to get in my rear at Spring Hill
, but one to dislodge me from my position on Duck River
by defeating me in open battle.
But I believed I could fight Hood
, even where I was, from noon until dark, and then retreat to Spring Hill
in the night.
At least I was willing to try it rather than disappoint the expectation of General Thomas
that I would hold Hood
in check until he could concentrate his reinforcements.
It seems to me clear that Hood
's best chance at Duck River
was to force a general engagement as early in the day as possible, so as to occupy the attention of all my infantry while his superior cavalry was sent to occupy some point in my rear, and try to cut off my retreat in the night.
did not appreciate the very great advantage a retreating army has in the exclusive use of the best roads at night, especially when the nights are long and the days correspondingly short—an advantage which cannot be overcome by any superiority of numbers in the pursuing force, except by a rapid circuitous march of a detachment.
As illustrating my accurate knowledge of Hood
's character before we ever met in battle, the following incident seems worthy of mention.
's army, after crossing the Chattahoochee River
, was advancing on Atlanta
,—my troops being in the center,—General Sherman
was on the main road, a little in rear of me. My advance-guard sent back to me an Atlanta paper containing an account of the visit of President Davis
, and the order relieving General Johnston
and assigning General Hood
to the command of the army.
erroneously says one of General Thomas
's staff officers brought him that paper.
was then off to the right, on another road.
I stopped until Sherman
came up, and handed him the paper.
After reading it he said, in nearly, if not exactly, the following words: ‘Schofield
, do you know Hood
What sort of a fellow ’