Friday, June 24, 1864

Near Kenesaw Mountain

General Schofield is extending his right as far as prudent, so as to compel the enemy to thin out his lines correspondingly, with the intention to make two strong assaults at points where success would give us the greatest advantage. I consulted Generals Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield, and we all agreed that we could not with prudence stretch out any more, and therefore there was no alternative but to attack “fortified lines,” a thing carefully avoided up to now. I reason, if we can make a breach anywhere near the rebel centre, and thrust in a strong head of column, that with the one moiety of our army we could hold in check the corresponding wing of the enemy, and with the other sweep in flank and overwhelm the other half. The 27th of June was fixed as the day for the attempt, and in order to oversee the whole, and to be in close communication with all parts of the army, I will have a place cleared on the top of a hill to the rear of Thomas’s centre, and the telegraph-wires laid to it.

Thomas writes:

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, 
Near Kenesaw Mountain, June 24, 1864: 9.15 a. m.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

I have been along the line this morning, and find that the enemy’s intrenchments in front of Howard and Palmer are very strong. The troops are also much fatigued in consequence of the continuous operations of the last three or four days. Howard’s and Palmer’s fronts are now so much extended that it will be exceedingly difficult for them to mass a sufficient number of men to make an effective move on any point. If Schofield and Hooker were moved up on the Powder Springs and Marietta road it would contract our lines and enable us to strengthen them. I have just heard from General E. M. McCook, who was ordered to send a reconnaissance in the direction of Powder Springs yesterday. He reports no enemy in Powder Springs, but all on south side of Noyes’ Creek.

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, 
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS.

Numbers 28. 
In the Field, near Kenesaw Mountain, 
June 24, 1864

The army commanders will make full reconnaissance and preparations to attack the enemy in force on the 27th instant, at 8 a. m. precisely. The commanding general will be on Signal Hill, and will have telegraphic communication with all the army commanders.

I. Major-General Thomas will assault the enemy at any point near his center, to be selected by himself, and will make any charges in his troops necessary by night, so as not to attract the attention of the enemy.

II. Major-General McPherson will feign by a movement of his cavalry and one division of infantry on his extreme left, approaching Marietta from the north, and using artillery freely, but will make his real attack at a point south and west of Kenesaw.

III. Major-General Schofield will feel well to his extreme right and threaten that flank of the enemy with artillery and display, but attack some one point of the enemy’s line as near the Marietta and Powder Springs road as he can with prospect of success.

IV. All commanders will maintain reserve and secrecy even from their staff officers, but make all the proper preparations and reconnaissances. When troops are to be shifted to accomplish this attack the movements will be made at night. At the time of the general attack the skirmishers at the base of Kenesaw will take advantage of it to gain, if possible, the summit and hold it.

V. Each attacking column will endeavor to break a single point of the enemy’s line, and make a secure lodgment beyond, and be prepared for following it up toward Marietta and the railroad in case of success.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

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

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, 
In the Field, June 24, 1864
General THOMAS:

Your note is received. Schofield reports he can’t go ahead for the enemy and his intrenchments, and is far outflanked. I suppose the enemy, with his smaller force, intends to surround us. But I propose to study the ground well, and the day after tomorrow break through, after letting him develop his line as much as possible and attenuate. According to Blair his right is now at Roswell Factory, and according to Schofield his left is more than a mile to his right, across Olley’s Creek; so our best chance is to break through. I am just making orders on this subject, which I wish kept to army commanders for the present. Railroad and telegraph again broken between Dalton and Tunnel Hill. McPherson had a column one mile and a half to his left front on the Bell’s Ferry road, and is now feeling Kenesaw. Hooker and Schofield will advance along the Powder Springs road as soon as they come.

Yours,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

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