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[190] general engagement. Meanwhile, all available troops from every direction were hurried to Thomas. New regiments and recruits poured in on him from the North; convalescents and furloughed men, returning to Sherman's army, were detained at Chattanooga; Pope spared two regiments from the Indian frontier, and Smith was making strenuous efforts to reach Tennessee from the interior of Missouri. But twelve of the new regiments were absorbed in supplying the place in garrison of those whose terms of service had expired; and Smith's arrival was delayed beyond all expectation. The Missouri river was so low that it was thought he could reach the Mississippi sooner by marching than in boats; but after he started, the roads became almost impassable from snow and heavy rains, and several streams were found too high to cross. On the 14th of November, his command was still at St. Louis. Wilson, too, had great difficulty in remounting his cavalry.

Grant made full allowance for all these embarrassments, and after Hood had crossed the Tennessee, he sent no despatch to Thomas for a fortnight, leaving him to work out his own problem, without interference. Thomas, however, knew what was expected of him, and sent frequent telegrams to Washington, assuring the general-in-chief and the government of his own anxiety to undertake aggressive movements. On the 8th of November, he said: ‘As soon as Smith's troops arrive and General Wilson has the balance of his cavalry mounted, I shall be prepared to commence moving on the enemy;’ on the 9th: ‘It is my intention to take the offensive, as soon as I can get the troops ’

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