Tuesday, July 26, 1864

NEAR ATLANTA, GEORGIA, July 26, 1864: 9 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Tomorrow we begin the move against Atlanta, having strongly trenched our front from the railroad east of Atlanta to the hill on the south of Proctor’s Creek. I move the whole Army of the Tennessee to the right, extending the line south, threatening East Point, and forcing, as I think, Hood to abandon Atlanta or allow us, at small cost, to occupy the railroad south of the town, that to the east being well destroyed. At the same time I send by the right a force of about 3,500 cavalry, under General McCook, and round by the left about 5,000 cavalry, under Stoneman, with orders to reach the railroad about Griffin. I also have consented that Stoneman (after he has executed this part of his plan), if he finds it feasible, may, with his division proper (about 2,000), go to Macon and attempt the release of our officers, prisoners there, and then to Andersonville to release the 20,000 of our men, prisoners there. This is probably more than he can accomplish, but it is worthy of determined effort. While these are in progress I will, with the main army, give employment to all of the rebel army still in Atlanta.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I wrote to Stoneman:
I have received your letter of July 26, asking permission after breaking good the railroad below McDonough to push on to Macon, release the officers there, and afterward to go to Anderson[ville] and release the men confined there. I see many difficulties, but, as you say, even a chance of success will warrant the effort, and I consent to it. You may, after having fulfilled my present orders, send General Garrard back to the left flank of the army, and proceed with your command proper to accomplish oath or either of the objects named., I will keep the army busy, so that you shall have nothing to contend with but the cavalry, and if you can bring back to the army any or all those prisoners of war it will be an achievement that will entitle you and the men of your command to the love and admiration of the whole country. Be careful to break telegraph wire and railroad when and where you go, especially the telegraph, as it will prevent the enemy following your movement.

WASHINGTON, July 26, 1864: 2.30 p. m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Near Atlanta:
I have just seen complaining of the appointment of Hovey and Osterhaus. The point you make is unquestionably a good one, and yet please hear a word from us. My recollection is that both General Grant and yourself recommenced both Hovey and Osterhaus for promotion, and these, with other strong recommendations, drew committals from us which we could neither honorably or safely disregard. We blamed Hovey for coming away in the manner in which he did, but we knew he had apparent reason to feel disappointed and mortified, and we felt it was not best to crush one who certainly had been a good soldier. As to Osterhaus, we did not know of his leaving at the time we made the appointment, and do not now know the terms on which he left. Not to have appointed him, as the case appeared to us at the time, would have been almost, if not quite, a violation of our word. The word was given on what we thought was high merit and somewhat on his nationality. I beg you to believe we do not act in a spirit of disregarding merit. We expect to await your programme for further changes and promotions in your army. My profoundest thanks to you and your whole army for the present campaign so far.
A. LINCOLN

Major-General SHERMAN, Georgia:
General Howard is assigned, as requested, to command the Army and Department of the Tennessee.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General and Chief of Staff

I wrote to Thomas:
General McCook represents the enemy’s cavalry to his front intrenched behind good works, extending from about White Hall down to the Chattahoochee, and he apprehend difficulty in breaking through. I have consented to his down the west bank of the Chattahoochee to a point about Campbellton, crossing there and striking out for the railroad. This will turn the position of the cavalry, and force them back to meet General McCook on more open ground.
Major-General Howard is ordered to the command of the Army and Department of the Tennessee. I want him in his new command at once.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I wrote to Howard:
I have this moment received a dispatch from Halleck. You are assigned to command the Army and Department of the Tennessee. I want you tomorrow to assume command and give directions to the army as it goes into position tomorrow. If you will come to my headquarters, I will ride with you and explain my wishes.
I am, truly, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, 
In the Field, before Atlanta, Ga., July 26, 1864

Major-General THOMAS and SCHOFIELD:
GENTLEMAN: As a part of the movement tomorrow I wish, while the cavalry is moving out, say at 6 a.m., and General Logan’s troops shifting from left to right, that you send from some point of the front of each division in our line of circumvallation a bold party of about a regiment strong to push back the enemy’s outlying pickets and feel their position. This will have the effect of holding them and drawing there as large a body of the enemy as possible, as he will on such a display.

Inasmuch as Jeff. C. davis’ division is placed as a strong right flank, and therefore will be almost entirely in reserve when the Army of the Tennessee gets to the right, I wish the demonstration to his front be still more decided, viz, a whole brigade should move on the ridge due south from the hill intrenched beyond Proctor’s Creek, and should push back the enemy beyond any little rifle-pits to his main line, which will be found up on the main ridge which extends from Atlanta to East Point. This brigade should move toward the old village of White Hall, about two miles and a half from Atlanta. These demonstrations should proceed slowly and deliberately, and last all day, and should be as bold and provoking to the enemy as possible, tempting him to sally out and test our present lines.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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Tuesday, July 26, 1864

TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Head-Quarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field near Atlanta Georgia
July 26,1864.

Dearest Ellen,
I got your long letter and one from Minnie last night and telegraphed you in general terms that we are all well. We have Atlanta close aboard as the Sailors say but it is a hard nut to handle. These fellows fight like Devils & Indians combined, and it calls for all my cunning & strength.

Instead of Attacking the Forts, which are really unassailable, I must gradually destroy the Roads which make Atlanta a place worth having. This I have partially done. Two out of three are broken and we are now manoeuvering for the third.

I lost my Right bower in McPherson, but of course it is expected, for with all the natural advantages of bushes, cover of all Kinds we must all be killed. I mean the General officers. McPherson was riding within his Lines behind his wing of the Army, but the enemy had got round the flank & crept up one of those hollows with bushes that concealed them completely. It has been thus all the way from Chattanooga, and if Beauregard can induce Davis to adopt the Indian policy of ambuscade which he urged two years ago, but which Jeff thought rather derogatory to the high pretenses of his Cause to Courage & manliness, every officer will be killed, for the whole country is a forest, so that an Enemy can waylay every path and Road, & could not be found.

Poor Mac, he was killed dead instantly. I think I shall prefer Howard to Succeed him. Charley is quite well, goes today to inspect some cavalry that must start tomorrow on a Raid. Corse is relieved from my Staff & given a Division in Dodge’s command. Charley ought to keep you advised of these things, the truth is I have other things to think of.

Yours ever,
W. T. S.
p.s. You have fallen into an Error about McPherson. He was not out of his place or exposing himself nearer than I and Every General does daily: he was to the Rear of his Line, riding by a Road he had passed twice that morning. The thing was an accident that resulted from the blind character of the Country we are in, dense woods fill all the ravines & hollows, and which little cleared ground there is is on the Ridge levels, or the alluvium of Creek bottoms. The hills are all Chestnut ridges with quartz and granite boulders & gravel. You can’t find an hundred acres of land clear ground between here & Chattanooga, and not a day passes but what every General officer may be shot as McPherson was. That you may understand I make a small diagram.

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Monday, July 25, 1864

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1864-8 a. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
I find it difficult to make prompt report of results coupled with some data or information without occasionally making some mistakes. General McPherson’s sudden death, and General Logan succeeding to the command, as it were, in the midst of battle, made some confusion on our extreme left, but it soon recovered and made sad havoc with the enemy, who had practiced one of his favorite games of attacking our left when in motion and before it had time to cover its weak end. After riding over the ground and hearing the varying statements of the actors on that flank, I directed General Logan to make me an official report of the actual results, and I herewith inclose it.

Though the number of dead rebels seems excessive, I am disposed to give full credit to the report that our loss, though only 3,521 killed, wounded, and missing, the enemy’s dead alone on the field nearly equal that number, viz, 3,240. Happening at that point of the line when a flag of truce was sent in to ask permission for each party to bury its dead, I gave General Logan authority to permit a temporary truce on that flank alone, while our labors and fighting proceeded at all others. I also send you copy of General Garrard’s report of the breaking of railroad toward Augusta. Now I am grouping my command to attack the Macon road, and with that view will intrench a strong line of circumvallation and flanks, so as to have as large an infantry column to co-operate as possible with all the cavalry to swing round to the south and east to control that road at or below East Point.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,Major-General, Commanding

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1864: 8.30 p.m.
Lieutenant-General GRANT, Petersburg, Va.:
Your dispatch of the 21st did not come till today. Johnston is relieved and Hood commands. Hood has made two attempts to strike hard since we crossed the Chattahoochee, and both times got more than he bargained for. No doubt he expects to cut to my rear, but I have already cut to his rear, having broken his Augusta road out for fifty miles, and his Southern road at Opelika. None remains to him but the Macon road, and I think I will have that soon. I would rather that Hood should fight it out at Atlanta than to retreat farther toward Macon. If you can keep away re-enforcement all will be well. My army is all in hand, and rear well guarded.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1864

Colonel JAMES A. HARDIE, Inspector-General:
I have your dispatch of yesterday, announcing the appointment of General Osterhaus as major-general. I do not object to his appointment, but I wish to put on record this my emphatic opinion, that it is an act injustice to officers who stand by their posts in the day of danger to neglect them and advance such as Hovey and Osterhaus, who left us in the midst of bullets to go the rear in search of personal advancement. If the rear be the post of honor, then we had better all change front on Washington.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Garrard, Back from his raid to the Northeast reports:

Last night the rest of my command arrived, bringing about 30 prisoners and some hundred negroes. The depot at Social Circle and a large amount of supplies, including a lot of new Government wagons were burned. It will take three or four days to put my command in order. My wagons are not up, and I do not know where they are. I have also over 1,000 horses unshod. I can do all duty required of me on this flank, but, if possible, would like it to be so arranged as not to send me off again for some days. General Sherman spoke to me last night, before I had time to know fully my condition, about some expedition. I could only reply that I would try to carry out all orders, but could not at that time pass my judgment in regard to its probable success or the strength I could bring to bear. If the route is taken proposed by him I think it will amount to a fight with rebel cavalry and very doubtful if much damage can be done. A raid to be a success must be made be with light bodies and done quickly and the whole should be a surprise.

In connection with a general advance, of course, the cavalry expect to do its share of fighting and drive off that of the enemy. But I regard the two very different affairs. I inclose you the letter of instructions asked for, and in conclusion would mention to your favorable notice my three brigade commanders, Colonel Miller, Colonel Minty, and Colonel Long. They are all good officers and manage their brigades well.
K. GARRARD, Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

I wrote General Thomas:
General Garrard is back all safe, having lost but 2 men. He destroyed the bridges across the branches of the Ocmulgee, and the depots at Conveyers, Covington, and Social Circle, and brought in 200 prisoners and a fine lot of fresh horses and negroes. He is now at Decatur resting, but we must all get in motion by the day after tomorrow. I thought Captain Dayton had sent you word about General Garrard’s return. General Logan now foots up the killed of the enemy at 3,200, and 2,100 prisoners. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing, 3,500 and 10 guns.
Send word to General McCook and notify him to have his and Colonel Harrison’s command all ready for the big raid by daylight of day after tomorrow, and that if convenient after giving his orders, I would like to see him in person tomorrow.
I understand that General McCook’s cavalry was across Proctor’s Creek and held the east bank at Turner’s Ferry, and ordered a pontoon bridge to be made to connect his and Colonel Harrison’s cavalry, but on reaching Proctor’s Creek it was found that our pickets were across the creek, but not out as far as the Turner’s Ferry road. Order General McCook out early tomorrow to cover that ferry, that the bridge may be put down and Colonel Harrison and he put in communication.

I gave orders for tomorrow:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, 
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 25, Numbers 42. 
1864

I. The several armies and bodies of cavalry will watch the enemy closely to their respective fronts, and in case the enemy retreats toward the southeast General Schofield will follow directly through Atlanta, General Thomas by roads on his right, and General Logan on his left. Generals Stoneman’s and Garrard’s cavalry will move by a circle to the left toward McDonough, break the railroad, and strike the enemy in front or flank, and General McCook’s and Colonel Harrison’s cavalry will move on Fayetteville and the railroad beyond, breaking it if possible, in advance of the enemy, and striking the enemy in flank.

II. Should the enemy remain as now, on the defensive, inside of the fortifications of Atlanta, the Macon road must be attacked by cavalry beyond Fayetteville and McDonough, and the infantry must cover the line from the Howard house, General Schofield’s present center, to General Davis’ position on the right, and the line extended east and south so as to reach or threaten the railroad toward East Point. To this end Generals Stoneman and Garrard will call in all detachments and send tomorrow to Roswell or in rear of the infantry all crippled stock and incumbrances, prepared to move at daylight the next morning by a circuit to the left, so as to reach the railroad below McDonough. General Stoneman will command this cavalry force, but will spare General Garrard’s fatigued horses as much as possible, using that command as reserve, and his own as the force with which to reach and break the railroad. In like manner General McCook will command the joint cavalry command, his own, and of Colonel Harrison’s, but will use Colonel Harrison’s fatigued command as a reserve, and his own to reach the road and break it. The railroad when reached must be substantially destroyed for a space of from two to five miles, telegraph wires pulled down as far as possible and hid in water or carried away.

III. Major-General Schofield will prepare to draw back his left division to the old rebel line, extending back from the Howard house toward the road by which General Stanley advanced, and be prepared on the withdrawal of the Army of the Tennessee to hold that line as the left flank of the grand army.

IV. Major-General Logan will tomorrow send all his trains, and sick, and impediments to the rear of General Thomas to any point near the mouth of Peach Tree Creek, and during the early morning by moonlight of the next day, viz, Wednesday, July 27, withdraw his army, corps by corps, and moved it to the right, forming on General Palmer, and advancing the right as much as possible.

V. Major-General Thomas having strongly fortified his front will hold it by an adequate force, and hold the reserves at points most convenient to move to the right, from which point he will strike and destroy the railroad, or so occupy the attention of the enemy that the cavalry may do its work completely and effectually.

VI. The cavalry will, unless otherwise orders, move out at daylight of Wednesday, 27th instant, and aim to reach and break the railroad during the day or night of the 28th, and having accomplished this work will return to their proper flanks of the army, unless the enemy should be discovered in retreat, when each force described will hang on the flanks of the retreating enemy and obstruct his retreat by all the energy in their power.

VII. All commanders will arrange that their trains be moved behind the Chattahoochee, or behind the center of the army during the time the cavalry is absent in the execution of this duty.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

GENERAL ORDERS, 
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Numbers 21. 
Nashville, Tenn., July 25, 1864.

I. General Orders, Numbers 20, current series, from these headquarters, is extended to include the prohibition of the exportation from this State of any agricultural produce of the kinds required for the army.

II. The use of grain for distillation within this State is prohibited.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

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Sunday, July 24, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, 
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 24, 1864

Major General JOHN A. LOGAN, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
I have pretty well surveyed the whole position, and by the aid of maps and my own observations think I understand the case pretty well. Our lines are now strong in front, and we encompass Atlanta from the railroad on the east to the railroad west. The enemy, having failed in his assault on your flank before it was covered by any defensible works, and having sustained most serious loss, will not again attempt it, but will await our action.

I now inclose you a map made by General Schofield’s engineers, which shows the road to your present right rear. I sent Captain Poe to see you this morning, but from what Captain Hickenlooper says I think I may have failed to convey to you my right meaning, which is this: The only object in placing the Army of the Tennessee on that flank was to reach and destroy the railroad from Atlanta toward Augusta. That is partially done, and the work of destruction should be continued as far as possible. I wish you to keep one division or more employed day and night in breaking and burning the road until General Garrard returns. I feel no doubt but that he has succeeded in breaking the bridges across the Yellow River and the Ulcofauhachee, but he may have to fight his way back, and to relieve him I wish you to push your skirmishers out from General Dodge’s front of General Blair’s left, as though you were going to push your way to the east of Atlanta toward the August road. To keep up this delusion, you should send a column cautiously down one of those roads or valleys, southeast, and engage the enemy outside his works, but not behind his trenches. As soon as General Garrard is back you can discontinue all such demonstration and prepare for your next move.

I proposed give you timely notice to send your wagons behind General Thomas and then to move your army behind the present to the extreme right, to reach, if possible, the Macon road, which you know to be the only road by which Atlanta can be supplied. This will leave General Schofield the left flank, which will be covered by the works he has constructed on his front, and he can use the abandoned trenches of the enemy to cover his left rear. You will no longer send your wagons by Roswell, but by Buck Head and Pace’s Ferry, and when you change you will draw from the railroad bridge, to which our cars now run, and at which point we are making a pier bridge & also two of pontoons. General Stoneman will surely be at Decatur today, and we will have two divisions of cavalry on our right viz, General McCook’s and General Rousseau’s.

Act with confidence. Know that the enemy cannot budge you from your present ground, and act offensively to show him that you dare him to the encounter. You can understand that being on the defensive he cannot afford to sally unless at great peril. General Schofield has so strengthened his front that I fell no uneasiness about that flank, and only study now to make the next move so quickly that we may reach East Point or vicinity with as little loss as possible.

My headquarters are now behind General Howard’s corps, General Newton’s division, on the main Marietta and Atlanta road, which crosses the Chattahoochee at Pace’s Ferry and passes through Buck Head. I am at a large white house near the enemy’s old line of entrenchments, a prolongation of the same which passes from where I saw you yesterday by General Schofield’s position. I have just heard that General Garrard is back.
Go on breaking that road good.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Blair and Dodge request additional troops:

HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS, 
Near Atlanta, Ga., July 24, 1864.
Captain L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp:
I respectfully request that the Third Brigade, Fourth Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, now at Decatur, Ala., be ordered to join this command. The two divisions, comprising four brigades present (two to each division), have lost in killed and wounded alone some 2,000 men, and the detaching two brigades, together with the loss from sickness, has reduced the command from 12,500 effective, which it started with, to some 6,000. One brigade 1,800 strong, is at Rome, Ga., and one at Decatur, Ala. If either brigade or both could join me it would give us a valuable addition to the army. There are also detached the First Alabama Cavalry at Rome and the Ninth Ohio Cavalry at Decatur, besides some three regiments of colored troops belonging to this command, which makes those absent and without the command-fully equal to the present. If it is possible, under the exigencies of the service, I trust the general commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi will order up a portion of my command.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE, Major-General.


HEADQUARTERS SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, 
Before Atlanta, Ga., July 24, 1864.

Captain J. M. DAYTON, A. D. C. and A. A. A. G., Mil. Div. of the Mississippi:
I have the honor to represent for the information of the major-general commanding the Division of the Mississippi that this corps was reduced when I assumed command of it to about 10,000 effective men by leaving the strongest division at Vicksburg. Upon my arrival at Allatoona, I left one brigade and two batteries, numbering about 1,200 men, to guard the depots at that place. Since that time, in the various actions in which the corps has been engaged, it has lost about 3,000 men, leaving me an effective force of only some 6,000. Under these circumstances I would most respectfully request that that portion of this corps, which was left at Allatoona, and which is now stationed at Kenesaw Mountain, may be relieved by some other command and ordered to report to me for duty as soon as practicable.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANK P. BLAIR, Jr., Major-General

I wrote to Garrard:
I am rejoined to hear that you are back safe and successful. General Rousseau has brought me 2,500 good cavalry, having been to Opelika and destroyed thirty miles of road between West Point and Montgomery. I will give you time to rest and then we must make quick work with Atlanta. I await your report with impatience, and in the mean time tender you the assurance of my great consideration.

The Demonstration at Decatur to distract the enemy is as follows:
General Woods’ division is ordered to move into Decatur at 5 o’clock this morning, and to directly return, destroying the line of the railroad for the purpose of keeping the enemy’s cavalry on our left flank, and at the same time securing a diversion while an attack is being made on the flank of General Thomas and protecting the return of General Garrard from his cavalry expedition. The skirmishers of this command will feel well out at daylight this morning. The skirmisher line will be careful to keep its right flank connected with General Blair’s pickets, and will be cautioned against any attempt of the enemy to break through to cut them off from the main line. In case the enemy should attack, General Woods is instructed to fall upon his flank and punish him. Brigadier General J. W. Fuller, commanding Fourth Division, will move two regiments from his right to the left of General Sweeny’s line, to occupy the position of Colonel Williamson’s brigade during its absence from the line.

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Sunday, July 24, 1864

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 24, 1864: 3 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
On making up reports and examining the field, I find the result of Hood’s attack on our left more disastrous to the enemy than I reported. Our loss will not foot up 2,000 killed and wounded, whereas we have found over 1,000 rebels dead, which will make with the usual proportion of wounded, a loss to the enemy of full 7,000. General Garrard has also returned, perfectly successfully, having completely destroyed the two large bridges near Covington, forty miles toward Augusta, brought in 200 prisoners and some good horses, and destroyed the public stores at Covington and Conyers, including 2,000 bales of cotton, a locomotive, and a train of cars. Our communications are yet all safe, and the army in good condition in all respects. As soon as my cavalry rests I propose to swing the Army of the Tennessee round by the right rapidly and interpose between Atlanta and Macon, the only line open to the enemy.

The sudden loss of McPherson was a heavy blow to me. I can hardly replace him, but must have a successor. After thinking over the whole matter, I prefer that Major General O. O. Howard be ordered to command the Army and Department of the Tennessee. If this meets the President’s approval, notify me by telegraph, when I will put him in command, and name others to fill the vacancies created. Logan, as senior-commands the Army of the Tennessee for the present. After we have taken Atlanta I will name officers who merit promotion. In the mean time, I request that the President will not give increased rank to any officer who has gone on leave from sickness, or cause other than wounds in battle.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

It was necessary to settle the important question of who should succeed General McPherson. General Logan has taken command of the Army of the Tennessee by virtue of his seniority, and has done well. I do not consider him equal to the command of three corps. Between him and General Blair there exists a natural rivalry. Both are men of great courage and talent, but are politicians by nature and experience. It may be that for this reason they are mistrusted by regular officers like Generals Schofield, Thomas, and myself. It is all-important that there should exist a perfect understanding among the army commanders, and at a conference with General George H. Thomas at the headquarters of General Thomas J. Woods, commanding a division in the Fourth Corps, Thomas remonstrated warmly against my recommending that General Logan should be regularly assigned to the command of the Army of the Tennessee by reason of his accidental seniority. We discussed fully the merits and qualities of every officer of high rank in the army, and finally settled on Major-General O. O. Howard as the best officer who is present and available for the purpose. Today, I telegraphed to General Halleck this preference.

I want to succeed in taking Atlanta, and need commanders who are purely and technically soldiers, men who will obey orders and execute them promptly and on time; for I know that we will have to execute some most delicate manoeuvres, requiring the utmost skill, nicety, and precision. I believe that General Howard would do all these faithfully and well. I regard both Generals Logan and Blair as “volunteers,” that look to personal fame and glory as auxiliary and secondary to their political ambition, and not as professional soldiers.

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 24, 1864.

General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:
It is my painful duty to report that Brigadier General James B. McPherson, U. S. Army, major-general of volunteers and commander of the Army of the Tennessee in the field, was killed by a shot from ambuscade about noon on the 22nd. At the time of this fatal shot he was on horseback, placing his troops in position near the city of Atlanta, and was passing by a cross-road from a moving column toward the flank of troops that had already been established on the line. He had quitted me but a few moments before and was his way to see in person to the execution of my orders. About the time of this sad event the enemy had sallied his entrenchments around Atlanta and had, by a circuit, got to the left and rear of this very line and had begun an attack which resulted in serious battle, so that General McPherson fell in battle, booted and spurred, as the gallant knight and gentleman should wish. Not his the loss, but the country’s, and the army will mourn his death and cherish his memory as that of one who, though comparatively young, had risen by his merit and ability to the command of one of the best armies the nation had called into existence to vindicate its honor and integrity. History tells us of but few who se blended the grace and gentleness of the friends with the dignity, courage, faith, and manliness of the soldier. His public enemies, even the men who directed the fatal shot, never spoke or wrote of him without expressions of marked respect; those whom he commanded loved him even to idolatry, and I, his associate and commander, fail in words adequate to express my opinion of his great worth. I feel assured that every patriot in America on hearing this sad news will feel a sense of personal loss and the country generally will realize that we have lost not only an able military leader but a man who, had be survived, was qualified to heal the national strife which has been raised by ambitious and designing men. His body has been sent North in charge of Major Willard, Captain Steele and Gile, his personal staff.

I am, with great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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Saturday, July 23, 1864

Near Atlanta, Georgia
We have repulsed the enemy attack on my left. The absence of cavalry on that flank leaves us vulnerable. I will send Stoneman to guard the left flank and Rousseau, returned from his raid to take Stoneman’s place at Turner’s Ferry.

July 23, 1864: 10.30 a. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Yesterday morning the enemy fell back to the entrenchments proper of the city of Atlanta, which are in a general circle of a radius of one mile and a half we closed in. While we were forming our lines and selecting positions for batteries, the enemy appeared suddenly out of the dense woods in heavy masses on our extreme left, and struck the Seventeenth Corps (General Blair’s) in flank, and was forcing it back, when the Sixteenth (General Dodge’s) came up and checked the movement. The enemy’s cavalry got well to our rear and into Decatur, and for some hours our left was completely enveloped. The fighting that resulted was continuous until night, with heavy loss on both sides.

The enemy took one of our batteries (Murray’s, of the Regular Army) that was marching in its placing in column on the road unconscious of danger. About 4 p. m. the enemy sallied against the division of General Morgan L. Smith, which occupied an abandoned line of rifle-trenches near the railroad, east of the city, and forced it back some 400 yards, leaving in his hands for the time two batteries. The ground and batteries were immediately after recovered by the same troops, re-enforced. I cannot well approximate our loss, which fell heaviest on the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, but count it 3,000. I know that, being on the defensive, we have inflicted equally heavy loss on the enemy.

General McPherson, when arranging his troops, about 11 a. m., and passing from one column to another, unconsciously rode upon an ambuscade without apprehension and at some distance ahead of his staff and orderly and was shot dead. His body was sent in charge of his personal staff back to Marietta and Chattanooga. His loss at that moment was most serious, but General Logan at once arranged the troops, and had immediate direction of them during the rest of the day. Our left, though refused somewhat, is still within easy cannon-range of Atlanta. The enemy seems to man his extensive parapets and, at the same time, has to spare heavy assaulting columns. Today we will intrench our front lines, which will give me troops to spare to meet these assaults. I can not count of the loss of more than a few wagons, taken by the enemy’s cavalry during his temporary pause in Decatur, whence all the trains had been securely removed to the rear of the main army, under of a brigade of infantry, commanded by Colonel Sprague. During the heavy attack on the left, the remainder of the line was not engaged.
W. T. SHERMAN,
Major-General.
NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 23, 1864.
(Received 4 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:
General Rousseau reports from Marietta yesterday his safe return from Opelika, having destroyed that depot 30 miles of railroad toward Montgomery, 3 miles toward Columbus, and 2 toward West Point. His entire loss 12 killed and 30 wounded. He brings in 400 mules and 300 horses.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

I wrote Thomas: 2 a. m.
I have heard of Colonel Rousseau’s return to Marietta. Please order him at once to relieve General Stoneman on the other side of the river, and let General Stoneman come to me with whole force. Please send the inclosed order for me at once. The attack on our left today has been desperate and persistent, and the losses on both sides quite heavy. I want you to relieve it tomorrow by an actual attack or strong demonstration on the right. I will send you word early in the day, if it is renewed. I suppose it will be kept up as long as General Garrard is out. I want General Stoneman to move out to General Garrard’s relief. You can use Generals McCook and Rousseau on your right.

I wrote to Rousseau at Marietta:
Your dispatch is received, and you have done well. I hate to call on you so soon for more service, but time is pressing. I want you to move down right away to the railroad bridge and relieve General Stoneman, who is watching the Chattahoochee below Turner’s Ferry. He will describe to you the country and what is needed. I want him relieved as soon as possible, that he may come over here. I hope to see you in a few days.

Thomas Replies:
Your order of last night is being carried out by my troops today. The enemy appears to be feeling my right and rear, but in what force I cannot ascertain, as General McCook cannot ascertain on account of the difficulties of the ground. General Rousseau has received the order to move his force to Turner’s Ferry, though the movement will be somewhat delayed by his having left Marietta to visit you before the order reached him. It was sent by telegraph also, but as he had left Marietta at daylight this morning he did not receive the order before reaching my headquarters.

I wrote to Stoneman:
I sent an order for you to send a brigade of cavalry at once. I have just learned that General Rousseau has arrived at Marietta from Opelika and have ordered him to relieve you. Have all your men ready to start the moment General Rousseau comes. Turn over to him your instructions and the use of your pontoon that he may cross over at Turner’s the moment his horses are rested and General Thomas orders him.

I wrote to Logan, now commanding the Army of the Tennessee:
I have this moment returned from an examination of our entire line. You know your own. The balance extends in a circle at about 1,000 yards distant from the enemy’s lines, as far as Proctor’s Creek, the whole of Palmer’s corps being east and south of the railroad. All have covered their fronts with parapets so that the enemy will not attempt a sally. The question now is, What next? I will in person explain all that is necessary to produce the result aimed at as soon as General returns. You need not apprehend a renewal of the attack on the part of the enemy, but should, on the contrary, begin to feel out with skirmishers, and support into the woods east of Giles Smith’s division and Dodge’s corps.
In the morning early let Woods’ division move into Decatur, stay awhile, and return. Let details of men and pioneers begin at your very front and break up and destroy the railroad absolutely back to including Decatur. Until we conclude upon the best manner of reducing Atlanta we cannot be better employed than in rendering the Atlanta and Augusta road useless; especially have the iron rails heated and twisted. I want your skirmishers to feel out early tomorrow in front of Dodge for a double purpose: to hold on that flank the cavalry of Wheeler, while we operate on Thomas’ flank and create a diversion for Garrard, now on his return from his expedition.

I wrote to Schofield:
I have examined our line of circumvallation, and have no fear of the enemy even attempting to test its strength. But until we get our cavalry in hand and position, I will not attempt anything serious. You may therefore keep things status quo, and look only to your supplies of food and ammunition. I have seen General Rousseau, and am satisfied he has made a break that cuts off Alabama for a month, and he has brought us in pretty fair condition some 2,500 additional cavalry.

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Friday July 22, 1864

Howard House, Near Atlanta, Georgia

In the morning we found the strong line of parapet, “Peach-Tree line,” to the front of Schofield and Thomas, abandoned. I ordered them to feel up to the enemy and advance rapidly close up to Atlanta. For some moments I supposed the enemy intended to evacuate, and in person was on horseback at the head of Schofield’s troops, who had advanced in front of the Howard House to some open ground, from which we could plainly see the whole rebel line of parapets. I saw their men dragging up from the intervening valley, by the distillery, trees and saplings for abatis. Our skirmishers found the enemy down in this valley, and we could see the rebel main line strongly manned, with guns in position at intervals.
Schofield was dressing forward his lines, and I could hear Thomas farther to the right engaged, when General McPherson and his staff rode up. We went back to the Howard House, a double frame-building with a porch, and sat on the steps, discussing the chances of battle, and of Hood’s general character. We agreed that we ought to be unusually cautious and prepared at all times for sallies and for hard fighting, because Hood, though not deemed much of a scholar, or of great mental capacity, was undoubtedly a brave, determined, and rash man; and the change of commanders at that particular crisis argued the displeasure of the Confederate Government with the cautious but prudent conduct of General Joseph Johnston.

McPherson was in excellent spirits, well pleased at the progress of events so far, and had come over purposely to see me about the order I had given him to use Dodge’s corps to break up the railroad, saying that the night before he had gained a position on Leggett’s Hill from which he could look over the rebel parapet, and see the high smoke- stack of a large foundry in Atlanta; that before receiving my order he had diverted Dodge’s two divisions (then in motion) from the main road, along a diagonal one that led to his extreme left flank, then held by Giles A. Smith’s division (Seventeenth Corps), for the purpose of strengthening that flank; and that he had sent some intrenching-tools there, to erect some batteries from which he intended to knock down that foundry, and otherwise to damage the buildings inside of Atlanta. He said he could put all his pioneers to work, and do with them in the time indicated all I had proposed to do with General Dodge’s two divisions.
Of course I assented at once, and we walked down the road a short distance, sat down by the foot of a tree where I had my map, and on it pointed out to him Thomas’s position and his own. I then explained minutely that, after we had sufficiently broken up the Augusta road, I wanted to shift his whole army around by the rear to Thomas’s extreme right, and hoped thus to reach the other railroad at East Point. While we sat there we could hear lively skirmishing going on near us down about the distillery, and occasionally round-shot from twelve or twenty-four pound guns came through the trees in reply to those of Schofield, and we could hear similar sounds all along down the lines of Thomas to our right, and his own to the left. Presently the firing appeared a little more brisk, especially over about Giles G. Smith’s division, and then we heard an occasional gun back toward Decatur. I asked him what it meant. We took my pocket-compass which I always carried, and by noting the direction of the sound, we became satisfied that the firing was too far to our left rear to be explained by known facts, and he hastily called for his horse, his staff, and his orderlies.

McPherson hastily gathered his papers into a pocket-book, put it in his breast-pocket, and jumped on his horse, saying he would hurry down his line and send me back word what these sounds meant. His adjutant-general, Clark, Inspector-General Strong, and his aides, Captains Steele and Gile, were with him. Although the sound of musketry on our left grew in volume, I was not so much disturbed by it as by the sound of artillery back toward Decatur. I ordered Schofield at once to send a brigade back to Decatur some five miles.
I was walking up and down the porch of the Howard House, listening, when one of McPherson’s staff, with his horse covered with sweat, dashed up to the porch, and reported that General McPherson was either “killed or a prisoner.” He explained that when they had left me a few minutes before, they had ridden rapidly across to the railroad, the sounds of battle increasing as they neared the position occupied by General Giles A. Smith’s division, and that McPherson had sent first one, then another of his staff to bring some of the reserve brigades of the Fifteenth Corps over to the exposed left flank; that he had reached the head of Dodge’s corps, marching by the flank on the diagonal road as described, and had ordered it to hurry forward to the same point. Then, almost if not entirely alone, he had followed this road leading across the wooded valley behind the Seventeenth Corps, and had disappeared in these woods, doubtless with a sense of absolute security. The sound of musketry was there heard, and McPherson’s horse came back, bleeding, wounded, and riderless. I ordered the staff-officer who brought this message to return at once, to find General Logan, the senior officer present with the Army of the Tennessee, to report the same facts to him, and to instruct him to drive back this supposed small force, which had evidently got around the Seventeenth Corps through the blind woods in rear of our left flank.

I soon dispatched one of my own staff to General Logan with similar orders, telling him to refuse his left flank, and to fight the battle holding fast to Leggett’s Hill with the Army of the Tennessee; that I would personally look to Decatur, to the safety of his rear, and would reenforce him if he needed it. I dispatched orders to General Thomas on our right, telling him of this strong sally, and my inference that the lines in his front had evidently been weakened by reason thereof, and that he ought to take advantage of the opportunity to make a lodgment in Atlanta, if possible.

Meantime the sounds of the battle rose on our extreme left more and more furious, extending
to the place where I stood, at the Howard House. Within an hour an ambulance came in attended by Colonels Clark and Strong, and Captains Steele and Gile, bearing McPherson’s body. I had it carried inside of the Howard House, and laid on a door wrenched from its hinges. Dr. Hewitt, of the army, was there, and I asked him to examine the wound. He opened the coat and shirt, saw where the ball had entered and where it came out, or rather lodged under the skin, and he reported that McPherson must have died in a few seconds after being hit; that the ball had ranged upward across his body, and passed near the heart. He was dressed just as he left me, but his pocket-book was gone. On further inquiry I learned that his body must have been in possession of the enemy some minutes, during which time it was rifled of the pocket-book, and I was much concerned lest the letter I had written him that morning should have fallen into the hands of some one who could read and understand its meaning. Fortunately the spot in the woods where McPherson was shot was regained by our troops in a few minutes, and the pocket-book found in the haversack of a prisoner of war captured at the time, and it and its contents were secured by one of McPherson’s staff.
While we were examining the body inside the house, the battle was progressing outside, and many shots struck the building, which I feared would take fire. So I ordered Captains Steele and Gile to carry the body to Marietta.

The reports that came to me from all parts of the field revealed clearly what was the game of Hood and the ground somewhat favored him. The railroad and wagon road from Decatur to Atlanta lie along the summit, from which the waters flow, by short, steep valleys, into the “Peach-Tree” and Chattahoochee, to the west, and by other valleys, of gentler declivity, toward the east Ocmulgee. The ridges and level ground were mostly cleared, and had been cultivated as corn or cotton fields, but where the valleys were broken, they were left in a state of nature: wooded, and full of undergrowth. McPherson’s line of battle was across this railroad, along a general ridge, with a gentle but cleared valley to his front, between him and the defenses of Atlanta; and another valley, behind him, was clear of timber in part, but to his left rear the country was heavily wooded. Hood, during the night had withdrawn from his Peach-Tree line, had occupied the fortified line of Atlanta, facing north and east. Parts of two corps had marched out to the road leading from McDonough to Decatur, and had turned so as to strike the left and, rear of McPherson’s line. At the same time he had sent Wheeler’s division of cavalry against the trains parked in Decatur.
Unluckily for us, I had sent away the whole of Garrard’s division of cavalry during the night of the 20th, with orders to proceed to Covington, thirty miles east, to burn two important bridges across the Ulcofauhatchee and Yellow Rivers, to tear up the railroad, to damage it as much as possible from Stone Mountain eastward, and to be gone four days; so that McPherson had no cavalry in hand to guard that flank.

The enemy was therefore enabled, under cover of the forest, to approach quite near before he was discovered; indeed, his skirmish-line had worked through the timber and got into the field to the rear of Giles A. Smith’s division of the Seventeenth Corps unseen, had captured Murray’s battery of regular artillery, moving through these woods entirely unguarded, and had got possession of several of the hospital camps. The right of this rebel line struck Dodge’s troops in motion; but, fortunately, this corps had only to halt, face to the left, and was in line of battle. Dodge’s corps not only held in check the enemy, but drove him back through the woods.

About the same time this same force had struck General Giles A. Smith’s left flank, doubled it back, captured four guns in position and the party engaged in building the very battery which was the special object of McPherson’s visit to me, and almost enveloped the entire left flank. The men, however, were skillful and brave, and fought for a time with their backs to Atlanta. They gradually fell back, compressing their own line, and gaining strength by making junction with Leggett’s division of the Seventeenth Corps, well and strongly posted on the hill. One or two brigades of the Fifteenth Corps, ordered by McPherson, came rapidly across the open field to the rear, from the direction of the railroad, filled up the gap from Blair’s new left to the head of Dodge’s column, now facing to the general left, thus forming a strong left flank, at right angles to the original line of battle. The enemy attacked, boldly and repeatedly, the whole of this flank, but met an equally fierce resistance. On that ground a bloody battle raged from little after noon till into the night.

A part of Hood’s plan of action was to sally from Atlanta at the same moment; but this sally was not, for some reason, simultaneous, for the first attack on our extreme left flank had been checked and repulsed before the sally came from the direction of Atlanta.
Meantime, Colonel Sprague, in Decatur, had got his teams harnessed up, and safely conducted his train to the rear of Schofield’s position, holding in check Wheeler’s cavalry till he had got off all his trains, with the exception of three or four wagons. I remained near the Howard House, receiving reports and sending orders, urging Generals Thomas and Schofield to take advantage of the absence from their front of so considerable a body as was evidently engaged on our left, and, if possible, to make a lodgment in Atlanta itself. They reported that the lines to their front, at all accessible points, were strong, by nature and by art, and were fully manned.

About 4 p.m. the expected, sally came from Atlanta, directed mainly against Leggett’s Hill and along the Decatur road. At Leggett’s Hill they were met and bloodily repulsed. Along the railroad they were more successful. Sweeping over a small force with two guns, they reached our main line, broke through it, and got possession of De Gress’s battery of four twenty-pound Parrotts, killing every horse, and turning the guns against us. General Charles R. Wood’s division of the Fifteenth Corps was on the extreme right of the Army of the Tennessee, between the railroad and the Howard House, where he connected with Schofield’s troops. He reported to me in person that the line on his left had been swept back, and that his connection with General Logan, on Leggett’s Hill, was broken. I ordered him to wheel his brigades to the left, to advance in echelon, and to catch the enemy in flank. General Schofield brought forward all his available batteries, to the number of twenty guns, to a position to the left front of the Howard House, whence we could overlook the field of action, and directed a heavy fire over the heads of General Wood’s men against the enemy. We saw Wood’s troops advance and encounter the enemy, who had secured possession of the old line of parapet which had been held by our men. His right crossed this parapet, which he swept back, taking it in flank; and, at the same time, the division which had been driven back along the railroad was rallied by General Logan in person, and fought for their former ground. These combined forces drove the enemy into Atlanta, recovering the twenty pound Parrott guns but one of them was found “bursted” while in the possession of the enemy. The two six-pounders farther in advance were, however, lost, and had been hauled back by the enemy into Atlanta.

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, 
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., Numbers 41. 
July 22, 1864.
The enemy having to-day withdrawn into his entrenchments at Atlanta, and having assaulted our left, the following general plan will be observed for tomorrow, July 23, 1864:

I. All the armies will intrench a strong front on their present lines and will hold in reserve as much infantry as possible for offensive operations. Good batteries will be constructed for the artillery and a steady kept up on the city of Atlanta.

II. The trains will be kept behind the main center (Major-General Howard’s corps) or close up to their own reserves, and in the event of the enemy assaulting at any point all others should assault the enemy to their immediate front. By carrying any one point of the enemy’s present line his whole position becomes untenable.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman

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