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[217] not by any means a desperate one. Veteran troops are not so easily cut off in an open country.

The annotation upon the copy filed in the War Department of the order actually given to the troops on November 29 explains how that mistake occurred. In brief, the draft of an order prepared in writing for another purpose, but not issued, was by some unexplained blunder substituted for the oral orders actually dictated to a staff officer. It was an example of how the improvised staff of a volunteer army, like the ‘non-military agencies of government,’ may interfere with military operations.

The serious danger at Spring Hill ended at dark. The gallant action of Stanley and his one division at that place in the afternoon of November 29 cannot be overestimated or too highly praised. If the enemy had gained a position there in the afternoon which we could not have passed round in the night, the situation would then have become very serious. But, as I had calculated, the enemy did not have time to do that before dark, against Stanley's stubborn resistance.

The following, from the official records, has been quoted as an order from General Thomas to me, though I never received it, the enemy's cavalry having got possession of the road between Franklin and Spring Hill:

Nashville, November 29, 1864, 3:30 A. M.
Major-General Schofield, near Columbia:
Your despatches of 6 P. M. and 9 P. M. yesterday are received. I have directed General Hammond to halt his command at Spring Hill and report to you for orders, if he cannot communicate with General Wilson, and also instructing him to keep you well advised of the enemy's movements. I desire you to fall back from Columbia and take up your position at Franklin, leaving a sufficient force at Spring Hill to contest the enemy's progress until you are securely posted at Franklin. The troops at the fords below Williamsport, etc., will be withdrawn and take up a position behind Franklin. General A. J. Smith's

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