compel the recall of the formidable reinforcements hastening to the relief of General Thomas
Such was the scarcity of troops in Alabama
, that Lietenant-General Richard Taylor
could detach but a handful in aid of Generals Cobb
, who, with the Georgia State
forces, were concentrated in the vicinity of Griffin
could muster forces barely sufficient to constitute respectable garrisons for the fixed batteries on the coasts of Georgia
and South Carolina
. General Beauregard
looked in vain throughout the length and breadth of his extensive military division of the West for the means of effectual resistance, and was disappointed in the amount of assistance which he hoped to realize from the militia, home guards and reserves of the respective States embraced within the geograpical limits of his command.
By carefully concealing his objective, and, with the heavy masses at command, by well-conceived feints cloaking his real designs, General Sherman
readily conjectured that the small army of observation which the Confederates
might bring into the field would be so divided in the effort to defend various and important points, widely removed the one from the other, that unity of action would become quite difficult.
For the same reason the chances of his encountering anything like formidable resistance were well-nigh dissipated.
At the outset, the cavalry corps of Major-General Joseph Wheeler
, and the Georgia State
troops under the command of Major-Generals Howell Cobb
and Gustavus W. Smith
constituted almost the only opposing forces on the Confederate
The season of the year selected for the movement was most propitious; just the period of invigorating airs and delightful autumnal suns, of clear skies and bracing frosty mornings, of firm roads and abounding health.
The stock upon the plantations, now in fine condition, could be relied on to supply any lack of transportation.
As, more than three hundred years before, the Spanish Adelantado
in his quest for treasure compelled the red men of this region to bear the burdens of his command while despoiling the homes and graves of the sons of the forest, in like manner did it enter into the calculations of these modern expeditionists to utilize the negroes found on the plantations adjacent to the line of march by compelling them to accompany the columns and assist in transporting the booty which was to be collected on every side at the hands of unprotected women, fatherless children, and decrepit old men.
In all fairness, therefore, this vaunted undertaking of General Sherman