July 3, 1864: Sherman pursues Johnston hard.

Johnston's defensive lines approaching Atlanta

Sherman is sure that Johnston would never take up a defensive position trapped against the Chattahoochee at his back, so he must be trying to cross it. Therefore, Sherman wants to press forward hard in order to catch Johnston astride the river. “We will never have such a chance again…”, so he urges all his forces to move fast.

MARIETTA, GA., July 3, 1864-10 a.m.
(Received 5 p.m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

The movement on our right caused the enemy to evacuate. We occupied Kenesaw at daylight and Marietta at 8.30 a.m. Thomas is moving down the main road, toward the Chattahoochee; McPherson toward the mouth of Nickajack on the Sandtown road. Our cavalry is on the extreme flank. Whether the enemy will halt this side of Chattahoochee or not will soon be known. Marietta is almost entirely abandoned by its inhabitants, and more than a mile of the railroad iron is removed between the town and the foot of Kenesaw. I propose to press the enemy close till he is across the Chattahoochee River, when I must accumulate stores and better guard my rear.



JULY 3, 1864.
General THOMAS:

I can see our men on top both Big and Little Kenesaw.



July 3, 1864.
General THOMAS:

I have sent Audenried to you, telling that Stoneman’s cavalry has pursued the enemy across the Chattahoochee near Campbellton. Schofield reports all quiet in his front, and I have ordered him to cross Nickajack Creek. I want you with your entire army to follow substantially the main army till he is across the Chattahoochee or makes a stand. McPherson will occupy Marietta and Kenesaw until further developments, and Garrard’s cavalry will feel over toward Roswell Factory.



In the Field, Marietta, Ga., July 3, 1864-6.45 p.m.
General THOMAS:

The more I reflect the more I know Johnston’s halt is to save time to cross his material and men. No general, such, as he, would invite battle with the Chattahoochee behind him. I have ordered McPherson and Schofield to cross Nickajack at any cost and work night and day to get the enemy started in confusion toward his bridges. I know you appreciate the situation. We will never have such a chance again, and I want you to impress on Hooker, Howard, and Palmer the importance of the most intense energy of attack to-night and in the morning and to press with vehemence at any cost of life and material. Every inch of his line should be felt and the moment there is a give, pursuit should be made-by day with lines, but by night with a single head of column and section of artillery to each corps, following a road. Hooker should communicate with McPherson by a circuit if necessary and act in concert. You know what loss would ensue to Johnston if he crosses his bridges at night in confusion with artillery thundering at random in his rear. I have reason to know that if our head of column had marched for Ruff’s instead of Marietta we would have cut off 2,000 men and 300 wagons. But still we have now the best chance ever offered, of a large army fighting at a disadvantage with a river to his rear. Send copies of this to Hooker, Palmer and Howard. I have instructed Schofield, McPherson, and Garrard.


Major-General, Commanding.

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