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oint, at this juncture, of the strategy which enveloped a continent. Nashville, the capital of the state, is situated on the south bank of the Cumberland river, thirty or forty miles from the Kentucky line, and midway between the eastern and western boundaries. It is connected with the North by a single railroad, starting from Louisville, on the Ohio, two hundred miles away. Along this road the principal reinforcements and supplies had passed for Sherman and Thomas since the beginning of April. Southward, two lines run from Nashville to the great railway which connects Chattanooga with the Mississippi—the Memphis and Charleston road. One of these lines runs south-east, and strikes the Chattanooga road at Stevenson; the other extends south-westerly, to Decatur. Nashville is thus at the apex of a triangle, and was by far the most important strategic point west of the Alleghanies and north of the Tennessee. On the road to Stevenson, the principal positions are Murfreesboroa, Tull
October 21st (search for this): chapter 4
ld, and Thomas had not yet collected his forces; while the bare idea of an army plunging, as Sherman was about to do, into the interior of a hostile country, without base, or communications, or supplies, affected not only the imagination, but the judgment of the gravest and steadiest minds. It was these considerations which the general-in-chief had to contemplate, and these cares he had to sustain. Hood, meanwhile, had remained at Gadsden only one day, to issue supplies, and on the 21st of October, he took up his line of march for the Tennessee. On the 26th, he arrived at Tuscumbia, on that river, a hundred miles west of Gadsden. This made it evident that the invasion of Tennessee was actually contemplated, and the same day Sherman detached the Fourth corps, with orders to proceed to Chattanooga and report to Thomas. On the 30th, as the danger became more imminent, the Twenty-third corps, under Schofield, was dispatched with the same destination, and Wilson was sent back to N
October 19th (search for this): chapter 4
d were wide-spread and profound, and were fully warranted. But though depressed and alarmed, the government and its friends were not dismayed. They were determined that in every event the Union should be preserved; they relaxed no effort, they neglected no precaution. The conspiracy at the West was detected in time. Measures were taken to prevent or suppress riot; arson was punished, and troops were sent to the points at the North where insurrection was most apprehended. On the 19th of October, General Dix, in command at New York, wrote at length to Grant. I deem it my duty to call your attention, as general-in-chief of the army, to the want of troops in this city and harbor. . . There is more disaffection and disloyalty, independent of the elements of disturbance always here, than in any other city in the Union. . . I feel that the want of preparation would be very injurious, if known, and it is not easy to conceal it long. . . I feel very uneasy under this state of things
efore the final step was taken. Sherman replied to Grant at 12.30 P. M. on the 2nd: Your despatch is received. If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I would turn agai, for a moment, hesitated. Only for a moment, however. On the morning of the 2nd, Grant received a despatch from Sherman, dated nine A. M. of the day before-nineth of the two armies at once reassured and decided Grant. At 11.30 A. M. on the 2nd, having yet no response to his own message of the night before, he telegraphed awas equally prompt in re-asserting his original confidence. At six P. M. on the 2nd, too soon to have heard again from Grant, he telegraphed: If I turn back, the wh at Washington, was urging Grant for permission to start. At 9.30 P. M. of the 2nd, however, Grant's second telegram arrived, and Sherman answered at once: Despatce influx of new troops promised, will be able to assume the offensive. On the 2nd, Sherman himself was at Kingston, and his four corps, the Fifteenth, Seventeeth,
October 17th (search for this): chapter 4
layed was Grant's permission of October 11th, for Sherman to make his march; so that Grant was actually preparing and arranging for Sherman's campaign, before Sherman knew that he would be allowed to start. It was at Ship's Gap that a courier brought me the cipher message from General Halleck which instructed me that the authorities at Washington were willing I should undertake to march across Georgia.—Sherman's Memoirs, Vol. II., page 156. Sherman was at Ship's Gap on the 16th and 17th of October. On the 17th, Grant said to Sherman: The moment I know you have started south, stores will be shipped to Hilton Head, where there are transports ready to take them to Savannah. In case you go south, I would not propose holding anything south of Chattanooga, certainly not south of Dalton. Destroy in such case all military stores at Atlanta. On the 21st, he said to Halleck: The stores intended for Sherman might now be started for Hilton Head. But the general-in-chief was at this
October 31st (search for this): chapter 4
and directed them to prevent a crossing, until the Fourth corps, under Stanley, now on its way from Georgia, could arrive. On the 30th, the Twenty-third corps, under Schofield, was added to Thomas's command. It was not too soon. On the 31st of October, Thomas reported to Grant that his cavalry had been unable to prevent the crossing of the rebel army. The Tennessee having fallen so low as to be fordable at several points, the enemy succeeded yesterday afternoon in crossing . . above . . Official Report. On the 20th of November, Thomas returned 24,264, present equipped for duty, in the Fourth and Twenty-third corps, and 5,543 cavalry. Whether all the cavalry was under Schofield's orders the return does not state. On the 31st of October, Thomas returned 10, 621 in the Twenty-third corps, 11,911 in the Fourth corps, and 5,328 cavalry. Wilson says, in his official report, that on the 23rd of November, when he took command of the cavalry under Schofield, he had in all 4,300
October 26th (search for this): chapter 4
him much additional force. At the same time Grant planned the transfer of A. J. Smith and Mower's commands from Missouri to Tennessee: If Crook goes to Missouri, he will drive Price out of the country in time to send A. J. Smith and Mower to Tennessee, before Hood can get far, even if Sherman's movements do not turn him, as I think they will. Canby's forces also will be relieved for operations, wherever they are needed. But the troops from Missouri were slow in coming, and on the 26th of October, Grant said to Halleck: An order, with an officer to see it enforced, should go to Missouri, to send from there all the troops not actually after Price and guards for public stores, to General Thomas, telegraphing Thomas to know at what points he wants them. The next day he repeated the order: Now that Price is on the retreat, with no probability of his bringing up again, Rosecrans should forward all the troops he can to Thomas. This ought to be done without delay. He has six or eigh
October 25th (search for this): chapter 4
war when the offensive is the only practicable defence, and Grant was always on the look-out for these opportunities; Thomas never accepted them till they were thrust upon him, though then he sometimes turned them to superlative account. At this time, however, Grant said no more about abandoning the Decatur railroad. He never overruled a distant subordinate, unless it was indispensable. But four days afterwards, Forrest re-entered Tennessee, in spite of Croxton and Granger. On the 25th of October, Hood appeared before Decatur in force, for, contrary to Sherman's expectations, he intended to invade Tennessee. Thomas, however, remained confident. He had been notified that A. J. Smith was to reinforce him with ten thousand troops from Missouri, and when he reported to Grant the approach of Hood, he also announced: If Rosecrans's troops can reach Eastport early next week, I shall have no further fears, and will set to work immediately to prepare for an advance, as Sherman has dir
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