Sunday, May 15, 1864

NEAR RESACA, GA., May 15, 1864

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

We have been fighting all day, pressing the enemy, and gaining substantial advantage at all points. We will strengthen the line of circumvallation, so as to spare a larger force to operate across the Oostenaula, below Resaca. Two pontoon bridges are over at Lay’s Ferry. The enemy attacked the brigade thrown across to cover the bridge, but was handsomely repulsed, leaving 40 dead. I cannot estimate our dead and wounded up to this hour, but it will fall much short of 3,000.

The cars now run down to within seven miles of us, and we have every facility to provide for the wounded. The troops fight well, and everything works smoothly. We intend to fight Joe Johnston until he is satisfied, and I hope he will not attempt to escape. If he does, my bridges are down, and we will be after him. The country is mountainous and heavily wooded, giving the party on the defensive every advantage, and our losses result mostly from sharpshooters and ambush firing.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I gave the orders for today:

In the Field of Resaca, Ga., May 15, 1864.

The movement of the troops for to-day will be as follows:

I. Major-General McPherson, re-enforced by the cavalry division of General Kilpatrick, will continue to threaten the line of the enemy’s communications by a pontoon near Lay’s Ferry and a good lodgment on the other bank. He will hold the strong defensive position gained yesterday from the Bald Hill to the Oostenaula near the mouth of Camp Creek, prepared at all times to assume the offensive.

II. Major-General Thomas will hold one corps on the defensive, holding the line of hills on the west side of Camp Creek, connecting strong with General McPherson on a line with the Bald Hill, with a reserve in the large field behind it (i. e., the cleared valley of the west branch of Camp Creek). The other two corps, Hooker’s and Howard’s, will make a steady and strong attack on the enemy along down the ridge between Camp Creek and the Connesauga toward Resaca, but will not assault fortified positions unless sure of success.

III. Major-General Schofield will support the line of General Howard and General Hooker, and be prepared to resume his place on the left as soon as the ground will permit. During the advance he will hold his troops to the left rear of General Howard and General Hooker’s line.;

IV. All the troops should be in position for action at daylight and the general movement begin at 8 a. m.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman

In the Field of Resaca, Ga., May 15, 1864.

I. Dalton is announced as the present of supplies, but the railroad superintendent may bring forward trains of cars with ammunition or special articles up to the very rear of the army. The wagons trains will be brought out of Snake Creek Gap and that route abandoned. Wagon trains will take post under direction of the proper staff officers and guard to the rear of their respective armies.

II. Commanders of armies will aim to keep on hand ten days’ supply of meat and bread, and as much forage as they can, keeping their mules in as good order as possible, looking to the probability of a long march.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman

I plan to trap Johnston this side of the river. McPherson’s guns control the bridge across the river and we have a strong line to the west. An attack from the North will force them the fight or retreat away from the railroad to the East.

Near Resaca, May 15, 1864.

Major-General THOMAS,

Commanding Army of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: I have just visited McPherson’s line. He occupies a ridge in front of Camp Creek, seemingly within range of the bridge, and the line is pretty well fortified already. McPherson is preparing batteries to advantage guns on his right front (extreme). The guns on Bald Hill enfilade the road into Resaca, which passes around the point of the hill. The enemy appear to be assembling a line of troops parallel to McPherson, the latter thinks, to assault, but I would ask nothing more favorable. The second line is on the range of hills of which Bald Hill is one, and terminates at its left at the branch of Camp Creek which flows east and passes near my headquarters. Baird was in the act of relieving the division of Harrow, which was on the north of that branch of Camp Creek, and now Harrow’s division is in reserve behind McPherson’s batteries. I think his whole line is completed, and by the time you get this guns will be in the advanced line.

I have sent Poe to examine Palmer’s line, which should rest its right on the creek which should be the division line between McPherson and Palmer, and run along the hills that overlook the valley of Camp Creek. With pickets down to the willows on the creek, and the crests well line, the position would be impregnable. Now you have Howard’s and Hooker’s corps beyond Camp Creek looking south, with Schofield, as it were, in reserve, and the less time we give the enemy to fortify the better. I want to hear the sound of that line advancing directly down the road on Resaca till it comes within range of the forts. Whilst this advance is being made McPherson’s guns will make the bridge and vicinity too hot for the passage of troops. I am very anxious this advance should be made to-day, that we may secure a line whose left rests on the Connesauga. I have sent Corse down to see what progress Sweeny is making.

I am yours,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Corse reports from Lay’s Ferry. We are across the river and in position to cut of the railroad in Johnston’s rear.

Lay’s Ferry, May 15, 1864; 5 p. m.

General SHERMAN: After gaining possession of the other bank and getting two brigades into position, Jackson’s brigade, of Walker’s division, Hardee’s corps, assaulted in line of battle and drove our men toward the river till the batteries in position on this side opened with such execution as to send them back, followed by our men, capturing and killing quite a number. This assault proved advantageous to us in two ways; one, it gave us command of a better position, and another, it so demoralized the enemy as to deter him from attempting the same thing again.

We are now in possession of a ridge about half a mile from the bridges, which, when properly fortified, which will be done tonight, will resist a large force. I have been over the ground and think the position quite strong. We found forty dead rebels on the field; we lost about 100 killed and wounded.

The prisoners captured belong respectively to the Fifth, Sixty-fifth, and Forty-seventh, and Eighth Georgia Infantry, and Fifth Mississippi Infantry. The division embraces Mercer’s, Jackson’s, Stevenson’s, and Gist’s brigade, each about 1,200 strong, two batteries of four guns each. The division has been employed in patrolling the railroad between Resaca and Calhoun, and arrived here about 11 a. m. today under orders from Hardee. I further learned that Forrest was expected at Calhoun last night. Martins’ division of cavalry, with one battery, has been here all the time we have, but our artillery hurt them so as to compel them to leave last night. I have not yet heard from the cavalry force I sent down toward Rome. Will use them to protect the flanks, and remain here tonight. We are quite anxious to hear of Thomas’s effort. By the way, the prisoners said one of our shells (from McPherson’s front, I think) struck one of the road regiments passing over the bridge at Resaca, yesterday, at a double-quick, and killed and hurt many. This bridge is near the railroad bridge.

CORSE, Brigadier-General

The cavalry has once again failed. Garrard had every opportunity to cut the railroad in Johnston’s rear but did not accomplish it.


General GARRARD, Farmer’s Bridge, across Oostenaula River:

GENERAL: I regret exceedingly you did not avail yourself of the chance I gave you to cut the railroad. At the time you reached the bridge, Martin’s cavalry was all that was on that flank, and they widely scattered. Forrest on the 6th was retreating before Sam. Strugis, in Mississippi, toward Tupelo. In person he may be at Rome, but if his horses are there they can outmarch ours. Roddey on the 11th was at Tuscumbia. Now Martin’s and Wheeler’s divisions are covering the retreat of Johnston for Allatoona, and I want you to dash in and strike the retreating masses in flank and all round.

Leave your artillery at the bridge, or better still, throw it into the Oostenaula, and operate rapidly against the enemy retreating by all roads for Atlanta via Allatoona. From Adairsville to Kingston is a place to strike, and from Kingston to the railroad bridge across Etowah. I will send a division of infantry to come round by the bridge you describe, eight miles above Rome, to push up your wagons and incumbrances.

Now, do not spare horse-flesh, but strike boldly on the flank of the retreating columns. McPherson will cross Oostenaula by Lay’s Ferry, and get on Resaca and Rome road. Thomas will pursue the railroad, and Schofield on his left over on the old Kingston road. You can depend on meeting McPherson first, as his bridge is done at Lay’s Ferry. Stoneman is over on the left somewhere. McCook will be with Thomas, and Kilpatrick with McPherson. I would re-enforce you, but 3,000 cavalry is as much as you need and can whip any cavalry you encounter. Can’t attack infantry in line unless disordered, nor forts. I send General Corse down to represent me.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

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