TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Head-Quarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, May 22, 1864
Tomorrow we start again for Atlanta. I would like to go back & give you a connected narrative of events but I know it would take more time than I can devote to it, and I suppose you will have curiosity enough to read every thing with Sherman at the top of the page. I believe the world now admits my right to maintain public silence and recognizes it as a Military Power. The officers and Soldiers also have realized that by bringing up McPherson’s Army with secrecy & dispatch and putting it through Snake Creek Gap unobserved that I saved them the terrible door of death that Johnston had prepared for them in the Buzzard Roost.
We were forced to attack at Resaca and there too by catching the Strong and weak points I enabled the army to fight at as little disadvantage as possible, and following up quick & strong we gave Johnston no time to fortify though every pass was barricaded all the way down. I think we inflicted more loss on the enemy than we sustained ourselves, and up to this time we have taken 15 Guns, 2500 prisoners and a large lot of property. Of course being compelled to guard our Communications our strength is diminished as we advance and that of the Enemy increases.
I have no doubt we must have a terrific Battle at some point near the Chattahoochee. The Main Roads however cross the Etowah 13 miles from here and for six miles lay among hills that afford Strong positions. These I must avoid, and Shall move due south to Dallas, & thence to Marietta & the Chattahoochee Bridge. You will no doubt recognize this very country as the one I was in twenty years ago, and to which I took such a fancy. Yesterday I rode my Lines and passed quite close to Col. Tumlin’s place, the same where the Big Mounds are where I stopped in going from Marietta to Bellefonte & back. I will probably pass by those Same big mounds tomorrow. The weather is oppressively hot, & roads dusty. I do hope we will have rain as it is choking to Soldiers & mules. Our large trains make a fearful dust.
I will put up a map to you by this mail by which you can trace our progress. Thomas is my center & has about 45,000 men, McPherson my Right 25,000, and Schofield my Left 15,000, in all 85,000 men, a vast army to feed, and to move. I can’t move about as I did with 15 or 20,000 men. I think I have the best army in the country, and if I cant take Atlanta and Stir up Georgia considerably I am mistaken. Our greatest danger is from Cavalry, in which Arm of Service the Enemy is superior to us in quantity & quality, Cutting our wagons or Railroads. I have on hand however Enough for twenty days, and in that time I ought to determine a good deal.
You will no doubt have full accounts of the fighting. At Rocky Face I made one display to attract attention away from McPherson; at Resaca, we had Several pretty Sharp fights. One was Hooker pressing down from the North; another the 15th Corps dashing for position closer to the Enemy’s flank and holding it against repeated night assaults, and Sweeny’s Division holding the Pontoon Bridge at Lays Ferry, all well & handsomely done.
In pursuit I tried hard to strike in behind Johnston with my Cavalry but they did not accomplish it, but we did force the Enemy to abandon the Line of the Coosa & Etowah, which was the 1st Step in the Game. The next is to force him behind the Chattahoochee & last to take Atlanta, disturb the peace of the Inhabitants of Central Georgia and prevent Reinforcements going to Lee. If that Banks force could only go to Mobile now, there would not be a shadow of doubt of full success.
W. T. Sherman