SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, July 9, 1864: 1:00 am
I think that inasmuch as General Schofield has made a lodgment that Johnston is forced in strategy to attack you or McPherson in the morning, or abandon this bank of the Chattahoochee altogether. He will not attempt to hold both shores after we have secured a crossing, which is already done. Indeed, the firing at this moment convinces me that he is withdrawing, and I have so instructed McPherson, and I wish you to do all that is possible to take advantage of the situation.
Cannot Baird open with rifled artillery on the bridge, which will stampede the troops, and, it may be, force them to leave some artillery and stores? At daylight let your troops feel the enemy boldly, and, if not in force, endeavor to capture a part of them. This is not to interfere with sending a division, as before ordered, to Roswell Factory- a position of great importance to us, and to which I have ordered Dodge’s corps, with strong pioneer parties, to fortify and rebuild the trestle bridge. If Howard could place the enemy’s pontoons in position, it would be a bold stroke, and I refer to it only as a possibility.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
July 9, 1864, 1:30 a.m
Your dispatch received. Howard has already been ordered to send a division to Roswell Factory and to make an attempt to lay the pontoon bridges. Orders will be immediately given to press the enemy at all points. I will have my heavy battery fire on them in the morning.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General
I asked General THOMAS:
I hear considerable firing on your front; is it anything more than the usual pickets?
It is the execution of your orders last night to push the enemy. I am trying to fit the hill in front of Baird to plant a battery to fire on their bridges, &c.
10 a.m. Thomas Reports:
I can see heavy column of the enemy’s infantry, with artillery and wagons, moving from behind their forts in my front, going toward Atlanta. Will keep watch and inform you if they turn off and go up river.
Howard placed two regiments opposite General Baird’s left in support of a battery which Baird will send up. This is on the ridge and is a good artillery position. Howard moved forward the skirmish line some 300 yards in front of that ridge to the edge of a corn-field and in full view of the river. Colonel Brownlow, commanding cavalry, crossed the river this p.m. just above Powers’ Ferry, capturing 3 cavalrymen. They reported a post of twelve men and a reserve of fifty men farther back. The river was too high for wading, so that the men compelled to swim part of the way.
Colonel Lowe at Dalton captured enemy guerrillas who were destroying our railroad. I approve his industry in chasing them down. I told him, “Don’t spare the rascals at work to destroy our road. I approve the severest measures.”
11 a.m. Schofield Reports:
I have advanced my troops somewhat this morning to get more room and better position. We now occupy a very high and commanding ridge, rather more than a mile from the river, with flanks resting upon spurs running from the ridge toward the stream. The position is very strong, and I think perfectly secure. I have put over two of Hascall’s brigades in addition to Cox’s division, in order to fully occupy the position. I have two brigades still on this side of the river. Nothing appears in our front this morning but a small cavalry force. The ground beyond our position, as far as can be seen, is extremely rough and wooded. The hills we occupy are high and the roads difficult. I am having them improved, and new ones cut; will make them as good as I can. I have not been able to get any valuable information of the roads and country beyond our position in addition to what the maps give. I am making efforts to find somebody who knows more about it.
I wrote McPherson:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, July 9, 1864
General McPHERSON, Army of the Tennessee:
We now have a good lodgment on the other bank of the river, Schofield at the mouth of Soap Creek and Garrard opposite Roswell. I saw General Dodge today en route for Roswell and explained to him the importance of the place, and he understands it fully. He and Garrard can hold it secure whilst we maneuver a little more on our right and give time to collect stores at Marietta, and for Rousseau to get a good offing.
We noticed a good deal of flutter in the enemy’s camps today, troops and wagons moving rapidly east and north. Johnston sees I threaten Decatur and Stone Mountain, and now is a good time for Stoneman to strike south. I want him if possible to secure a point at Campbellton or below, and strike the West Point road. I do believe he can do it, for Johnston will spread his force so much that it will be weak at all points. I have told Stoneman that if he secures both banks at Campbellton, with its ferry-boats, he may call on you for a brigade to hold it whilst he strikes the railroad. Of course we do not intend to attack the tete-de-pont of the enemy. Unless Johnston supposes I have scattered my force too much, he will not venture to sally. If he does, our position is as strong against him as his against us, and I have no apprehensions on that score; therefore, if Stoneman calls for a brigade send it.
Keep hammering away all the time, and the moment he lets go of this bank occupy it; but if he holds on, as soon as the time comes we will let him stay on this side and we will go over. With Thomas things are in statu quo. Railroad and telegraph all right.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
I wrote Stoneman:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Near Chattahoochee, July 9, 1864.
Major-General STONEMAN: Commanding Division of Cavalry:
In pursuance of our conversation of this day, I have to request that you proceed with your command to Campbellton tomorrow night, appearing suddenly before the place and securing if possible the boats there, or forcing the enemy to destroy them. If you can possibly do it, get possession of those boats and also of the other bank. I am very anxious that an attack or demonstration be made against the railroad below Atlanta, and will instruct General McPherson to have a brigade of infantry ready to come down and hold the river whilst you with your cavalry strike the railroad. I am satisfied that the crossing of Schofield and Garrard above will draw in that direction Johnston’s chief army, and that what troops are left south of Atlanta will be strung out as far as West Point, where he will keep the chief force.
The point where the road would be easiest reached will be, say, half way from Atlanta and West Point, but it would not be safe for you to pass Campbellton unless the ferry was well destroyed. The bridge at Franklin is almost too far down, but still it too might be reached by you and either used or destroyed. A ford but little known or used below Campbellton and this side of Franklin bridge will be the best if such exists, and you may incur any risk sure of my approval, for whether you make a break of the road or merely cause a diversion you will do good. Don’t be absent more than four or five days, and keep me advised on all possible occasions.
W. T . SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
At 7 o’clock I sent you word that I was over the river and had the ridge. I have now a good position, and hold the Roswell and Atlanta road, which passes over the bridge. The ford is a little rough, but not deep. All is quiet in my front; but the regiment I sent to take the bridge, eight miles above, failed, and find some considerable force there. They can keep the enemy from burning the bridge, but cannot get possession of it. Prisoners report Kelly’s division, Wheeler’s corps, near that bridge.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
K. GARRARD, Brigadier-General
I have your second dispatch. Dodge was here en route for Roswell, and will come to you to-morrow; but in the mean time a division of Thomas’ should be near there now. When Dodge comes up see him and consult as to the necessity of taking the upper bridge, or forcing the enemy to destroy it. Dodge will rebuild the bridge at the Factory. All well here. The enemy has moved troops to the other side, northward, but toward Schofield, I think.
Garrard Reports that reinforcements have arrived:
I have to report the arrival of General Newton with his division, Fourth Corps. All was quiet, and he relieved me about dark. My cavalry pickets are about two miles from the river, on the Atlanta road. There has been but slight opposition to-day, though my cavalry pickets stand opposite to those of the enemy, and have had some skirmishes. No sign of large force of the enemy’s infantry. The ford is very rough and about belly deep. Wagons might be passed over, though it would be better to have the bridge built. Dimensions of old bridge: Length, 642 feet; 6 spans; good stone piers 14 feet from water.