Monday, October 24, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 24, 1864.
His Excellency the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:

DEAR SIR: The Honorable Augustus R. Wright, former member of Congress, asks to be made known to you. I am satisfied he is a man of high character and of true faith in the future. General Vandever and all commanders at Rome speak of him in this Light, and I believe you may safely extend to him your well-known kind and magnanimous favor.
I am, with respect,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October
24, 1864.
General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff, &c.:
I always designed to canvass the claims to promotion of all aspirants in the army, so as to save the President the invidious task of judging among so many worthy men, all of whom can only be known to him by the record. But events and movements have followed each other so rapidly that my army commanders have not been able to attend to the matter, but have sent into my office the detached papers of each. These I herewith inclose, indorsed with my own individual opinion. I have not General Thomas’ list, but will instruct him to send it direct from Nashville, where he now is. If necessary to promote to Divisions and brigades the officers now exercising the rank of major-general and brigadier-general it be necessary to create vacancies, I do think the exigencies of the country would warrant the muster out of the same number of generals now on the list that have not done service in the past year.

The following persons should be promoted to the rank of major- general:
Army of the Cumberland: Brigadier General T. J. Wood, Brigadier General A. Baird. Bvt. Major General Jeff. C. Davis should be fully commissioned. Army of the Ohio: Brigadier General J. D. Cox to be major-general. Army of the Tennessee: Brigadier General Charles R. Woods, Brigadier General William B. Hazen, Brigadier General John M. Corse, and Brigadier General T. E. G. Ransom. All these are actual Division commanders, men of marked courage, capacity, and merit, who are qualified to separate commands.
Among the worthy colonels aspiring to the rank of brigadier-general I can only name Colonel J. A. Williamson, Fourth Iowa; Colonel Thomas J. Harrison, Eighth Indiana Cavalry, and Colonel R. H. G. Minty, of Second Michigan Cavalry, who have long and well commanded brigades, and who seems to have no special friends to aid them to advancement.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

GAYLESVILLE, ALA., October 24, 1864. 8 p.m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
We have heard of Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek. We cannot afford to burn gunpowder, but our men can make up in yelling, which is just as good. We have pushed the enemy to Gadsden, and are now living on the country till the railroad is repaired, which will be done by Thursday, the 27th. I will send back all sick, wounded, and surplus property, ready to take up our baggage and march wherever it may seem best. General Wilson is here, and asks for time to make up a good cavalry force, but I will be governed by the movements of Beauregard. I send an order, made by Beauregard on assuming command, which seems to be of enough importance to telegraph.

Slocum reports all well at Atlanta. He has gathered near 2,000 wagon-loads of corn and forage. All my animals here are improving on the corn-fields of the Coosa, and you will observe my position at Gaylesville, Blue Pond, and a pontoon laid at Cedar Bluff, with a Division at Alpine and Will’s Valley head, is very good to watch the enemy about Gadsden and Blue Mountain. Beauregard announces his theorem to be to “drive Sherman out of Atlanta, which he still holds defiantly.” I dare him to the encounter, but am not willing to chase him all over creation.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 24, 1864.
Colonel BECKWITH, Chief Commissary of Subsistence, Atlanta:
Come to Rome and to me, in the field, for consultation. Don’t accumulate more than thirty days’ supply anywhere, except at Chattanooga. Rather diminish than increase our supplies, and send back all surplus and worthless stores. Hood is now at Blue mountain, and Forrest over about the head of navigation on the Tennessee.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

General Wilson, my new chief of cavalry has arrived. The first thing he wants to do is standardize the weapons among the 20,000 cavalry so all the ammunition will be the same. The cavalry is to be armed with repeating rifles.

I want Wilson to have a large force that can block Forrest and Hood from movement into Tennessee. All the forces in Tennessee will be under the command of Thomas and he will be able to direct the cavalry.

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS. In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 24, Numbers 103.
1864.

I. Brevet Major-General Wilson, having reported in accordance with orders from the lieutenant-general commanding to be assigned, with his brevet rank, is announced as chief of cavalry, and will assume command of the cavalry forces of the Military DIVISION of the Mississippi, headquarters in the field.

II. Subject to the approval of the President, the cavalry forces of the Military Division of the Mississippi will hereafter constitute the cavalry corps of the Military Division of the Mississippi. All detachments, battalions, regiments, brigades, and Divisions will make the returns required by the present orders and regulations to the head quarters of the Cavalry Corps, through the usual channels. They will send copies of the monthly returns to their respective department commanders.

III. Brigadier-General Johnson I hereby relieved from duty as chief of cavalry of the Military Division of the Mississippi. He will remain in discharge of the duties assigned him by paragraphs I and II, of General Orders, Numbers 23, from headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi. He will receive his instructions and make his reports direct to headquarters of the Cavalry Corps.

IV. The office of chief of cavalry at the headquarters of the different department in this Division is abolished, and the chiefs of cavalry will report to their department commanders for other assignment.

V. Brevet Major-General Wilson will reorganize the forces under his command and will bring the field the greatest number of mounted troops possible. Department and other commanders will give such assistance as will insure the execution of this order with the least possible delay.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 24, 1864.
General STANLEY, Present:
There is a gang of guerrillas under one Gatewood somewhere behind us. He has about 100 men and will likely hurry to the north of our road, back to Rome. I wish you to send a brigade, Light, to Price’s Bridge and across to scout out toward Dirt Town and Coosaville, to make diligent inquiries and to let all know that such fellows will be dealt with summarily. Let the people also understand that when we are in search of such fellows we take no baggage, and therefore live on the country. If they want to save what little corn and potatoes they have, they must manage to get Gatewood disposed of, for he will bring ruin on them all.
Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I want to know if the enemy is truly blocking us from control of Will’s Valley. Control will allow us to follow Hood’s movements and make him retreat further.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 24, 1864.
General ELLIOTT, Chief of Cavalry:
I received your note late in the night. I have ordered General Howard to send the Fifteenth Corps to develop the truth whether the enemy has made a barrier from mountains to the Coosa to absolutely bar the way to us or merely to delay to save time.
It is important we control the reach from Little River to the opening of Will’s Valley, and, therefore, I wish the effort continued.
Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, October 24, 1864.
General O. O. HOWARD:
You will please send the Fifteenth Corps forward in connection with the cavalry to test the position described by General Elliott in his report of last night, to ascertain if the enemy has attempted to make a barrier from the mountains to the Coosa to oppose the army or merely to create delay. Let the officer in command proceed with due caution and take with him a couple of rifle batteries. Leave all incumbrances at camp and return when the truth is disclosed.

Major-General Schofield just reports that at 6 p. m. the pontoon had reached Cedar Bluff. The general commanding desires to have you instruct General Osterhaus not to be drawn too far, as with the use of the pontoon at Cedar Bluff we can better threaten the enemy via the south side of the Coosa, in that more open country, than by pushing into the gap where he is now operating.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Corse Writes:

I am very much grieved and surprised to learn that the pontoons had not reached Cedar Bluff before yesterday evening, but not knowing where Perkin’s Landing is, I presume it must be nearer Cedar Bluff, as they have had ample time to reach the latter place. I, therefore, would have to moved my Division to Center to cover their getting down. In order to get to Center I will have to move some distance around to avoid Cedar Bluff, as the rebels have destroyed the sole crossing over that stream since the covering force I sent down has returned. The distance to Center from here, by the route I am compelled to take, is about forty miles, or near two days’ march for infantry, with four brigades of cavalry and one of infantry to overcome before reaching that point, which is equivalent to another day’s march, and as I presume time is everything to the general I will move a brigade of infantry to Cedar Bluff, on the right bank of the Coosa, crossing them in the boats, and cover the laying of the bridge. If the boats are this side of Cedar Bluff any distance they can cross in the boats and march down on the other side. The brigade will move soon after daylight, and by hard marching I will have them near the Bluff to-night. In the mean time if the general should desire my Division to go around to Center please send word by return courier, and I will move to that point at once.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field Gaylesville, Ala., October 24, 1864.
General CORSE, Rome:
The Army of the Tennessee has less than 20,000 present, and had no right to draw 25,000 rations; the Army of the Cumberland should have 20,000, and the Ohio 10,000. I will make General Howard refund 5,000 rations. I have been down to Cedar Bluff; the bridge is not here. I saw the officer yesterday who said he was at Perkins’ place, below Coosaville, and I ordered him to leave at dark, and had a brigade waiting for him all night, but in the night he sent me word that he heard of a guerrilla down the river, and would not start without my positive order. I take it now that so much delay has occurred that the enemy will capture it on its way down.

I ordered General Schofield to send a whole Division to Cedar Bluff, and a brigade along up the Coosa, but the danger will be of course at the deep bends at the south. If the bridge does not come tonight I will infer that it is gobbled, or that we must get over by crossing via Rome. The officer was wrong last night in hesitating, for he could have floated by. The enemy has a barrier across the Narrows, down below Little River, near Turkeytown, and I have sent the Fifteenth Corps to test it, but not to assault. We are eating out this valley good, so that it will not be necessary to come again.
Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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Sunday, October 23, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Alabama, October 23, 1864

Colonel EASTON, Chief Quartermaster, Chattanooga or Atlanta, Ga.:
Come to Rome and to me for consultation, prepared with a summary of all property from Chattanooga forward. Send back all unserviceable stock, wagons, and stores, and keep on hand only a limited supply, just what we can pick up in our wagons and haul.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

The Pontoons are ready to head downriver from Rome to allow troops to cross the river.

PONTOON, COOSA RIVER, October 23, 1864. 4:07 p.m.
General W. T. SHERMAN:
I arrived here and found everything in readiness to proceed to the point designated. We will start just after dark. We will try and arrive at the bluff at 3 o’clock tomorrow morning.
E. L. GARDNER, First Lieutenant, Sixty-sixth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 23, 1864.

General SLOCUM, Atlanta, Ga.:
Your dispatch of the 20th received. Am delighted at your success in foraging. Go on, pile up the forage, corn, and potatoes, and keep your artillery horses fat. Send back all unserviceable artillery, and at the last moment we can count up horses and see what we can haul, and send back all else. One gun per thousand men will be plenty to take along.

Hood is doubtless now at Blue Mountain, and Forrest over about Corinth and Tuscumbia, hoping by threatening Tennessee to make me quit Georgia. We are piling up men in Tennessee, enough to attend to them and leave me free to go ahead. The railroad will be done in a day or two. We find abundance of corn and potatoes out here, and enjoy them much. They cost nothing a bushel. If Georgia can afford to break our railroads, she can afford to feed us. Please preach this doctrine to men who go forth, and are likely to spread it. All well.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

W. L. ELLIOTT Reports on his Cavalry:

In compliance with your instructions of the 22nd I marched to this place. This morning early I marched on the Gadsden road, skirmishing with the advance of Harrison’s and Armistead’s brigades, driving it from a strong position at King’s Hill to its command, about two miles beyond. From this point it fell back to a stronger position about one mile beyond where we developed a larger force, with artillery in position, two pieces in our front and one or more to our left. At this place we found the enemy occupied a line extending from the mountain to the Coosa River, from one miles and a half to two miles in length. I learned that the enemy held another similar line about two miles beyond, at Turkeytown. The front of the first line was obstructed by felled timber and the position was too strong for my available dismounted force to assault.

From King’s Hill I had sent a strong regiment of mounted infantry to Will’s Valley, at the junction of the road with that from Leesburg. It encountered a force of from 150 to 200 holding the gap leading into Will’s Valley. This regiment rejoined me. I find less forage as I have advanced, and for position and forage returned to my camp at this place. From all that I can learn I think the enemy is holding Gadsden and its approaches, but cannot say whether to move on Guntersville, Decatur, or to Blue Mountain. All reports seem to agree that two corps of infantry have crossed the Coosa and that the cavalry is holding the approaches to Gadsden. A captured scout represents that he was “pressed” into service and claims to be a Union man; gave himself up; says a rebel infantry force is in Turkeytown Valley. I inclose a copy of a bulletin issued by Beauregard.

A Defector, Malachi S. Carter, Second Georgia Cavalry Gives Information:

I reached Atlanta yesterday. I live in De Kalb County, seven miles from Atlanta. Was conscripted in June, 1864, and kept under guard until I reached my regiment, belonging to Iverson’s brigade. About August 10 we left Covington to make a raid under Wheeler. The force consisted of William S. Robinson’s brigade, Humes’ Division, and Martin’s Division, all but a part of our brigade. Were not all armed. We went up into East Tennessee, crossed the river at Strawberry Plains, and then back through Middle Tennessee. Recrossed Tennessee River below Muscle Shoals and crossed the Coosa at Edwards’ Ferry, near Round Mountain Iron-Works. Joined Hood’s army near Cedartown; were assigned to the advance, and recrossed the Coosa on pontoons, fifteen miles below Rome, going northwest. All the army crossed, but sent back most of their wagons and beef-cattle to Jacksonville and Blue Mountain.

The report was that the army was going to Summerville. Opinions vary as to whether they will cross the Tennessee. Many say that they will only cut the railroads and then come back into Alabama. The men are discouraged, and just now are very poorly fed and clothed. Many more would desert, but fear being caught and shot. I escaped at Dir Town, Chattanooga County, on the 11th instant, after the army had crossed the river. Came around through Alabama. Saw no troops there but train guards. The army get their supplies by wagon from Blue Mountain, in Calhoun County, fifty or sixty miles from Summerville and five to ten miles north of east from Jacksonville; it is the terminus of the railroad.

Wheeler has lost about half of his men by desertion since August 1. Iverson is now somewhere below Stockbridge, between Jonesborough and McDonough, with several hundred men. At Morrow’s Mills, west of Jonesborough, about nine miles this side of Fayetteville, is a cavalry force of 300 or 400; don’t know who commands them. Know of no other forces near Atlanta. There are some militia at Macon. I have heard, I believe, that there are many Union men in hiding throughout Northeast Georgia, many of them armed. There are some such between Lawrenceville and Gainesville. These men often bushwhack the rebel cavalry very pertinaciously. I am an original Union man and was near hung for my sentiments in this city.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 23, 1864. 9 a.m.

General GEORGE H. THOMAS, Nashville, Tenn.:

Dispatch of 18th received. I wrote you in great detail by Colonel Warner. Hood is now at Blue Mountain, and Forrest is evidently over about Tuscumbia. No doubt they will endeavor conjointly to make me come out of Georgia, but I don’t want them to succeed. All Georgia is now open to me and I do believe you are the man best qualified to manage the affairs of Tennessee and North Mississippi. I want approximate returns of all troops subject to your orders, and, as wrote you, I can spare you the Fourth Corps and about 5,000 men not fit for my purpose, but which will be well enough for garrison at Chattanooga, Murfreesborough, and Nashville. What you need is a few points fortified and stocked with provisions, and a good movable column of 25,000 men that can strike in any direction. I await further reports from you before doing anything, but am making all preparations necessary.

We find abundance of forage and stores down here, and have not the most distant fears of want or starvation. All my animals are improving, and General Slocum, at Atlanta, reports foraging most successful, 400 wagons on one occasion, 700 on another, and 600 now out. If Hood breaks our road Georgia must pay for it.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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Saturday, October 22, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 22, 1864. 8 a. m.
General GRANT, City Point, Va.:
I feel perfectly master of the situation here. I still hold Atlanta and the road, with all bridges and vital points well guarded, and I have in hand an army before which Hood has retreated precipitately down the valley of the Coosa. It is hard to divine his future plans, but by abandoning Georgia, and taking position with his rear to Selma, he threatens the road from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and may move to Tennessee by Decatur. He cannot cross the Tennessee except at Muscle Shoals, for all other points are patrolled by our gun-boats. I am now perfecting arrangements to put into Tennessee a force able to hold the line of the Tennessee whilst I break up the railroad in front of Dalton, including the city of Atlanta, and push into Georgia, and break up all its railroads and depots, capture its horses and negroes, make desolation everywhere, destroy the factories at Macon, Milledgeville, and Augusta, and bring up with 60,000 men on the seashore about Savannah or Charleston. I think this far better than defending a long line of railroad.

I will leave General George H. Thomas to command all my Divisions behind me, and take with me only the best fighting material. Of course I will subsist on the bountiful corn-fields and potato patches, as I am now doing luxuriously. I have now all your dispatches, and there will be time to give me any further instructions. Canby should be most active as against Selma from the direction of Mobile, and I will order similar movements from the Mississippi River and Decatur, provided Beauregard follows me, as he will be forced to do by public clamor.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

General Elliott Writes:

Does the general wish me to push on to Gadsden today? If so, where will, the command cross the Coosa, should the army cross to the east side? The First Ohio, a small regiment, was with the train, and, being short of ammunition, was detailed for the courier-line.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, October 22, 1864.
General ELLIOTT:
Your note by Captain Langdon is in hand. Your train will be sent to Little River. The general does not care about your pushing into Gadsden, but to press the enemy until you know he has not turned toward the Tennessee. A Division of infantry is at Alpine and a brigade at Valley Head. General Schofield is up and the army remains as before reported.
Yours, &c.,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 22, 1864.
General CORSE, Rome, Ga.:
I got your letter of yesterday, and General Force got here also. I wrote you yesterday that I wanted you to send down the Coosa to Cedar Bluff, just above the Chattanooga, the spare pontoon bridge, and as accident may have interfered I repeat the order. Also that you cover the movement by a strong foraging expedition down the Vann’s Valley, Cave Spring, and center road. As soon as I get the pontoons I will throw a force into Centre.

I now have the head of one column at Cedar Bluff, another at Little River on the Gadsden road, and an army in reserve here. Yesterday the cavalry pushed Wheeler back on the Gadsden road and will continue to press him to his end, Blue Mountain, but I will not move the infantry farther without new developments. I want all the preparations continued that I have heretofore marked out in a quiet way, not to attract too much attention, but it will be some time before I can uncover Tennessee. I must give General George H. Thomas full time to prepare his new lines. Continue to notify all the post commanders where we are and that absentees fit for honest duty can find us via Rome. I have no doubt the road via Coosaville is safe, though I have not yet seen any one who has come that way; all here come via Dirt Town or Price’s Bridge, which is eight miles above this on the Chattanooga. By tonight I will have a good bridge at Gaylesville, one three miles below on the Cedar Bluff road, and Price’s Bridge, eight miles above Gaylesville. I want a good pontoon bridge at Cedar Bluff, and those at Rome will give me two good crossing places on the Coosa, in the direction I expect to move. General Garrard had some pretty fair fighting with Wheeler yesterday and reports satisfactory results. General Schofield is close at hand. Keep me fully posted and use my name freely in orders sent to the rear to accomplish my purpose and plans.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Corse Replies:

I will send Colonel Spencer, with about 300 mounted men, and a brigade of infantry to support him, down the left bank of the Coosa at once, and start sixteen pontoons at 3 p. m., or as soon as I can get the oars and rope ready, down the Coosa with three or four armed men in each boat; that is all they will hold after the flooring is loaded. I hardly think they can go farther than Coosaville, as the left bank is watched very closely, I learn, by Jackson’s and Wheeler’s cavalry. Please send some cavalry up toward Coosaville to meet them and designate the place of landing.
The courier-posts are now established between here and Coosavile and will open communication with the posts you contemplate establishing south of that point. The bearer, Captain Hinds, will have charge of my line. I have directed the flotilla to tie up at Coosaville and try and get information of the enemy, and if they find it clear below, to float as far as possible by daylight and again tie up and get word to your forces where they are. My force on the left bank will cover them to Coosaville without difficulty I think.

Captain Hinds will be able to give you more information on his arrival. The bridge can cover 300 feet of water, which I concluded would be as much surface as the Coosa presents at any point near you. All quiet along the Railroad. The communication with Chattanooga will be opened positively, I am informed, by Monday. I have ten days’ rations for my command and about 500,000 for your force. Do you want any quartermaster stores brought here? Mower and Wilson will be here today. I think I can get the sick and wounded off Monday or Tuesday on through trains. There are about 1,200 here now; when they are gone I am ready to clean the place and move with ten days’ rations. Should you require the place to be abandoned please give instructions as to disposition of things left here.

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Friday, October 21, 1864

TO JOSEPH P. THOMPSON
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, Gaylesville, Ala. Oct. 21, 1864.

Rev. Jos. P. Thompson:
I have received your letter of Oct. 3d and acknowledge the hit, but as you have wit and sense I can with safety devote to you a part of my usual nights labor. When the Soldier sleeps the General is watchful, and such are my habits and if as you say you spent some time in my camp, I beg you to bear testimony to a fact never noticed that in my camps the soldier sleeps quietly and undisturbed by Long Rolls & False alarms.
This is not accident but a truth for which I feel sure all soldiers will give me credit, and as you say, I am not the heartless Boor I am often represented. I rarely see my children, but were you to behold them watching for my expected coming, and rush to me with eyes all love, you would not say that I was heartless. Again when the final day of reckoning comes I will risk a comparison with men professing more, for examples of acts of charity where the Left hand knoweth not what the Right hand gives, but when my mind is intent on a purpose it is jealous of all clogs & obstructions.

How many of our plans have been defeated, how many lives lost because our columns have been clogged with useless baggage & civilians? Go to our Camps and towns, as you say you have done & see if the commander thinks of destroying an Enemy or is engaged in answering complaints of women, cotton and trade speculators or citizens who study to use the cover of an army to buy cheap commodities and answer on your conscience if I am not right as a Rule to declare Citizens about an army a “nuisance.” The Rule is right and is proved by the exceptions. Let every thought of the mind, every feeling of the heart, every movement of a human muscle all be directed to one sole object, Successful War and consequent Peace, and you have the ideal I aim at. But all ideals are dreams but they form the directions of Real Results and the closer they can be followed the better.

But as I said, I see you have wit and sense and I will trust you to do this noble army justice. Who can know the daily toils, the dangers the hopes and fears of this vast army? I know them and all here know them and the time will come when they will return to their homes and be the living witnesses of the acts of their Fellows and leaders.

For my reward I trust to them and still more in my confidence that God will not permit this fair land and this Brave People to subside into the anarchy and despotism that Jeff Davis has cut out for them. I have this faith as clear & distinct as you see the sacrifice of Gods own Son in your mental vision to secure to us an immortal Reward. I have read the Editorials but not the sermon, but shall read it too. In the mean time you may assure your congregation that this army fights, that they may sleep in peace and enjoy the protection of a civilized government.
W. T. Sherman Major General

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Friday, October 21, 1864

TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Gaylesville Ala.
Oct. 21,1864

Dearest Ellen,
I enclose a Bill of Brooks Brothers showing me in debt $12. This I honestly believe is the only debt I have in the world so pay it off . I have some money in my pocket, and have two months pay nearly due, so I can promise you $1000, before I take my final departure for the Pine Woods. Since I have become famous for taking Atlanta and writing imprudent letters I get the most wonderful medley that you can conceive of from all parts of the world. Some are amusing but all breath the utmost respect, and cannot be disregarded. Some I toss in the camp fire and some I answer but usually in a very hasty imperfect manner, but it seems that my letters now even are sought after like hot cakes. As long as I am not a candidate I hope none will be published as sample of literary composition.

You can read my letters & guess at the meaning, but judging from my copy clerks, some readers would make an awful jumble of my letters, written usually in the small hours of the night, by a single candle on a box. Actually one man wrote that it was seriously contemplated once to put me up for President. That was cruel & unkind. You remember when the Solemn Committee waited on me at San Francisco to tender the Regular Democratic Nomination for Treasurer my answer was that I was ineligible because I had not graduated at the “Penitentiary.” If a similar committee should be rash enough to venture the other nomination I fear I should proceed to personal violence, for I would receive a sentence to be hung and damned with infinitely more composure than to be the Executive of this Nation. I send you a few letters that may interest you as samples.

Hood escaped south down the Valley of the Chattooga to Gadsden and is en route for Blue Mountain 10 miles south of Jacksonville the End of the Selma Road, where he hopes to threaten my Road & Tennessee to keep me out of Georgia. Maybe he will & maybe he won’t. If a reasonable member of the drafted now reach me I think he won’t.

This Army is now ready to march to Mobile, Savannah or Charleston, and I am practising them in the art of foraging and they take to it like Ducks to water. They like pigs sheep, chickens, calves and Sweet potatoes better than rations. We wont starve in Georgia. Our mules are doing better on the corn fields than on the bagged corn brought by the Railroads.

Love to all. In haste as usual. Charley reiterates he writes all the time.
Yours Ever,
W. T. Sherman

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Friday, October 21, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 21, 1864.

General CORSE:
I have received your note and am glad of the fair prospect of things both at home and with us. Hood retreated with more precipitancy than I had first supposed, and I learn that the day you and General Cox moved out of Rome we stampeded the train back to Blue Mountain. I now have my infantry up to Little River and at Cedartown, and the mass about here. I will push cavalry well down toward Gadsden, and want a pontoon bridge at Cedartown. Send your spare one down with the knowledge that it will be destroyed when we are done with it. In as much as the boats may be fired on, I want you to send your cavalry and one or two brigades of infantry down by Vann’s Valley, Cave Spring, and the center road, to cover the movement.

As soon as I get the bridge I will occupy Centre, after eating out this Chattanooga Valley, which we find ripe in forage, and some potatoes, hogs, chickens, &c. I explain to the people that we have abundance of provisions at the North; that we have good roads to our rear, and that we design to supply our own wants; but Hood has broken our road, and we must live off the country. I think we can save enough forage to pay for the repairs. I don’t want too much accumulation at Rome or anywhere, for I design something else. We still send our trains into and though Rome to meet us elsewhere in a few days. Telegraph to Chattanooga to send all mails and express matter to this army via Rome. I have ordered a courier-line back. I want you to establish one forward, say to Coosaville.

Order the boats in descending to destroy or bring along all boats, canoes, floats, &c. Let them be armed and ordered to proceed with caution. Find out for me, if you can, where the steam-boats that are above the Ten Islands are now sunk. I may get them up or further destroy them. Continue to give daily budgets of news, and keep all the posts advised of our whereabouts.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Elliott Reports from the Cavalry in Advance:

I met pickets from Wheeler’s command after crossing this river. At Yellow River his advance guard occupied a strong position; the crossing on both sides of the road obstructed by barricaded and abatis, from which it was driven. Every position susceptible of defense was held until he was flanked from them. He was driven to his chosen position, covering the several roads at Leesburg, where he had erected barricades of uncommon strength, from which he was driven, leaving his dead and wounded on the field. Prisoners taken represent several brigades; from them and citizens I have no doubt Wheeler’s entire force is covering the march of Hood to Gadsden. Hood left Roddey at Leesburg yesterday morning. Stewart’s corps marched via the iron-works; Lee’s and Cheatham’s united at Yellow River; the whole army marching for, or in the direction of, Gadsden. That road is obstructed by felled trees. It was too late to continue pursuit beyond King’s Hill. The enemy threw away forty to fifty guns during his flight. My casualties, as far as reported, 1 killed and 8 wounded; that of the enemy, 2 officers and 15 to 20 killed and wounded; 5 prisoners brought in.

The country over which we passed today has not been as much cultivated as that for the past two or three days. A detachment sent three miles beyond Yellow River, via the iron-works, reports only small parties on that road. The pontoon of he enemy was taken up and sent to the east side of the Coosa. If the armies remain a day or two Garrard’s Division needs provisions and horseshoes from its train.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, October 21, 1864. 11 p.m.
General ELLIOTT:
I have just received your note, which is perfectly satisfactory. The infantry advance is at Little River. Tell Garrard to send back for what he wants. I want the cavalry to hang on the rear of Wheeler to molest him all they can, and to follow till sure the enemy crosses the Coosa. I expect a pontoon bridge down from Rome tomorrow night, when I will throw a force across to Canton. You will find more open country as you approach Will’s Valley. Keep me advised.

General Thomas sent me a list of all infantry and its disposition & Reports from NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE:

All the cavalry is being mounted as rapidly as possible, and will be disposed of as you many direct. I wish, however, that you will leave with me all the cavalry except the 2,500 you wish me to send to General McCook, as I feel confident that I will be able to operate successfully against the enemy in West Tennessee with the Fourth Corps and a respectable body of cavalry. It will be necessary, however, to have a good force of cavalry and infantry to guard the railroad and the Tennessee River between Chattanooga and Eastport whilst I am absent with the Fourth Corps in West Tennessee. I know of no other troops to arrive in Tennessee, except two old regiments from General Pope’s command, but have not heard of their starting yet. Do you intend that I shall take charge of East Tennessee also while you are absent?

Schofield Reports from Deep Spring Georgia:


I will not be able to reach Gaylesville today. The troops will probably get to Ringgold Post-Office in Alabama or within two or three miles of that place. The cattle will hardly get beyond this place. I will move on and join the army early in the morning if I find you at Gaylesville. If your chase continues as rapid as it has been heretofore it will take me some time yet to overtake you, but, of course, I will waste no time. I met Colonel Warner yesterday with your dispatches, and got over onto this road last evening at Valley Store.

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Thursday, October 20, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, Ga., October 20, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS, Commanding Department of the Cumberland:
I think I have thought over the whole field of the future, and being now authorized to act, I want all things bent to the following general plan of action for the next three months. Out of the forces now here and at Atlanta I propose to organize an efficient army of from 60,000 to 65,000 men, with which I propose to destroy Macon, Augusta, and, it may be, Savannah and Charleston, but I will always keep open the alternatives of the mouth of Appalachicola and Mobile. By this I propose to demonstrate the vulnerability of the South, and make its inhabitants feel that war and individual ruin are synonymous terms. To pursue Hood is folly, for he can twist and turn like a fox and wear out any army in pursuit. To continue to occupy long lines of railroads simply exposes our small detachments to be picked up in detail and forces me to make countermarches to protect lines of communication. I know I am right in this and shall proceed to its maturity.

As to details, I propose to take General Howard and his army, General Schofield and his, and two of your corps, viz, Generals Davis and Slocum. I propose to remain along the Coosa watching Hood until all my preparations are made, viz, until I have repaired the railroad, sent back all surplus men and material, and stripped for the work. Then I will send General Stanley, with the Fourth Corps, across by Will’s Valley and Caperton’s to Stevenson to report to you. If you send me 5,000 or 6,000 new conscripts I may also send back one of General Slocum’s or Davis’ Divisions, but I prefer to maintain organization. I want you to retain command in Tennessee, and before starting I will give you delegated authority over Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, &c., whereby there will be unity of action behind me. I will want you to hold Chattanooga and Decatur in force.

On the occasion of my departure, I think Hood will follow me, at least with his cavalry. In that event, I want you to push south from Decatur and the head of the Tennessee for Columbus, Miss., and Selma, not absolutely to reach these points, but to divert or pursue according to the state of facts. If, however, Hood turns on you, you must act defensively on the line of the Tennessee. I will ask, and you may also urge, that at the same time Canby act vigorously up the Alabama River.

I do not fear that the Southern army will again make a lodgment of the Mississippi, for past events demonstrate how rapidly armies can be raised in the Northwest on that question and how easily handled and supplied. The only hope of a Southern success is in the remote regions difficult of access. We have now a good entering wedge and should drive it home. It will take some time to complete these details, and I hope to hear from you in the mean time. We must preserve a large amount of secrecy, and I may actually change the ultimate point of arrival, but not the main object.

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

SUMMERVILLE, GA., October 20, 1864. 11:30 a.m.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
I ruled out the sanitary agent of Indiana from Atlanta for the reason that I have excluded all citizens. Recent events demonstrate the wisdom of my action. I allow them two agents of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, who, with the assistance of our surgeons, can distribute fairly all the fruits of charity that reach Atlanta. Assure Governor Morton that my action has been fair and uniform, and applies to all State agencies. Convey to Jeff. Davis my personal and official thanks for abolishing cotton and substituting corn and sweet potatoes in the South. These facilitate our military plans much, for food and forage are abundant.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., Numbers 99. October 20, 1864

The orders for tomorrow are as follows:

I. Brigadier-General Cox will move and take position near the point on the Chattanooga where the road to Cedar Bluff crosses it, with a strong advance guard at Cedar Bluff.

II. Major-General Howard will advance and take position on the main Alabama road, some four or five miles toward Blue Pond, with a strong advance guard at the crossing of Little River.

III. Major-General Stanley will advance his rear corps to near the position now occupied by the Seventeenth Corps, and the other will remain as at present.

IV. Brigadier-General Elliott will establish a good courier-line from Gaylesville back to Rome, and will reconnoiter in force through Blue Pond, well toward Gadsden.

V. All the armies will get up their trains, and forage on the country liberally. General Cox will make a bridge across Chattanooga near his camp, and General Stanley will strengthen and improve the covered bridge on the upper Rome road.

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

HDQRS. MILIARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 20, 1864.
General SLOCUM, Atlanta, Ga.:
I have your dispatch of the 18th. Use all your energies to send to the rear everything not needed for the grand march. I will take your corps along. We will need 1,500,000 rations of bread, coffee, sugar, and salt, 500,000 rations of salt meat, and all else should be shipped away. All sick and wounded should be sent to Resaca and Chattanooga as soon as the road is open. General Thomas and staff will remain in Tennessee. I will take two of the corps of the Army of the Cumberland and send General Stanley’s back. I want to be near Atlanta, and ready by November 1. Keep out strong foraging parties and keep the bridges well secured. Have the lightest pontoon bridges and trains ready. All else will be sent to the rear or destroyed. The enemy has retreated rapidly before us down the Coosa toward Gadsden.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 20, 1864.
General J. E. SMITH, Cartersville:
The enemy has retreated before us toward Gadsden. I want all things put in readiness for our move south. Have all sick sent to the rear and clear your posts so we can make quick work. Instruct the commanding officer at Resaca to send back in wagons any sick or incumbrance that may be sent from the front. I will want your Division all ready with ten days’ rations and stripped for a long march by the 1st of November.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 20, 1864.
General CORSE, Rome:
The enemy has retreated down the Coosa toward Gadsden. I will not pursue any farther, but want you to begin for our move. Send all your wounded and sick back to Chattanooga as far as Resaca till the road is done. Keep as much rations as you can haul in your wagons, and will need about 500,000 rations to replenish in the course of a week. Send me all the intelligence of the condition of the road. I think General Kilpatrick can take care of the cavalry you mention as being below the Etowah.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Corse Reports:

Your note received. I have an extra pontoon bridge that can be floated down the Coosa but cannot be hauled. It is at your service. I have constant inquiries for the whereabouts of the different corps by officers and men wishing to join them. Hitherto I have told them to come here. Rations, enough for your command I have now accumulated here. A spy from Round Mountain last night said Hardee’s corps crossed near Hampton’s Ferry this morning. The force that captured Vining’s Station was composed of about 500 cavalry. Our telegraph communication is again all right with Atlanta and will be through to Chattanooga tonight. The railroad will be done to Chattanooga by Sunday.
Morton elected Governor by 20,000 majority. Congressmen from Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania almost all Union; very few Democrats elected. Kilpatrick reports three brigades of rebel cavalry moved south of Dallas and east yesterday. I am busy on fortifications and hauling in forage. Had the mail for the different armies better come to this point? Will your trains move this way soon? No disturbance on railroad reported today. Scouts from the south and West say that Hood is going to Blue Mountain to rest.

Cox Reports:

The head of the cavalry must be close upon Gaylesville. I hear of no skirmishing at the front. A deserter, apparently candid, says he knows the pontoon was ordered to Guntersville, on the Tennessee. The columns of the enemy are represented as passing by Blue Pond in that direction. This is corroborated by an escaped prisoner. A man who was engaged in our quartermaster department came in last night. He says it seemed generally understood among the rebel troops that they were making for Guntersville and he had no doubt they were. I am just in rear of the cavalry column, the advance being considerably in front.

C. C. WASHBURN Reports from Nashville:

I have no doubt that Forrest, with from 8,000 to 10,000 men, is in the vicinity of Corinth and Eastport. The railroad is intact from Mobile to Cherokee. If we except any quiet either in West or Middle Tennessee he must be whipped out and the railroad destroyed as low down as Macon, Miss. It will require 15,000 men to make a sure job of it. I leave General Hatch with 2,700 cavalry at Clifton to co-operate in any move that may be made. I return to Memphis in the morning. My force there is weak, and I have sent Colonel Hoge back there with the force that was to occupy Eastport, as it was inadequate for that purpose and is much needed at Memphis.

Shall I send my cavalry back to Memphis? I think there may be some hazard in crossing the country. The Tennessee is rapidly falling, and Forrest can return to Middle Tennessee whenever he likes, unless there is an adequate force to oppose him. My infantry here, under Colonel Hoge, I will send back to Memphis to insure the safety of that point, but my cavalry can be used to pursue Forrest if desired. It seems to me that he should not be allowed to remain where he is, and that the Mobile and Ohio Railroad should be destroyed. Forrest had two regiments watching us opposite Savannah. He may have swung off toward Georgia before now, but he will make great use of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and as long as that remains he will greatly annoy both Middle and West Tennessee.

M.L. SMITH Reports from Memphis:

Indications are that Forrest and Dick Taylor have gone, by the way of Tuscumbia, to Sherman’s rear. Nothing from Generals Washburn or Hatch since the 13th. I propose to make a reconnaissance tomorrow to find out where this force has gone. Only 800 cavalry effective here.

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