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[211] At the same time Ruger was directed to order his troops guarding the river below to march at once for Franklin.

But very soon after those orders were issued—that is, soon after 8 A. M.—a courier from Franklin brought me the two following despatches from General Thomas:

Franklin, November 28, 1864. (By telegraph from Nashville. 9 P. M.)
To Major-General Schofield:
If you are confident you can hold your present position, I wish you to do so until I can get General Smith here. After his arrival we can withdraw gradually and invite Hood across Duck River, and fall upon him with our whole force, or wait until Wilson can organize his entire cavalry force, and then withdraw from your present position. Should Hood then cross river, we can surely ruin him. You may have fords at Centreville, Bean's [Beard's] Ferry, Gordon's Ferry, and Williamsport thoroughly obstructed by filling up all the roads leading from them with trees, and then replace your infantry by cavalry. Send an intelligent staff officer to see that the work is properly done. As soon as relieved, concentrate your infantry; the cavalry will be able to retard, if not prevent, Hood's crossing, after the roads are thoroughly obstructed, if they do their duty. The road leading from Centreville to Nashville should be thoroughly obstructed. I am not sure but it would be a good plan to invite Hood across Duck River if we can get him to move toward Clarksville. Is there no convenience for unloading beyond Thompson's Station?

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General, Commanding.1

The published records give this despatch as having been sent at ‘8 P. M.’ The Department of the Cumberland records say that it was telegraphed in cipher to Franklin at 9 P. M., and there deciphered and sent by courier to my position near Columbia. The records do not show the hour of receipt by me; but my reply to General Thomas of 8:30 A. M., November 29, and my orders to Ruger of 8 and 8:45 A. M., and to Stanley before

1 War Records, Vol. XLV, part i, p. 1108.

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