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[472] telegram to General Johnston, requesting positive information as to the General's plans and purposes, I gave my permission to issue the order relieving General Johnston and directing him to turn over to General Hood the command of the Army of Tennessee. I was so fully aware of the danger of changing commanders of an army while actively engaged with the enemy, that I overcame the objection only in view of an emergency, and in the hope that the impending danger of the loss of Atlanta might be averted.

The following extracts are made from a letter of the Hon. Benjamin H. Hill of Georgia, written at Atlanta October 12, 1878, and handed to me by the friend to whom it was addressed:

On Wednesday or Thursday, I think the 28th or 29th of June, 1864, a messenger came to my house, sent, as he said, by General Johnston, Senator Wigfall, of Texas, and Governor Brown, of Georgia.

The purpose of his mission, as he explained, was to persuade me to write a letter to President Davis urging him to order either Morgan or Forrest with five thousand men into Sherman's rear, etc. . . .

The result of this interview was a determination on my part to go at once to see General Johnston, and place myself at his service. I reached his headquarters near Marietta, on the line of the Kenesaw, on Friday morning, which was the last day of June or the first day of July. We had a full and free interview, and I placed myself unreservedly at his disposal.

He explained at length that he could not attack General Sherman's army in their intrenchments, nor could he prevent Sherman from ditching round his (Johnston's) flank and compelling his retreat.

The only method of arresting Sherman's advance was to send a force into his rear, cut off his supplies, and thus compel Sherman either to give battle on his (Johnston's) terms or retreat. In either case, he thought, he could defeat Sherman, and probably destroy his army.

I said to him, ‘As you do not propose to attack General Sherman in his intrenchments, could you not spare a sufficient number of your present army, under Wheeler or some other, to accomplish this work?’

He said he could not—that he needed all the force he had in front.

He then said that General Morgan was at Abingdon, Virginia, with five thousand cavalry, and, if the President would so order, this force could be sent into Sherman's rear at once.

He also said that Stephen D. Lee had sixteen thousand men under him in Mississippi, including the troops under Forrest and Roddy, and that, if Morgan could not be sent, five thousand of those under Forrest could do the work. Either Morgan or Forrest, with five thousand men, could compel Sherman to fight at a disadvantage or retreat, and there was no reason why either should not be sent if the President should give the order. He explained that he (General Johnston) had had a consultation with Senator Wigfall and Governor Brown, the result of which was the messenger to me to secure my cooperation to influence President

Davis to make the order. I repelled the idea that any influence with the

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