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[152] was too quick, for him, and escaped through the gap before the national troops could reach the further end. Sherman now hoped to catch up with the rebels at Lafayette and cut off their retreat at that place, but by the time his forces were in position, Hood had again escaped and moved in a southwesterly direction, to the neighborhood of Gadsden. He was encumbered with few trains and marched with great celerity; evidently anxious to avoid a battle. It is one of the most difficult feats in war for a pursuing army to overtake its enemy. The stimulus of danger seems always a sharper goad than the hope of victory.

Sherman followed as far as Gaylesville, in the rich valley of the Chattooga, and there on the 19th, he determined to pause. The rebels had altogether failed to make him let go his hold of Atlanta, but had demonstrated their ability at all times to endanger the national communications. They had captured, though they could not hold, Big Shanty, Ackworth, Tilton, and Dalton, and destroyed thirty miles of railroad; and although Atlanta was not regained, Hood was actually at this moment threatening the invasion of Tennessee, while Forrest had crossed the Tennessee river, captured Athens, and cut the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad.

These movements of the enemy disturbed, but did not change, the plans of the national commanders. On the 10th of October, Sherman said to Thomas, now at Nashville: ‘Hood has crossed the Coosa. . . If he turns to Chattanooga, I will follow; but if he shoots off towards Tuscumbia, I will act according to my information of your ’

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