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[185] rapidity and impetuosity of Hood's advance and assault add to that probability.

It is interesting to consider what would probably have been the march of events if we had retreated from Duck River in the night of November 28, upon first learning that Hood had forced the crossing of that river. We would have reached Franklin early on the 29th, could have rebuilt the bridges and crossed the Harpeth that day and night, and Hood could not have got up in time to make any serious attack that day. So far as our little army was concerned, for the moment all would have been well. But Hood would have been in front of Franklin, with his whole army, artillery, and ammunition-trains, by dawn of day on the 30th; he could have forced the crossing of the Harpeth above Franklin early that day, compelled us to retire to Nashville, and interposed his cavalry between Nashville and Murfreesboroa that night or early on December 1. Thus Thomas's remaining reinforcements from the south and east would have been cut off, and he might have been attacked in Nashville, not later than December 2, with several thousand fewer men than he finally had there, a large part of his army—A. J. Smith's three divisions—not fully ready for battle, and with fewer effective cavalry; while Hood would have had his whole army, fresh and spirited, without the losses and depression caused by its defeat at Franklin, ready to attack an inferior force at Nashville or to cross the Cumberland and invade Kentucky. In short, the day gained at Duck River and Spring Hill was indispensable to Thomas's success. The time gained by that ‘temerity’ made success possible. The additional time and relative strength gained by Hood's disastrous repulse at Franklin made final success easy and certain. A retreat at any time before nine o'clock A. M. on the 29th would have led to substantially the same result as if begun at 2 A. M.

If the plan adopted and ordered early in the morning of

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