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[163] witnessed them with the intense interest of a young commander and student of the great art which has so often in the history of the world determined the destinies of nations.

After the capture of Atlanta, in September, 1864, General Sherman proposed to give his army rest for a month while he perfected his plans and preparations for a change of base to some point on the Atlantic or the gulf, in pursuance of the general plan outlined by General Grant before the Atlanta campaign was opened in May. But the Confederate commander took the initiative, about September 20, by moving his army around Sherman's right, striking his railroad about Allatoona and toward Chattanooga, doing some damage, and then marching off westward with the design of transferring the theater of war from Georgia to Alabama, Mississippi, or Tennessee.

Sherman very promptly decided not to accept that challenge to meet Hood upon a field chosen by the latter, but to continue substantially the original plan for his own operations, having in view also new ulterior plans opened to him by this erratic movement of his adversary. An essential modification of the original plan, to meet the unexpected movement of Hood, was to send back into Tennessee force enough, in addition to the troops then there and others to be assembled from the rear, to cope with Hood in the event of his attempting the invasion of Tennessee and Kentucky, or to pursue and occupy his attention if he should attempt to follow Sherman. General George H. Thomas, commanding the Department of the Cumberland, whose headquarters were at Nashville, was already at that place, and was directed by General Sherman to assume command of all the troops in the three departments under Sherman's command, except those with the latter in Georgia, and to direct the operations against Hood.

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