Big Shanty, Georgia, June 18, 1864: 7.30 p. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Nothing new today. It has been raining in torrents all day, and still rains. Should General Grant want me to hasten events at any time, let me know and I will push spite of weather.
W. T. SHERMAN,
I wrote to Grant:
TO ULYSSES S. GRANT
Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, June 18,1864
I have no doubt you want me to write you occasionally letters not purely official, but which will admit of a little more latitude than such documents possess. I have daily sent to Halleck, telegraphs which I asked him to repeat to you and which he says he has done. You therefore Know where we are and what we have done. If our movement has been slower than you calculated I can explain the reasons though I know you believe me too Earnest and impatient to be behind time.
My first movement against Johnston was really fine, and now I believe I would have disposed of him at one blow if McPherson had crushed Resacca as he might have done, for then it was garrisoned only by a small Brigade. Mc was a little over Cautious lest Johnston still at Dalton might move against him alone, but the truth was I got all of McPherson’s Army of 23,000, 18 miles to Johnston’s Rear before he knew they had left Huntsville. With that Single exception McPherson has done very well. Schofield also does as well as I could ask with his small force.
Our Cavalry is dwindling away, we cannot get full forage and have to graze so that the Cavalry is always unable to attempt anything. Garrard is over Cautious and I think Stoneman is lazy. The former has 4500, & the latter about 2500. Each has had fine chances of Cutting in but was easily checked by the appearance of an Enemy.
My Chief source of trouble is with the Army of the Cumberland which is dreadfully slow. A fresh furrow in a ploughed field will stop the whole column, and all begin to intrench. I have again and again tried to impress on Thomas that we must assail & not defend. We are the offensive, & yet it seems the whole Army of the Cumberland is so habituated to be on the defensive that from its commander down to the lowest private I cannot get it out of their heads. I came out without tents and ordered all to do likewise, yet Thomas has a Head Quarter Camp in the Style of Halleck at Corinth. Every aid, & orderly with a wall tent and a Baggage train big enough for a Division. He promised to send it all back but the truth is everybody there is allowed to do as he pleases, and they still think and act as though the Railroad and all its facilities are theirs.
This Slowness has cost me the loss of two splendid opportunities which never recur in War. At Dallas there was a delay of four hours to get ready to advance, when we first met Johnston’s head of Column, and that four hours enabled him to throw up works to cover the head of his column and he extended the work about as fast as we deployed. Also here, I broke one of his Lines, and had we followed it up as I ordered at daylight there was nothing between us & the Railroad back of Marietta. I ordered Thomas to move at daylight and when I got to the point at half past nine I found Stanley & Wood quarrelling which should not lead. I’m afraid I swore, and said what I should not, but I got them started. Instead of reaching the Atlanta Road back of Marietta which is Johnston’s centre, we only got to a creek in the south of it by night, and now a heavy Rain stops us, and gives time to fortify a new Line. Still I have all the high and commanding ground but the one peak near Marietta which I can traverse.
We have had an immense quantity of Rain, from June 2nd to 14th and now it is raining as though it had no intention ever to stop.
The enemy’s cavalry sweeps all round us and is now to my rear somewhere. The wires are broken very often but I have strong guards along the Road who make prompt repairs. Thus far our supplies of food have been good, and forage moderate, and we have fo[u]nd growing wheat, rye oats &c.
You may go on with the full assurance that I will continue to press Johnston as fast as I can overcome the natural obstacles and inspire motion into a large ponderous and slow (by habit) army. Of course it cannot keep up with my thoughts & wishes but no impulse can be given it that I will not guide.
As Ever your friend,
W. T. Sherman
I correspond with Thomas:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Big Shanty, June 18, 1864
Major-General THOMAS, Commanding Army of the Cumberland:
As soon as the weather will permit, I propose we shall attack and drive the enemy’s left flank. I propose that General Schofield shall move in strong column down the Sandtown road, and vary his course to the right or left until he find the flank; that you move, as it were, on a grand “left wheel” in the order your troops now stand. Draw from Palmer division by division, giving, if possible, McPherson notice when the last division (Davis’) is called out of position, that he may dispose accordingly. McPherson has orders to watch well the effect on the enemy, and at the first possible chance to push forward on the line of the railroad and main Marietta road, break through the enemy, and pursue him, or secure position on the commanding ridge over which these roads pass. It is barely possible that McPherson may be called on, also, to re-enforce your movement by coming by his right flank, and I have possibly be obviated, I do not wish to uncover Big Shanty and our railroad.
I have just received Howard’s report, by signal, that he has carried two lines of the enemy and has his batteries up within 200 yards of his main line. I am very anxious to ascertain at the earliest possible moment if the enemy has any part of his main line this side of Noyes’ Creek, and would like Palmer to feel forward with a very heavy line of skirmishers and supports until he finds the earth-works along the base of Kenesaw south of the railroad. Dodge and Osterhaus are up close to the base north of the railroad; but last night I followed Davis’ pickets, and, though advanced during yesterday, they appeared to me still a long distance back from Kenesaw. I suppose Hooker to be west of Mud Creek and near its mouth, and that Howard is near Doctor Ballinger’s or Widow Ballinger’s, and Palmer is from Britt’s to Jack Smith’s. What we want, then, is the ground from Cheatham’s to Latimore’s, Brand’s, and Wallace’s.
My impression is the enemy’s best forts will be found where the rail and main Marietta roads pass around the north end of Kenesaw along the north base of Kenesaw to some point behind Noyes’ Creek, and then along back of Noyes’ Creek indefinitely. Until Schofield develops the flank we should move with due caution; but the movement it is found, or we are satisfied the enemy has lengthened his line beyond his ability to defend, we must strike quick and with great energy. The weather is villainously bad, but I hope tomorrow will be clear. Send me word if you can define on our map Hooker’s and Howard’s positions, assuming Schofield to be on the Sandtown road near the forks.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, June 18, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
Your dispatch received. General Howard has advanced his lines nearly a mile and a half this morning; has taken some considerable number of prisoners. There is no doubt but he is driving the enemy. General McCook last night had driven the enemy’s cavalry beyond Mud Creek, within six miles of Marietta, and had captured a rebel hospital. I heard yesterday that about a regiment of the enemy’s cavalry was in the vicinity of Acworth, and directed McCook to send a force to intercept them, and learn that General Stoneman, who was with McCook when he received my order, also ordered his brigade, stationed at Allatoona, to co-operate with McCook. I have not learned anything further since the orders were sent, but I think you will find everything right in that quarter, and I very much hope to report very favorably from Howard and Hooker by night-fall.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding
I write to General Allen:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Big Shanty, June 18, 1864
General ALLEN, Louisville, Ky.:
Cannot you suggest and send me a quartermaster to act as quartermaster-general in the field. The fact that Easton is the special quartermaster of one army, the Cumberland, leads to disputes and jealousies that I should not be called on the reconcile – to say what stores shall have precedence of transportation. I have gained Pine Hill and Lost Mountain, two of the salients of Johnston’s line, and he still holds on to Kenesaw, which I think I can force him to abandon or come out and fight on something like equal terms.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding