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[243] with a map of the position showing the exact length of the several parts of the enemy's line, and explained to him that the force he had assigned to our left wing was at least 10,000 men more than could be used to any advantage unless for a real attack; and that, on the other hand, Smith's force was not large enough for the real attack, considering the extent of the ground occupied by the enemy on that flank. Hence I suggested that my corps should support Smith instead of remaining on the left of Wood. To this suggestion General Thomas readily acceded, and orally authorized me to carry it into effect, but made no change in his written order. The result of this change of plan was that the close of the first day's engagement found the Twenty-third Corps on the extreme right of our infantry line, in the most advanced position captured from the enemy. Yet General Thomas, in his official report, made no mention of this change of plan, but said ‘the original plan of battle, with but few alterations, [was] strictly adhered to.’1 The ‘alterations’ were certainly ‘few.’ A change from 10,000 to 20,000 infantry in the main attacking force may not properly be described as many ‘alterations,’ but it looks like one very large one—sufficient, one would suppose, to determine the difference between failure and success.

The plan of battle issued December 14 had been matured and made known to the principal subordinate commanders several days before, when General Thomas intended to attack, but was prevented by the storm Hence there had been ample time for critical consideration and discussion of the details of that plan, the result of which was the modification made at the conference in the afternoon or evening of December 14, which modification was not embodied in the written order, but was orally directed to be carried out. If General Thomas had caused that clerical work to be done in the evening of December

1 War Records, Vol. XLV, part i, p. 39.

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