On the 16th of November, when about leaving Tuscumbia, Ala., on a tour of inspection to Corinth, Miss., I was informed by General Hood of the report just received by him that Sherman would probably move from Atlanta into Georgia. I instructed him at once to repeat his orders to General Wheeler to watch closely Sherman's movements, and should he move as reported, to attack and harass him at all favorable points. I telegraphed to Lieutenant-General Taylor, at Selma, Ala., to call on Governor Watts, of Alabama, and Governor Clark, of Mississippi, for all the State troops that they could furnish, and with all the available movable forces of his department to keep himself in readiness to move at a moment's notice to the assistance of Major Gens. Howell Cobb and G. W. Smith, who were then at or about Griffin, GA., threatening Atlanta. I also telegraphed to General Cobb to call upon Governor Brown, of Georgia, and Governor Bonham, of South Carolina, for all the State troops that could be collected. I made all necessary preparations to repair forthwith to Georgia in the event of Sherman's executing his reported movement.
On my arrival at Corinth, on the 18th of November, having been informed that Sherman had commenced his movement, I issued all necessary orders to meet the emergency, including an order to General Hood to send one division of cavalry (Jackson's) to re-enforce Wheeler, but this order was suspended by him, his objection being that his cavalry could not be reduced without endangering the success of his campaign in Tennessee, and that General Wheeler already had thirteen brigades under his command. I finally instructed him to send only one brigade, if he contemplated taking the offensive at once, as had already been decided upon. I then left Corinth for Macon, where I arrived on 24th of November.
I did not countermand the campaign into Tennessee to pursue Sherman with Hood's army for the following reasons:
First. The roads and creeks from the Tennessee to the Coosa Rivers across Sand and Lookout Mountains had been, by the prevailing heavy rains, rendered almost impassable to artillery and wagon trains.
Second. General Sherman, with an army better appointed, had already the start of about 275 miles, on comparatively good roads. The transfer of Hood's army into Georgia could not have been more expeditious by railway than by marching through the country, on account of the delays unavoidably resulting from the condition of the railroads.
Third. To pursue Sherman the passage of the Army of Tennessee would necessarily have been over roads with all the bridges destroyed, and through a devastated country, affording no subsistence or forage, and, moreover, it was feared that a retrograde movement on our part would seriously deplete the army by desertions.
Fourth. To have sent off the most or the whole of the Army of Tennessee in pursuit of Sherman would have opened to Thomas' forces the richest portion of the State of Alabama, and would have made nearly certain the capture of Montgomery, Selma, and Mobile, without insuring the defeat of Sherman.
Fifth. I October last, when passing through Georgia to assume command of the Military Division of the West, I was informed by Governor Brown that he could probably raise, in case of necessity, about 6,000 men, which I supposed might be doubled in a leavy en masse. General Cobb informed me, at tat at Augusta, Macon, and Columbus he had about 6,500 local troops, and that he hoped shortly to have collected at his reserve and convalescent camps near Macon 2,500 more. Of these 9,000 men he supposed about one-half, or 5,000, could be made available as movable troops for an emergency.