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[128] by assault; many more where the assault failed; and, I believe, not one case where intrenchments carefully prepared in advance, with obstructions in front, and defended by a force commensurate with the extent of the line, like those at Resaca, were successfully assaulted.

It is true that McPherson's force was vastly superior to the single brigade that held Resaca that day, but that practically amounts to nothing. A single division would have been as good for such an assault as two corps. Beyond a reasonable proportion, say of three or four to one, numbers amount to nothing in making such an assault. It would be physically possible for numbers to succeed in such a case if their immediate commander was willing to sacrifice them and they were willing to be sacrificed. But considering the general unwillingness among commanders and men to sacrifice or to be sacrificed beyond what seems to them a reasonable expenditure of life for the object to be gained, success is morally impossible, or very nearly so, in an assault such as would have been required to capture Resaca on May 9, 1864. Clearly, such an assault should not be attempted except as the only chance of victory; and then the subordinate officers and men should be clearly informed precisely what they are expected to do, and made to understand the necessity for so great and unusual a sacrifice. In that case brave and true men will make the sacrifice required, provided their pluck holds out long enough; and that no man is wise enough to predict, even of himself, much less of a large number of men.

The only chance of success was to invest Resaca on the west and north, and put between the investing line and Dalton troops enough to hold their ground against the main body of Johnston's army; and this must have been done in a single day, starting from the debouche of Snake Creek Gap, the troops moving by a single, common country road. Johnston's whole army, except a

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Resaca (Georgia, United States) (4)
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Joseph E. Johnston (2)
James B. McPherson (1)
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May 9th, 1864 AD (1)
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