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[274] saddle from daylight till dark, to carry that information to the commanding general in person, and try to convince him of its correctness.

A single word signifies sometimes much more than is imagined by him who uses it. If General Thomas had said resumed instead of ‘continued,’ his statement of what he said he ‘directed’ would have corresponded very nearly with what was actually done after those directions were given on December 16. But the continuation, at 3 or 4 P. M. of one day, of action which had been suspended at nightfall the preceding day, hardly accords with the rule of accuracy which is demanded in maturely considered military reports. Indeed, when a military movement is suspended at nightfall on account of darkness, it is properly spoken of as resumed, not ‘continued,’ even at daylight. The word ‘continued’ was used to express what was directed to be done at three or four o'clock in the afternoon—‘the movement against the enemy's left flank’ which was not any movement that had been going on that day and which could therefore be continued, but the movement which, in fact, had ended the day before in a very important success which had materially altered the military situation under which the orders for the previous day had been given. Hence this use of the word ‘continued’ furnishes food for thought. To have resumed, some time in the afternoon, those operations of the preceding day would have been to state that they had been suspended, not only during the night on account of darkness, but during the greater part of the next day for no apparent reason. That would have been manifestly inconsistent with the theory that the operations of the second day were only a continuation of those of the first, all in accordance with the plan of battle published two days before, upon which theory the reports of General Thomas and of some of the sub-commanders appear to have been based. The logical conclusion

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George H. Thomas (2)
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