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[180] to the enemy till the battle was over. His knowledge of his art was supreme, his tactical skill unerring, and for what he lacked in quickness or brilliancy, he made up by a concentrated energy which at times was terrible. The fortune of war deprived him of many opportunities for the display of strategical ability; he usually served immediately under some other commander, and had therefore originated no great plan of campaign. It was besides not his nature to take the initiative; but on the defensive, he was absolutely superb. At the crisis of the battle of Chickamauga it was his determination that saved the army of the Cumberland from annihilation; and afterwards, with indomitable vigor, he made every disposition for holding Chattanooga, until Grant arrived and assumed command. ‘I will hold the town,’ he telegraphed, ‘till we starve.’

He certainly was sometimes slow when there was need of speed, and though without a trace of timidity in his nature, was yet so far from rash as not to be always ready for aggressive operations when his superiors wished: his preparations were so elaborate that they interfered not only with his celerity, but with his promptness; and both Grant and Sherman more than once thought him too deliberate. Nevertheless, he was in some notable instances so eminently successful that the world will probably give a verdict in his favor which greater soldiers might withhold. But in his best moments it was always a defensive genius that he displayed.

Thomas had been sent to Nashville as early as the 3rd of October. His orders were to organize the troops in Middle Tennessee, and drive Forrest from

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