Thursday, September 1, 1864

Near Jonesboro, Georgia, South of Atlanta

All hands have been kept busy tearing up the railroad. Toward evening the Fourteenth Corps (Davis) closed down on the north front of Jonesboro, connecting on his right with Howard, and his left reaching the railroad, along which General Stanley has been moving, followed by Schofield. General Davis formed his divisions in line about 4 p.m., swept forward over some old cotton-fields in full view, and went over the rebel parapet handsomely, capturing the whole of Govan’s brigade, with two field-batteries of ten guns. I checked Davis’s movement, and ordered General Howard to send the two divisions of the Seventeenth Corps (Blair) round by his right rear, to get below Jonesboro, and to reach the railroad, so as to cut off retreat in that direction. I also dispatched orders after orders to hurry forward Stanley, so as to lap around Jonesboro on the east, hoping thus to capture the whole of Hardee’s corps. I sent first Captain Audenried (aide-de-camp), then Colonel Poe, of the Engineers, and lastly General Thomas himself (and that is the only time during the campaign I can recall seeing General Thomas urge his horse into a gallop).

Night is approaching, and the country on the farther side of the railroad was densely wooded. General Stanley has come up on the left of Davis, and is deploying, though there could not have been on his front more than a skirmish-line. Had he moved straight on by the flank, or by a slight circuit to his left, he would have inclosed the whole ground occupied by Hardee’s corps, and that corps could not have escaped us. But night comes on, and Hardee escapes.


Major-General THOMAS, Commanding Army of the Cumberland:
In order that no doubt may exist as to future operations, I wish your army to press directly after the enemy southward with all the speed and vigor possible till we reached Griffin, where I will make new orders. I regret to learn that General Stanley remained today for hours on the railroad awaiting orders, when he heard firing heavy to his front and right. I may be in error, but such is reported to me by Captain Audenried and Captain Poe. I knew you had given him orders, and think we should not overlook it. I don’t know why Stanley could not have pushed along the railroad while General Davis was heavily engaged, and absolutely enveloped the enemy in Jonesborough. Now the enemy has time to fortify, and we may be compelled to modify all our plans. If General Stanley lost a minute of time when he should have been in action, I beg you will not overlook it, as it concerns the lives of our men and the success of our arms. General Davis’ attack, though some hours later than I expected, was still spirited and good, and was measurably successful. I suppose now Stewart has made his junction, which improves our chances at Atlanta, but gives us harder work out here. Please renew your orders to General Slocum to make a dash at Atlanta before the enemy has time to haul off the artillery and stores.

Hood has at least 2 corps in Jonesboro and possibly 3. If this is the case, Slocum could take Atlanta and stop the removal of their heavy guns. I am ordering a reconnaissance in force tomorrow.

Kilpatrick is to head south with his cavalry and nip at the flanks of the enemy as they move that way. Kilpatrick Reports:

A citizen came into my lines near the burnt bridge over Flint River on the Jonesborough road. He has been sent to General Howard’s headquarters. He came from Macon last evening and left Jonesborough at sunrise this a. m. He reports that the rebel army is strengthening and extending their lines about Jonesborough; that no troops are moving down the railroad, but all are in position and busily at work; that the railroad as far down as Griffin is guarded by cavalry only; that last evening General Hood was in Atlanta with one corps of regular troops and the Georgia militia, and that Hardee with his own and Lee’s corps was at Jonesborough, and although the repulse was quite disastrous, Hood intended to hold Jonesborough and if possible Atlanta. For the last hour the enemy has been extending his works along the line of railroad in direction of the bridge on Fayetteville road. Several regiments can be seen at work. I do not think from all I can learn that the enemy is at present retreating. Rest assured that I will not be slow to strike him when an opportunity offers.

I write to Howard at Jonesboro:

In order that you may act advisedly, I will merely state that Jonesborough is of no value to us, but we are now trying to cripple and destroy the army now there. Thomas will push him in the direction of the railroad south. Schofield will operate on the east and you on the west of the railroad. If he retreats we will follow without halt or delay, if possible, to Griffin. If he remains in Jonesborough we must envelop him and destroy his communications south, as they are already destroyed north. Your troops are now well disposed, and Blair can do good service by feeling out and reaching the railroad if possible. He should not be content with a cavalry break, but one of some extent, and well done. Send word to Osterhaus to have his artillery officers listen for the cars tonight, and if heard to open artillery on them at random.

If the enemy retreats I think you could make best progress by marching rapidly to Fayetteville, and then toward Griffin, falling on the flanks of the enemy. I suppose the bridge is destroyed, but General Thomas has a pontoon train that could march there in one day. This train is at Renfroe’s, eight miles from Fayetteville, from which there are several roads across Flint River, the one fulfilling most conditions being the one toward Fayette Station. Still, if you can learn of roads east of Flint River that will be available and yet not bring you in contact with Thomas’ troops it would be the safest as all the army will then be together and no part separated by an impassable stream. Should the enemy remain in Jonesborough tomorrow, hold your line as now, and give to Blair’s movements all the force you can.

I write Schofield:
I have yours announcing the destruction up, including Rough and Ready. I want all your troops down on Stanley’s left, and the cavalry very far to Atlanta. Slocum is ordered to watch Atlanta from the bridge. If there be anything more at Jonesborough than Hardee’s and Lee’s corps nobody knows it, and we have here plenty of prisoners from these two corps and no others. These corps are not intrenched farther than a straight barricade this side of and parallel to the railroad.

If Stewart comes down he will come round by Decatur and McDonough. By moving quick we can prevent this, and that is one reason. Inasmuch as your troops, have pushed the enemy beyond Rough and Ready, let Cox follow Hascall at once, keeping your corps in the nature of a strong left flank, prepared to swing round east of the railroad. I sent you a sketch showing Howard’s position. Hardee cannot move south now without our seeing him, and if all of our army is concentrated on him we should make quick work. Hardee reports 35,000 men, but no one believes he has more than 20,000. Howard disabled 4,000, and has the dead and a great many wounded. Two hundred and fifty will cover his whole loss. The prisoners say they were assured before the attack that we had no intrenchments, whereas the trenches were good and strong.

From reports of my staff I think enough of the railroad has been broken until we have conquered the army now lying at Jonesborough. We had pretty hard fighting with them this afternoon, and I think had all our force been engaged we would have beaten them, but now Stewart’s corps will effect its junction and the enemy will fortify. Yet he may underrate our strength, and I wish you tomorrow early to get over to the northeast of Jonesborough and approach from that quarter, and should the enemy retreat follow him with energy, hanging on his left flank; follow roads east of the railroad as far as Griffin. Thomas will follow the railroad substantially and Howard will keep to the right. I don’t see any reasons why the enemy should elect to hold Jonesborough defensively, as we have broken his road, so if you find him intrenched don’t assault, but feel below the town.

Howard has Blair’s corps, with Kilpatrick cavalry, across Flint River, feeling out for them around by the east from Atlanta and to see if they joined Hood at Jonesborough. You may order Garrard up to act with you around to the south of Jonesborough, but if there be anything to our rear keep him holding all roads by which Hardee or Hood-both are now represented as present-can receive re-enforcements from the rear. At all events call Garrard close up that he may be within reach if needed, which will be the case if the enemy retreats to-morrow. His movements are so slow that you had better send to him to-night specific orders. Now that the army is united you are of course subject to no one’s orders but mine. But if fighting occurs, or you have a chance to attack, the orders are always to attack. We don’t care about Jonesborough, but we want to destroy our enemy.

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Wednesday, August 31, 1864

COUCH’S HOUSE, Southwest of Atlanta, 8 a.m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
At this time I would not suggest a change in the geographical lines of the Departments of the Ohio and the Cumberland because Generals Thomas and Schofield are now in actual battle and cannot give their attention to the necessary details. I will see both of them today and will then communicate my opinion.

We reached the West Point railroad, and broke up twelve miles of it thoroughly; then marched on a big left-wheel for the Macon road, General Schofield on the left, aiming for Rough and Ready, General Thomas center, and General Howard right, aiming for Jonesborough. The left and center as yet have met little or no opposition, but General Howard has fought two brigades of cavalry all the way from Fairburn. Last night darkness overtook him within a mile of Jonesborough, having pushed the cavalry so close that he secured the Flint River bridge. Today I press at all points, but expect to make a lodgment on the road at or below Jonesborough, when I propose to swing the whole army upon it and break it all to pieces. I expect, and am prepared for, hard fighting, and have the army well in hand.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Howard writes this morning from Jonesboro:

August 31, 1864: 3 a. m.
Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding:

Kilpatrick made an attempt to get upon the railroad, but met with so strong resistance that he gave it up for daylight. He says Logan’s center is about 800 yards from the depot. The town is to our right and the depot in the direct front. The Sixteenth Corps is on the west side of the river, and prolonging the line of Logan. The Seventeenth Corps did not get up; is three miles back. I intended to place it in position facing north, virtually prolonging Logan’s left; it will move at daylight. My only exposure is in that direction. If you will push hard enough to prevent the enemy from striking me this side of Flint River it will be all right; my officers apprehend it more than I do. My information is that the enemy had here four brigades of infantry on our arrival, and more are coming. I understand your anxiety to get the road; no exertion will be spared as soon as we can see. The Seventeenth Corps will move up at daylight.
O. O. HOWARD, Major-General

I Reply:
I have yours of 3 a.m. I am satisfied you have as many men as can operate at that point now. Let Kilpatrick reach well to the right, break the telegraph and take up a few rails, but I want you to get possession and fortify some one point of the road itself anywhere near Jonesborough. Davis is all ready with his whole corps to move to your assistance, and I will order him to feel forward toward a point north of Jonesborough. As soon as Schofield gets up I will put him and Stanly toward Rough and Ready, and Garrard’s cavalry down toward Fayetteville. We must have that road. It is worth to us a heavy battle. Make good all the ground you have, and if your guns command any reach of the road it will be a great gain, but we want the road itself. Keep me fully advised, and I will see that you are supported either by direct help or by auxiliary attacks above and below you. Understand that my hope of success rests mainly with you. I am in the dead certainty of having heavy masses in close support, which are soon to be intrenched. Let your trains come down well, close to your bridge, and I will move a division of Davis’ to the forks at Renfroe’s to cover that point.

In the Field
General THOMAS:
I send you for perusal Howard’s letter of 3 a. m. He did not get the road, though I doubt not he is too close for the comfort of the enemy. He must not fail in this. Order one of Davis’ divisions down at once to Renfroe’s, and move all your trains well to your right, so that you can rapidly fling your whole command over to Jonesborough. Then let Davis send out from his front, obliquely tot he right front, a strong skirmish line with supports, as though to reach the railroad three or four miles above Jonesborough. Have Stanely do the same toward, but below, Rough and Ready. Impress upon these commanders that it is not so necessary to have united lines, but rather columns of attack. We are not on the defensive, but offensive, and must risk everything rather than dilly-dally about. We must confuse the enemy. As soon as Schofield gets up I will put him against Rough and Ready till he meets formidable resistance.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Thomas Responds:

Couch’s House.

Bvt. Major General J. C. DAVIS, Commanding Fourteenth Army Corps:
Direct General Morgan to move with his division at once and take up a position on General Baird’s right, on the east side of the Rough and Ready and Jonesborough road, so as to threaten the Macon railroad between Rough and Ready and Jonesborough. Threaten the enemy strongly, but do not push so far as to give him an advantage. In other words, do not go beyond supporting distance from General Howard, in case the enemy should turn on you. Endeavor to communicate with General Howard by your right and rear, giving him your position, and satisfying yourself with reference to his position on your right. You need not be under much apprehension as regards your left, as Generals Stanely and Schofield will be between you and Rough and Ready, and covering the only practicable wagon route between Rough and Ready and Jonesborough by which the enemy could move to attack you. I wish General Morgan to be in position before sunset. General Carlin will cover the trains completely at Renfroe Place.

I write General Thomas:
Major-General THOMAS, Commanding Army of the Cumberland:
I have reports from Generals Howard and Schofield, and from a signal dispatch of the former I infer Hardee will attempt tonight to move back to Atlanta to form a junction with Hood. It also appears that Stanley ranks Schofield, raising that old question of who commands. Of course my decision is that the senior commission, which is Stanely’s; but as my instructions have been made to Schofield, I wish you would make them to Stanley to move very early in the morning down on Jonesborough (or the enemy wherever he may be), breaking railroad as he moves south. I don’t believe anybody recognizes how important it is now to destroy this railroad. Should it appear the enemy is trying to make a junction round by the east, we must strike him in motion.

I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Thomas Replies:

What do you think of this: Let Stanley and Schofield, covered by Garrard, destroy the railroad tomorrow to their rear until they come down to Baird; then for me to draw off the Army of the Cumberland and throw it on the railroad east of Fayetteville, say at Lovejoy’s, or some point below, Howard confronting and holding the enemy at Jonesborough. Prisoners taken by Stanley report five trains in Atlanta which cannot get out; they also confirm the report that the militia and probably one corps have been left in Atlanta. I understand that General Howard repulsed the enemy, inflicting a heavy loss upon him; if so, I think the move on Fayetteville would be eminently beneficial. I am happy to report that General Baird is also on the railroad; he reached it at 5 p.m., and set 400 men at work immediately to destroy the road. I think Hood has gone up or ordered to Macon.
P. S.-All the prisoners captured by Baird say there are but two corps in Jonesborough. Baird has taken between 40 and 50 prisoners.

I Reply:
Inasmuch as I have already give orders to Schofield, based on the idea that he and Stanley move down the railroad, breaking it, till they come to Baird and Davis, near Jonesborough, I think we had better adhere to that plan till we develop the first step in the enemy’s game, after he knows we are between him and Atlanta. I wish you to order Kilpatrick the moment he learns the enemy has gone south to hurry to Fayette Station and Griffin, hang on the flanks of the enemy while we push him to the rear. I propose to go as to far as Griffin, utterly destroying the road, and then act according to circumstances. I would rather you should follow the enemy as he retreats, leaving the Army of the Tennessee to swing by the right, and that of the Ohio by the left.

I am glad to hear that Baird also is on the railroad, and now the sooner we get all our army together in close order the better. You may put Davis in on the left of Howard, ready for Baird and Stanley to come up along the railroad. If Hood remains in Atlanta and Hardee commands at Jonesborough the latter may attempt to get back to Atlanta, in which event he may tonight run up against Baird, who should be put on his guard. You may give all the necessary orders that will bring your command together to attack and pursue that part of the Confederate army now at Jonesborough by whatever road it takes, and I will give directions to the other armies to operate on its flanks. As soon as it is demonstrated on what road it retreats we can arrange to head it off.

Howard Reports the enemy getting ready to attack him:

I have sent Kilpatrick to the right with all his cavalry; he has secured a bridge over the Flint River about a mile from railroad. The enemy is showing troops down here with great rapidity, and preparing, I think, to attack Logan’s position. I have strengthened Logan by a division of Ransom’s on the right, by a brigade of General Blair’s on the left. It seems to me that it would be better to push General Davis straight to Flint River on my left. He cannot be far off from me. I have a battery being put in position, which will fire straight into the depot at a range of 600 yards, and another position where the trains can be seen passing. I propose to keep at work at them, but do not think I could carry any point of Logan’s front by assault. If the enemy will attack, as I think he will, that will simplify the matter.

I Reply:
Your dispatch is received. Of course, now an attack by you on Jonesborough is out of the question, but you can make that position impregnable, and we can operate beyond. Baird is now moving toward the road four miles north of you, and Schofield about the mills, which of course is the strongest part of the enemy’s works. I expect Garrard’s cavalry can be relieved of guarding Schofield’s trains today, and I will send it to Kilpatrick. The enemy is too smart for us, and we may have to maneuver thus down to Macon. It may be that some accident will happen, of which we can take advantage.

Get yours guns in position and damage trains passing, but it is useless to waste ammunition on the depot already reported burned by Kilpatrick. I cannot move the troops 100 yards without their stopping to intrench, though I have not seen an enemy. I have got Baird across Flint River about due east of this point. Thomas is at Renfroe’s, and will come to your aid if you need him, but I think you have as many men as can operate at that point, and a soon as I can hear from Schofield further I will commence to move toward Griffin, the next accessible point.

I have no idea that Hardee will attack you, if you have any cover whatever. Get as many guns in as possible, so that by a simultaneous discharge you can knock a train to pieces at one discharge. It is only on condition that you can get to the road that I would put all of Thomas’ troops on that side of the Flint.

My own impression is that Hardee will try to join Hood in Atlanta. I may send Schofield tonight, and I am anxious that Howard should keep in close contact. Audenried, of my staff, went about dark with orders to Schofield to the above effect, and for him and Stanley to work down the railroad tonight if possible, otherwise early in the morning. I will come down early also.

Has Hood already left Atlanta to join Hardee at Jonesboro? I wish you would instruct General Slocum at the bridge to feel forward to Atlanta, as boldly as he can, by the direct road leading from the bridge, and to send any cavalry force he can raise over toward Decatur to watch the movements of the enemy in that quarter. Advise him fully of the situation of affairs here, and assure him that we will fully occupy the attention of the rebel army outside of Atlanta.

Stanley Reports:

My corps moved today from its position on the road from Long’s to Couch’s to Morrow’s Mill. Here we met the enemy in intrenchments very well finished, but occupied only by dismounted cavalry. We drove these out, and as soon as General Schofield’s forces had come up pushed out for the Macon railroad, which we reached at the big bend about the same time or a little later than General Cox. My corps is in position in strong line, the left resting upon the railroad, my right at Morrow’s Mill. The working parties will go to work to burn up the track at 3 o’clock in the morning, unless I receive other instructions.

Thomas sends orders:

The major-general commanding directs that tomorrow morning early you commence the destruction of the Macon and Western Railroad in conjunction with General Schofield, who will receive orders from General Sherman. You will destroy as far as you can in the direction of Jonesborough, or until you meet with General Baird’s division, of the Fourteenth Corps, which you will probably find engaged in the same work. Should you meet with or overtake General Baird, you will report for further orders. General Garrard has been ordered to cover the flank of your column during its down the road.

Howard Writes:

3.45 p m.
The enemy attacked us in three distinct points, and were each time handsomely repulsed.
Major-General Logan says the enemy made two district attack on his lines and were repulsed.

I Reply:
I have your dispatch. Hold your own. Carlin’s division is near you. Schofield and Stanly are on the railroad two miles south of Rough and Ready; they headed off a train of cars loaded with troops making south, so you have Hardee all right. Watch him close and be prepared with Davis to follow him. He must retreat to McDonough or down the road. I must interpose our whole army between Atlanta and the enemy now in Jonesborough. Let your whole command know and feel I am thinking of them, and that I have got the railroad above them.

General Schofield has possession of the railroad below Rough and Ready, and by this time is strongly fortified, and has already commenced the destruction of the railroad. Baird to the south will throw up defenses, then make a strong demonstration toward the road to the east early tomorrow morning. General Carlin will go to the relief of Howard who has been attacked.

Howard Reports on his battle:

Your letter is received. I have the honor to report the following as the result of the day’s operations: About 4 o’clock the enemy attacked the position of Major-General Logan and General Corse, who occupied the right of the line on the other side of Flint River, and was handsomely repulsed. He repeated the attack at three different points on the line with the same result. One division of the Seventeenth Corps, General Woods commanding, was moved across the river and went into position on the left. One of his brigades was attacked and the enemy repulsed promptly. Cleburne’s division, failing to make any impression on the right of my line across the river, moved down to the bridge held by General Kilpatrick’s cavalry, upon whom they advanced in three lines. The cavalry held their position until their ammunition was exhausted, when they retired across the bridge, but were not followed up, nor have they been by the enemy. Upon learning the situation of General Kilpatrick, General Giles A. Smith’s division, of Blair’s corps, was moved over to protect the train and to repulse any attack on my right.

I directed General Carlin to cover the Fayetteville road so that my right flank and trains may be considered sufficiently protected. The First Regiment Missouri Engineers, which reported during the day over 1,000 strong, now occupies the works vacated by General Blair’s command. I have published the contents of your very gratifying letter to this command. I inclosed I send you the latest dispatch from the signal officer. It would appear that the enemy contemplates making connection again with his forces at East Point or Atlanta.

Signal Officer Edge Reports:

In the morning Lieutenant Edge and myself made a station of observation in a tall pine, where we had a good view of town and a portion of the enemy’s lines, that fronting First and Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps. In front of these divisions the enemy had massed a large force. In an open field fronting the First Division a line of battle was formed extending up into the timber to their left out of sight. A battery of four guns was with this line.

Lieutenant Edge went down to the line to direct our battery in firing, I was watching the shots and signaling to him the effect and range. While engaged in signaling to him this line of battle was formed, faced to the rear, and marched back to the edge of the timber about 100 yards, the battery put in position, and a barricade of rails made. Another column moved up a formed in their front and moved obliquely toward the right of First Division, Fifteenth Corps. A portion of their line was badly broken up by our shells and ran in wild confusion, but rallied on reaching cover, and reformed their lines.

At this time two batteries opened on our line and cross-fired on my tree, a good many shells bursting in and around it. Nearly all their shells passed over our main line. I had to leave my tree, and reported what I had seen to the general commanding the corps. As soon as it was possible I went back to my station, saw the enemy busily engaged in removing their dead and wounded. A large detail was at work with stretchers, and their ambulances very active. At 5 p. m. a column of the enemy moved from the left up in front of the First and Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and formed two lines of battle, placed a battery in position, and made preparation as if intending another charge.

I immediately reported this to the commanding general personally, them went back to my tree; found a very heavy column of the enemy, both infantry and artillery, moving to their right. This column was nearly an hour and a half passing a given point. There were five batteries that I saw. The infantry and two of these batteries passed on through town toward Atlanta; the other three batteries were parked in town. The skirmish line in front of the Fifteenth Army Corps was heavily re-enforced. Their line of rear skirmishers was left very weak. No artillery left on the line that I could see. I remained at my station until 7 p. m. the rear of the enemy’s column had just passed through town. I reported in person to the commanding general the condition of enemy’s lines in his front.

I went to the front of our corps and built a station on a tree; saw a brigade of the enemy (and several regimens) lying in an open field in front of First Division, Fifteenth Army Corps. Proceeded to a battery in front of my station, and, with the aid of Lieutenant Fish, who was left on the three, I directed the shooting of our guns on rebel brigade, which caused great confusion and drove them out. They then reformed in column of regiments and moved to their front, with two batteries of artillery, apparently to make a charge on the right of the Fifteenth Corps. I then proceeded in person to the general commanding the corps and reported to him, and also to Major General O. O. Howard, all I had seen.

Schofield is on the railroad and destroying it as he moves south. I think we have now a good game. The bulk of the enemy’s good troops are at Jonesboro; they attacked Howard twice and were repulsed. I want Schofield to put Garrard’s cavalry at his back; work down the road, burning and breaking the road good. Howard and Davis will hold on to Hardee and Lee. Baird has four brigades on the road from Rough and Ready, five miles above Jonesborough. Garrard should push the enemy up to Rough and Ready, breaking road as he goes, and Schofield with Stanely move south doing the same. I will give you timely notice if Hardee turns on them in force. We won’t get off the track; hold it fast; we will get our whole army on the railroad as near Jonesborough as possible and push Hardee and Lee first, and then for Atlanta. Commanders should inspire the men with the importance of their work, and trust to me to fall on Hardee’s flank or rear if he turns north. The cavalry of Garrard can guard the rear toward Atlanta.

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Tuesday, August 30, 1864

Red Oak, Georgia, Near Atlanta

I have been with Thomas all day. The troops have moved slowly forward from the Montgomery Road to the Macon Road. There is some infantry in their front, and at every meeting, they stop to entrench. Jeff Davis has got his division forward and Schofield no occupies his former position. Garrard’s cavalry screens our movements.

We are here within 3 miles of the railroad and intend to reach it tomorrow by a bold march. Howard’s corp has marched 12 miles and is within a mile of the railroad at Jonesboro. I am not receiving messages from the rear and assume that everything is in good order with Slocum at the bridge.

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Monday, August 29, 1864

In the Field, Red Oak, Georgia, West of Atlanta

We had a good day wrecking the railroad to Montgomery. We wrecked it as close to East Point as we could go before encountering enemy forifications. It can not be of use to supply Atlanta for a long time.

Tomorrow, Howard starts for Jonesboro and Thomas will start for Macon road further north Schofield will move tomorrow and occupy the position now held by Davis and Stanley. Schofield will screen our movement from the enemy. All roads leading toward East Point should be held by Garrard’s cavalry in strong force, as soon as abandoned by the infantry, and as far forward as practicable. We have accomplished this with little loss of men. The enemy has sent cavalry to scout but they have not contested us.

I worry about Slocum at the bridge. He has gone to Marietta to inspect the defenses there and returns to the bridge tomorrow. The enemy may leave Atlanta when we cut the road. I want Slocum to destroy some of their artillery and ammunition if possible.

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Sunday, August 28, 1864

NEAR WEST POINT RAILROAD, August 28, 1864: 4 p.m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Army of the Tennessee is on the West Point railroad near Fairburn; Army of the Cumberland is on the same road at Red Oak; and that of the Ohio will be tonight at Camp Creek. Enemy has made no serious opposition to our movement.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

My plan is not opposed by Hood. He must not know our intentions. We will wreck the railroad to Montgomery so it will be unusable for a long time. Then we will hit the Macon road. I am far enough south of Atlanta that there are places to hit the road that are too numerous to defend. I worry that Slocum will be attacked.

I sent a message to General HOWARD:
General Thomas’ column is on the railroad at Red Oak also; communicate with him up the Newnan road. Do the job of tearing up, burning, and twisting in the most approved style. You can’t do too much of it. I don’t think the enemy yet understand our movement. They have made no effort to stop us, only cavalry holding the road. Schofield reports a force which he thinks may threaten him. In case of heavy battle up our way come up the Newnan road.
General Thomas is in position, his two corps crossing the railroad and facing Atlanta. General Schofield still remains about Mount Gilead Church. We will remain on the road tomorrow, and break it in the most thorough manner possible. General Thomas will work forward and break to you. I want you to do the best job of railroad destruction on record, using General Kilpatrick to cover you while at work, and to explore roads to the east and make such reconnaissance toward Campbellton as would be useful to us in the future; also fill up some cuts in the railroad with logs and trees covered with dirt, so we may rest perfectly satisfied as regards the use of this railroad during the remainder of this campaign. It is more important that each bar of iron should be heated and twisted than a great amount of imperfect work done, for it the iron can be used again in this wooded country ties can be easily supplied.

Thomas Reports:

Near Cook’s House, August 28, 1864

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
I have General Davis in position on commanding ground, his left resting on the railroad, his line extending south to within a mile of the Jonesborough road, from New Hope or Fairburn. I suppose it runs nearly east and west. General Morgan has a strong picket on that road, and General Davis’s right flank is completely covered by the breaks of the ground and General Morgan’s picket. General Stanley has been ordered to post his pickets on the north of the railroad, his left extending toward Mims’ house, and covering the road by which the troops marched. The trains are getting into position on the right and rear of our position. Major-General Howard is about a mile in rear of our right. Will we march tomorrow, or will we remain here to destroy the railroad? I had almost forgotten to report that General Morgan’s picket officer on the Jonesborough road reports that the woman living on that road at his picket-post says that a considerable body of rebel cavalry had passed there, and that they had informed her that the rebel army was moving toward Jonesborough.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding

In the Field, Red Oak, Ga., 6:45 p.m.

Major-General THOMAS, Commanding:
We will remain here tomorrow. I wish the railroad thoroughly destroyed as far forward as possible, and to the rear until you meet General Howard’s troops. Let the destruction be so thorough that not a rail or tie can be used again. My own experience demonstrates the proper method to be: To march a regiment to the road, stack arms, loosen two rails opposite the right and two opposite the left of the regiment, then to heave the whole track, rails and ties, over, breaking it all to pieces, then pile the ties in the nature of crib work and lay the rails over them, then by means of fence rails make a bonfire, and when the rails are red-hot in the middle let men give the rail a twist, which cannot be straightened without machinery. Also fill up some of the cuts with heavy logs and trunks of trees and branches and cover up and fill with dirt. Please given minute instructions on this subject tonight, and have the work commenced as early in the morning as possible, taking proper precaution also to guard against attack on either the working parties or the general position. General Howard has received similar instructions and General Schofield will be moved to your left front.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I sent the same instructions on railroad destruction to all my commanders.

I write to General SLOCUM guarding the railroad Bridge:
Army of the Tennessee is on the West Point railroad near Fairburn, Cumberland at Red Oak, and Ohio will be on Camp Creek tonight. We will break it good and move on to the other at once. Keep me advised of all things of interest, if possible, via Campbellton, and when you feel strong at the bridge give a help to Marietta. Order as many stores to your position as possible.

Thomas forwarded this message from Slocum’s corp:

Your note of this morning is just received. General Slocum is absent from headquarters along the lines. The firing yesterday was at Turner’s Ferry. The enemy’s cavalry, with a section of artillery, appeared in front of Ward’s division and fired a few rounds, which were returned. After a slight skirmish with our infantry they retired, and all has been quiet since. They have made no demonstrations on Williams’ division at the railroad crossing, though their cavalry picket along the front of that division. On the 26th, Geary’s division, at Pace’s Ferry, had a sharp skirmish with cavalry (dismounted), but nothing since. The demonstration of yesterday amounted to nothing, merely reconnoitering to ascertain whether or not Turner’s Ferry was held by us. The enemy have cavalry on all the roads leading from the river to Atlanta. Our positions at each of the three ferries have been strengthened so as to be perfectly safe, and we have one brigade on the north side of the river at this point, which occupies a portion of the old rebel works, and completely protects the depot and trains here from any attack in the rear.

Colonel Minty has one regiment of cavalry up the river from here toward Roswell Factory and two regiments at Sandtown. The enemy’s cavalry hold Roswell. Their force there is supposed to be about 400. They scout down the river as far as Soap Creek. A patrol this moment returned reports the enemy in front of Ward’s division withdrawn. The patrolling party, starting from Turner’s Ferry, went out on the road to Atlanta three miles, took a road to the left, and came in to our lines again at this point. The general will, I presume, make a reconnaissance tomorrow morning. Is it your intention to keep open the communication by courier line to this point via Sandtown?

Schofield reports:

I occupy the works vacated by General Stanley, with my left resting at Mrs. Holbrook’s. The enemy made a demonstration upon Cox’s right about noon, but got back into his works as quickly as possible upon finding that we were in force. We then withdrew without annoyance. General Garrard is on my left, keeping pace with me and covering the trains. If I do not hear from you before morning, I will move out early on the road taken by Wood this evening until I connect substantially with General Thomas (preserving a front toward East Point) or until I receive your orders. My movement will have to be governed somewhat by the trains, for there is still a vast part of them in this valley.

You had better move your trains by the middle road of the three in front of Mount Gilead Church. It will come out at Red Oak where there are cleared fields on corn – this is the same by which General Thomas moved his trains, and they report it very good. Move your troops by Redwine’s across Camp Creek to Oliver’s house, and thence to General Stanley’s left, about a mile from Oliver’s house, leaving a strong left flank near the Oliver house. Instruct General Garrard to feel eastward from the Oliver house and to reconnoiter well to the east and north, reaching, if possible, the point marked on our map as Trimble’s Mill.

Today, Howard’s corp is destroying the Montgomery Road. Tomorrow they march for Jonesboro and the Macon Road:

Near Fairburn, Ga., August 28, 1864.

II. In pursuance of orders this command will move forward at 7 a. m. tomorrow on the direct route toward Jonesborough, crossing Pond Creek and Shoal Creek, aiming to reach the vicinity of Renfroe Place.

III. Brigadier General W. B. Hazen’s command will have the advance, and will be followed by the commands of Brigadier General William Howard and Major General P. Joseph Osterhaus, respectively.

IV. The same general disposition of trains as indicated in Special Field Orders, Numbers 88, of yesterday, will be observed.

V. Major-General Osterhaus will dispose a sufficient number of troops, with the wagons moving immediately in rear of the column, to protect them.

VI. The rule relating to straggling must be regarded strictly.

VII. Division commanders are hereby directed to act in compliance with instructions contained in Special Field Orders, Numbers 112, Department and Army of the Tennessee, herewith inclosed.

VIII. In accordance with instructions from department headquarters, the movements indicated in Special Field Orders, Numbers 89, extract II to VI, of this date, from these headquarters, are suspended, and will not be made until further orders.

IX. Brigadier General William Harrow, commanding Fourth Division, will forthwith throw out a strong line of pickets well to the east and north of the general supply train parked immediately in rear of department headquarters, in order to prevent any cavalry dash by the enemy upon them.
By order of Major General John A. Logan:
R. R. TOWNES, Assistant Adjutant-General

In the Field, Ga., August 28, 1864.

I. This command will move forward at 7 a. m. tomorrow. The Fourth Division, Brigadier General Giles A. Smith commanding, will have the advance, and will move promptly at the hour indicated, following the Left Wing of the Sixteenth Army Corps. The Third Division, Brigadier General C. R. Woods commanding, will follow immediately in rear of the Fourth.

II. Brigadier General Giles A. Smith, commanding Fourth Division, will cause one of the brigades of his command to report to Captain J. T. Conklin, chief quartermaster, Department and Army of the Tennessee, at 6 a. m. tomorrow, for the purpose of relieving a brigade of the Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, on duty as guard for train. General Smith will please report to these headquarters the brigade assigned to this duty.
By command of Major General F. P. Blair

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Saturday, August 27, 1864


Last night the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, composing the Army of the Tennessee, drew out of their trenches, made a wide circuit, and came up on the extreme right of the Fourth and Fourteenth Corps of the Army of the Cumberland along Utoy Creek, facing south. The enemy seems to suspect something firing his artillery pretty freely. An artillery-shot, fired at random, killed one man and wounded another. Enemy prisoners report rumors that we are going to retreat altogether. Good.

General Slocum reports from the Chattahoochee:

I have the honor to report that I have today assumed the command of the Twentieth Corps. The corps is in position as directed, at Pace’s, Montgomery’s, and Turner’s Ferries, and intrenched. Yesterday afternoon Geary’s division, at Pace’s Ferry, had some sharp skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry, capturing a few prisoners. My headquarters are near the railroad bridge.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. SLOCUM, Major-General, Commanding

General Howard reports from Near Widow Forsyth’s:

GENERAL: We had little difficulty in drawing out last night; some shelling. I heard of but one casualty, but we found the roads rough and the bottoms marshy, so that with great difficulty and delay we made the march. General Logan is now pretty well across Camp Creek, about due south from this place.

Logan reports that his corp is in position on a line of ridges extending across Wolf Creek, about three-quarters of a mile south of Aldrich’s house, fronting south-south-east. General Harrow forms the left, General Hazen the center, and General Osterhaus the right. The pickets of General Harrow extend to Camp Creek, and those of General Osterhaus connect with those of the Seventeenth Corps. The position is a good defensive one. Batteries are in position, and the men are engaged in throwing up works.

General Blair is crossing at William Campbell’s, about a mile farther to the right. Kilpatrick reports himself across Camp Creek and about a mile south of Enon Church. Logan’s position is 71. Have no word from Schofield as yet. A great portion of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps have been broken of their rest two nights. I would prefer not to march till tomorrow morning if this will do. My headquarters are on the Campbellton road, near Widow Forsyth’s, one mile east of Dry Pond.

General Garrard was on his way some little time ago to Utoy and probably are this has reported to you. For the safety of our rear against small squads of the enemy and to keep us informed about larger bodies I hope you will see General Garrard, for I do not think he now has a correct notion of the position of the different corps, though he may.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. HOWARD,Major-General

Howard Issues Orders for his march tomorrow:

1. While the general commanding assures the officer and men of this army of his appreciation of the very satisfactory manner in which the late delicate and important movements have been made, he desires to call the attention of corps, division, brigade, and regimental commanders, in our future movements in the face of the enemy, to the necessity of keeping the columns well closed up, and preventing straggling by proper rear guards.

2. The artillery especially requires notice, and chiefs of artillery will be held responsible that their batteries are kept constantly closed up, receiving the individual attention of their commanding officers wherever bad places in the roads shall be likely to occasion delay.

3. At the hour of retreat to-day there will be a roll-call in every regiment, battery, and detachment of this command, when every absentee will be accounted for and patrols sent out to pick up stragglers and men who have fallen by the way, weary from the march.

4. The attention of corps commanders is called to the orders, requiring the pioneers corps to accompany the advance of the column, in order thoroughly to repair the roads, and so complete their work that the command can move on without delay.

Further orders from Howard to prepare for the march to Jonesboro:

I. Major General John A. Logan, commanding Fifteenth Army Corps, will cause two bridges across each of the creeks, Camp and Wolf, to be immediately constructed at suitable points in his front.

II. Major General F. P. Blair, commanding Seventeenth Army Corps, will cause two bridges across each of the creeks, Camp and Wold, to be immediately constructed at suitable points in his front.

III. Brigadier General T. E. G. Ransom, commanding Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, will direct the pioneer corps of his command, in charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Tiedemann, to report forthwith to Major-General Blair for temporary duty.

IV. In accordance with instructions from headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, this army will move to-morrow at 7 a. m., in two columns, to the vicinity of New Hope Church, situated between Fairburn and Red Oak. The right column will comprise the Seventeenth Corps, Major-General blair, followed by the Left Wing, Sixteenth Corps, Brigadier-General Ransom; the left column, the Fifteenth Corps, Major-General Logan, followed by the general train and a brigade from Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, as rear guard. The routes are being reconnoitered, and will be indicated before the hour of march. Corps and division commanders will familiarize themselves as much as possible with all the roads in their front. In addition to the permanent guard the Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, Brigadier-General Ransom commanding, will furnish a rear guard of one brigade for the general train.

VI. General Kilpatrick will move in such a manner as to cover the right, and, if possible, mask the movement so that the infantry will not be noticed.

VII. 1. Major-General Blair will, at the hour heretofore ordered, move forward with his command, followed by Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, Brigadier-General Ransom commanding, on the direct road in his front toward Sidling, or Shadna, on the West Point railroad 9th same heretofore noted as New Hope).

2. Major-General Logan will at the same hour move forward with the left column on the road in his immediate front, passing by our near Sewell’s, and pursuing a route to the left of that followed by Major-General Blair. He will construct a road to move on beyond Sewell’s, should no practicable route from that point be discovered. The command will go into position to the left of Fairburn, about one-third the distance between that point and Red Oak. The routes to be pursued and the positions to be occupied are indicated on the accompanying map.

Davis removed his Division from across Utoy creek. There was much skirmishing, but Davis does not believe that line to be held by more than skirmishers. He is to move to Mount Gilead Church at tonight.

Schofield plans to move his Army tomorrow after Thomas passes:

TPromptly at daylight the division trains will move out on the Sandtown road toward Patterson’s and join the corps train, leaving a few ambulances with the troops. The entire train will then move in rear of the troops and train of the Fourteenth Corps (not interfering with the latter) via Patterson’s and Mount Gilead to the valley of Camp Creek, in rear of General Stanley’s present position, where it will park until further orders.

As soon as the trains are out of the way and the Fourteenth Corps has withdrawn from its present position, General Hascall will draw back to his new line, covering the Campbellton road, and General Cox will simultaneously draw back to the Mount Gilead road and take position, covering that road, with his left near Mrs. Holbrook’s. When the trains reach their park at Camp Creek General Hascall will move down to Mount Gilead, passing General Cox, and will occupy the position now held by the Fourth Corps as soon as the latter has moved out. General Cox will prepare to throw back his left, so as to cover the road, as soon as General Hascall shall have passed. General Garrard’s cavalry division is to connect with the left and cover the rear of the infantry during the movement. Colonel Garrard will operate from the left of General thomas along the front of the Twenty-third Corps, observing the enemy until the corps, by its advance from Mount Gilead, shall again encounter the enemy’s pickets. Generals Cox and Hascall will keep their skirmish lines, with very strong supports, well out toward the enemy. Orders for further movements will be given during the day.

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Friday, August 26, 1864

NEAR EAST POINT, Georgia, August 26, 1864: 6:45 p.m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
I have moved the Twentieth Corps to the Chattahoochee bridge, where it is intrenched, and with the balance of the army am moving for Jonesborough on the Macon road. Last night we made the first move without trouble; tonight I make the second, and the third will place the army massed near Fairburn. If Hood attacks he must come out, which is all we ask. All well thus far.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

The Twentieth Corps left their trenches without molestation. Their new position along the Chattahoochee is being further fortified with abates to make it near impregnable. Once the troops were in place, the enemy felt their new position and attacked with skirmishers. General Slocum has arrived and will assume command of the corps tomorrow.

The signal corp reports no change in the enemy position:

Lieutenant Fish, of this detachment, was on the station at 7.30 a. m. and reports the following:
The enemy could be seen, gathered in groups, looking intently toward our late lines. At 10.15 a. m. a train of five freight-cars left Atlanta; they appeared to be loaded. At 11 a. m. a few straggling rebels could be seen rambling about the works lately held by the Twentieth Army Corps. These stragglers picked up a few of our men that straggled behind, probably from the Fourth Army Corps, as a portion of that corps were in that vicinity. At 11.30 a. m. a locomotive left Atlanta alone. At 1 p. m. I discovered a column of infantry moving toward the enemy’s left. I did not see the head of column; counted five stand of colors; a portion of the column was mounted infantry, about 300. At 3.15 p. m. a train of twelve box-cars, all empty, arrived in Atlanta. At 4.15 p. m. a train of three passenger and four freight cars arrived in Atlanta with a few passengers aboard. At 5.45 p. m. a train of fifteen freight-cars, a portion of which were cattle-cars, arrived in Atlanta; there were a few men in each car. At 6 p. m. a train of seventeen freight-cars, loaded with what few men in each car. At 6 p. m. a train of seventeenth freight-cars, loaded with what appeared to be army stores, left town; immediately following this freight train was a train of six passenger and two baggage cars, with two extra locomotives attached.

Lieutenant Weirick, of this detachment, reports the following:
All quiet and unchanged, with the exception of rebel skirmishers, who kept up a constant fire at our skirmishers on main lines of Fifteenth Army Corps. At 6 p. m. communicated movements to our right and front.

Captain Raum Reports on a new measure to protect our rear from cavalry raid:

I have directed Colonel Hall to survey a route for a road as near as possible along the railroad between Calhoun and Adairsville, crossing the Oothkaloga Cree railroad bridges. If this route proves practicable I propose opening a wagon road, and throwing two bridges across that creek, and then obstruct all fords on the creek east of the railroad. I have also directed him to erect a stockade for the accommodation of forty men at a point half way between the two block-houses, to which point roads converge from the country.

The enemy cavalry has been raiding our rear without much success. I had the engineers build octagonal block houses that can be defended by a few men and are difficult to assault. These protect the bridges. Cavalry can tear up track but it is easily repaired. Wheeler in in East Tennessee and we are trying to keep him boxed in there.

Here, in front of Atlanta, our second move to cut of Atlanta will be made tonight as the troops on the left of the line leave their positions and quietly move to the right:

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