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 a cross fire, added the effect of their rifles. The reason for this unexpected Confederate approach is as follows: As soon as it was dark enough to get away from Thomas's front without endangering his columns from our artillery, Hood had caused his forces to march back through the city and pass on southward on the west side of Intrenchment Creek, and cross it far below the McDonough road near Cobb's Mill. Hardee then set out with three divisions, but Cleburne, who had been all day withstanding Leggett and Giles A. Smith, fell into his column; they moved on all night. Hardee's head of column, continuing the circuit far enough from Blair to escape attention, made northing and easting enough to be within fiye miles of Decatur by sunrise. Fifteen miles by country roads or paths, or no roads at all, in a dark night, necessarily straggled out the columns of fours. It took considerable time to close up and get in order. The pickets toward Decatur found Sprague's brigade on the alert near that little town. Hardee did not know that our Garrard was gone, and before advancing, his right and rear must be properly cleared by cavalry, so he waited a while for Wheeler. A night march doubly fatigues all troops. Hardee very properly rested and refreshed his men. His deployed front, with its left tangent to the McDonough road, faced westerly. It covered the flank and rear of McPherson's entire force. Hardee now deliberately began his march while Hood in front of Atlanta was holding the forts and curtains opposite Thomas and Schofield, freeing Cheathamis corps that it might help Hardee when the proper moment should arrive. The blades of the
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