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[274] Overton Hill was anticipated and overcome; it postponed, but did not avert the end, nor did it occasion the slightest change in the instructions to any commander.

The national troops, throughout both days, behaved with splendid steadiness. The rebel works were built on difficult heights, covered with timber, hard to climb, and bristling with artillery; and, notwithstanding Thomas's preponderance in numbers, had the defenders fought with their usual spirit, they must have inflicted terrible loss. But Hood, as well as his men, was cowed. He attempted no counter-move in any direction, and Thomas worked out his schemes as completely and as successfully as if the enemy, too, had been under his orders. It was like one of those lessons in chess, where all is laid down in advance, and each player knows exactly what his antagonist will do. On the night of the 15th, the rebels perceived their situation perfectly; they knew that they were enveloped; that they had but one line of retreat, which Thomas was reaching out to grasp. Yet they were unable to extricate themselves from the web which the national commander was weaving.1 They were forced to do exactly what Thomas expected and designed.

The victory was as complete as in any battle of the war, and was followed by pursuit, which, for twenty-four hours, was as vigorous as could be desired. Afterwards, the obstacles were provoking, and, for a time, insurmountable. They, indeed, prevented any further important result being reaped from the victory. Hood was driven

1 Reports of Hood's corps commanders.

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