Wednesday, July 6, 1864

ON CHATTAHOOCHEE, July 6, 1864: 7 p.m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff:

I have just received Secretary Stanton’s dispatch, and do not understand how Semmes and crew were allowed to leave the sinking Alabama in an English yacht. I would have preferred the President had not proclaimed martial law in Kentucky, but simply allowed the military commanders to arrest and banish all malcontents, while the honest and industrious stay-at homes were encouraged by the increase of security.

Johnston made two breaks in the railroad, one above Marietta and one near Vining’s Station. The former is already done, and Johnston’s army has already heard the sound of our locomotives. The telegraph is done to Vining’s, and the field wire is just at my bivouac, and will be ready to convey this to you as soon as translated into cipher. I propose to study the crossings of the Chattahoochee, and when all is ready to move quick. As a beginning I keep the wagons and troops well back from the river, and display to the enemy only the picket-line, with a few batteries along at random. Have moved General Schofield to a point whence he can in a single march reach the Chattahoochee, at a point above the railroad bridge, where there is a ford. At present the waters are turbid and swollen by the late rains; but if the present hot weather lasts the water will run down very fast. We have pontoons enough for four bridges, but, as our crossing will be resisted, we must maneuver some. All the regular crossing-places are covered by forts, apparently of long construction; but we shall cross in due time, and instead of attacking Atlanta direct, or any its forts, I propose to make a circuit, destroying all its railroads. This is a delicate movement and must be done with caution. Our army is in good condition and full of confidence; but the weather is intensely hot, and a good many men have fallen with sunstroke. This is a high and healthy country, and the sanitary condition of the army is good.

W. T . SHERMAN, Major-General

McCook reports on the river crossings upstream:

July 6, 1864.
Lieutenant D. F. HOW, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:
I have the honor to report that, in compliance with orders received, and also with verbal directions from Major-General Sherman, I proceeded to this point (Hargrove’s house), divided my force, sending one detachment to Powers’ Ferry, and marching with the other to the mouth of Soap Creek, about six miles distant, where there is also a ferry and a bad ford, said by citizens to be almost impracticable. Artillery was opened from the other side of the river on my men at both points, one gun at the upper and two at the lower ferry, without any effect, however, except killing 3 horses.

I found a bridge across Soap Creek, three-quarters of a mile from its mouth, burned; the bridge at Roswell Factory has also been burned. The distance between here and there is twelve miles. There is no difficulty in communicating with General Garrard, as there are no rebels on this side of the Chattahoochee. I find this country full of ravine and bridges, tolerably open and well watered, but there is neither grass, wheat, nor other forage on which to subsist stock. The little that was in the vicinity has been exhausted by Wheeler’s force, who has been encamped here, until yesterday morning, for the last five days. I will furnish you with a map of the roads, &c., some time tomorrow. None of the enemy’s trains had passed this way; they all crossed on bridges below. I forgot to mention that at Powers’ Ferry is a small boat and a wire stretched across. I can get my artillery in position within 500 yards of their battery. This ferry is well watched and guarded. I have pickets also at mouth of Soap Creek and at Johnson’s Ferry, a mile and a half above that point.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. M. McCOOK, Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

Garrard Reports from Roswell Factory:

HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY DIVISION, Near Roswell, July 6, 1864: 7 p.m.

Major-General SHERMAN, Commanding Army:

Roswell was occupied by my command with but small opposition, the few hundred rebels on the roads falling back before my advance, and burning the bridge after crossing. There is a good ford at this place, so I am informed (the shallow ford), but as the opposite banks command this one, and pickets lie on the other side, I have not crossed any of my men. The approach to Roswell from Marietta can be made on two roads: one, as it approaches within two miles of Roswell, is by a crooked, hilly road that could be easily defended; the other, the river road, passes so close to the river as to come under the fire of the enemy’s rifles. I had one man shot on this road from the other side. There are branch roads which lead into the Cummings road and the old Alabama road, and the approach on the latter is the best and safest in case the enemy is in this vicinity or secrecy is desirable. The position in rear of Roswell for me is not good, as roads come in from all directions, but by being on Soap Creek I can watch all this country, the fords, &c., and passing west of Sweat Mountain will have the short line on the enemy. There is a road leading over to the old Alabama road, a distance of about two miles. As fast as I can gain information I will send it to you.

My impression is that Johnson will make no attempt on this flank, but that his cavalry has gone to his left. He will try to keep his communications with the source of his supplies westward. All information from citizens and his acts in this vicinity lead to this belief. His cavalry instead of falling back to the fords and bridges in this locality crossed on the bridges, &c., with the infantry. Everything is taken out of this country; the grain cut by the rebel soldiers and hauled off. All citizens of property also have left.

There were some fine factories here, one woolen factory, capacity 30,000 yards a month, and has furnished up to within a few weeks 15,000 yards per month to the rebel Government, the Government furnishing men and material. Capacity of cotton factory 216 looms, 191,086 yards per month, and 51,666 pounds of thread, and 4,299 pounds of cotton rope. This was worked exclusively for the rebel Government. The other cotton factory, one mile and a half from town, I have no data concerning. There was six months’ supply of cotton on hand. Over the woolen factory the French flag was flying, but seeing no Federal flag above it I had the building burnt. All are burnt. The cotton factory was worked up to the time of its destruction, some 400 women, being employed. There was some cloth which had been made since yesterday morning, which I will save for our hospitals (several thousand yards of cotton cloth), also some rope and thread. I have just learned that McCook is near the paper-mills, on Soap Creek, and I may not take up the position first proposed in this letter. I will try to disguise the strength of my command.

The machinery of the cotton factory cost before the war &400,000. The superintendent estimates that it alone was worth with its material, &c., when burnt over a million of our money.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
K. GARRARD, Brigadier-General, Commanding

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Chattahoochee, July 6, 1864
General GARRARD:

I have just received your note announcing that you have possession of Roswell. This is IMPORTANT; watch well the crossing there, but not in force; keep your main force concealed somewhat. General McCook has just started for some point between Rottenwood and Soap Creek, where he will be near you. I propose to throw Schofield over on that flank the moment I propose to attempt a crossing; fords are much better than bridges, and therefore have the river examined well as to fords.

I am on the main road at the point where a branch goes to Vining’s on the railroad. Howard is at Vining’s and has possession at Pace’s. McPherson’s right is at Howell’s Ferry, below Nickajack. The enemy holds this bank from the railroad bridge down to Nickajack, and seems to have it well fortified. Atlanta in plain view. Stoneman threatens the river down to Sweet Water. I will soon have a telegraph at Vining’s and you can then communicate by Marietta. You will have rest for a few days and should take advantage off all grain fields.

Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

I ordered General ROUSSEAU:

That cavalry expedition to cut Johnston’s railroad to our west must now be off, and must proceed with the utmost energy and confidence. Everything here is favorable, and I have official information that General A. J. Smith is out from Memphis with force enough to give Forrest full occupation. Expeditions inland are also out from Vicksburg and Baton Rouge, as well as against Mobile. If managed with secrecy and rapidity the expedition cannot fail of success and will accomplish much good.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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2 Responses to Wednesday, July 6, 1864

  1. Bruce Blackwell says:

    You have somehow omitted Sherman’s order to Garrard to arrest all the factory workers at Roswell:
    “I had no idea that the factories at Roswell remained in operation, but supposed the machinery had all been removed. Their utter destruction is right and meets my entire approval, and to make the matter complete you will arrest the owners and employees and send them, under guard, charged with treason to Marietta, and I will see as to any man in America hoisting the French flag and then devoting his labor and capital in supplying armies in open hostility to the Government and claiming the benefit of his neutral flag.

    Should you, under the impulse of anger, natural at contemplating such perfidy, hang the wretch, I approve the act beforehand… I repeat my orders that you arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter what the clamor, and let them foot it, under guard, to Marietta, whence I will send them by [railroad] cars to the North… The poor women will make a howl. Let them take along their children and clothing, providing they have the means of hauling, or you can spare them.”

    • brownyneal says:

      It was general policy of Sherman to destroy all infrastructure used by the Confederates to supply their army. Sherman did not order the destruction of Roswell factory until July seventh. The comments you post are from July 7 which is tomorrow. Sherman could not foresee all contingencies, but when his subordinates acted in a manner Sherman approved, he would give “orders” after the fact to protect his officers.

      Sherman approved of the destruction of Roswell and sent the residents away so they would not starve because he struggled to feed his own army. The mere presence of 150,000 men, their horses and livestock would quickly exhaust food and forage in areas that routinely provided for a fraction of that number.

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