Sherman orders McPherson to push westward from Decatur toward Atlanta, as his other armies join him to ring the city. McPherson, forming Sherman’s left flank, is concerned that Hood seems to be moving troops around his unprotected left. He’s moving some of his own forces that way to protect himself from a flank attack.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, July 21, 1864-1 a. m.
Army of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have yours of 8.45 last evening and regret much the wound which will deprive us of the services of General Gresham. I was in hopes you could have made a closer approach to Atlanta yesterday, as I was satisfied you had a less force and more inferior works than will be revealed by daylight, if, as I suppose, Hood proposes to hold Atlanta to the death. All afternoon heavy and desperate sallies were made against Thomas, all along his lines from left to right, particularly heavy against Newton and Geary, but in every instance he was roughly handled; considerable firing has been going on all night along Howard’s lines, and still continues. To-morrow I propose to press along the whole line, and try to advance Thomas, so that we will command the Chattahoochee’s east bank, and contact our lines by diminishing the circle. I think to-morrow Hood will draw from his left and re-enforce his right. Nevertheless, I deem it necessary that you should gain ground so that your artillery can reach the town easily; say within 1,000 yards of the inner or main lines. I have ordered Garrard to send to Roswell his wagons and impediments and push rapidly and boldly on the bridges across the Yellow River and Ulcofauhachee, near Covington, to be gone two days. Give orders that in the mean time no trains come up you from Roswell. He will substantially cover the road back because all the cavalry in that direction will be driven away, still seem squads might be left about Stone Mountain, as he will take the direct road from Decatur to Covington, passing considerably south of Stone Mountain. Order your ordnance wagons and those that you may have left about Decatur up to your immediate rear. I will ride over to Thomas to-morrow morning and would like to hear from you before starting. If at any time you see signs of retreat on the part of the enemy follow up with all possible vigor, keeping to the left or south of Atlanta and following roads that will keep you on that flank. If Hood was as roughly handled by Thomas this afternoon as reported, and in addition the little artillery he has displayed to-day, I would not be astonished to find him off in the morning, but I see no signs looking that way yet. In case he retreats it will be toward Macon, whither all the advance stores have been sent, and most of the provisions. I want him pursued vigorously for a couple of days.
W. T. SHERMAN,
IN THE FIELD, July 21, 1864-3 p. m.
GENERAL: Brigadier-General Leggett, commanding Third Division, Seventeenth Army Corps, advanced his lines and captured a hill, quite a commanding position, this forenoon; also, some 60 prisoners, principally from Cleburne’s division. General Leggett is on my extreme left. The Fourth Division (late Gresham’s) made a demonstration at the same time in favor of Leggett, and the loss in the two divisions is between 260 and 300 killed and wounded. The hill is two and a quarter miles from Atlanta, and a portion of the enemy’s works around the town are in view. The enemy made one vigorous and two feeble attempts to recapture the hill, but were signally repulsed. Since that time he to has been moving troops in the direction of our left. General Leggett reports having seen at least ten regiments of infantry passing in that direction. I have strengthened that portion of the line with all the available troops I have got, and I will simply remark in closing, that I have no cavalry as a body of observation on my flank, and that the whole rebel army, except Georgia militia, is not in front of the Army of the Cumberland.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,