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‘ [234] and I hope to have some six or eight thousand cavalry mounted in three or four days from this time. General Wilson has just left me, having received instructions to hurry the cavalry remount as rapidly as possible. I do not think it prudent to attack Hood with less than six thousand cavalry to cover my flanks, because he has under. Forrest at least twelve thousand. I have no doubt Forrest will attempt to cross the river, but I am in hopes the gunboats will be able to prevent him.’

Before receiving this despatch, Grant had finally given a peremptory order. At four P. M. on the 6th, he telegraphed: ‘Attack Hood at once, and wait no longer for a remount of your cavalry. There is great danger of delay resulting in a campaign back to the Ohio river.’ Thomas replied, at nine P. M., the same night: ‘Your telegram of four P. M. this day just received. I will make the necessary dispositions and attack at once, agreeably to your orders, though I believe it will be hazardous, with the small force of cavalry now at my service.’

That night news came from Van Duzer, the operator at Nashville: ‘Scouts report large force twenty miles down river, towards Harpeth shoals, and say rebels propose to cross Cumberland river there, soon as it can be forded and river is too low for gunboats, which will be soon, unless rain falls.’ It looked, indeed, as if Hood's boasts were about to be realized. Not only was the national army enclosed in the capital of Tennessee, but if the rebels once crossed the river, it would be cut off entirely from the North. Nevertheless, Thomas did not attack.

Hood at this time reported: ‘Middle Tennessee, although much injured by the enemy, will furnish ’

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