Thursday, July 7, 1864

On the Chattahoochee River

Rousseau is ready to start his raid from Nashville and will leave for Decatur.

NEAR CHATTAHOOCHEE, July 7, 1864:9 p.m.
Major General L. H. ROUSSEAU, Nashville or Decatur:

I have no new instructions or information to convey to you, but expect you to leave Decatur on the 9th. If Roddey be about Tuscumbia, you might send a small infantry force down to Waterloo to amuse him by threatening to burn the Bear Creek bridge, eight miles back from Eastport and about five miles east of Iuka. You may give out that you are going to Selma, but be sure to go to Opelika, and break up railroad between it and Montgomery. There is but a single road there which unites the Mississippi road with the Alabama roads.

I am convinced General A. J. Smith will give full employment to Forrest, and I will keep Johnston fully employed. Major-General Canby will look out for the Mobile garrison. When you reach the road do your work well; burn the ties in piles, heat the iron in the middle, and when red hot let the men pull the ends so as to give a twist to the rails. If simply bent, the rails may be used, but if they are twisted or wrenched they cannot be used again. In returning you should take the back track, and, if pursued, turn for me or for Rome or Kingston or Allatoona. Be sure to take no wagons, but pack some led horses. Travel early and late in the day, but rest at midday and midnight. Spare your horses for the first week, and keep the horses ready for the return trip. I think the only force in your route is Pillow’s, about Oxford or Jacksonville or Gadsden. We are down to the Chattahoochee, and will soon be across. All is well with us.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

I wrote Canby approving his moves on Mobile and to inform him of Rousseau’s raid on the railroad to our west.

In the Field, near Chattahoochee, July 7, 1864
General E. R. S. CANBY, New Orleans:
Your dispatch of 27th of June is received, and is very agreeable news. I think Generals Smith and Mower can taken of Forrest. We have fought Johnston steadily back for 100 miles over very difficult ground, fortified at immense labor. I don’t think our loss exceeds that of the enemy. It has been one immense skirmish with small battles interspersed. This army remains strong in numbers and spirits, and has been wonderfully supplied. Though repeatedly broken, our railroad and telegraph are in good order to the rear, and I have depots of supplies accumulated at fortified points to my rear. Atlanta is in sight, and is defended by a well handled army, and a circle of finished redoubts, yet I shall not pause.

The expeditions from Memphis, Vicksburg, and Baton Rouge are most important and will keep employed the forces of the enemy that might be mischievous to my rear; also the move on Mobile will be most opportune, no matter in what strength, even if confined to a feint. On the 9th I start a lightly equipped cavalry force of about 3,000, without wagons, from Decatur, Alabama to Opelika, to break up the single track from Montgomery eastward; the effect of which will be separate Alabama from Georgia. This force may be compelled to go to Pensacola. Please let the commanding officer at Pensacola look out for them about the 20th to 25th of July. If they make Pensacola they will leave horses there, and come back to Tennessee by water. Major-General Rousseau will command.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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