Thomas needs troops to defend Tennessee in Sherman’s rear, and in any case Sherman has to have a highly mobile force for his planned march. Here Sherman sends the Fourth Corps to the rear, as well as other troops who aren’t physically up to a long slog. He’s still worrying about what Hood is up to, but he really doesn’t want to be diverted from his plans now.
GAYLESVILLE, ALA., October 27, 1864-10 a. m.
(Received 2 a. m. 28th.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff:
I have sent the Fourth Corps, General Stanley, back to Stevenson. This corps is about 15,000 strong. I will also send all the men not suited to our long march, but they will answer for defending posts. These, with what General Thomas has, will enable him to hold Tennessee, and in a few days I hope to be all ready to carry into effect my original plan. no doubt Hood has gone off toward the west, about Decatur, and may attempt and succeed in crossing the Tennessee, although that river is high and patrolled by gun-boats. If he attacks fortified places he will soon cripple his army, so that Thomas can dispose of him. I will await a few days to hear what head he makes about Decatur, and may yet turn to Tennessee; but it would be a great pity to take a step backward. I think it would be better even to let him ravage the State of Tennessee, provided he does not gobble up too many of our troops. General Thomas is well alive to the occasion, and better suited to the emergency that any man I have. He should be strengthened as much as possible, as the successful defense of Tennessee should not be left to chance.
W. T. SHERMAN,