Tunnel Hill, Georgia
We are facing Joe Johnston’s army. We want to make a demonstration but not fight a battle here. Halleck informs me about command changes in the West.
WASHINGTON, May 8, 1864; 12 noon.
Major-General SHERMAN,Ringgold, Ga.:
Major General E. R. S. Canby, U. S. Volunteers, has been placed in command of the Military Division of West Mississippi, composed of the Departments of Arkansas and of the Gulf, and has left to join his command. He will stop at Louisville to consult with General Allen in regard to supplies. Please send the latest information you have to General Canby at Cairo.* General Canby has authority to use any of your troops on the Mississippi River in case of emergency, but not to interfere with your plans for the security of the navigation of that river. This arrangement relieves you from all further responsibility in regard to operations west of the Mississippi. General Grant’s last orders were that A. J. Smith and his command were to remain west of the Mississippi River until further orders.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General, Chief of Staff.
TUNNEL HILL, GA., May 8, 1864; 6 p.m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Dispatch of today is received. Am delighted at the arrangement, and it shall receive my most hearty concurrence. I will telegraph very fully to General Canby today at Cairo. I have been out all day reconnoitering the mountain range through whose gap the railroad and common road passes. By tonight McPherson will be in Snake Creek Gap, threatening Resaca, and tomorrow all will move to the attack. Army in good spirits and condition. I hope Johnston will fight here, instead of driving me far down into Georgia.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
Thomas sends his report:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Tunnel Hill, Ga., May 8, 1864; 6 p. m.
I went to General Hooker’s headquarters this a.m.; found his troops well posted. Sent out the two reconnaissances as ordered. Butterfield has some skirmishing with the enemy at Buzzard Roost and shelled a wagon train from position on right of railroad. Have not heard result of Geary’s reconnaissance yet. Captain Poe will report to you verbally on his return. He went with Geary. I found two excellent roads leading up Dogwood Valley toward Villanow. Hooker reports at 4 p .m. that McPherson reached Villanow at 2 p. m. and expects to get possession of Snake Creek Gap by night. My signal officer reports cannonading in that direction going on now. I will direct Hooker to send courier to Villanow and bring report. From what I saw to-day I think Geary will prevent enemy from getting in rear of McPherson. Such orders were given and for him to feel up Hall’s Gap to see if the enemy occupied it in force, and if not to seize and hold until he could get re-enforcements.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding
Geary attempted to carry Mill Gap by assault, but was repulsed with a loss of probably from 200 to 300 in killed and wounded. That the enemy were small in force-only infantry–but strongly posted; that it is impossible to obtain possession of the gap by direct assault, or only at the expense of fearful loss. That Geary’s last orders were to withdraw into the valley and encamp beyond artillery range. Geary was making no attempt to turn the position; that the only way to do so is to get a force upon the mountain “some where” where the enemy cannot defend it so strongly.