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[294] Guntersville, a distance which it would be necessary to double in order to get back to that point, making it, in all, one hundred and eighty miles.

It was now too late to change General Hood's plan, and the wisest policy was to make the best of it. General Beauregard, therefore, offered no opposition, but strongly advised that everything should be hurried forward with the greatest expedition; and that, instead of marching to the eastward after crossing the river, the army should begin a campaign in Middle Tennessee, there to capture or destroy the scattered detached forces of the enemy, while most of our cavalry should be sent to tear up the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, commencing at Bridgeport, or as near that place as practicable; that meanwhile General Hood with his army should endeavor to reach Nashville with the least possible delay, and capture its garrison, under General Thomas, with the large supplies there collected for his forces and those of General Sherman. Such an active campaign, if commenced at once, would compel the latter to return immediately into Middle Tennessee to defend his line of communication. General Hood readily concurred in those views, and expressed his conviction that he could carry them out successfully.1

Fortunately, before leaving Gadsden, on the 24th, General Beauregard had given all necessary orders for the repairing of the Mobile and Ohio and the Memphis and Charleston railroads, and had directed that all available railroad stock should be transferred to them. General Taylor had promised to give the matter his special attention, and to turn in that direction all the supplies then moving towards Jacksonville, Ala. Thus, General Beauregard hoped to see the Army of Tennessee resupplied and in a fair way to carry out the campaign planned for it. He proposed crossing the river with the troops, and then leaving General Hood in sole command, for he remembered the words of Napoleon when the Directory, in 1796, offered to send him a general of greater experience, to assist him in the campaign of Italy: ‘One bad head in command of an army in the field is always better than two good ones.’

1 See General Beauregard's letter to General Cooper, November 6th, 1864, to be found in the next chapter.

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