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[238] General Grant's confidence, which belief has since been fully justified by the record. This, as I conceived, imposed upon me the duty of responding at once to General Thomas's request for advice, without waiting for the junior members of the council, according to the usual military custom. Hence I immediately replied: ‘General Thomas, I will sustain you in your determination not to fight until you are fully ready.’ All the other commanders then promptly expressed their concurrence.

I do not know whether or not my declaration of purpose to sustain General Thomas was made known to General Grant, or to any one in Washington, either then or afterward. I have never made any inquiry on that subject. Of course such information must have been conveyed confidentially and indirectly, if at all, and hence would probably not appear in the official records, though despatches and letters marked ‘confidential’ are sometimes published as official. I have only conjectured that some knowledge of my opinion and decision may, perhaps, have influenced General Grant's final determination to go to Nashville himself. If some officer must go there to fight a battle, Grant could get there about as soon as any other he could well select. The records now published seem to verify the belief then (December 9, 1864) existing in my mind, that I had only to withhold my support from General Thomas in his determination to delay, and the chief command would have fallen to my fortune, where I believed brilliant victory was as nearly certain as anything in war can be. But I never had the remotest idea of superseding General Thomas. As I explained to General Sherman, I volunteered to go back to Tennessee, not to supersede Thomas, but to help him. I knew him and his subordinates well, as I did also the antagonist, my West Point classmate, whom they would have to meet. I appreciated Thomas's high qualities, his distinguished services, and, above all, the

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