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[299] overcome by the pontoon trains and pioneer corps with which the Federal army was supplied. For his rear Sherman entertained no reasonable fears, because the forces of General Thomas were an overmatch for General Hood's advancing columns. Under no possible circumstances could Sherman have been overtaken by Hood, had the latter abandoned his plans and started in pursuit. Nor was there any likelihood of his encountering serious opposition from the Confederates in his front. They were far too weak to do more than skirmish in a desultory manner with his powerful army of invasion. Enveloped by an ample guard of cavalry, and presenting a front varying from thirty to sixty miles in extent during their sweeping march toward the Atlantic, the Federal General readily perceived that his columns could speedily overcome any local interruptions and partial hindrances which might be attempted by newly organized and feeble bodies of citizen soldiery hastily assembled for the defense of their immediate homes. At best there were, in the interior of the State, only old men and boys to shoulder their fowling-pieces and dipute the passage of swamps. General Lee, sore-pressed in Virginia, could not spare from his depleted ranks a single battle-scarred brigade for the emergency. A reinforcement of seventy-five thousand men would not have placed him in position to have coped, man for man, with the ever-multiplying hosts marshalled under the bloody banners of Grant. Such was the posture of affairs at Wilmington Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and elsewhere, that no disposable troops could be found with which to form even a tolerable army of observation. General Hood, as we have intimated, was now so far removed from the scene of action that no change in his plans would necessitate the postponement of the proposed advance. The once puissant armies of the Confederacy were sadly reduced by sickness, poverty, wounds and death. Tens of thousands of her bravest sons had been gathered to their patriot graves, and there were none to stand in their places. Her treasures and supplies of every kind were well-nigh exhausted, and no helping hand was outstretched in that hour of supreme need. Whole departments did not comprise within their limits troops requisite for the defence of a sub-district. Isolated in position and cut off from all avenues of succor, each drop of shed blood flowed from her single arm, every feather which warmed and sheltered her offspring was plucked from her own breast.

Lieutenant-General E. Kirby Smith, commanding the TransMississippi Department, was capable of no demonstrations which would

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