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[282] by the troops at Pulaski up to the very last moment of safety except by reference to Thomas's orders to Stanley and me, and the subsequent correspondence on that subject. Stanley, with the blunt frankness justified by comradeship, had pointed it out to me the moment we met at Pulaski, while I was governed by the utmost delicacy in discussing the question with General Thomas, so as to avoid suggesting to him that he had made a mistake. Yet so evident was the mistake that I stopped the advance of the Twenty-third Corps some miles north of Pulaski, and no part of that corps actually went to that place. Cox was sent back to a point where he could interpose between Hood and Columbia, and Ruger was stopped at Columbia.

The great tenacity with which I held on at Columbia and on the north bank of Duck River could not have been justified except by reference to the despatches showing Thomas's wishes and his assurance of reinforcements at those points. If I had been free to do so, nothing could have been plainer than my duty to have fallen back behind the Harpeth when I found that Thomas could not or would not reinforce me on the line of Duck River, and before Hood could endanger my retreat. Hence I was compelled to include in the history of that retreat the entire record of facts relating to it.

Again, necessity was the only possible excuse for fighting the battle of Franklin on the south side of the Harpeth, where defeat would have been disastrous; and that necessity had arisen absolutely and solely from the want of a bridge across that river, which I had suggested that General Thomas place there. It was not possible for me, without utter disregard for the truth of history as well as for my own military reputation, to attempt to conceal those facts.

It must seem remarkable that in my report, dated December 7, of operations from November 14 to December

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