This despatch does not appear upon any of the records as having been received by me. If it was telegraphed in cipher to Franklin, and there deciphered and sent by courier, the same time being occupied as with other such despatches, this should have reached me not long after noon. But the courier was probably driven back or captured by the enemy's cavalry, who had possession of the direct road, near Spring Hill, about noon. If any ‘orders’ had been necessary in such a case, they had been rendered unnecessary by Hood's movement to cross Duck River, of which I had already learned at 2 A. M. the same day (November 29). The only question in my mind that General Thomas could solve—namely, to what place I must retire—was settled by his despatch of 10:30 P. M., November 28, above quoted, received by me about 8 A. M. of the 29th. But there still remained the question when I must do it; and that I must solve myself, for General Thomas was much too far away, and communication was much too slow and uncertain, for him to give me any help on that subject. I had received information of Hood's movement at 2 A. M., six hours earlier, and I had had ample time to get out of his way before morning. After 8 A. M. it would, of course, not have been so easy. Yet a retreat to Franklin that day (November 29), commencing at eight or nine in the morning, and across the Harpeth that night, would not have been at all difficult or dangerous. There would have been some fighting with Hood's cavalry, but little or none with his infantry. Hood would
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1 War Records, Vol. XLV, part i, p. 1137.
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