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[344] 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.

Having concentrated his troops at Atlanta by the fourteenth of November, he commenced his march, threatening both Augusta and Macon. His coming-out point could not be definitely fixed. Having to gather his subsistence as he marched through the country, it was not impossible that a force inferior to his own might compel him to head for such point as he could reach, instead of such as he might prefer. The blindness of the enemy, however, in ignoring his movement, and sending Hood's army — the only considerable force he had west of Richmond and east of the Mississippi river--north-ward on an offensive campaign, left the whole country open, and Sherman's route to his own choice.

How that campaign was conducted, how little opposition was met with, the condition of the country through which the armies passed, the capture of Fort McAllister, on the Savannah river, and the occupation of Savannah on the twenty-first of December, are all clearly set forth in General Sherman's admirable report.

Soon after General Sherman commenced his march from Atlanta, two expeditions, one from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and one from Vicksburg, Mississippi, were started by General Canby to cut the enemy's line of communication with Mobile, and detain troops in that field. General Foster, commanding Department of the South, also sent an expedition, via Broad river, to destroy the railroad between Charleston and Savannah. The expedition from Vicksburg, under command of Brevet Brigadier-General E. D. Osband (Colonel Third United States Colored Cavalry), captured, on the twenty-seventh of November, and destroyed the Mississippi Central railroad bridge and trestle-work over Big Black river, near Canton, thirty miles of the road, and two locomotives, besides large amounts of stores. The expedition from Baton Rouge was without favorable results. The expedition from the Department of the South, under the immediate command of Brigadier-General John P Hatch, consisting of about five thousand men of all arms, including a brigade from the navy, proceeded up Broad river and debarked at Boyd's Neck, on the twenty-ninth of November, from where it moved to strike the railroad at Grahamsville. At Honey Hill, about three miles from Grahamsville, the enemy was found and attacked, in a strongly-fortified position, which resulted, after severe fighting in our repulse, with a lose of seven hundred and forty-six in killed, wounded and missing. During the night General Hatch withdrew. On the sixth of December General Foster obtained a position covering the Charleston and Savannah railroad, between the Coosawatchie and Talifinny rivers.

Hood, instead of following Sherman, continued his move northward, which seemed to me to be leading to his certain doom. At all events, had I had the power to command both armies, I should not have changed the orders under which he seemed to be acting. On the twenty-sixth of October the advance of Hood's army attacked the garrison at Decatur, Alabama, but failing to carry the place, withdrew toward Courtland, and succeeded, in the face of our cavalry, in effecting a lodgement on the north side of the Tennessee river, near Florence. On the twenty-eighth Forrest reached the Tennessee at Fort Heiman, and captured a gunboat and three transports. On the second of November he planted batteries above and below Johnsonville, on the opposite side of the river, isolating three gunboats and eight transports. On the fourth the enemy opened his batteries upon the place, and was replied to from the gunboats and the garrison. The gunboats becoming disabled, were set on fire, as also were the transports, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. About a million and a half dollars' worth of stores and property on the levee and in storehouses was consumed by fire. On the fifth the enemy disappeared and crossed to the north side of the Tennessee river, above Johnsonville, moving toward Clifton, and subsequently joined Hood. On the night of the fifth General Schofield, with the advance of the Twenty-third corps, reached Johnsonville, but finding the enemy gone, was ordered to Pulaski, and put in command of all the troops there, with instructions to watch the movements of Hood and retard his advance, but not to risk a general engagement until the arrival of General A. J. Smith's command from Missouri, and until General Wilson could get his cavalry remounted.

On the nineteenth General Hood continued his advance. General Thomas, retarding him as much as possible, fell back toward Nashville, for the purpose of concentrating his command and gaining time for the arrival of reinforcements. The enemy coming up with our main force, commanded by General Schofield, at Franklin, on the thirtieth, assaulted our works repeatedly during the afternoon, until late at night, but were in every instance repulsed. His loss in this battle was one thousand seven hundred and fifty killed, seven hundred and two prisoners, and three thousand eight hundred wounded. Among his losses were six general officers killed, six wounded, and one captured. Our entire loss was two thousand three hundred. This was the first serious opposition the enemy met with, and I am satisfied was the fatal blow to all his expectations. During the night General Schofield fell back toward Nashville. This left the field to the enemy — not lost by battle, but voluntarily abandoned — so that General Thomas' whole force might be brought together. The enemy followed up, and commenced the establishment of his line in front of Nashville on the second of December.

As soon as it was ascertained that Hood was

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