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[309] that the enemy is concentrating all his available forces, under General Thomas, to oppose him. It is even reliably reported that the forces, under General A. J. Smith, in Missouri, and Steele, in Arkansas, have been sent to reinforce Thomas. It becomes, then, absolutely necessary, to insure the success of Hood, either that you should send him two or more divisions, or that you should at once threaten Missouri, in order to compel the enemy to recall the reinforcements he is sending to General Thomas.

I beg to urge upon you prompt and decisive action; the fate of the country may depend upon the result of Hood's campaign in Tennessee.

Sherman's army has lately abandoned Atlanta, on a venturesome march across Georgia to the Atlantic coast about Savannah. His object is, besides the destruction of public and private property, probably to reinforce Grant, and compel Lee to abandon Richmond. It is hoped that Sherman may be prevented from effecting his object; but should it be otherwise, the success of Hood in Tennessee and Kentucky would counterbalance the moral effect of the loss of Richmond. Hence the urgent necessity of either reinforcing Hood, or making a diversion in Missouri in his favor.

Hoping that you may give us the desired assistance,

I remain, your obedient servant,

A copy of the foregoing letter was immediately forwarded to Richmond for the information of the War Department, and this telegram preceded it:

Generals Steele and A. J. Smith are reported to be reinforcing General Thomas at Nashville. Cannot General E. Kirby Smith reinforce General Hood in Middle Tennessee, or take offensive in Missouri? His assistance is absolutely necessary at this time.

The next day, and while General Beauregard was already on his way to Georgia, there to gather up, from every quarter, all available forces to check Sherman's advance, he caused the following letter to be sent to General E. K. Smith, in order to give him all possible facilities for successfully executing the transfer of his troops to the eastern side of the Mississippi:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Montgomery, Dec. 3d, 1864.
To General E. Kirby Smith, Comdg. Trans-Miss. Dept.:
General,—I am this day in receipt of telegram from General Beauregard (who is now en route to the Atlantic coast), dated Opelika, Ala., Dec. 3d, in which he directs that I recommend for your favorable consideration that detached floating booms, armed with torpedoes, in addition to light batteries on shore, be placed in the Mississippi River, to prevent the enemy's gunboats from

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J. B. Hood (5)
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