September 23, 1864: Hood up to something

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick
Brig. Gen Hugh Judson Kilpatrick


Kilpatrick reports to Sherman that Hood has cavalry across the Chattahoochee to his southwest, and is threatening the railroad line back to Chattanooga. Sherman’s position in Atlanta is precarious; he has to supply his large army with a single rail line, vulnerable to attack all along its length.

Official Records:

Camp Crooks, Ga., September 23, 1864-11 p. m.
Captain J. E. JACOBS,
Assistant Adjutant-General to Chief of Cavalry:

CAPTAIN: I have just received word from the scouting party, Second DIVISION. Captain Greeno, commanding detachment, reports that he found the enemy’s pickets about two miles this side of Davis’ Ferry, six miles south of Campbellton; he drove them in, capturing 2 belonging to Ferguson’s brigade. The prisoners report a pontoon bridge across the river at a ferry this side of Moore’s Bridge, about sixteen miles south of Davis’ Ferry. They also report a corps of infantry there (General Stewart’s command), and say that Armstrong, with his brigade, crossed the river day before yesterday for the purpose of cutting our railroad; had crowbars and picks along. General Ross’ brigade is also with Ferguson, with six pieces of artillery. General Hood’s headquarters are reported to be at some point on WEST Point railroad. This confirm the reports from my scouts forwarded to you last evening. Jackson’s DIVISION of cavalry has certainly crossed the Chattahoochee, and all the report go to show that the object is to strike our railroad.

All quiet along my line up to this hour.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding DIVISION.

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September 22, 1864: Farragut’s unwell

Admiral David Farragut

Looks like Farragut isn’t going to be able to do much to further Sherman’s grand plan, but he will wait on the east coast to support Sherman if he heads for the sea.

NEW ORLEANS, LA., September 22, 1864.

Major-General HALLECK, Chief of Staff:

Farragut has been ordered to Port Royal. His health is so much impaired that the contemplated asking to be relieved; but, on being advised of contemplated operations, and that Sherman might possibly come in at some point on the Gulf, at once relinquished the idea and determined to remain. He feels himself that he is not at present physically equal to the task of organizing any new operations of magnitude, and that while he can be of service here he would break down in the new assignment. This is my own belief, although I have a strong personal wish that he should remain, I believe that I am not selfish in asking that the case may be considered under this view of it. Will you please submit it to the proper authorities?



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September 21, 1864: Sherman proposes a grand strategy

William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman has a plan that sort of sounds like he forgot who was in charge of the Union armies. In any case, his idea is that while the fleet threatens Mobile as a distraction, Grant should take Savannah, and then Sherman can take Augusta. Not quite how it works out, I’m predicting.

Official Records:

In the Field, Atlanta, September 21, 1864.

Lieutenant-General GRANT, City Point, Va.:

Lieutenant-Colonel Porter will start back in the morning, and will bring you full answer to your letter, also all my official reports of the past. I prefer that General Canby and a part of Farragut’s fleet should continue to threaten Mobile City, but not attempt its capture; that a small force with gun-boats ascend the Appalachicola to the arsenal and up to Columbus, if possible; that you take city of Savannah by a coup de main at the same time or soon after your active movements about Petersburg and the mouth of Cape Fear River. Savannah in our possession, and boats at liberty to work up the Savannah River, I am willing to start for Augusta in the manner I proposed in my letter of last night, which Colonel Porter will bring. I beg you to give my personal congratulations to Sheridan and my earnest hope that he will push Early back on Lynchburg. He can’t do much up the Tennessee and Virginia Valley; it is too long. Burbridge will attempt the capture and destruction of the salt -works about Abingdon from Kentucky and Knoxville. Schofield has gone to Knoxville to make the arrangements. All well.



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September 20, 1864: Sherman’s not so bad.

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

Augusta Daily Constitutionalist
ran an article from the Macon Telegraph about the treatment of refugees from Atlanta. Surprisingly, the Georgia press reports that Sherman’s treating them pretty well.

DAILY CONSTITUTIONALIST [AUGUSTA, GA], September 20, 1864, p. 2, c. 1 From Atlanta.

—Refugees report generally kind personal treatment from General Sherman and his officers. Whatever exceptions may have occurred, have been in violation of orders—instances of individual pilfering, which cannot always be prevented in an army, and in many cases have been detected and punished.

A friend whose wife was left an invalid in Atlanta, and came within our lines a day or two since, says that at her request Gen. Sherman came to see her, and finding her unable to attend to the arrangement of her moveables for transportation, had them all boxed up nicely and transported to our lines, even to her wash-tubs. The Federal General held three hours conversation with her and justified at length his order for the removal—insisting that in his exposed position—liable to be cut off and besieged, it was the part of humanity to require that non-combatants should not be exposed to the privations and perils to which his army must probably be subjected—and worse, because he could not provide food for a large population. Goods left behind were stored, and duplicate receipts given, with the promise that they should be safely returned.

Refugees report that Sherman’s army is going North by thousands and his force is now very small. Whether this movement is confined to men who are going out of service, or embraces reinforcements to Grant, they were unable to say.—Macon Telegraph. 

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September 20, 1864: Hood on the move

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick

Kilpatrick’s cavalry find that Hood is probing northward, while apparently the infantry are preparing to make a pontoon bridge crossing of the Chattahoochee somewhere. Sherman’s keeping an eye on them.

Camp Crooks, September 20, 1864- 9. 30 p. m.

CAPTAIN: The enemy’s cavalry in considerable force occupied Campbellton at 7 a. m. this evening, and one column advanced on Sandtown road. Another column moved from Campbellton out on the Fairburn road; had reached Enon Church at 8 p. m. In fact all the roads from Campbellton across to Sideling approaching my front were covered at sundown this evening by the enemy’s advancing cavalry. A long wagon train of the enemy went into camp at sundown on the creek one-half mile beyond Campbellton. I have withdrawn my vedettes and pickets, behind Camp Creek, and will make every effort to hold the stream, but my line is too long to make a successful resistance against a determined attack at any one point. If infantry was sent to hold the country from that point to the Chattahoochee. I send you a map of this portion of the country.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Atlanta, Ga., September 20, 1864.

Brigadier General J. KILPATRICK,

Commanding THIRD DIVISION Cavalry:

The general commanding directs me to inform you that it is reported the enemy has sent a pontoon train, of about 100 wagons, from Griffin toward Jonesborough, and that rebel troops are moving from Lovejoy’s, in what direction is not yet known. You will ascertain, if possible, the movements of the enemy by a reconnaissance on the left bank of the Chattahoochee. You will also send Aldridge out again and gain all the information possible. General Garrard has been directed to make a reconnaissance on the right of the Chattahoochee for the same purpose.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.

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September 19, 1864: Sherman to Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

Sherman reports to Grant. He’s keeping an eye on Hood’s movements, but he needs recruits to replace troops whose enlistment is up.

Official Records:

In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., September 19, 1864.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Va.:

GENERAL: Your messenger has not yet arrived. Things remain statu quo. Most of the inhabitants are gone, and I am exchanging 2,000 prisoners with Hood on a special exchange, with the understanding that I get an equal number of my own men back whom I can put right away to duty. He raised the question of humanity, but I am not to be moved by such tricks of the enemy. I have taken high ground with Hood on purpose. A deserter just in says Stewart’s corps is moving back to Macon with a view of going to Virginia. I have ordered one of my female scouts+ from New Orleans to Augusta, and will send some out from here and give you prompt notice of any of Hood’s army going East. I can quickly bounce him out of Lovejoy’s, but think him better there where I can watch him that farther off. I await the arrival of your messenger with impatience. All well, but large numbers of our men and officers are being discharged-time out-and we must have recruits.

Major-General, Commanding.

+ Mrs. N. W. Meyer, under assumed name of Nora Winder.

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September 18, 1864: Hardee, get a move on.

William J. Hardee

Hood needs Hardee to move to arrange his counterattack on Sherman.

Official Records:

LOVEJOY’S STATION, GA., September 18, 1864.
Lieutenant-General HARDEE, Jonesborough:

If you do not move to-day, General Hood expects you to march and get into position to-morrow. He still hopes that the wagons will reach you in time. he suggests in case they do not, however, that some of the loads be left to be brought up by the wagons at Rough and Ready when they arrive at Jonesborough.

Assistant Adjutant-General.]

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September 17, 1864: Fall of Atlanta and the loss of Confederate property

Refugees leaving Atlanta

The Richmond Daily Dispatch gives an uncharacteristically honest look into the turmoil surrounding Hood’s abandonment of Atlanta.

The loss of Government property at Atlanta.

–A letter to the Augusta (Ga.)Register gives an account of the loss of Government property at Atlanta upon its evacuation by General Hood.–It says:

The destruction of Government property when evacuating the city was quite extensive, and a good deal of blame is attached to several high officials.–Charges of negligence and incapacity are freely indulged in. General Shoup, chief of staff, and Colonel McMicken, chief quartermaster, are both blamed; and it is said the latter has demanded a court of inquiry. Whoever is the guilty party will probably be shown in time. Suffice it that one of the finest lots of ordnance stores ever collected together in any army, (some thirty-odd car loads) not to speak of sundry, car loads of camp and garrison equipage, &c., had to be committed to the flames upon Thursday night for want of transportation.

A large amount of commissary stores were given away to the citizens and to the Relief Society, who, in turn, were obliged to give them to the people, who, crowded around the various depots of subsistence, clamored like hungry wolves for food. The scene on Whitehall street as the day advanced toward its close was one of the wildest confusion; straggling soldiers, drunk upon commissary whiskey, which was plentiful as water, went shouting along, ever and anon firing off their muskets; citizens — men, women and children — swarmed along the sidewalks loaded down with the debris of a raid upon some Relief Society, or what they could snatch from the loaded cars before they were backed down to the rolling-mill to be fired. I hardly imagined, until I saw the constant stream of people passing to and fro, that so many still remained in the city; and the thought occurred to me then, I remember, how so many ever crowded down into the bomb-proofs during the shelling.

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September 16, 1864: Halleck congratulates Sherman

Henry Halleck

Sherman and Halleck were old friends, and occasionally they wrote each other warm personal notes. In this letter, Halleck praises Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, commiserates with him over the state “Negro recruiters”, and dishes a little dirt on Hooker, who left Sherman in a huff over seniority.

Official Records:

Washington, September 16, 1864.
General W. T. SHERMAN,
Atlanta, Ga.:

MY DEAR GENERAL: Your very interesting letter of the 4th is just received. Its perusal has given me the greatest pleasure. I have not written before to congratulate you on the capture of Atlanta, the objective point of your brilliant campaign, for the reason that I have been suffering from my annual attack of “coryza,” or hay cold. It affects my eyes so much that I can hardly see to write.

As you suppose, I have watched your movements most attentively and critically, and I do not hesitate to say that your campaign has been the most brilliant of the war. Its results are less striking and less complete than those of General Grant at Vicksburg, but then you have had greater difficulties to encounter, a longer line of communication to keep up, and a longer and more continuous strain upon yourself and upon your army. You must have been very considerably annoyed by the State negro recruiting agents.

Your letter was a capital one and did much good. The law was a ridiculous one; it was opposed by the War Department, but passed through the influence of Eastern manufacturers who hoped to escape the draft in that way. They were making immense fortunes out of the war, and could well afford to purchase negro recruits, and thus save their employees at home.

I fully agree with you in regard to the policy of a stringent draft, but, unfortunately, political influences are against us, and I fear it will not amount to much. Mr. Seward’s foolish speech at Auburn, again prophesying for twentieth time that the rebellion would be crushed in a few months, and saying that there would be no draft, as we now had soldiers enough to end the war, &c., has done much harm in a military point of view. But these infernal old political humbugs cannot tell the truth even when it is for their interest to do so. I have seen enough of polities here to last me for life. You are right in avoiding them. McClellan may possibly reach the White House, but he will lose the respect of all honest, high-minded patriots by his association with such traitors and copperheads as Belmount, Vallandigham, Wood, Seymour, and Co. He could not stand upon the traitorous Chicago platform, but he had not the manliness to oppose it. A major-general in the United States service, and yet not one word to utter against rebels or the rebellion! I had much respect for McClellan before he became a politician, but very little after reading his sneaking and cowardly letter accepting the nomination.

Hooker certainly made a mistake in leaving before the capture of Atlanta. I understand that when here he said that you would fail, your army was discouraged and dissatisfied, &c. He is most unmeasured in his abuse of me. I inclose you a specimen of what he publishes in Northern papers wherever he goes.* They are dictated by himself, and written by Wilkes, Butterfield, and such worthies. The funny part of the business is that I had nothing whatever to do with his being relieved on either occasion. Moreover, I never said anything to the President or Secretary of War to injure him in the slightest degree, and he knows that perfectly well. His animosity arises from another source. He is aware that I know something about his character and conduct in California, and fearing that I may use that information against him, he seeks to ward off its effects by making it appear that I am his personal enemy, am jealous of him, &c. I know of no other reason for his hostility to me. He is welcome to abuse as much as he pleases; I don’t think it will do him much good or me much harm.

I know very little of General Howard, but believe him to be a true, honorable man. Thomas is also a noble old was horse. It is true that he is slow, but he is always sure.

I have not seen General Grant since the fall of Atlanta, and do not know what instructions he has sent you.

I fear that Canby has not the means to do much by way of Mobile.

The military effects of Banks’ disaster are now showing themselves by the threatened operations of Price and Colonel toward Missouri, thus keeping in check our armies west of the Mississippi.

With many thanks for your kind letter and wishers for your future success,
Yours, truly,


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September 15, 1864: Fear for the prisoners at Andersonville

Andersonville Prison

The New York Times describes the situation of the Union prisoners held at Andersonville. The editor feels that there is no chance of a prisoner rebellion, but that the southerners may use this an excuse to massacre them.

Published: September 15, 1864
– The rebels seem to be in some fear that the thirty thousand or more Union prisoners confined at Andersonville, in Western Georgia, will rise up against their keepers and guards and make an attempt at escape; and they also tell us that when Gen. SHERMAN visited the rebel hospitals at Jonesboro, a few days since, he told the rebels that he was going to Atlanta to rest his army, and would next proceed to Andersonville. The idea of Gen. SHERMAN going round and narrating his plans and purposes to wounded rebels, is decidedly novel.
The authentic diagram of the camp at Andersonville, in which our prisoners are confined, which we published ten days since, showed that any attempt to escape on their part, with or without outside help, would be at once futile and fatal. In the first place, it must be borne in mind that a very large proportion of these Union prisoners are very sick, and that the whole of them are entirely unarmed. In the second place, there is a very large body of vigilant and trusty rebels on guard all around the camp, night and day; and, as appeared by our diagram, the whole camp is also surrounded by heavy batteries of artillery, which would play with fearful havoc upon the huddled masses of men in case they were to attempt to break away, or in case the warning were given to the rebels in charge that a military force was approaching to the relief of our prisoners. If SHERMAN were approaching, and the rebels could not get our prisoners away, an hour or two would enable them to destroy the greater part of our men. They could easily find some pretext, such as mutiny or insubordination, for opening fire upon them; and with the past history and deeds of the rebels before us, who can doubt that they would do it?
We see no hope for our suffering prisoners but in the exchange, which we now hope it will soon be in the power of our Government to consummate.

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