Near Kenesaw, Georgia
I wrote to Rousseau in Nashville contemplating our next moves. If I can force Johnston across the Chattahoochee, that opens the way for a raid on his railroad to the West from Decatur.
NEAR KENESAW, June 30, 1864
Major General L. H. ROUSSEAU, Nashville:
The movement that I want you to study and be prepared for is contingent on the fact that General A. J. Smith defeats Forrest or holds him well in check, and after I succeed in making Johnson pass the Chattahoochee with his army, when I want you in person, or to send some good officer, with 2,500 good cavalry, well armed, and a sufficient number of pack- mules, loaded with ammunition, salt, sugar, and coffee, and some bread or flour, depending on the country for forage, meat, and corn meal. The party might take two light Rodman guns, with orders, in case of very rapid movements, to cut the wheels, burn the carriages, taking sledges along to break off the trunnions and wedging them in the muzzle. The expedition should start from Decatur, move slowly to Blountsville and Ashville, and, if the way is clear, to cross the Coosa at the Ten Islands or the railroad bridge, destroying it after their passage, then move rapidly for Talladega or Oxford, and then for the nearest ford or bridge over the Tallapoosa. That passed, the expedition should move with rapidity on the railroad between Tuskeegee and Opelika, breaking up the road and testing the bars of iron. They should work on that road night and day, doing all the damage toward and including Opelika. If no serous opposition offers, they should threaten Columbus, Georgia and then turn up the Chattahoochee to join me between Marietta and Atlanta, doing all the mischief possible. No infantry or position should be attacked, and the party should avoid all fighting possible, bearing in mind for their own safety that Pensacola, Rome, the Etowah and my aery are all in our hands. If compelled to make Pensacola, they should leave their horses, embark for New Orleans, and come round to Nashville again.
Study this well, and be prepared to act on order when the time comes. Selma, though important, is more easily defended than the route I have named.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General
CHATTANOOGA, June 30, 1864
There has been a change in the superintendent of the road. Mr. Taylor succeeds Colonel L. P. Wright, and the changes necessary to secure energy and promptness in all the departments of the road are being made.
JAS. B. STEEDMAN, Major- General.
My quartermaster needs to be replaced. The person in this position must be up to the task.
SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, June 30, 1864.
Glad to hear the gun-boat is patrolling the river. I have an officer here, Colonel J. Condit Smith, who is the best man I know to control the matter of freights from Chattanooga to this army. If there is any doubt as to Mr. Taylor’s capacity and experience I would prefer to have Smith, for the reason that he is an experienced quartermaster, and understands the importance of the whole subject. Before cutting loose from the railroad I want to be assured that Mr Taylor, the new appointee, has all the qualifications necessary to handle the vast amount of fright and control the movement of so complicated a machinery. If McCallum or Anderson is at Chattanooga I would like to have them communicate with me fully tomorrow on the whole subject. I want also to know whether all possible dispositions have been made to insure the safety of the line as far as Allatoona, as I contemplate a movement of the most delicate character, which may somewhat expose this road to danger.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General.
General Schofield asks about a possible threatening move by Johnston:
SCHOFIELD’S HEADQUARTERS, June 30, 1864
Major- General SHERMAN:
It occurs to me as a question worthy of consideration whether Johnston, in anticipation of your present movement, may not bring up to Marietta two or three weeks’ supplies, close the gorge of his lines in rear of Marietta, and meet you there in a strongly intrenched position, and with a greater amount of supplies than you can carry.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major- General
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Kenesaw, June 30, 1864-1.30 p. m.
Johnston may do as you suggest, by I hardly think, even in the event you conjecture, will he be willing to have me interpose between him and the rest of the Confederacy. I am not bound to attack him in his position after getting below him, but may corps the Chattahoochee and destroy all his railroads before he can prevent it, which will be a desperate game for us both. I am aware of all the chances, but we must take the initiative and risk something or else attack him where he is now. Our communications are now secure and the time more favorable for making a hazard than if we wait looking at each other till he gets cavalry to our rear.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General, Commanding
We will commence our movement to turn Johnston’s left tonight.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Kenesaw, June 30, 1864
General Thomas is here. He will study his ground well and prepare to relieve Hascall’s division tonight, in which event I want you with your whole force to occupy between Olley’s Creek and Nickajack, to drive the enemy from the forks of the road and picket as far down the Fulton road as Nickajack Creek, and as far on the Sandtown road as possible. At the same time Stoneman’s cavalry, supported by McCook, should move across Sweet Water by Powder Springs, and down the west side of Sweet Water Creek to Sweet Water Town, which crossing once secure, Stoneman to hold it and McCook to return to Lost Mountain.
McPherson’s command is to remain where it is until our stores are complete, when his cavalry will guard the roads from Marietta toward Allatoona, whilst McPherson moves with his whole command down the Sandtown road to the Chattahoochee. If Johnston holds on to the Kenesaw then we must strike some point on the railroad between Marietta and the bridge, but if he lets go of Marietta then we swing across the railroad to a position that gives us again the use of the railroad.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General, Commanding
I received a report of work done on fortifications to protect the railroad. We are building block houses at every bridge and station to defend against attack. The blockhouses can be held by a few defenders until relief arrives. We can send reinforcements rapidly by train.