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[378] to Vicksburg; A. J. Smith was sent to Canby, and Schofield to the Atlantic coast; and all the furloughed veterans, recruits, and convalescent troops of Sherman's army had been forwarded to Savannah; nevertheless, Grant was anxious to employ offensively whatever force was still left in Tennessee. On the 14th of February, he said to Thomas: β€˜Canby is preparing a movement from Mobile bay against Mobile and the interior of Alabama. His force will consist of about twenty thousand men, besides A. J. Smith's command. The cavalry you have sent to Canby will be debarked at Vicksburg. It, with the available cavalry already in that section, will move from there eastwardly in co-operation. Hood's army has been terribly reduced by the severe punishment you gave it in Tennessee, by desertion consequent upon that defeat, and now by the withdrawal of many of them to oppose Sherman. . . . . Canby's movement will attract all the attention of the enemy, and leave an advance from your standpoint easy. I think it advisable, therefore, that you prepare as much of a cavalry force as you can spare, and hold it in readiness to go south. The object will be threefold: first, to attract as much of the enemy's force as possible, to ensure success to Canby; second, to destroy the enemy's line of communications and military resources; third, to destroy or capture their forces brought into the field. Tuscaloosa and Selma would probably be the points to direct the expedition against. This, however, would not be so important as the mere fact of penetrating deep into Alabama.’

On the 15th, he telegraphed to Thomas: β€˜It is desirable to start Stoneman without delay.’

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