July 18, 1864: Sherman’s armies separated

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

Sherman’s troops are taking their positions around Atlanta. Thomas occupies the position just north of Atlanta, and is in the process of crossing Peachtree Creek; his IV Corps under O.O. Howard is crossing the tributary Nancy Creek. Schofield and McPherson are boh to the east towar Decatur, cutting railroad lines that supply the city. While Sherman outnumbers Hood close to 2:1, his forces are in a precarious position, separated from each other, and Thomas astride the water. I don’t think Sherman yet knew he was facing Hood, but Hood could not resist such a chance.


Official Records:


July 18, 1864-7 p. m. (Received 10.45 a. m. 19th.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

We moved to-day rapidly and General McPherson reached the Atlanta and Augusta road at a point seven miles east of Decatur and four miles from Stone Mountain. General Garrard’s cavalry at once set to work to break up road and was re-enforced by Brigadier General Morgan L. Smith’s division of infantry, and they except by night to have five miles of road effectually destroyed. Thus far we have encountered only cavalry with light resistance, and to-morrow will move on Decatur and Atlanta. I am fully aware of the necessity of making the most of time and shall keep things moving.

W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

In the Field at Sam. House’s, Peach Tree Road, Five miles northeast of Buck Head, Ga., July 18, 1864.
Major-General THOMAS,
Buck Head, Ga.:

GENERAL: I have reports from General McPherson to 2 p. m. He had reached the railroad at a point two miles from Stone Mountain and seven miles from Decatur; had broken the telegraphs and road, and by 5 p. m. will have four or five miles broken. To-morrow I want a bold push for Atlanta and have made my orders, which, I think, will put us in Atlanta or very close to it. Hold about Howell’s Mill and the main road and let your left swing across Peach tree about the South Fork and connect with Schofield, who will approach Decatur from the north, Johnston will give up Atlanta without a fight, but it may be so. Let us develop the truth.
Yours, &c.,

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

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HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS,

Buck Head, Ga., July 18, 1864-7 p. m.
Brigadier-General WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: Newton left camp 4.30 o’clock this morning, followed by the other divisions. Just as skirmishers emerged from the pine woods, before reaching Nancy’s Creek, the rebels opened with artillery, which seemed to be a section supported by cavalry. They occupied a good elevated position across the creek, having burned the bridge. On this account they were able to hold us in check some little time. They gave way as soon as we got our artillery into a good position. We extinguished the fire, saved a portion of the bridge, and reconstructed it. During the rest of the march to this place the rebel cavalry made quite stubborn resistance. It was a Kentucky brigade under Williams. At once place regular barricades were constructed of logs and covered with boughs. When our men approached to within 150 yards they received a volley, but in this case as in several others the skirmishers cheered and charged them out. We have had 5 men wounded; none reported killed. Two officers fell into our hands, 1 a lieutenant-colonel, killed and a captain, severely wounded. I posted my command as directed, in advance of the Turner’s Ferry road along the main ridge, all but one brigade, which was posted on the left of the Roswell Factory and Atlanta road.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. HOWARD,
Major-General, Commanding.

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