Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/57

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A Chapter of History. 49

Meridian, Miss., and was informed that President Davis would, at an early day, meet me at Montgomery, Ala.

The military situation was as follows:

Sherman occupied Atlanta, Hood lying some distance to the southwest; Farragut had forced the defenses of Mobile bay, captur- ing Fort Morgan, etc., and the Federals held Pensacola, but had made no movement into the interior.


Major-General Maury commanded the Confederate forces garris- oning Mobile and adjacent works, with Commodore Farrand, Con- federate Navy, in charge of several armed vessels.

Small bodies of troops were stationed at different points through the Department, and Major General Forrest, with his division of cav- alry, was in Northeast Mississippi. Directing this latter officer to move his command across the Tennessee river, and use every effort to intercept Sherman's communications south of Nashville, I proceeded to Mobile to inspect the fortifications; thence to Mont- gomery, to meet President Davis.

The interview extended over many hours, and the military situa- tion was freely discussed. Our next meeting was at Fortress Mon- roe, where, during his confinement, I obtained permission to visit him.

The closing scenes of the great drama succeeded each other with startling rapidity. Sherman marched, unopposed, to the sea, Hood was driven from Nashville across the Tennessee river, and asked to be relieved.

Assigned to this duty I met him near Tupelo, North Mississippi, and witnessed the melancholy spectacle presented by a retreating army. Guns, small arms and accoutrements lost, men without shoes or blankets, and this in a winter of unusual severity in that latitude. Making every effort to re-equip his force, I suggested to General Lee, then commanding all the armies of the Confederacy, that it should be moved to the Carolinas, to interpose between Sherman's advance and his (Lee's) lines of supply, and, in the last necessity, of retreat.

The suggestion was adopted, and this force so moved.

General Wilson, with a well-appointed and ably-led command of Federal cavalry, moved rapidly through North Alabama, seized Selma, and turning east to Montgomery, continued into Georgia.