now covered with a sheet of ice so hard and slippery, it is utterly impossible for troops to ascend steeps, or even move over level ground in anything like order.
It has taken the entire day to place my cavalry in position, and it has only finally been accomplished, with imminent risk and many serious accidents, resulting from the number of horses falling with their riders on the roads.
Under these circumstances, I believe an attack at this time would only result in an useless sacrifice of life.’
On the 13th, again: ‘There is no change in the weather, and as soon as there is, I shall move against the enemy, as everything is ready and prepared to assume the offensive.’
On the 14th, at 12.30 P. M., Halleck
telegraphed, without Grant
's knowledge, but doubtless by the order of the President
or the Secretary of War
: ‘It has been seriously apprehended that while Hood
, with a part of his forces, held you in check near Nashville
, he would have time to co-operate against other important points left only partially protected.
Hence, Lieutenant-General Grant
was anxious that you should attack the rebel forces in your front, and expresses great dissatisfaction that his order had not been carried out. Moreover, so long as Hood
occupies a threatening position in Tennessee
, General Canby
is obliged to keep large forces on the Mississippi river
, to protect its navigation, and to hold Memphis
, etc., although General Grant
had directed a part of these forces to co-operate with Sherman
Every day's delay on your part, therefore, seriously interferes with General Grant
To this Thomas
replied at eight P. M.: ‘Your telegram of 12.30 P. M. to-day ’