berland 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.
After Hood's defeat at Nashville he retread, closely pursued by cavalry and infantry, to the Tennessee River, being forced to abandon many pieces of artillery and most of his transportation. On the 28th of December our advance forces ascertained that had made good his escape to the south side of the river. About this time, the rains having set in heavily in Tennessee and North Alabama, making it difficult to move army transportation and artillery, General Thomas stopped the pursuit by his main force at the Tennessee River. A small force of cavalry, under Colonel W. J. Palmer, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, continued to follow Hood for some distance, capturing considerable transportation and the enemy's pontoon bridge. The details of these operations will be found clearly set forth in General Thomas' report.*
A cavalry expedition, under Brevet Major-General Grierson, started from Memphis on the 21st of December. On the 25th he surprised and captured Forrest's dismounted camp at Verona, Miss., on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, destroyed the railroad, sixteen cars loaded with wagons and pontoons for Hood's army, 4,000 new English carbines, and large amounts of public stores. On the morning of the 28th he attacked and captured a force of the enemy at Egypt, and destroyed a train of fourteen cars; thence, turning to the southwest, he struck the Mississippi Central Railroad at Winona, destroyed the factories and large amounts of stores at Bankson, and the machine-shop and public property at Grenada, arriving at Vicksburg January 5. During these operations in Middle Tennessee. On the 13th of November he attacked General Gillem near Morristown, capturing his artillery and several hundred prisoners. Gillem, with what was left of his command, retreated to Knoxville. Following up his success, Breckinridge moved to near Knoxville, but withdrew on the 18th, followed by General Ammen. Under the directions of General Thomas, General Stoneman concentrated the commands of Generals Burbridge and Gillem near Bean's Station, to operate against Breckinridge and destroy or drive him into Virginia, destroy the salt-works at Saltville and the railroad into Virginia as far as he could go without endangering his command. On the 12th of December he commenced his movement, capturing and dispersing the enemy's forces wherever he met them. On the 16th he struck the enemy under Vaughan at Marion, completely routing and pursuing him to Wytheville, capturing all his artillery, trains, and 198 prisoners, and destroyed Wytheville, with its stores and supplies, and the extensive lead-works near there. Returning to Marion,
*For subordinate reports of the Nashville campaign, see Vol. XLV, Part I.