Tuesday, June 14, 1864

Big Shanty, Georgia

The rain slackened, and we occupy a continuous line of ten miles, intrenched, conforming to the irregular position of the enemy. I reconnoitred, with a view to make a break in their line between Kenesaw and Pine Mountain. When abreast of Pine Mountain I noticed a rebel battery on its crest, with a continuous line of fresh rifle-trench about half-way down the hill. Our skirmishers were at the time engaged in the woods about the base of this hill between the lines, and I estimated the distance to the battery on the crest at about eight hundred yards.

Near it, in plain view, stood a group of the enemy, evidently observing us with glasses. General Howard, commanding the Fourth Corps, was near by, and I called his attention to this group, and ordered him to compel it to keep behind its cover. He replied that his orders from General Thomas were to spare artillery ammunition. This was right, according to the general policy, but I explained to him that we must keep up the morale of a bold offensive, that he must use his artillery, force the enemy to remain on the timid defensive, and ordered him to cause a battery close by to fire three volleys. I continued to ride down our line, and soon heard, in quick succession, the three volleys. The next division in order was Geary’s, and I gave him similar orders.

I returned late in the evening to my head-quarters at Big Shanty, where I occupied an abandoned house. In a cotton-field back of that house was our signal-station, on the roof of an old gin-house. The signal- officer reported that by studying the enemy’s signals he had learned the key, and that he could read their signals. He explained to me that he had translated a signal about noon, from Pine Mountain to Marietta, “Send an ambulance for General Polk’s body;” and later in the day another, “Why don’t you send an ambulance for General Polk?” From this we inferred that General Polk had been killed, but how or where we knew not. This inference was confirmed later in the same day by the report of some prisoners who had been captured. One of our cannon shots had killed General Polk.

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