July 28, 1864: Ezra Church

Atlanta campaign map

Sherman, unable to circle around the east side of Atlanta, decided to send the Army of the Tennessee around the west in another attempt to cut the road to Macon, 80 miles to the south. He ordered Howard — including the 15th Corps, now back under Black Jack Logan — to move silently around to the right on the night of the 27th. Hood wasn’t fooled, and tried to hit Howard’s flank. Howard, who had known Hood at West Point, was prepared for the attack and repulsed Hood readily at Ezra Church. This time Sherman is right that the Confederate losses were far higher than his own — Hood lost over 3000 to around 600 on the Union side. While Howard didn’t get to the Macon road, Hood could hardly afford more losses.

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Numbers 63.
Before Atlanta, Ga., July 27, 1864.

Brigadier General Woods, commanding First Division, will, as soon as the moon rises to-night, move into position on the right of the Seventeenth Army Corps, and form in two lines.

Brigadier General William Harrow, commanding Fourth Division, will form with a brigade front of the right of Brigadier-General Woods, refusing his entire line about right angles with General Woods. As soon as he shall have gone into position the rest of his troops will be formed in line in reserve.

Brigadier General M. L. Smith, commanding Second Division, will, as soon as General Harrow shall have gone into position, form one brigade on his right, and refuse the line thus formed, and place on brigade in reserve to the right and rear of his front line.

It is important that these movements be made before daylight, and division commanders should communicate with each other at once, through staff officers, the better to facilitate the movement. All wagons that are necessary to be had by the command will be brought forward and parked at convenient distances in the rear, the rest will be left in charge of Captain Emery, acting chief quartermaster, until needed. Ammunition sufficient to make 100 rounds per man will be brought forward to-night and place near enough to the several commands to be accessible, should it be needed. Each division commander should know just where to get it.

By order of Major General John A. Logan:

R. R. TOWNES,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

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NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 28, 1864 – 9 p. m.
(Received 29th.)
Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

The enemy again assaulted to-day; this time on our extreme right, to which flank I had shifted the Army of the Tennessee, to gain ground toward the railroad. The blow fell upon the Fifteenth Corps, which handsomely repulsed it, capturing 4 regimental flags. The attack was kept up for five hours. Our men were partially covered, while the enemy were exposed. Our loss is comparatively small, while that of the enemy is represented as heavy. I will give approximate figures to-morrow. The cavalry has now been out two days, and to-morrow should show the effect. I feel confident they will reach the Macon road. Our right is about a mile distant from the railroad, but the ground is very difficult. I may be forced to extend still farther to command it. We had heavy cannonading all day, the enemy using ordnance as heavy as 6-inch rifled guns. Bragg has been to Atlanta on a second visit.

W. T. SHERMAN.

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July 28, 1864. (Received 9.15.)
General THOMAS:

Try and thin your strong lines as much as possible to-morrow, so as to make good reserves for action. Let these reserves be ready to move at any moment. Our cavalry surely will reach the Macon road to-night, and to-morrow the enemy will do something desperate.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

Posted in Atlanta, George Thomas, Georgia, John A. Logan, John Bell Hood, Oliver O. Howard, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 27, 1864: Sherman promotes Howard

O. O. Howard

Sherman put O.O. Howard in charge of the Army of the Tennessee to replace McPherson. Logan was angry over this because he took command during the battle, and felt that Howard’s promotion was the work of the “West Point clique”. Hooker was angry because he outranked Howard, and held him responsible for defeat at Chancellorsville. Lincoln reportedly tried to sway Sherman to put Hooker in charge instead of Howard, but Sherman refused — but the dispatches, if any, have not survived. There is this cryptic response from Sherman, and his report to Halleck about his plans. Hooker resigns in protest, and Sherman and Thomas will let him go.


NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 27, 1864.
(Received 12.05 a. m. 29th.)

From

His Excellency President LINCOLN,
Washington:

SIR: Your dispatch of yesterday is received. I beg you will not regard me as fault finding, for I assert that I have been well sustained in every respect during my entire service. I did not suppose my dispatches go outside the offices at the War Department. I did not suppose you were troubled with such things. Hovey and Osterhaus are not worthy men, and had they been promoted on the eve of the Vicksburg campaign, it would have been natural and well accepted; but I do not think you will admit that their promotion, coming to us when they had gone to the rear, the one offended because I could not unite in the same division five infantry and five cavalry regiments, and the other for temporary sickness. You can see how ambitious aspirants for military fame regard these things. They come to me and point them out as evidences that I am wrong in encouraging them to a silent, patient discharge of duty. I assure you that every general of my army has spoken of it and referred to it as avoidance that promotion results from importunity and not from actual service. I have refrained from recommending any thus far in the campaign, as I thing we should reach some stage in the game before stopping to balance accounts or writing history. I assure you that I do think you have conscientiously acted throughout the war with marked skill in the matter of military appointments, and that as few mistakes have been made as could be expected. I will furnish all my army and division commanders with a copy of your dispatch, that they may feel reassured.

With great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

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Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

My two cavalry expeditions are off to make a wide circuit and reach the Macon road well to the southeast of Atlanta, and the Army of the Tennessee is shifted to the extreme right, reaching well toward the railroad, so that I think to-morrow must develop something. The cavalry will have to fight the enemy’s cavalry, and we can hold the infantry and artillery to Atlanta and force them to extend and choose between Atlanta and East Point. I don’t think the enemy can hold both. All are well pleased with general Howard’s appointment but Generals Logan and Hooker. The former thought he ought to have been allowed the command of the army in the field until the end of the campaign; but I explained to him that a permanent department commander had to be appointed at once, as discharges, furloughs, and much detailed business could alone be done by a department commander. General Hooker is offended because he thinks he is entitled to the command. I must be honest and say he is not qualified or suited to it. He talks of quitting. If General Thomas recommends, I shall not object. He is not indispensable to our success. He is welcome to any place the President awards, but I cannot name him to so important a command as the Army of the Tennessee. All is well. The enemy to-day offered no serious opposition to the changes of to-day, and our skirmishing and artillery were just enough to make things interesting.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

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NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 27, 1864 – 11 p. m.
(Received 7.30 p. m. 28th.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

General Hooker has applied to be relieved of the command of the Twentieth Army Corps, assigning as a reason the appointment of General Howard, his junior, to command the Army of the Tennessee. General Thomas asks the following appointments: Generals D. S. Stanley to command the Fourth Corps, vice Howard, transferred; General H. W. Slocum to command the Twentieth Corps, vice Hooker, relieved at his own request. I approved these nominations, and ask orders by telegraph that General Slocum may be summoned from Vicksburg, where he now is.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Atlanta, George Thomas, Georgia, John A. Logan, Kenner Garrard, Oliver O. Howard, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 26, 1864: Howard takes command of the Army of the Tennessee

O. O. Howard

Sherman gets some promotions in his ranks, and puts O.O. Howard in charge of the Army of the Tennessee. Needless to say, John Logan was expecting that command, since he took charge on the battlefield. Logan will complain that it’s a conspiracy by the West Point clique.


CITY POINT, VA., July 26, 1864 – 2 p. m.

(Received 8.10 p. m.)

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

Your dispatch of 9 a. m. 24th just received.* The vacancies yet remaining for brigadier-generals I would like to have given to such men as Sherman may recommend. He has conducted his campaign with great skill and success. I would, therefore, confirm all his recommendations for department and corps commanders. No one can tell so well as one immediately in command the disposition that should be came of the material on hand. Osterhaus has proved himself a good soldier, but if he is not the field I regret his promotion.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

WASHINGTON, July 26 – 4 p. m.

Major-General SHERMAN,

Georgia:

General Howard is assigned, as requested, to command the Army and Department of the Tennessee.

H. W. HALLECK,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

Posted in Atlanta, Georgia, John A. Logan, Oliver O. Howard, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 25, 1864: Sherman trying to cut supply lines to Atlanta

Kenner Garrard

Garrard’s cavalry need rest, but Sherman tells him he can’t have much. He’s sending him out around Atlanta to cut railroad lines before Hood can be reinforced.

Official Records:


HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY DIVISION,
July 25, 1864.
Major-General SHERMAN,
Commanding Army:

GENERAL: Last night the rest of my command arrived, bringing about 30 prisoners and some hundred negroes. The depot at Social Circle and a large amount of supplies, including a lot of new Government wagons were burned. It will take three or four days to put my command in order. My wagons are not up, and I do not know where they are. I have also over 1,000 horses unshod. I can to all duty required of me on this flank, but, if possible, would like it to be so arranged as not to send me off again for some days. General Sherman spoke to me last night, before I had time to know fully my condition, about some expedition. I could only reply that I would try to carry out all orders, but could not at that time pass my judgment in regard to its probable success or the strength I could bring to bear. If the route is taken proposed by him I think it will amount to a fight with rebel cavalry and very doubtful if much damage can be done. A raid to be a success must be made be light bodies and done quickly and the whole should be a surprise. In connection with a general advance, of course, the cavalry expect to do its share of fighting and drive off that of the enemy. But I regard the two very different affairs. I inclose you the letter of instructions asked for, and in conclusion would mention to your favorable notice my three brigade commanders, Colonel Miller, Colonel Minty, and Colonel Long. They are all good officers and manage their brigades well.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
K. GARRARD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Marietta, July 25, 1864.
General GARRARD,
Commanding Division of Cavalry:

GENERAL; Yours of to-day is received. I beg you will convey to Colonels Minty, Long, and Miller the assurances that I fully appreciate the services recently rendered. I would like to give all the time you ask for rest, reshoeing, &c., but am advised by General Grant that I must be prepared for a re-enforcement to the rebel army from Virginia, and want to prevent it. I am afraid I will have to call on you and also on General Rousseau’s cavalry to start again the day after to-morrow, but I propose that yours and Rousseau’s should be in the nature of support to General Stoneman and General McCook, who will be charged to make the circuit and break the Macon road well to the rear, say below McDonough.

I wanted General Stoneman to consult and advise with you and bring me your opinion, but my plan is that all my army shall swing round by the right against East Point, whilst the cavalry right and left move by a circuit, and by detachments reach the railroad so as to cut off the last link of the enemy’s communications. That done, I think we can pause for rest and all sorts of repairs. Every minute we delay will add to the magnitude of the undertaking, which I take it for granted the enemy must apprehended, and will be calling in his scattered cavalry to thwart and prevent it.

I am, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in Atlanta, Georgia, Kenner Garrard, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 24, 1864: Sherman’s situation

Sherman

Black Jack Logan is temporarily in command of the Army of the Tennessee, having taken charge after McPherson was killed on July 22. Sherman sends him instructions to continue that army’s mission of destroying railroad supply lines going into Atlanta, starting with the Augusta railway.

“Go on breaking that road good.”

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 24, 1864.

Major General JOHN A. LOGAN,

Commanding Army of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: I have pretty well surveyed the whole position, and by the aid of maps and my own observations think I understand the case pretty well. Our lines are now strong in front, and we compass Atlanta from the railroad on the east to the railroad west. The enemy, having failed in his assault on your flank before it was covered by any defensible works, and having sustained most serious loss, will not again attempt it, but will await our action.

I now inclose you a map* made by General Schofield’s engineers, which shows the road to your present right rear. I sent Captain Poe to see you this morning, but from what Captain Hickenlooper says I think I may have failed to convey to you my right meaning, which is this: The only object in placing the Army of the Tennessee on that flank was to reach and destroy the railroad from Atlanta toward Augusta. That is partially done, and the work of destruction should be continued as far as possible.

I wish you to keep one division or more employed day and night in breaking and burning the road until General Garrard returns. I feel no doubt but that he has succeeded in breaking the bridges across the Yellow River and the Ulcofauhachee, but he may have to fight his way back, and to relieve him I wish you to push your skirmishers out from General Dodge’s front of General Blair’s left, as though you were going to push your way to the east of Atlanta toward the Augusta road.

To keep up this delusion, you should send a column cautiously down one of those roads or valleys, southeast, and engage the enemy outside his works, but not behind his trenches. As soon as General Garrard is back you can discontinue all such demonstration and prepare for your next move. I propose to give you timely notice to send your wagons behind General Thomas and then to move your army behind the present to the extreme right, to reach, if possible, the Macon road, which you know to be the only road by which Atlanta can be supplied.

This will leave General Schofield the left flank, which will be covered by the works he has constructed on his front, and he can use the abandoned trenches of the enemy to cover his left rear. You will no longer send your wagons by Roswell, but by Buck Head and Pace’s Ferry, and when you change you will draw from the railroad bridge, to which our cars now run, and at which point we are making a pier bridge, as also two of pontoons.

General Stoneman will surely be at Decatur to-day, and we will have two divisions of cavalry on our right viz, General McCook’s and [Colonel] Harrison’s (General Rousseau’s).

Act with confidence. Know that the enemy cannot budge you from your present ground, and act offensively to show him that you dare him to the encounter. You can understand that being on the defensive he cannot afford to sally unless at great peril. General Schofield has so strengthened his front that I fell no uneasiness about that flank, and only study now to make the next move so quickly that we may reach East Point or vicinity with as little loss as possible.

My headquarters are now behind General Howard’s corps, General Newton’s division, on the main Marietta and Atlanta road, which crosses the Chattahoochee at Pace’s Ferry and passes through Buck Head. I am at a large white house near the enemy’s old line of entrenchments, a prolongation of the same which passes from where I saw you yesterday by General Schofield’s position. I have just heard that General Garrard is back.

Go on breaking that road good.

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in Atlanta, Georgia, John A. Logan, John Bell Hood, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 23, 1864: Sherman needs cavalry

George Stoneman

George Stoneman
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Sherman has repulsed Hood’s attack, and now faces him ensconced in Atlanta’s defenses. He can’t move until he has some cavalry to give him more information about enemy movements and positions, so he recalls Stoneman.


HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 23, 1864-2 a. m.
Major-General THOMAS,
Army of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: I have heard of Colonel Rousseau’s return to Marietta. Please order him at once to relieve General Stoneman on the other side of the river, and let General Stoneman come to me with whole force. Please send the inclosed order for me at once. The attack on our left to-day has been desperate and persistent, and the losses on both sides quite heavy. I want you to relieve it to-morrow by an actual attack or strong demonstration on the right. I will send you word early in the day, if it is renewed. I suppose it will be kept up as long as General Garrard is out. I want General Stoneman to move out to General Garrard’s relief. You can use Generals McCook and Rousseau on your right.

I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.
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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 23, 1864.
General STONEMAN,
Turner’s Ferry:

I sent an order for you to send a brigade of cavalry at once. I have just learned that General Rousseau has arrived at Marietta from Opelika and have ordered him to relieve you. Have all your men ready to start the moment General Rousseau comes. Turn over to him your instructions and the use of your pontoon that he may cross over at Turner’s the moment his horses are rested and General Thomas orders him.

I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.
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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 23, 1864-8 p. m.
Major-General SCHOFIELD, Commanding Army of the Ohio:

GENERAL: I have examined our line of circumvallation, and have no fear of the enemy even attempting to test its strength. But until we get our cavalry in hand and position, I will not attempt anything serious. You may therefore keep things statu quo, and look only to your supplies of food and ammunition. I have seen General Rousseau, and am satisfied he has made a break that cuts off Alabama for a month, and he has brought us in pretty fair condition some 2,500 additional cavalry.

I am, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in Atlanta, George Stoneman, George Thomas, Georgia, John Bell Hood, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 22, 1864: Battle of Atlanta

James B. McPherson

Sherman’s troops report that Hood has abandoned Atlanta. Actually, he’s sent Hardee around Sherman’s left in a night march for a surprise attack on McPherson’s left. Although McPherson suspected something and strengthened his left, the fighting was still fierce and nearly a catastrophe for Sherman. While reconnoitering in front of his troops, McPherson happened to come in range of a rebel sniper, and was killed instantly by a shot through his lungs. “Black Jack” Logan took over command, and was able to repulse the rebel attack. The rebel losses exceeded those of the union, and Hood again took up defensive positions around Atlanta. Although Sherman’s report to Halleck of course does not reveal his personal feelings, he was deeply hurt by the loss of his close personal friend.


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
In the Field, July 22, 1864.
Major General J. HOOKER,
Commanding Twentieth Army Corps:

GENERAL: The enemy has evacuated his works around Atlanta. The major-general commanding directs that you push on in pursuit by a road, if one can be found, running between the columns of Generals Palmer and Howard. General Palmer has been ordered to move in a southwesterly direction by road running from about his right, and General Howard by road running near Atlanta, but north of it and in the same direction as General Palmer. All out troops and General Schofield’s move north by Atlanta.

Yours, very respectfully,
WM. D. WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,

In the Field, July 22, 1864-6 a. m.
Major General JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commanding Fifteenth Army Corps:

GENERAL: The enemy having evacuated their works in front of our lines, the supposition of Major-General Sherman is that they have given up Atlanta and are retreating in the direction of East Point. You will immediately put your command in pursuit, passing to the south and east of Atlanta, without entering the town. You will keep a route to the left of that taken by the enemy, and try to cut off a portion of them while they pressed in rear and on our right by Generals Schofield and Thomas. Major-General Sherman desires and expects a vigorous pursuit.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
Major-General.

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CAMP ON RAILROAD,
Four miles from Atlanta, July 22, 1864-9 p. m.
Major THOMAS T. ECKERT,
Superintendent U. S. Military Telegraph:

At daylight to-day it was found that the rebels had gone from entire front, and General Sherman announced the occupation of Atlanta by Schofield, and ordered pursuit by Thomas in the fortifications of Atlanta, and not Schofield. We hold road to within two miles and a half of center of place, and that is about the average distance of whole line, though Schofield and Dodge are nearer. Fighting has ben severe, and we have lost General McPherson, killed by shot through lungs while on a reconnaissance. It is thought that enemy will be gone in the morning, as they have attacked and been repulsed since dark. Hood fights his graybacks desperately.

J. C. VAN DUZER,
Cipher Operator, U. S. Military Telegraph.

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GENERAL FIELD ORDERS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT, AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Numbers 3.
Before Atlanta, Ga., July 22, 1864.

In pursuance of instructions from Major General W. T. Sherman, commanding Military Division of the Mississippi, I hereby assume command of the Army of the Tennessee in the field. The department staff will remain unchanged, and reports and returns will be made as heretofore.

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Major-General.

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NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 23, 1864-10.30 a. m.
(Received 6 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:
Yesterday morning the enemy fell back to the entrenchments proper of the city of Atlanta, which are in a general circle of a radius of one mile and a half we closed in. While we were forming our lines and selecting positions for batteries, the enemy appeared suddenly out of the dense woods in heavy masses on our extreme left, and struck the Seventeenth Corps (General Blair’s) in flank, and was forcing it back, when the Sixteenth (General Dodge’s) came up and checked the movement, but the enemy’s cavalry got well to our rear and into Decatur, and for some hours our left was completely enveloped. The fighting that resulted was continuous until night, with heavy loss on both sides. The enemy took one of our batteries (Murray’s, of the Regular Army) that was marching in its placing in column on the road unconscious of danger. About 4 p. m. the enemy sallied against the division of General Morgan L. Smith, which occupied an abandoned line of rifle-trenches near the railroad, east of the city, and forced it back some 400 yards, leaving in his hands for the time two batteries, but the ground and batteries were immediately after recovered by the same troops, re-enforced.

I cannot well approximate our loss, which fell heaviest on the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, but count it 3,000; but I know that, being on the defensive, we have inflicted equally heavy loss on the enemy. General McPherson, when arranging his troops, about 11 a. m., and passing from one column to another, unconsciously rode upon an ambuscade without apprehension and at some distance ahead of his staff and ordered and was shot dead. His body was sent in charge of his personal staff back to Marietta and Chattanooga. His loss at that moment was most serious, but General Logan at once arranged the troops, and had immediate direction of them during the rest of the day.

Our left, though refused somewhat, is still within easy cannon-range of Atlanta. The enemy seems to man his extensive parapets and, at the same time, has to spare heavy assaulting columns; but to-day we will intrench our front lines, which will give me troops to spare to meet these assault. I cannot of the loss of more than a few wagons, taken by the enemy’s cavalry his temporary pause in Decatur, whence all the trains had been securely removed to the rear of the main army, under of a brigade of infantry, commanded by Colonel Sprague. During the heavy attack on the left, the remainder of the line was not engaged.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

Posted in Atlanta, Georgia, Henry Halleck, James B. McPherson, John A. Logan, John Bell Hood, William J. Hardee, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 21, 1864: McPherson is concerned about his left flank

William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman orders McPherson to push westward from Decatur toward Atlanta, as his other armies join him to ring the city. McPherson, forming Sherman’s left flank, is concerned that Hood seems to be moving troops around his unprotected left. He’s moving some of his own forces that way to protect himself from a flank attack.

Official Records:


HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, July 21, 1864-1 a. m.
General McPHERSON,
Army of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: I have yours of 8.45 last evening and regret much the wound which will deprive us of the services of General Gresham. I was in hopes you could have made a closer approach to Atlanta yesterday, as I was satisfied you had a less force and more inferior works than will be revealed by daylight, if, as I suppose, Hood proposes to hold Atlanta to the death. All afternoon heavy and desperate sallies were made against Thomas, all along his lines from left to right, particularly heavy against Newton and Geary, but in every instance he was roughly handled; considerable firing has been going on all night along Howard’s lines, and still continues. To-morrow I propose to press along the whole line, and try to advance Thomas, so that we will command the Chattahoochee’s east bank, and contact our lines by diminishing the circle. I think to-morrow Hood will draw from his left and re-enforce his right. Nevertheless, I deem it necessary that you should gain ground so that your artillery can reach the town easily; say within 1,000 yards of the inner or main lines. I have ordered Garrard to send to Roswell his wagons and impediments and push rapidly and boldly on the bridges across the Yellow River and Ulcofauhachee, near Covington, to be gone two days. Give orders that in the mean time no trains come up you from Roswell. He will substantially cover the road back because all the cavalry in that direction will be driven away, still seem squads might be left about Stone Mountain, as he will take the direct road from Decatur to Covington, passing considerably south of Stone Mountain. Order your ordnance wagons and those that you may have left about Decatur up to your immediate rear. I will ride over to Thomas to-morrow morning and would like to hear from you before starting. If at any time you see signs of retreat on the part of the enemy follow up with all possible vigor, keeping to the left or south of Atlanta and following roads that will keep you on that flank. If Hood was as roughly handled by Thomas this afternoon as reported, and in addition the little artillery he has displayed to-day, I would not be astonished to find him off in the morning, but I see no signs looking that way yet. In case he retreats it will be toward Macon, whither all the advance stores have been sent, and most of the provisions. I want him pursued vigorously for a couple of days.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

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IN THE FIELD, July 21, 1864-3 p. m.
Major-General SHERMAN,
Commanding:

GENERAL: Brigadier-General Leggett, commanding Third Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, advanced his lines and captured a hill, quite a commanding position, this forenoon; also, some 60 prisoners, principally from Cleburne’s division. General Leggett is on my extreme left. The Fourth Division (late Gresham’s) made a demonstration at the same time in favor of Leggett, and the loss in the two divisions is between 260 and 300 killed and wounded. The hill is two and a quarter miles from Atlanta, and a portion of the enemy’s works around the town are in view. The enemy made one vigorous and two feeble attempts to recapture the hill, but were signally repulsed. Since that time he to has been moving troops in the direction of our left. General Leggett reports having seen at least ten regiments of infantry passing in that direction. I have strengthened that portion of the line with all the available troops I have got, and I will simply remark in closing, that I have no cavalry as a body of observation on my flank, and that the whole rebel army, except Georgia militia, is not in front of the Army of the Cumberland.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
Major-General.

Posted in Atlanta, George Thomas, Georgia, J.M. Schofield, James B. McPherson, John Bell Hood, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 20, 1864: Battle of Peachtree Creek

Gen. George Thomas

Hood, hoping to take advantage of Thomas’ separation from the rest of Sherman’s forces, attacked him in front of Peachtree Creek. Although the rebels did break through his lines once or twice, the attacks were repulsed, and casualties were approximately equal on both sides. Thomas’ men had had time to prepare some fortifications by 4 PM when the attack began. As always, the defenders had a significant advantage, and in this situation, the Union troops were in a defensive position.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Decatur, Ga., July 20, 1864-1.55 a. m.
General THOMAS:

I am now in possession of your sketch, which is perfectly clear and plain. In advancing this morning, of course we will bring on a heavy battle, and should be as fully prepared as possible. I think as your troops are now disposed your right will be too strong as compared with your left. I have, therefore, to request that Stanley and Newton, of Howard’s corps, move by the road Stanley is now on, making a right wheel gradually until they can met with Schofield and Wood. In other words, I wish you to strengthen your left and risk more to your right, for the reason that as Atlanta is threatened the enemy will look to its rather than the river. Now, I have read the papers, and Rousseau has surely broken up the road about Opelika very opportunely. We have done complete works east of Decatur, and luckily it appears that a locomotive has blown up and encumbered the track on the Macon road, so now is the time for us to strike in force. Do keep me fully advised, as I am pressed from right, left, and center with questions as to the dispositions of the different commands. But all now are in good position, and it only remains to find out where is the artificial defenses of the enemy.

I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

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HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND,
July 20, 1864-6.15 p. m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: The enemy attacked me in full force at about 4 p. m., and has persisted until now, attacking very fiercely, but he was repulsed handsomely by the troops all along my line. Our loss has been heavy, but the loss inflicted upon the enemy has been very severe. We have taken many prisoners, and General Ward reports having taken 2 stand of colors. I cannot make at present more than this general report, but will send you details as soon as I can get them from my corps commanders.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,

GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 20, 1864-6.10 [p. m.]
General THOMAS:

DEAR GENERAL: I have your of 12 m. I have been with Howard and Schofield to-day, and one of my staff is just back from General McPherson. All report the enemy in their front so strong that I was in hopes none were left for you, but I see it is the same old game; but we must not allow the enemy to build a new system of fortifications. We cannot pass Atlanta without reducing it, and the more time we give them the harder it will be to carry. General Schofield is near the distillery, where the enemy is fortifying. General Howard is just where he first encountered the enemy, four miles back from Atlanta, and McPherson is on the railroad, about two miles and half out, but reports a line of breast-works, but does not seem certain. I wish you to press forward all the time, and thereby contract the lines. If we can shorten our line either to the left or right, we should attempt to break up West Point. I rather incline to think it best to swing to the right, but hope to-morrow’s work may develop some weak park. The enemy attempted to sally against Cox, but were quickly repulsed. I saw the skirmishers of the other division of Schofield make a dash at a line of rifle-pits, carrying it and capturing about 100 prisoners. I was anxious to-day to prevent the enemy from making a new and larger line of breast-works than had been at first prepared, which is so near Atlanta that artillery could overreach and enter the town. All the prisoners captured by Schofield are of Hood’s corps, though each division commander insists he has to fight two corps. All the ground I have seen is densely wounded, but the roads are good. We will to-morrow press at all points and contract our line, so as to spare a column for detached service. It seems to me Palmer can force the enemy to evacuate the works on this bank of the Chattahoochee or be captured. I will push Schofield and McPherson all I know how.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

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HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS,

Durand’s Farm, Ga., July 20, 1864-7 p. m.

General WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: I moved the two divisions, as directed, across both branches of Peach Tree Creek, formed a junction with General Schofield between four and five miles from Atlanta. We have found the enemy in strong force in our front. General Stanley drove the rebel skirmishers first from rail barricades, afterward from well-constructed rifle-pits. The enemy opened on him with musketry and artillery General Stanley has deployed two brigades and General Wood two. General Wood’s right brigade occupies General Stanley’s position of last night on the other side of North Fork. General Newton’s operations for the day have not reported officially. Prisoners taken from Cheatham’s and Stevenson’s divisions.

Respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD,
Major-General.

Written after dusk; can’t see.

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Major General H. M. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have a dispatch from General Grant. Answer him in my name that Major General Smith has the very orders he suggests,
viz, to hang on the Forrest and prevent his coming to Tennessee. I will, however, renew the order. I advanced from the Chattahoochee in force on the 17th. On the 18th General McPherson and Garrard’s cavalry reached the August road and destroyed Peach Tree Creek, General McPherson occupying Decatur. To-day we moved on Atlanta, and have been fighting all day. Our line now extends from a point on the railroad two miles and a half east of Atlanta, and extends around by the north to the mouth of Peach Tree Creek. We find the enemy in force, but will close in to-morrow. By the Atlanta papers we learn that Johnston is relieved and Hood commands; that Rousseau is on the railroad at Opelika, and that most of the newspapers and people have left Atlanta. General Thomas is on my right, General Schofield the center, and General McPherson on the left, General Garrard’s cavalry on the left rear of General McPherson, and Generals Stoneman and McCook on the west bank, guarding our right flank. The enemy still clings to his intrenchments. If General Grant can keep Lee from re-enforcing this army for a week, I think I can dispose of it. We have taken several hundred prisoners, and had some short severe encounters, but they were partial; but we have pressed the enemy back at all points until our rifle-shot can reach the town. If he strengthens his works I will gradually swing around between him and his only source of supplies, Macon.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

Posted in Atlanta, George Thomas, Georgia, John Bell Hood, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

July 19, 1864: Sherman closes in on Atlanta

Sherman sets out his orders for the attack on Atlanta. Schofield and McPherson are about to link up at Decatur; Thomas is still getting his troops across the creeks north of Atlanta. And both rumors and the Atlanta papers are saying that Hood has replaced Johnston.


SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., Numbers 39.
In the Field, near Decatur, Ga., July 19, 1864.

The whole army will move on Atlanta by the most direct roads to-morrow, July 20, beginning at 5 a. m., as follows:

I. Major-General Thomas from the direction of Buck Head, his left to connect with General Schofield’s right about two miles northeast of Atlanta, about lot 15, near the houses marked as “Hu.” and “Colonel Hoo.”

II. Major-General Schofield by the road leading from Doctor Powell’s to Atlanta.

III. Major-General McPherson will follow one or more roads direct from Decatur to Atlanta, following substantially the railroad.
Each army commander will accept battle on anything like fair terms, but if the army reach within cannon-range of the city without receiving artillery or musketry fire he will halt, form a strong line, with batteries in position, and await orders. If fired on from the forts or buildings of Atlanta no consideration must be paid to the fact that they are occupied by families, but the place must be cannonaded without the formality of a demand.

The general-in-chief will be with the center of the army, viz, with or near General Schofield.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON,
Aide-de-Camp.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, one [mile] and a half from Decatur, July 19, 1864-12 m.
General HOWARD:

I have received your note. It is true Johnston is relieved and gone east. I have seen a copy of his order of farewell to his troops. Hood is in command and at Atlanta.

I want Thomas to have more of his command at Buck Head. A division will be ample west of Nancy’s. All the rest should be from Buck Head east. I wish him to press hard at all the crossings of the main Peach Tree Creek, but your corps should be across in the direction of Decatur or Pea Vine Creek.

General Schofield sent to communicate with you, and the bearer, approached by one of the crossings, the second one from the mouth of the South Fork, but was fired on, he thinks, by your pickets, wounding an orderly, and he returned. You will have no trouble in crossing the two forks of Peach Tree any where above the forks. General Schofield now holds the forks of the Atlanta and Decatur road, and is skirmishing on both, but thinks he will soon have the head of his column at Decatur. McPherson is approaching the same objective point from the east, having broken up the railroad good. I will write to General Thomas by a courier, and give him such orders as will enable you to put your corps across both forks of Peach Tree between Schofield and your present position.

Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

Posted in Atlanta, George Thomas, Georgia, J.M. Schofield, James B. McPherson, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment