south bank of the river, and if Croxton
were withdrawn, I am satisfied he would push across the river, and operate against our direct line of communication, with no adequate force to successfully oppose him.’
The military instincts of the two were thus entirely opposed.
The chief was willing to take great risks in order to attain a cardinal object; the subordinate preferred to risk nothing, but to make all sure.
One, indeed, often abandoned less important places for the sake of securing the most important of all; the other was unwilling to abandon or expose any position whatever.
One provided against danger by compelling the enemy to defend himself; the other by carefully guarding his own weak points.
There are many occasions in war when the offensive is the only practicable defence, and Grant
was always on the look-out for these opportunities; Thomas
never accepted them till they were thrust upon him, though then he sometimes turned them to superlative account.
At this time, however, Grant
said no more about abandoning the Decatur railroad.
He never overruled a distant subordinate, unless it was indispensable.
But four days afterwards, Forrest
, in spite of Croxton
On the 25th of October, Hood
appeared before Decatur
in force, for, contrary to Sherman
's expectations, he intended to invade Tennessee
, however, remained confident.
He had been notified that A. J. Smith
was to reinforce him with ten thousand troops from Missouri
, and when he reported to Grant
the approach of Hood
, he also announced: ‘If Rosecrans
's troops can reach Eastport