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‘ [185] next week, I shall have no further fears, and will set to work immediately to prepare for an advance, as Sherman has directed, should Beauregard follow him.’ He was ready, not indeed to assume, but always to sustain, responsibility. He sometimes shrank, but never flinched. This day Sherman said: ‘General Thomas is well alive to the occasion, and better suited to the emergency than any man I have. He should be strengthened as soon as possible, as the successful defence of Tennessee should not be left to chance.’

Hood, however, made only a demonstration before Decatur, and on the 29th, withdrew his force. The same day, the heads of his columns were reported in the neighborhood of Florence, fifty miles westward, and north of the Tennessee. Sherman telegraphed at once in the most urgent manner: ‘If necessary, break up all minor points, and get about Columbia as big an army as you can, and go at him.. If, to make up a force adequate, it be necessary, abandon Huntsville and that line, and the Nashville and Decatur road, except so far as it facilitates an army operating towards Florence.’ Again, on the same day, he said: ‘I repeat, should the enemy cross the Tennessee in force, abandon all minor points, and concentrate at some point where you cover the road from Murfreesboroa to Stevenson.’ These instructions were identical with those that Grant had given two weeks before. But Thomas abandoned nothing. He simply concentrated two divisions of cavalry near Florence, and directed them to prevent a crossing, until the Fourth corps, under Stanley, now on its way from Georgia, could

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