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[195] to be found in the War Records,1 fully show the earnest determination of General Thomas to send forward reinforcements as soon as possible, and even in detail, and to fight Hood at or near Columbia. Indeed, those despatches misled me somewhat as to what I might expect.

Notwithstanding this earnest desire, General Thomas does not appear to have realized the existence of a force available for the purpose he had in view, The railroad guards from Atlanta to Chattanooga or Dalton, withdrawn after Sherman started on his march, and convalescents, men returning from furlough and others going to the front, but failing to reach Sherman's army in time, all assembled at Chattanooga, made a surplus force at that point of about 7000 men.2 Some of these troops had been sent to East Tennessee, as well as all the mounted troops available in Kentucky, for the purpose of retrieving the disaster which had befallen the Tennessee military governor's troops there, under Gillem. But all sent from Chattanooga had been returned by November 21, about the time when Hood's advance from Florence had become certainly known. Yet it does not appear that General Thomas even inquired what force was available at Chattanooga until November 25, when, in reply to a telegram, he learned that Steedman could raise 5000 men (in fact, 7000), in addition to all necessary garrisons and guards, ‘to threaten enemy in rear,’ in case he should ‘get on Chattanooga railroad.’ It may then (November 25) have been too late to send those 5000 or 7000 men to the line of Duck River, or perhaps even to Franklin. They were sent to Nashville, reaching there after the battle of Franklin. If they had been ordered to Columbia by rail, via Nashville, as soon as Hood's advance was known to General Thomas, they must have reached Duck River some time before Hood attempted

1 See Vols. XXXIX and XLV.

2 See General Thomas's report: War Records, Vol. XLV, part i, p. 33.

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