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.

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:

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.


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