NEAR CHATTAHOOCHEE, GEORGIA, July 7, 1864: 11 a.m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
General Garrard reports to me that he is in possession of Roswell, where were several valuable cotton and woolen factories in full operation, also paper-mills, all of which, by my order, he destroyed by fire. They had been for years engaged exclusively at work for the Confederate Government, and the owner of the woolen factory displayed the French flag; but as he failed also to show the United States flag, General Garrard burned it also.
The main cotton factory was valued at a million of United States dollars. The cloth on hand is reserved for use of United States hospitals, and I have ordered General Garrard to arrest for treason all owners and employed, foreign and native, and send them under guard to Marietta, whence I will send them North. Being exempt from conscription, they are as much governed by the rules of war as if in the ranks. The women can find employment in Indiana. This whole region was devoted to manufactories, but I will destroy every one of them.
Johnston is maneuvering against my right, and I will try and pass the Chattahoochee by my left. Ask Mr. Stanton not to publish the substance of my dispatches, for they reach Richmond in a day, and are telegraphed at once to Atlanta. The Atlanta papers contain later news from Washington than I get from Nashville. Absolute silence in military matters is the only safe rule. Let our public learn patience and common sense.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
I write orders to Garrard about handling Roswell and crossing the Chattahoochee:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Chattahoochee, July 7, 1864.
General GARRARD, Roswell, GEORGIA:
Your report is received and is most acceptable. 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. To make the matter complete, you will arrest the owners and employees and send them, under guard, charged with treason, to Marietta. 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 our 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 before hand.
I have sent General Schofield to reconnoiter over on that flank, and I want a lodgment made on the other bank as soon as possible anywhere from Roswell down to the vicinity of Soap Creek. I have no doubt the opposite bank is picketed, but, as you say, the main cavalry force of Wheeler has moved to the other flank, and we should take advantage of it. If you can make a lodgment on the south bank anywhere and secure it well, do so. General Schofield will be near to follow it up and enlarge the foothold. He had just started from Ruff’s Station a few minutes before I received your dispatch, but I telegraphed the substance to be sent to overtake him.
Keep a line of couriers back to Marietta and telegraph me very fully and often. I now have the wires to my bivouac. By selecting some one ford, say the second or third below the mouth of Willeyo Creek, on your sketch, and holding a force there concealed, say a brigade, with your battery, then have the heads of each your other two brigades close by above and below at the nearest fords, let detachments from these latter brigades cross at night at the nearest fords, and, without firing a gun, close in front of the brigade in position ready to cross with artillery. When across with artillery the best position on a commanding hill should be fortified. I will see that the cavalry is relieved by General Schofield at once. I merely suggest this plan and it execution about daylight tomorrow, and I prefer you should do it.
I assure you, spite of any little disappointment I may have expressed, I feel for you personally not only respect but affection, and wish for your unmeasured success and reputation, but I do wish to inspire all cavalry with my conviction that caution and prudence should be but a very small element in their characters.
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 cars to the North. Destroy and make the same disposition of all mills save small flouring mills manifestly for local use, but all saw-mills and factories dispose of effectually, and useful laborers, excused by reason of their skill as manufacturers from conscription, are as much prisoners as if armed. 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. We will retain them until they can reach a country where they can live in peace and security.
In your next letter give me as much information as you can as to the size and dimensions of the burned bridge at Roswell across the Chattahoochee. We have plenty of pontoon bridging, but I much prefer fords for so large an army as we have.
I am, with respect, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding