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‘ [478] described by words,’1 which its execution would inflict on helpless women and infant children. His only reply was:
I give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned by it, and yet shall not revoke my order, because my orders are not designed to meet the humanities of the case.

At the time appointed, the women and children were expelled from their houses, and, before they were passed within our lines, complaint was generally made that the Federal officers and men who were sent to guard them had robbed them of the few articles of value they had been permitted to take from their homes. The cowardly dishonesty of its executioners was in perfect harmony with the temper and spirit of the order.

During the month of September the Federal army in and around Atlanta made no movement beyond strengthening its defenses and collecting within it large quantities of military supplies. General Hood, meantime, held his troops in the vicinity of Jonesboro. His reports to the War Department represented the morale of his army as ‘greatly impaired by the recurrence of retreat,’ decreasing in numbers day by day, and the surrounding country devoid of natural strength or any advantageous position upon which he could retire. With a view to judging the situation better, and then determining after personal inspection the course which should seem best to pursue, I visited General Hood's headquarters at Palmetto. The crisis was grave. It was not to be expected that General Sherman would remain long inactive. The rapidity with which he was collecting recruits and supplies at Atlanta indicated that he contemplated a movement farther south, making Atlanta a secondary base. To rescue Georgia, save the Gulf states, and retain possession of the lines of communication upon which we depended for the supplies of our armies in the field, an effort to arrest the further progress of the enemy was necessary; to this end the railroads in his rear must be effectually torn up, the great railroad bridge over the Tennessee River at Bridgeport destroyed, and the communication between Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville completely cut off. If this could be accomplished, all the fruits of Sherman's successful campaign in Georgia would be blighted, his capture of Atlanta would become a barren victory, and he would probably be compelled to make a retreat toward Tennessee, at every mile of which he might be harassed by our army. Or, should he, relying on Atlanta as a base, push forward through Georgia to the Atlantic coast, our army, having cut his communications north of Atlanta, could fall upon his rear, and, with the advantages of a better

1 Mayor Calhoun's petition to General Sherman, September 11, 1864.

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