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[299] the design are not lessened because danger disappeared before the skill of the execution or difficulties amid the consternation of the enemy. An abler opponent might have concentrated the garrisons of Augusta, Macon, Charleston, and Savannah, and stayed, at least for a while, the advance of the national army. On the 6th of December, Beauregard reported to Jefferson Davis that he had counted upon a force of thirty thousand men to oppose Sherman;1 and with this number, the difficulties that could have been interposed before an army advancing without either communications or base, might have been not only formidable, but to some commanders, insuperable; for after the advance had once begun, delay must have been disastrous, and disaster absolute ruin.

But the selection of the lines, the direction of the columns, and the dispositions of the troops so

1

In October last, when passing through Georgia to assume command of the Military Division of the West, I was informed by Governor Brown that he could probably raise, in case of necessity, about 6,000 men, which I suppose might be doubled in a levy en masse. General Cobb informed me at the same time that at Augusta, Macon, and Columbus, he had about 6,500 local troops, and that he hoped shortly to have collected, at his reserve and convalescent camp near Macon, 2,500 more. Of these 9,000 men, he supposed about one-half, or 5,000, could be made available as movable troops for an emergency.

To oppose the advance of the enemy from Atlanta, the state of Georgia would thus have probably 17,000 men, to which number must be added the thirteen brigades of Wheeler's cavalry, amounting to about 7,000 men. The troops which could have been collected from Savannah, South Carolina, and North Carolina, before Sherman's forces could reach the Atlantic coast, would have amounted, it was supposed, to 5,000 men. Thus it was a reasonable supposition that about 29,000 or 30,000 men could be collected in time to defend the state of Georgia, and ensure the destruction of Sherman's army.

Beauregard to Davis, December 6, 1864.

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