the Oostenaula was left untouched, because I thought it more than probable we would find it necessary to reoccupy the country as far forward as the line of the Etowah.

Atlanta itself is only of strategic value as long as it is a railroad centre; and as all the railroads leading to it are destroyed, as well as all its foundries, machine-shops, warehouses, depots, etc., etc., it is of no more value than any other point in North-Georgia; whereas, the line of the Etowah, by reason of its rivers and natural features, possesses an importance which will always continue. From it all parts of Georgia and Alabama can be reached by armies marching with trains down the Coosa or the Chattahoochee valleys.

On the twelfth of November, my army stood detached and cut off from all communication with the rear. It was composed of four corps: the Fifteenth and Seventeenth, constituting the right wing, under Major-General O. O. Howard; the Fourteenth and Twentieth corps, constituting the left wing, under Major-General H. W. Slocum, of an aggregate strength of sixty thousand infantry, one cavalry division, in aggregate strength five thousand five hundred, under Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick, and the artillery reduced to the minimum, one gun per one thousand men.

The whole force was moved rapidly, and grouped about Atlanta on the fourteenth November.

In the mean time, Captain O. M. Poe had thoroughly destroyed Atlanta, save its mere dwelling-houses and churches, and the right wing, with General Kilpatrick's cavalry, was put in motion in the direction of Jonesboro and Mc-Donough, with orders to make a strong feint on Macon, to cross the Ocmulgee about Planters' Mills, and rendezvous in the neighborhood of Gordon in seven days, exclusive of the day of march. On the same day, General Slocum moved with the Twentieth corps by Decatur and Stone Mountain, with orders to tear up the railroad from Social Circle to Madison, to burn the large and important railroad-bridge across the Oconee,

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