scattered from Eastport to Jackson, Paris, and the lower Tennessee; and General Thomas reports the capture by him of a gunboat and five transports.
General Thomas has near Athens and Pulaski Stanley's corps, about 15,000 strong, and Schofield's corps, 10,000, en route by rail, and has at least 20,000 to 25,000 men, with new regiments and conscripts arriving all the time; also Rosecrans promises the two divisions of Smith and Mower belonging to me, but I doubt if they can reach Tennessee in less than ten days. If I were to let go Atlanta and north Georgia and make for Hood, he would, as he did here, retreat to the southwest, leaving his militia, now assembling at Macon and Griffin, to occupy our conquests, and the work of last summer would be lost.
I have retained about 50,000 good troops, and have sent back full 25,000; and having instructed General Thomas to hold defensively Nashville, Chattanooga, and Decatur, all strongly fortified and provisioned for a long siege, I will destroy all the railroads of Georgia and do as much substantial damage as is possible, reaching the sea-coast near one of the points hitherto indicated, trusting that General Thomas, with his present troops and the influx of new troops promised, will be able in a very few days to assume the offensive.
Hood's cavalry may do a good deal of damage, and I have sent Wilson back with all dismounted cavalry, retaining only about 4500.
This is the best I can do, and shall, therefore, when I can get to Atlanta the necessary stores, move as soon as possible.
To that despatch General Grant
replied, November 2:
Your despatch of 9 A. M. yesterday is just received.
I despatched you the same date, advising that Hood's army, now that it had worked so far north, be looked upon more as the objective.
With the force, however, you have left with Thomas, he must be able to take care of Hood and destroy him. I do not really see that you can withdraw from where you are to follow Hood without giving up all we have gained in territory.
I say, then, go as you propose.
gave his assent to Sherman
's proposition that Nashville
, and Decatur
be held defensively, even during a long siege if necessary, instead of the line of the Tennessee
, as at first insisted on by General