Near Dallas, Georgia
I will leave my position in the center of the line to visit McPherson and give temporary command of the center to Thomas with the following orders:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, May 30, 1864
Major-General THOMAS, Commanding Army of the Cumberland:
General McPherson made several attempts to draw off his troops, but as often was assaulted, so as to put him on the defensive. It is utterly impossible that our enemy can hold all his line in strength, and we must work to the left. There is no absolute necessity for undue haste as time will soon give us the advantage of General Blair’s troops.
I will go in person to Dallas, and after inspecting the ground, will begin the movement, and see if the enemy will attempt to sally and then judge whether we had no better draw him on and fight him. We must not remain on the defensive. Therefore, in this connection I wish you to have your troops well disposed, the skirmishers well out, the lines full, and the reserves well disposed to be removed. Judge of the best point or points to assault in case that you hear us more than usually engaged at Dallas.
I will bring Davis and McPherson up, if possible, today, so that your command may occupy all the front, embracing the several Allatoona and Acworth roads. I wish you to see that the high and commanding ground near Pickett’s Mill, which ought to overlook Leverett’s, be occupied in force, and let the cavalry patrol the road up as far as possible. I will repeat my orders to General Stoneman to be active on that flank. I will probably be absent all day, and in my absence you can command all in this part of the field, but preserve the general plan.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
After visiting McPherson, I am rewriting plans for McPherson to move on June 1. I telegraphed to Halleck and Grant:
HEADQUARTERS, Near Dallas, Ga., May 30, 1864: 8 a.m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
To move General McPherson up to the center he has to make a retrograde of a mile or so, owing to difficult ground. Every time he attempted to withdraw, division by division, the enemy attacked his whole line, as also points of our main line. It may be on the theory that we wanted to draw off altogether. These assaults were made in the night, and were all repulsed with comparatively small loss to us, but seemingly heavy the enemy. If we can induce the enemy to attack us, it is to our advantage. Do not expect us to make much progress toward the Chattahoochee till General Blair comes up and moves into Allatoona Pass.
If General Banks and Admiral Porter are all out of Red River, instead of acting offensively on West Louisiana, I advise that the same command that General A. J. Smith took with him (re-enforced by 2,000 or 3,000 from Memphis and Vicksburg) be sent to Pascagoula to act against Mobile, in concert with Admiral Farragut, according to the original plan of the campaign. If this is feasible, I wish the orders to go direct from the General-in-chief to General A. J. Smith, giving him authority to make up his command to 10,000 at Vicksburg and Memphis, and at once proceed, via Ponchartrain, to Pascagoula, I know that all of Polk’s army and all the garrisons of Alabama and Florida, are with Johnston, as we have prisoners who have been for two years on local duties in those States, as well as from their active division, viz, Loring’s, French’s, and Maury’s.
The movement of General Grant on Hanover Court-House appears to me admirable, and it seems to me General Grant can force Lee to attack him in position, or to move away toward Gordonsville and Lynchburg.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
Palmer wants Jeff Davis’ division returned to supply infantry support to Stoneman’s cavalry position on our left. I understand the concern, but they will have to make do until I can free Davis. General Stoneman should watch the road from Leverett’s toward Acworth as far as Allatoona Creek, and he should picket, in connection with McCook, all the cross-roads. The use of the Acworth road is what we must fight for. So far, Stoneman has only attracted skirmishers and not been attacked. I infer the Johnston is concentrated on our right, and has minimal force against our left.
I consulted with Davis and he reported events to me. It is a difficult thing to extricate Davis and McPherson from these positions on our right without being attacked while withdrawing. The enemy have made two attacks, night before last and last night, and failed. The attack last night was made by the enemy just as McPherson began to move out. It was on McPherson’s left, and was repulsed with little loss to us. Davis’ skirmish lines held their positions, though sharply attacked several times. His division is much scattered, occupying and picketing the entire front between his right and Hooker’s.
Mitchell’s brigade is strongly intrenched about midway between Davis’s left and Hooker’s right, in rear of the picket-line, and covering the road cut from Davis to Hooker’s rear, and upon which it is intended to withdraw. McCook’s brigade still holds the gap east of Davis through mountain. Last night the enemy fired at McCook’s position continually with little effect and did not follow with an attack. Morgan supports McPherson’s right. The enemy was busy intrenching and placing batteries on the mountain all day yesterday, and now commands the main road to Marietta with artillery from here to Hooker’s right.
There is a mile gap between Davis and Hooker’s right held by skirmishers from Davis’ Division. Hooker is moving artillery to defend the gap against attack.
I had Dayton write the orders for the next two days:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., No. 14.
In the Field, near Dallas, Ga., May 30, 1864
The movements of the army during May 31 and June 1 will be as follows:
I. May 31, the lines will remain substantially as now, and a general activity will be kept up along the whole front. General McPherson will feel for the extreme left of the enemy (our right).
II. June 1, General Jeff. C. Davis will join his corps. General McPherson will move and occupy General Hooker’s present position, and will cover the right flank. General Thomas will hold from the Owen’s Mill road (General Hooker’s present left) around to the hill near Pickett’s Mill, overlooking the Acworth road, near Leverett’s house, and General Schofield will secure full possession of the Acworth road above Leverett’s house.
III. General Stoneman’s cavalry will move rapidly by any road east of the Pumpkin Vine Creek, and secure possession of the east end of the Allatoona Pass and the bridge across Allatoona Creek. General Garrard’s cavalry will move, via Burnt Hickory and Richard Creek, to the west of Allatoona Pass, and communicate with General Stoneman, if possible. Army commanders will make the necessary instructions to carry these orders into effect.
As we extend our lines south of our base, there is a need to create new districts. General Thomas has ordered:
The designation of the command of Major General L. H. Rousseau, U. S. Volunteers, is hereby changed from the District of Nashville to that of the District of Tennessee.
Brigadier General R. S. Granger, U. S. Volunteers, is assigned to the charge of the railroad from Nashville to Decatur, Huntsville, and Stevenson, and to the command of the garrisons upon that road, which command will be known as the District of Northern Alabama, headquarters at Decatur. General Granger will render his reports and returns as usual to Major General L. H. Rousseau, commanding District of Tennessee. In relieving General Granger from the command of the post of Nashville, and ordering him to the important one of protecting the lines of communication of the army operating in Georgia, the major-general commanding the department desires to tender him his thanks for the untiring energy, zeal, and ability which have characterized his administration of a responsible and difficult command.
The protection of supplies in our rear is critical to our mission.