Saturday, May 28, 1864

Near Dallas, Georgia

Howard tried to turn Johnston’s right last night and was halted by the Confederate defenses.

May 28, 1864: 1 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

General Howard has just reported to me in person that he marched with Woods’ division, supported by Johnson’s, about two miles beyond Cox’s left, which he was compelled to do by the nature of the ground, then turned to the right, and after marching about a mile came upon the enemy strongly posted behind rifle-pits, and had a severe engagement from about 5 p.m. until dark. Having received my order to form a connection with Cox and post his troops in a strong position he gave the necessary orders, and the dispositions were being made before he left, holding nearly, if not quite, all the ground he had gained. He has formed a junction with Stoneman, who reports that the enemy are in quite heavy force in his front. Stoneman is across Pettit’s Creek. Howard did not quite reach to the second Acworth road. I am sorry to report that General Howard was slightly wounded with a fragment of shell. I will send General Palmer to superintend the operations on the left, and would be glad to have Davis there with his division if possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding

I responded to Thomas with my plans:

In the Field, May 28, 1864: 3 a.m.
General THOMAS, Commanding Army of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: Before attempting to outflank the enemy by an enlarged movement by our left, we must force our front across the stream close up to which we now are, so that we command the open fields beyond. To accomplish this I will order General Schofield to pull away that dam entirely, so as to diminish the water and make it passable at all points, Schofield to hold himself ready to advance due south to occupy the wood and space open the east side of the clear ground, but not to attempt to get over so far in the wood as to lose sight of the old cotton-gin, which is the key point.

I want you to strengthen and increase the number of guns where Wood was last night and early this a.m., so as to enfilade that clear space as far as the cotton-gin and along the road which passes the little cabin where you, Howard, and I were they day before yesterday. I suggest two 20-pounder Parrotts be put there, and some Napoleons, so as to make a heavy fire. Then, at the right time, Newton’s and Stanley’s divisions and Hooker’s corps must be pushed straight across the creek till the whole line looks across the open ground.

I have McPherson’s answer to my orders that he make connection with Hooker. He apprehended trouble, but will set about it, and as soon as I can I will have Davis join his proper corps. Since beginning this I have your note of 1 a.m., and think that Howard’s troops on the extreme left had better stand fast, looking well to the road to communicate with us and barricading his left. I hope Howard is not seriously injured, enough to lose his services. As McPherson closes to the left, he may expose our trains. Better give good instructions for the division at the Pumpkin Vine bridge to look well to the south and west, and prepare barricades commanding the road from that direction.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I sent the orders to Schofield:



I have your note of 8.45 p.m. on the 27th. I want you to cause at once all the dam of that saw-mill to be torn away so as to lower the water in the stream above; then reconnoiter well the ground to your front for the purpose of pushing an assaulting column due south along the east side of the open field to a position that will command the ground to Hooker’s front-I mean where you can see and old cotton-gin and another house to its right on your left as you look at it. Cause good roads to be opened back to where Hovey is, and have Stoneman to act in concert with McCook in keeping open these roads, and to guard the Acworth road, which I take to be the one that crosses the creek at the saw-mill and joins another road coming from the old cotton-gin past a small cabin, and passes a short distance east of the saw-mill. I want your wing to connect back with Burnt Hickory, and not to use the road which Thomas has back to the bridge across Pumpkin Vine, by which you crossed in person. I think Hovey had better keep one brigade at Burnt Hickory, and one at the crossing due east, or the one you use. Build one or more bridges, or improve the fords; bridges are better, for the fords cut up the roads by the wheels bringing out water. I will be over early in the morning and indicate the points I want carried to the east of the cotton-gin. In the mean time improve the roads and crossings of the creek at and above the saw-mill and get your troops well in hand by divisions, for if possible we must secure the position at the old cotton-gin, which can only be done by clearing the open space in front of you looking south, and gaining the ridge which overlooks those fields.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I wrote to Halleck:

May 28, 1864: 6 a.m.
Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

The enemy discovered my move to turn Allatoona, and moved to meet us here. Our columns met about one mile east of Pumpkin Vine Creek, and we pushed them back about three miles to the point where the roads fork to Allatoona and Marietta. Here Johnston has chosen a strong line, and made hasty but strong parapets of timber and earth, and has thus far stopped us. My right is Dallas, center about three miles north, and I am gradually working round by the left to approach the railroad anywhere in front of Acworth. Country very densely wooded and broken. No roads of any consequence. We have had many sharp, severe encounters, but nothing decisive. Both sides duly cautious in the obscurity of the ambushed ground.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

McCook reports that the enemy has made a large cavalry attack on his position in an attempt to break through to our rear and destroy our trains:

About an hour and a half ago the enemy made an attack all along my lines, the most stubborn and persistent one I have seen them make during this campaign. They are all fighting dismounted in the timber, and I can’t tell whether they are infantry or cavalry. I judge them to be dismounted cavalry, however, as there are two divisions in our front, and one brigade on our left and rear at the creek, near the junction of the Acworth and Allatoona roads. Should a serious attack be made with infantry, I regard my force as totally inadequate to hold a position of such importance as I believe this to be. Stoneman I think is some place on my right; my line is formed on the Marietta road, facing due southeast. I shall hold this road as long as I can, and not be controlled in my movements by the movements of our infantry. I believe the general commanding does not appreciate the importance of it, with all their cavalry in front. If this road is left open or they force a passage through my lines, as they are now attempting to do, they will have uninterrupted access to all our trains, hospitals, and the rear of our whole infantry line. When we get through with this skirmish I will send you the result. Colonel Brownlow sent word to General King that they were pressing our line pretty hard; he replied that we could expect no infantry re-enforcements in any emergency. I hope there may be no necessity for asking any. Should there be, I will transmit my request through the proper channels, in order that, as at Dandridge, I may receive them after the needs has passed. Privately, this thing of covering the flank of the infantry seems to be a one-sides affair; if they are attacked I am to pitch in, while, if I was attacked by a superior force I can expect no assistance. The last paragraphs of my letter are unofficial, of course.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. M. McCOOK, Colonel, Commanding

General McPherson stopped by in person to consult. At 3 p.m. today the enemy attacked him in force with three divisions, but were repulsed with heavy loss; estimated at 2,500 in killed and wounded, and 400 prisoners in our hands. His troops are now bringing in prisoners and wounded. They cannot move tonight. McPherson will continue to man his defenses and prepare to repel additional attacks. This will delay our movement to the left.

The War Department is satisfied with our progress:

May 28, 1864: 11 p.m.
Major-General SHERMAN, Dallas, Ga.:

Your telegram reached here this evening, and your rapid and successful advance gives great satisfaction. After General Grant had driven the enemy across the North Anna Lee took a very strong position between the North and South Anna, his right resting on a swamp near the junction and his center strongly fortified. On Thursday night General Grant commenced a movement to turn him. Our forces were drawn back over the North Anna and moved rapidly down the north side of the Pamunkey to Hanovertown, and seized the ferry there. Dispatches received this evening state that by noon today the whole army will be across the Pamunkey, so that Grant will be within fifteen miles of Richmond. At 7 o’clock this morning everything was proceeding
successfully. The enemy is represented to be dispirited by Grant’s successive blows. Our army has been strongly re-enforced. We have no news from any other quarter, but hope good tidings from you will continue. Your dispatches go forward to General Grant without any delay.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War

Tomorrow, we will start the movement to our left to connect to the railroad. I wrote orders for tomorrow:

HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., No. 13. In the Field, near Dallas, Ga., May 28, 1864

I. General McPherson will occupy the line facing east from General Hooker’s present right to the creek above the saw-mill with a small division, and his supply train at the bridge near Owen’s saw-mill at Pumpkin Vine Creek, and his cavalry to his right rear, between Owens’ saw-mill and Dallas.

II. General Thomas will connect with General McPherson and form a line facing nearly south, across both branches of Pettit’s Creek and covering all the roads leading from Dallas to Allatoona and Acworth.

III. General Schofield will move out to the main Acworth road and move south to cover General Stoneman’s cavalry will extend his line. General Stoneman’s cavalry will operate to the left (east) of General Schofield as near the main Marietta road as he can force his way against cavalry. General Thomas and General Schofield will keep their supply trains near Pumpkin Vine Creek, in the vicinity of Burnt Hickory crossing.

IV. Commanders of armies will send staff officers to reconnoiter the roads and positions, and be prepared to take new position as soon as General McPherson arrived from Dallas.

General headquarters will be at or near the rear of General Thomas’ position about Pettit’s Creek.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman

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