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[230]

Thus, while bringing troops from the Shenandoah, and suggesting new operations to Sheridan; while planning a movement for the army of the Potomac, which might necessitate drawing largely from that of the James; Grant at the same time availed himself of the absence of Bragg, occasioned by Sherman, to initiate an attack on Wilmington; and directed the co-operation of Palmer with the expeditions of both Weitzel and Meade; he also sent orders to Sherman to guide him on his arrival at the coast, and he made Canby's movements depend on those of the army in Tennessee. He once declared that his first object, on assuming command of all the armies, was to use the greatest number of troops possible against the enemy; and his second, to hammer continuously against the armed force of the rebels, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left for them but submission to the laws of the land. His first object had certainly been achieved; all the troops possible were constantly in use against the enemy: and as for the second,—although there was a good deal besides hammering in the elaborate strategy of 1864, the attrition undoubtedly went on.

In the meantime, the situation at Nashville was becoming daily more humiliating and dangerous. Although Thomas telegraphed on the 3rd of December: ‘Have succeeded in concentrating a force of infantry about equal to that of the enemy,’ he remained entirely on the defensive, and the rebels entrenched themselves on a line only two miles from the city: the national fortifications extended from the Cumberland river on the right to the river again on the left, and all outside was held by Hood.

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