July 2, 1864: Sherman suspects Johnston’s pulling out

Johnston's defensive lines approaching Atlanta

Johnston knows that Sherman is moving around his left, and Sherman views his demonstration on Thomas’ front to be a diversion to cover his retreat.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
July 2, 1864
Major-General SHERMAN:

I am inclined to think they are about to fall back from Kenesaw. They are evidently watching us closely.

GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General.

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JULY 2, 1864.
Major-General SHERMAN:

The enemy is aware that our wagons are moving to his left.

GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General.

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SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS,
July 2, 1864-9.20 a.m.
General THOMAS:

General Harrow, one of McPherson’s division commanders, reports that as he was about to withdraw from his position according to orders, the enemy advanced in column from the mountain and are forming in line of battle at his picket-line at 8 p.m. but I hear no firing. Have telegraphed McPherson that you have reason to believe that the enemy are retiring, and that I regard their coming out this time of night with ostentation to be evidence of their retiring, and have ordered Harrow not to withdraw now, but to feel the enemy and ascertain what he is about. You had better instruct the enemy to be felt at two or three convenient points of your line between this and midnight. We must not attempt any night movements with large forces-because confusion would result-but must be prepared at break of day to act according to the very best information we can gather during the night. I have already re-enforced.*

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
July 2, 1864.
Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of 9.20 a.m. received. The orders indicated will be given immediately. I have not learned that McCook has returned. He had orders to return when Stoneman had securely established his position. Lost Mountain has been signaled twice to-night, but he had not returned up to 9 p.m.

GEO. H. THOMAS,
Major-General.

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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
In the Field, July 2, 1864. (Received 11.40 p.m.)
Major General J. M. PALMER,
Commanding Fourteenth Army Corps:

GENERAL: There is reason to believe that the enemy intends to withdraw to-night. The major-general commanding therefore directs that you feel the enemy at some point of your line to-night and in the morning for the purpose of ascertaining whether he has done so. It will not do to attempt any night movements with large forces, because confusion would result, but the prepared at break of day to act according to the very best information we can gain to-night. General Schofield has been re-enforced by one division from General McPherson. Brigadier-General Harrow reports that as he was about to withdraw from his position, according to orders, the enemy advanced in column from the mountain and formed line of battle at his picket-line at 8 p.m. This is thought by General Sherman to be a blind to cover their retreat. General Harrow has, however, been ordered not to withdraw now, but to feel the enemy and ascertain what he is about. General Howard will also be ordered to feel the enemy in his front between this and midnight, if it can be done so soon. Please do the same on your front between now and midnight.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. D. WHIPPLE,
Chief of Staff.
(Same to General Howard.)

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Kenesaw, July 2, 1864.
General McPHERSON:

Relieve your pickets and all detachments before daylight. General Thomas will occupy such ground as he prefers to accomplish the end. He is notified that you will withdraw during the night.

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

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