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[202] If Hood's entire army should advance, you must use your own discretion as to holding the fortifications at Pulaski or withdrawing the troops.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General.

General Thomas thus gave me the full freedom of action demanded by the situation in which I was placed, in lieu of his previous embarrassing orders about fighting the enemy at Pulaski.

The following correspondence,1 with the above, shows the situation as reported by me to General Thomas, and his ‘plans and wishes’ as then explained to me immediately before and after Hood began his advance:

Thomas to Schofield.

November 24, 1864.
. . . Have the fords above Columbia as well guarded as you can, and I think you will then have checked the advance of Hood, and we shall have time to get up our reinforcements.

Schofield to Thomas.

November 24, 1864, 1:39 P. M.
Do you think it important to hold Columbia? My force is not large enough to cover the town and railroad bridge. I can hold a shorter line covering the railroad bridge, leaving the town and railroad depot outside; but in any case the enemy can turn the position by crossing above or below, and render my withdrawal to the north bank very difficult. Please give me your views soon.

Thomas to Schofield.

November 24, 1864.
If you cannot hold Columbia, you had better withdraw to the north bank of the river. From the description given I supposed the line was sufficiently short to enable you and Stanley to hold it securely and have a reserve. But it is better, of course, to substantially check the enemy than to run the risk of defeat by risking too much. Where is Stanley? Is he with you?

1 War Records, Vol. XLV, part i.

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