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Thus one of the most difficult and dangerous operations in war was executed with equal success and skill; the army was extricated from a situation of imminent peril, in the face of greatly superior numbers, and the opportunity for which Hood bad labored so long was snatched from his grasp. It was one of the most brilliant exploits of the war, and one of the most important, as well, for had Schofield been defeated at Columbia, the entire North-West might have been endangered. Chicago and Cincinnati were defended at Spring Hill.

Immediately upon the evacuation of Columbia, Thomas ordered the abandonment of Tullahoma, on the Chattanooga railroad; Nashville was placed in a state of defence, additional works were constructed, and the fortifications were manned by a garrison composed of army clerks and railroad employes. A detachment of six thousand men,1 belonging to Sherman's column, left behind at Chattanooga, was recalled, and a brigade of colored troops, from the same point, was ordered

1 ‘This P. M. I gave the orders to General Steedman, who was at Gowan with 6,000 men [between Chattanooga and Tullahoma], to embark on the railroad cars and come to Nashville immediately, and I presume he will be here by to-morrow morning.’—Thomas to Halleck, November 30.

In his official report, dated January 20, 1865, Thomas puts this force at 5,000; perhaps the colored brigade made up the 6,000.

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