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[207] from him. I have succeeded in getting your cipher of the 25th translated. I believe your dispositions are wise.

It appears from his despatch of November 25 that Thomas hoped we might be able to hold the line of Duck River from Columbia as far east as Shelbyville, as well as west to the Tennessee River. Although this proved to be impracticable on account of the enemy's superiority in cavalry at that time, the point (Murfreesboroa) which Thomas had selected for his concentration was far enough in the rear of that line (Duck River) to make the concentration certain if orders were given in due time.

I learned in the afternoon of November 27, by General Thomas's despatch of 8 A. M., already quoted, that A. J. Smith's troops were not, as I had supposed, already in Nashville, but that some of them were expected there that day, and would come forward to join me at once.

In the morning of November 28, at 8:45, I reported my withdrawal to the north side of the river, saying:

My troops and material are all on the north side of Duck River. The withdrawal was completed at daylight this morning without serious difficulty. Cox holds the ford in front of Columbia, and Ruger the railroad bridge, which I partially destroyed. Stanley is going into position a short distance in rear of Cox. I think I can now stop Hood's advance by any line near this, and meet in time any distant movement to turn my position. I regret extremely the necessity of withdrawing from Columbia, but believe it was absolute. I will explain fully in time. Reinforcements will have to march from Spring Hill or Thompson's Station. Supplies should be sent to Thompson's Station.

After withdrawing to the north bank of Duck River I telegraphed on the morning of November 28:

I am in doubt whether it is advisable, with reference to future operations, to hold this position or to retire to some point from

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