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[321]
With the troops thus left at his disposal, there was little doubt that General Thomas could hold the line of the Tennessee, or, in the event Hood should force it, would be able to concentrate and beat him in battle. It was therefore readily consented to that Sherman should start for the sea-coast.

General Sherman also omits to make any reference in his ‘Memoirs’ to the despatches respecting a possible long siege of Nashville, Chattanooga, and Decatur; but he says in a despatch of November 2 to Grant, quoted in his ‘Memoirs’:

If I turn back, the whole effect of my campaign will be lost. By my movements I have thrown Beauregard [Hood] well to the west, and Thomas will have ample time and sufficient troops to hold him until the reinforcements from Missouri reach him. We have now ample supplies at Chattanooga and Atlanta, and can stand a month's interruption to our communications. I do not believe the Confederate army can reach our railroad lines except by cavalry raids, and Wilson will have cavalry enough to checkmate them. I am clearly of opinion that the best results will follow my contemplated movement through Georgia.

The following language is found in a despatch dated November 11, midnight, from Sherman to Thomas, which is especially important as giving the last expression of his views of the situation, and of what Thomas would be able to do after Sherman started for the sea:

I can hardly believe that Beauregard would attempt to work against Nashville from Corinth as a base at this stage of the war, but all information seems to point that way. If he does, you will whip him out of his boots; but I rather think you will find commotion in his camp in a day or two. Last night we burned Rome, and in two or more days will burn Atlanta; and he must discover that I am not retreating, but, on the contrary, fighting for the very heart of Georgia. . . . These [some Confederate movements about Rome and Atlanta] also seem to indicate that Beauregard expects me to retreat. . . . To-morrow I begin the movement laid down in my Special Field Orders, No. 115, and shall keep things moving thereafter. . . . By using detachments

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