by steamer, and thence by telegraph to St. Louis
, the place from which Grant
's army drew its supplies.
A cipher despatch sent under the circumstances from Grant
to me, who was not at that time under his command, must necessarily be of great importance.
My staff officer at once informed me that it was in some key different from that we had in use. So I took the thing in hand myself, and went to work by the simplest possible process, but one sure to lead to the correct result in time—that is, to make all possible arrangements of the words until one was found that would convey a rational meaning.
Commencing about 3 P. M., I reached the desired result at three in the morning. Early that day a steamer was on the way down the river with the supplies Grant
I never told the general how he came to get his supplies so promptly, but I imagined I knew why he had telegraphed to me rather than to the quartermaster whose duty it was to furnish supplies for his army—and a most capable and efficient quartermaster he was. I had only a short time before voluntarily sent General Grant
5000 men, and I inferred that there was some connection between the incidents.
The immense change in the whole military situation which was produced in a few minutes at Franklin
(for the contest there was in fact decided in that time, by the recovery of the breach in the line), and that by a battle which had not been contemplated by either General Thomas
or myself (that is, on the south side of the Harpeth River
, with that stream in the rear of the army), nor yet by General Hood
until he saw the apparent opportunity to destroy his adversary; and the fact that that dangerous situation had been produced and the battle rendered necessary by slight accidents or mistakes which might easily have been foreseen or avoided, cannot, it seems to me, but produce in every thoughtful mind some reflection upon the influence exercised by what is called