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[181] the national communications in that region, while Sherman watched the movements of the main rebel army in the neighborhood of Atlanta. He announced his arrival to Grant, and from that time reported the situation daily to the general-in-chief, although most of his orders still came from Sher man. Forrest had already captured Athens and a few isolated block-houses which he could not hold, cut both the railroads south of Nashville, and seized some scattered stores. He had no hope of accomplishing more, and before Thomas started from Georgia, the rebel cavalry had set out to return. Every disposition was promptly made to intercept the command, but it was now too late, and on the 5th of October, the raiders escaped into Alabama. During the next two weeks Sherman was following Hood northward, and as the rebel army approached the Tennessee, Thomas disposed his troops so as to reinforce Chattanooga and protect the crossings of the river, thus holding the enemy in front so that Sherman might attack him in rear; but Hood eluded the national columns.

Sherman, meanwhile, had promptly notified Thomas of the new campaign in Georgia. On the 1st of October, when he first proposed to ignore Hood and turn to the sea, he disclosed the idea to his principal subordinate. Then came the interruption occasioned by the rebel movement to the north; but on the 9th, Sherman reverted to the scheme in which Thomas was to play so important a part. β€˜I want to destroy all the road below Chattanooga, including Atlanta, and make for the sea-coast.’ β€˜In that event I would order back to Chattanooga everything the other side of Kingston.’

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