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Chapter 14:

The causes which produced the dissatisfaction at City Point and Washington, over the apparent slowness of General Thomas at Nashville, can now be clearly traced. They sprung directly from the telegrams of General Sherman, overestimating the forces he had left to take care of Hood. General Grant and the authorities at the Capital looked upon Hood's northward advance with alarm. Sherman had been repeatedly notified that he must leave an ample force with Thomas to enable this officer to hold the line of the Tennessee. He as often replied that he had fully complied with these directions. General Grant naturally became solicitous lest Hood, if not attacked, should pass around Thomas, invade Kentucky, and possibly reach the North. As a result of this anxiety and-unjust dissatisfaction, an order was given for the removal of Thomas, which order, however, was not executed in consequence of his battle and victory.

As has been seen, Sherman thus refers to this matter:

Yet Thomas remained inside of Nashville, seemingly passive, until General> Hood had closed upon him and had intrenched his position. * * * *

‘At that time the weather was cold and sleety, the ground was covered with ice and snow, and both parties for a time rested on the defensive. Thus matters stood at Nashville while we were closing down on Savannah in the early part of December, 1864; and the country, as well as General Grant, was alarmed at the seeming passive conduct of General Thomas; and General Grant at one time considered the situation so dangerous that he thought of going to Nashville in person, but General John A. Logan, happening to be at City Point, was sent out to supersede General Thomas; luckily for the [184] latter, he acted in time, gained a magnificent victory, and thus escaped so terrible a fate.’

The full correspondence relating to this subject is not only interesting, but it throws much new light upon General Sherman's account of the movements connected with the March to the Sea.

General Thomas was in Nashville directing the concentration of his army. General Schofield was in command at the front. The great object was to hold Hood back until all available forces could be united to meet him, and the remount of the cavalry accomplished. Under these circumstances, and a week before the advance of A. J. Smith's troops arrived at Nashville, the enemy had reached Columbia, and his large force of cavalry under Forrest was becoming very active. At this time the correspondence between General Thomas and the authorities at the East began, and continued until the battle was fought.

Its opening dispatch was as follows:

* * * * Do not let Forrest get off without punishment.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

The answer gave strong reasons for not implicitly obeying this order, and, together with the telegrams which succeeded it, shows the real condition in which General Sherman left Thomas:

headquarters Department of the Cumberland, Nashville, Tenn., November 25, 1864, 11 A. M.
Lieutenant General Grant, City Point, Va.
Your dispatch of 4 P. M. yesterday just received. Hood's entire army is in front of Columbia, and so greatly outnumbers mine at this time that I am compelled to act on the defensive. None of General Smith's troops have arrived yet, although they embarked at St. Louis on Tuesday last. The transportation of Generals Hatch's and Grierson's cavalry was ordered by General Washburne I am told, to be turned in at Memphis, which has crippled the only cavalry I had at this time. All of my cavalry was dismounted to furnish horses to Kilpatrick's division, which went with General Sherman. My [185] dismounted cavalry is now detained at Louisville, awaiting arms and horses. Horses are arriving slowly, and arms have been detained somewhere en route for more than a month. General Grierson has been delayed by conflicting orders in Kansas, and from Memphis, and it is impossible to say when he will reach here. Since being placed in charge of affairs in Tennessee, I have lost nearly fifteen thousand men discharged by expiration of service and permitted to go home to vote. My gain is probably twelve thousand perfectly raw troops. Therefore, as the enemy so greatly outnumbers me, both in infantry and cavalry, I am compelled for the present to act on the defensive. The moment I can get my cavalry, I will march against Hood, and if Forrest can be reached he shall be punished.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General Volunteers commanding.

Nashville, December 1, 1864, 9:30 P. M.
Major-General Halleck, Washington, D. C.
After General Schofield's fight of yesterday, feeling convinced that the enemy very far outnumbered him both in infantry and cavalry, I determined to retire to the fortifications around Nashville until General Wilson can get his cavalry equipped. He has now but about one-fourth the number of the enemy, and consequently, is no match for him. I have two iron-clads here, with several gun-boats, and Commodore Fitch assures me that Hood can neither cross the Cumberland, nor blockade it. I, therefore, think it best to wait here until Wilson can equip all his cavalry. If Hood attacks me here he will be more seriously damaged than he was yesterday. If he remains until Wilson gets equipped, I can whip him, and will move against him at once. I have Murfreesboro strongly held, and therefore feel easy in regard to its safety. Chattanooga, Bridgeport, Stevenson, and Elk River bridges have strong garrisons.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Volunteers commanding.

War Department, Washington, December 2, 10:30 A. M.
Lieutenant-General Grant, City Point.
The President feels solicitous about the disposition of Thomas to lay in fortifications for an indefinite period, ‘until Wilson gets equipments.’ This looks like the McClellan and Rosecrans strategy of do nothing, and let the enemy raid the country. The President wishes you to consider the matter.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

If Hood is permitted to remain quietly about Nashville, we will lose all the roads back to Chattanooga, and possibly have to abandon the line of the Tennessee River. Should he attack you it is all well, but if he does not you should attack him before he fortifies. Arm and put in the trenches your quartermaster's employes, citizens, etc.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.


City Point, Va., December 2, 1864, 1:30 P. M.
Major-General Geo. H. Thomas, Nashville.
With your citizen employes armed you can move out of Nashville with all your army and force the enemy to retire or fight upon ground of your own choosing. After the repulse of Hood at Franklin it looks to me that instead of falling back to Nashville we should have taken the offensive against the enemy, but at this distance may err as to the method of dealing with the enemy. You will suffer incalculable injury upon your railroads if Hood is not speedily disposed of. Put forth, therefore, every possible exertion to attain this end. Should you get him to retreating give him no peace.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

headquarters Department of the Cumberland, Nashville, Tenn., December 2, 1864, 10 P. M.
General U. S. Grant, City Point, Va.
Your two telegrams of 11 A. M. and 1:30 P. M. to-day are received. At the time Hood was whipped at Franklin I had at this place but about five thousand (5,000) men of General Smith's command, which, added to the force under General Schofield, would not have given me more than twenty-five thousand (25,000) men. Besides, General Schofield felt convinced that he could not hold the enemy at Franklin until the five thousand could reach him. As General Wilson's cavalry force also numbered only about one-fourth that of Forrest, I thought it best to draw the troops back to Nashville and await the arrival of the remainder of General Smith's force, and also a force of about five thousand (5,000), commanded by General Steedman, which I had ordered up from Chattanooga. The division of General Smith arrived yesterday morning, and General Steedman's troops arrived last night. I now have infantry enough to assume the offensive if I had more cavalry, and will take the field anyhow as soon as the remainder of General McCook's division of cavalry reaches here, which I hope it will in two or three days.

We can neither get reenforcements nor equipments at this great distance from the North very easily, and it must be remembered that my command was made up of the two weakest corps of General Sherman's army, and all the dismounted cavalry except one brigade, and the task of reorganizing and equipping has met with many delays which have enabled Hood to take advantage of my crippled condition. I earnestly hope, however in a few more days I shall be able to give him a fight.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Volunteers commanding.

Is there not danger of Forrest's moving down the Tennessee River where he can cross it? It seems to me, while you should be getting up your cavalry [187] as rapidly as possible to look after Forrest, Hood should be attacked where he is.

Time strengthens him, in all probability, as much as it does you.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Your telegram of 6:30 P. M., December 5, is just received. As soon as I get up a respectable force of cavalry I will march against Hood. General Wilson has parties out now pressing horses, and I hope to have some six or eight thousand cavalry mounted in three days from this time. General Wilson has just left me, having received instructions to hurry the cavalry remount as rapidly as possible. I do not think it prudent to attack Hood with less than six thousand (6,000) cavalry to cover my flanks, because he has under Forrest at least twelve thousand (12,000). I have no doubt Forrest will attempt to cross the river, but I am in hopes the gun-boats will be able to prevent him. The enemy has made no new developments to-day. Breckinridge is reported at Lebanon with six thousand (6,000) men, but I can not believe it possible.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Volunteer commanding.

This statement did not give satisfaction, and the following order for an attack was telegraphed:

Attack Hood at once and wait no longer for a remount for your cavalry. There is great danger in delay resulting in a campaign back to the Ohio.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

This was acted upon, but General Thomas protested against the wisdom of the order:

Your dispatch of 4 P. M. this day received. I will make the necessary disposition and attack Hood at once, agreeably to your orders, though I believe it will be hazardous with the small force of cavalry now at my service.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Volunteers commanding.

War Department, Washington, December 7, 1864, 10:20 A. M.
Lieutenant-General Grant.
You remember that when Steele was relieved by Canby he was ordered to Cairo to report to this department. What shall be done with him? The order superseding Rosecrans by Dodge has been issued. Thomas seems [188] unwilling to attack because it is hazardous, as if all war was any but hazardous. If he waits for Wilson to get ready, Gabriel will be blowing his last horn.

Please direct General Dodge to send all the troops he can spare to General Thomas. With such an order he can be relied on to send all that can properly go. They had probably better be sent to Louisville, for I fear either Hood or Breckinridge will go to the Ohio River. I will submit whether it is not advisable to call on Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois for sixty thousand men for thirty days. If Thomas has not struck yet he ought to be ordered to hand over his command to Schofield. There is no better man to repel an attack than Thomas, but I fear he is too cautious to take the initiative.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

War Department, Washington, D. C., December 8, 1864.
Lieutenant-General Grant, City Point.
If you wish General Thomas relieved give the order. No one here will, I think, interfere. The responsibility, however, will be yours, as no one here, so far as I am informed, wishes General Thomas removed.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General, Chief of Staff.

The enemy has not increased his force on our front. Have sent gun-boats up the river above Carthage. One returned to-day and reported no signs of the enemy on the river bank from forty miles above Carthage to this place. Captain Fitch, United States Navy, started down the river yesterday with a convoy of transport steamers, but was unable to get them down, the enemy having planted three batteries on a bend of the river between this and Clarksville. Captain Fitch was unable to silence all three of the batteries yesterday, and will return again to-morrow morning, and with the assistance of the Cincinnati, now at Clarksville, I am in hopes will now be able to clear them out. So far the enemy has not materially injured the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Volunteers commanding.

Your dispatch of yesterday received. It looks to me evident the enemy are trying to cross the Cumberland, and are scattered. Why not attack at once? By all means avoid the contingency of a foot race to see which, you or Hood, can beat to the Ohio. If you think necessary call on the Governors of States to send a force into Louisville to meet the enemy if he should cross the river. You clearly never should cross, except in rear of the enemy. Now is one of [189] the fairest opportunities ever presented of destroying one of the three armies of the enemy. If destroyed he can never replace it Use the means at your command, and you can do this and cause a rejoicing from one end of the land to the other.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

City Point, Va., December 8, 1864, 10 P. M.
Major-General Halleck, Washington.
Your dispatch of 9 P. M. just received. I want General Thomas reminded of the importance of immediate action. I sent him a dispatch this evening, which will probably urge him on. I would not say relieve him until I hear further from him.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Your dispatch of 7:30 P. M. is just received. I can only say, in further extenuation why I have not attacked Hood, that I could not concentrate my troops, and get their transportation in order, in shorter time than it has been done, and am satisfied I have made every effort that was possible to complete the task.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General commanding.

Lieutenant-General Grant expresses much dissatisfaction at your delay in attacking the enemy. If you wait till General Wilson mounts all his cavalry you will wait till doomsday, for the waste equals the supply. Moreover, you will be in the same condition that Rosecrans was last year—with so many animals that you can not feed them. Reports already come in of a scarcity of forage.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General and Chief of staff.

Your dispatch of 10:30 A. M., this date, is received. I regret that General Grant should feel dissatisfaction at my delay in attacking the enemy. I feel conscious that I have done everything in my power to prepare, and that the troops could not have been gotten ready before this. And if he should order me to be relieved I will submit without a murmur.

A terrible Storm of freezing rain has come on since daylight, which will render an attack impossible till it breaks.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Vols. commanding.

The next step was a dispatch from General Grant, ordering that General Thomas should be relieved:

Dispatch of 8 P. M. last evening, from Nashville, shows the enemy scattered [190] for more than seventy miles down the river, and no attack yet made by Thomas. Please telegraph orders relieving him at once, and placing Schofield in command. Thomas should be ordered to turn over all orders and dispatches, received since the battle of Franklin, to Schofield.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

In obedience to this dispatch, according to Halleck, the following order was drawn up in the War Department, but never issued, and no trace of it can now be found there:

War Department, Adjutant-General's office, Washington, December 9, 1864.

[General orders no. —.]

The following dispatch having been received from Lieutenant-General Grant, viz.: ‘Please telegraph orders relieving him (General Thomas) at once, and placing (General) Schofield in command,’ the President orders:

1. That Major-General J. M. Schofield relieve, at once, Major-General G. H. Thomas, in command of the Department and Army of the Cumberland.

2. General Thomas will turn over to General Schofield all orders and instructions received by him since the battle of Franklin.

E. D. Townsend, A. A. G.

Nashville, Tenn., December 9, 1864, 1 P. M.
Liutenant-General U. S. Grant, City Point.
Your dispatch of 8:30 P. M. of the 8th is just received. I have nearly completed my preparations to attack the enemy to-morrow morning, but a terrible storm of freezing rain has come on to-day, which will make it impossible for our men to fight to any advantage. I am, therefore, compelled to wait for the storm to break and make the attack immediately after. Admiral Lee is patrolling the river above and below the city, and I believe will be able to prevent the enemy from crossing. There is no doubt but Hood's forces are considerably scattered along the river, with the view of attempting a crossing, but it has been impossible for me to organize and equip the troops for an attack at an earlier time. Major-General Halleck informs me that you are very much dissatisfied with my delay in attacking. I can only say I have done all in my power to prepare, and if you should deem it necessary to relieve me, I shall submit without a murmur.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Vols. commanding.

War Department, Washington, December 9, 1864, 4 P. M.
Liutenant-General Grant, City Point.
Orders relieving General Thomas had been made out when his telegram of this P. M. was received. If you still wish these orders telegraphed to Nashville they will be forwarded.

H. W. Halleck, Chief of Staff.


City Point, Va., December 9, 1864, 5:30 P. M.
Major-General Halleck, Washington.
General Thomas has been urged in every possible way to attack the enemy; even to giving the positive order. He did say he thought he should be able to attack on the 7th, but he did not do so, nor has he given a reason for not doing it. I am very unwilling to do injustice to an officer who has done so much good service as General Thomas has, however, and will, therefore, suspend the order relieving him until it is seen whether he will do anything.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

City Point, Va., December 9, 1864, 7:30 P. M.
Major-General Thomas, Nashville.
Your dispatch of 1 P. M. to-day is received. I have as much confidence in your conducting the battle rightly as I have in any other officer, but it has seemed to me you have been slow, and I have had no explanation of affairs to convince me otherwise. Receiving your dispatch to Major-General Halleck of 2 P. M. before I did the first to me, I telegraphed to suspend the order relieving you until we should hear further. I hope most sincerely that there will be no necessity of repeating the order, and that the facts will show that you have been right all the time.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General

If you delay attacking longer, the mortifying spectacle will be witnessed of a rebel army moving for the Ohio, and you will be forced to act, accepting such weather as you find. Let there be no further delay. Hood can not stand even a drawn battle so far from his supplies of ordnance stores. If he retreats and you follow, he must lose his material and most of his army. I am in hopes of receiving a dispatch from you to-day announcing that you have moved. Delay no longer for weather or reenforcements.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General

Your dispatch of 4 P. M. this day is just received. I will obey the order as promptly as possible, however much I may regret it, as the attack will have to be made under every disadvantage. The whole country is covered with a perfect sheet of ice and sleet, and it is with difficulty the troops are able to move about on level ground. It was my intention to attack Hood as soon as the ice melted, and would have done so yesterday had it not been for the storm.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Vols. commanding.

The following telegram shows that an attempt was made by [192] General Thomas to obey implicitly the order for attack, and the reason why the movement was not made:

Nashville, Tenn., December 12, 1864, 10:30 P. M.
Major-General Halleck, Washington, D. C.
I have the troops ready to make the attack on the enemy as soon as the sleet, which now covers the ground, has melted sufficiently to enable the men to march. The whole country is now covered with a sheet of ice so hard and slippery it is utterly impossible for troops to ascend the slopes, or even move over level ground in any thing like order. It has taken the entire day to place my cavalry in position, and it has only been finally effected with imminent risk and many serious accidents, resulting from the numbers of horses falling with their riders on the road. Under these circumstances, I believe that an attack at this time would only result in a useless sacrifice of life.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Vols. commanding.

On the 13th of December General Logan, then at City Point, was ordered to proceed to Nashville, and informed by General Grant that he was to take command of the Army of the Cumberland, relieving General Thomas, provided no movement had taken place upon his arrival at Nashville; and, further, that he (Grant) would leave in a few days to assume command of the forces around Nashville and fight a battle.

The order to General Logan was as follows:

headquarters armies of the United States, City Point, Va., December 13, 1864.

[special orders no. 149.]

I. Major-General John A. Logan, United States Volunteers, will proceed immediately to Nashville, Tennessee, reporting by telegraph to the Lieutenant-General his arrival at Louisville, Kentucky, and also his arrival at Nashville, Tennessee. * * * *

By command of Lieutenant-General Grant.

T. S. Bowers, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Washington, December 14, 1864, 12:30 M.
Major-General Geo. H. Thomas, Nashville.
It has been seriously apprehended that while Hood, with a part of his forces, held you in check near Nashville, he would have time to cooperate against other important points, left only partially protected. Hence, Lieutenant-General Grant was anxious that you should attack the rebel forces in your front, and expresses great dissatisfaction that his order has not been carried out. Moreover, so long as Hood occupies a threatening position in [193] Tennessee, General Canby is obliged to keep large forces on the Mississippi River to protect its navigation, and to hold Memphis, Vicksburg, etc., although General Grant had directed a part of these forces to cooperate with Sherman.

Every day's delay on your part, therefore, seriously interferes with General Grant's plans.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General and Chief of Staff.

On the 14th General Grant himself left City Point for Nashville to assume command, but was met at Washington by the news of Thomas' victory.

Your telegram of 12:30 M. to-day is received. The ice having melted away to-day, the enemy will be attacked to-morrow morning. Much as I regret the apparent delay in attacking the enemy, it could not have been done before with any reasonable prospect of success.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General U. S. Vols. commanding.

Nashville, Tenn., 9 P. M., December 15, 1864.
Major-General Halleck, Chief of Staff.
Attacked enemy's left this morning, drove it from the river, below city, very nearly to Franklin pike, distance about eight miles. * * * *

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General.

The body of the above dispatch contains a lengthy account of the movements.

Washington, December 15, 1864, 11:30 P. M.
Major-General Geo. H. Thomas, Nashville.
I was just on my way to Nashville, but receiving a dispatch from Van Duzen, detailing your splendid success of to-day, I shall go no further. Push the enemy now, and give him no rest until he is entirely destroyed. Your army will cheerfully suffer many privations to break up Hood's army, and make it useless for future operations. Do not stop for trains or supplies, but take them from the country, as the enemy has done. Much is now expected.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Washington, December 15, 1864, 12 Midnight.
Major-General Geo. H. Thomas, Nashville.
Your dispatch of this evening just received. I congratulate you and the army under your command for to-day's operations, and feel a conviction that to-morrow will add more fruits to your victory.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.


headquarters Department of the Cumberland, eight miles from Nashville, 6 P. M., December 16, 1864.
To the President of the United States, Hon. E. M. Stanton and General U. S. Grant.
This army thanks you for your approbation of its conduct yesterday, and begs to assure you that it is not misplaced.

I have the honor to report, etc. [Here follows a second report in detail.]

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General

On reaching Louisville, General Logan learned that Thomas had made a successful move, and in reporting to General Grant, requested that he might be ordered back to his command:

Have just arrived. Weather bad; raining since yesterday morning. People here jubilant over Thomas' success. Confidence seems to be restored. I will remain here to hear from you. All things going right. It would seem best that I return to join my command with Sherman.

John A. Logan, Major-General.

In reply to this, General Grant telegraphed an order directing Logan to report to General Sherman.

Immediately after the congratulatory dispatches, and while every effort was being made to press Hood's retreat, General Thomas was appealed to by Halleck to ‘capture or destroy Hood's army in order that General Sherman can entirely crush out the rebel military power in all the Southern States.’

Washington, December 21, 1864, 12 M.
Major-General Geo. H. Thomas.
Permit me, General, to urge the vast importance of a hot pursuit of Hood's army. Every possible sacrifice should be made, and your men for a few days will submit to any hardships and privations to accomplish the great result. If you can capture or destroy Hood's Army General Sherman can entirely crush out the rebel military force in all the Southern States. He begins a new campaign about the first of January, which will have the most important results if Hood's army can now be used up. A most vigorous pursuit on your part is, therefore, of vital importance to General Sherman's plans. No sacrifice must be spared to obtain so important a result.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General and Chief of Staff.


To this General Thomas replied at length and with spirit:

in the field, December 21, 1864.
Major-General Halleck, Washington, D. C.
Your dispatch of 12 M., this day, is received. General Hood's army is being pursued as rapidly and as vigorously as it is possible for one army to pursue another. We can not control the elements, and you must remember that, to resist Hood's advance into Tennessee, I had to reorganize and almost thoroughly equip the force now under my command. I fought the battle of the 15th and 16th instants with the troops but partially equipped; and, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather and the partial equipment, have been enabled to drive the enemy beyond Duck River, crossing two streams with my troops, and driving the enemy from position to position, without the aid of pontoons, and with but little transportation to bring up supplies of provisions and ammunition. I am doing all in my power to crush Hood's army, and, if it be possible, will destroy it. But pursuing an enemy through an exhausted country, over mud roads completely sogged with heavy rains, is no child's play, and can not be accomplished as quickly as thought of. I hope, in urging me to push the enemy, the department remembers that General Sherman took with him the complete organization of the Military Division of the Mississippi, well equipped in every respect, as regards ammunition, supplies, and trasportation, leaving me only two corps, partially stripped of their transportation to accommodate the force taken with him, to oppose the advance into Tennessee of that army which had resisted the advance of the army of the Military Division of the Mississippi on Atlanta, from the commencement of the campaign till its close, and which is now, in addition, aided by Forrest's cavalry. Although my progress may appear slow, I feel assured that Hood's army can be driven from Tennessee, and eventually driven to the wall by the force under my command. But too much must not be expected of troops which have to be reorganized, especially when they have the task of destroying a force, in a Winter's campaign, which was able to make an obstinate resistance to twice its numbers in Spring and Summer. In conclusion, I can safely state that this army is willing to submit to any sacrifice to oust Hood's army, or to strike any other blow which may contribute to the destruction of the rebellion.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General.

Washington, December 22, 1864, 9 P. M.
Major-General Geo. H. Thomas.
I have seen to-day General Halleck's dispatch of yesterday, and your reply. It is proper for me to assure you that this department has the most unbounded confidence in your skill, vigor, and determination to employ to the best advantage all the means in your power to pursue and destroy the enemy. No department could be inspired with more profound admiration [196] and thankfulness for the great deeds which you have already performed, or more confiding faith that human effort could do no more, and no more than will be done by you and the accomplished and gallant officers and soldiers of your command.

E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

On the same day General Grant telegraphed:

You have the congratulations of the public for the energy with which you are pushing Hood. I hope you will succeed in reaching his pontoon bridge at Tuscumbia before he gets there. Should you do so, it looks to me that Hood is cut off. If you succeed in destroying Hood's army, there will be but one army left to the so-called Confederacy, capable of doing us harm. I will take care of that, and try to draw the sting from it, so that in the Spring we shall have easy sailing. You have now a big opportunity, which I know you are availing yourself of. Let us push and do all we can before the enemy can derive benefit, either from the raising of negro troops on the plantations or white troops now in the field.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Two dispatches properly close this correspondence:

War Department, December 24, 1864.
Major-General Thomas, Nashville.
With great pleasure I inform you that for your skill, courage, and conduct in the recent brilliant military operations under your command, the President has directed your nomination to be sent to the Senate as a Major-General in the United States Army, to fill the only vacancy existing in that grade. No official duty has been performed by me with more satisfaction, and no commander has more justly earned promotion by devoted, disinterested, and valuable services to his country.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

To which General Thomas, then in the field directing the pursuit of Hood, replied:

headquarters Department of the Cumberland, McKANES' Church, Tenn.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
I am profoundly sensible of the kind expressions of your telegram of December 24th, informing me that the President had directed my name to be sent to the Senate for confirmation as Major-General United States Army, and beg to assure the President and yourself, that your approval of my services is of more value to me than the commission itself.

Geo. H. Thomas, Major-General commanding.


In the succeeding July, General Grant in that portion of his final report which related to the campaign about Nashville, made the following manly acknowledgment that the result had vindicated General Thomas' judgment:

‘Before the battle of Nashville I grew very impatient over, as it appeared to me, the unnecessary delay. This impatience was increased upon learning that the enemy had sent a force of cavalry across the Cumberland into Kentucky. I feared Hood would cross his whole army and give us great trouble there. After urging upon General Thomas the necessity of immediately assuming the offensive, I started West to superintend matters there in person. Reaching Washington City, I received General Thomas' dispatch announcing his attack upon the enemy, and the result as far as the battle had progressed. I was delighted. All fears and apprehensions were dispelled. I am not yet satisfied but that General Thomas, immediately upon the appearance of Hood before Nashville, and before he had time to fortify should have moved out with his whole force and given him battle, instead of waiting to remount his cavalry, which delayed him until the inclemency of the weather made it impracticable to attack earlier than he did. But his final defeat of Hood was so complete, that it will be accepted as a vindication of that distinguished officer's judgment.’

General Sherman himself, after introducing into his book several passages that he has for years suppressed, and which severely reflected upon General Thomas' action before Nashville, closes his consideration of the subject with these more generous words:

‘Meantime, on the 15th and 16th of December, were fought in front of Nashville, the great battles in which General Thomas so nobly fulfilled his promise to ruin Hood, the details of which are fully given in his own official reports, long since published.’

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