NEAR CHATTAHOOCHEE, GEORGIA,
The lookout reports that the rebels are burning the railroad bridge and wagon bridges over Chattahoochee River.
I asked conformation from General THOMAS:
Signal officers report railroad and all other bridges burning. Of course if such be the case, the enemy has gone across, and yet I hear firing of pickets. Report to me the truth as soon as ascertained.
4 a.m. Thomas Reports:
The enemy has left my front and burned the railroad and wagon bridge over the river. I have ordered the skirmishers to feel up and ascertain if they are still on this side. I presume the firing we hear is the pickets exchanging shots across the river.
Let Howard move up to supporting distance of Schofield to assist him in case the enemy attempts to dislodge him. Detachments of Hooker and Palmer should occupy the redoubts this side, but keep your wagons and masses out of sight for the present.
Hooker and Palmer occupy the enemy’s works in their fronts, and have skirmishers on the river bank. Their camps have not been moved. Howard has been ordered to move to supporting distance of Schofield.
July 10, 1864-6.30 a. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
The enemy this morning burned his bridges across the Chattahoochee, the railroad bridge included. If General Grant has nothing particular for Hunter, Crook, and Averell to do, and if they be in the Kanawha Valley, as is represented, they could be well employed by going to Abingdon, smashing up things in that quarter, and then going over into North Carolina.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
I asked Thomas to describe their works:
Did you visit enemy’s works on this side of the Chattahoochee? Describe them to me that I may embrace the substance in my dispatch tomorrow to General Halleck.
I visited the enemy’s works on this side of the river. the works were in two strong lines similar to those we have had heretofore. At certain distances citadels were built for infantry covering the line about twelve feet, so as to give an enfilading fire on assaulting columns. The front was protected by abatis on open fields and by felled timber where the lines ran through woods; this for thirty or forty yards in their front. The entire front of the lines was covered by palisades of sharpened timbers. In rear of these lines were two strong works on either side of the bridge, connected with the river by lines of rifle-pits. Their left rested in a marsh on Nickajack Creek, their right on the river. From the works on this side I could see a strong work for artillery and several batteries on the other side, connected by lines of rifle-pits.
Thomas asks about the citizens from Roswell Factory:
The Roswell Factory hands, 400 or 500 in number, have arrived at Marietta. The most of them are women. I can only order them transportation to Nashville, where it seems hard to turn them adrift. What had best be done with them?
I have ordered General Webster, at Nashville, to dispose of them. They will be sent to Indiana.
I sent Thomas my thoughts:
General Schofield has a good bridge and position, but the road up the hill is narrow, crooked, and steep. I think the road out from Powers’ Ferry is better and leads straight to Cross Keys, the first point common to the roads out from Roswell, McPherson’s; Phillips’, Schofield’s; Powers’ and Pace’s, yours. General Dodge will make a good bridge at Roswell, General Schofield will make a bridge at Phillips’, and you can have your own and McPherson’s pontoons at Powers’ and Pace’s. General Howard is close up to General Dodge has made his bridge and works. I think it would be well for General Howard to secure the hill at Powers’ Ferry, just below the crossing, and move the pontoons down as soon as General Schofield gets a trestle bridge done. I want General McPherson to feign strong at Turner’s and cover General Stoneman’s movements down the river, and I want you to make strong demonstrations at the railroad bridge, but keep in mind that you are to cross at Powers’ and Pace’s. All the road back to Marietta are good, but the cross-roads are steep and hilly. The road from Powers’ to Vining’s is quite good; crosses Rottenwood at a mill-dam. All preparations should be made in three days.
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, near Chattahoochee River, Numbers 32. July 10, 1864
I. The division of General John E. Smith will occupy the Allatoona Pass, with a detachment at Kingston and Cartersville, and the brigade now at the Allatoona Pass will occupy Kenesaw Mountain and Big Shanty. The District of the Etowah will be extended to embrace the Kenesaw Mountain.
II. Each of the three armies will have one regiment at Marietta, of the average strength of 330 men for fatigue duty, to unload cars; the commanding officers to report for orders to the chief commissary, Colonel Beckwith. Marietta will be the grand depot, but the chief quartermaster may arrange to deliver stores in bulk at Ruff’s or Vining’s Stations, according to the facilities of the railroad.
III. Commissaries and quartermasters must keep ten days’ supplies on hand at all times, without special orders to that effect, and the army must be ready for quick, prompt movement, as our future plans depend on the enemy.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp
I sent instructions to the Commanding Officer at Rome, Georgia:
Johnston’s army is now driven across the Chattahoochee. You should now keep detachments well out toward Van’s Valley, Villa Rica, and toward Gadsden, getting familiar with the country, getting grain and forage, and picking up prisoners. Instead of being passive, all should now be most active.
I now consider Allatoona Pass safe and will reduce the guard there.
I am sending additional troops to Schofield and moving Howard in position to support him if the enemy attempts to dislodge him.
Dodge Reports from Roswell:
My troops are arriving and crossing. I have been here three hours, and, in company with General Newton, have thoroughly examined the country. I will occupy and fortify to-night a tete-de-pont half a mile from the river, and extending up and down one mile, covering the entire ford, bridge, and roads leading to them. The ford is half a mile or more in extent, very rough, and impracticable except for troops. To bridge the stream I will have to build over 650 feet in length. I shall use the old piers, and trestle between. We have a strong picket out three miles covering the forks of road leading to McAfee’s Bridge, eight miles up the river, and covering the forks of road that leads to Atlanta. It is too far out to take the command until the river is easily passed by artillery and trains.
Dodge has a pontoon across and will work on a trestle, but it will take time.
I Replied to Dodge:
I design that General McPherson’s whole army shall come to that flank, and you are to prepare the way. General Newton will stay with you till you feel all safe, when he will rejoin his corps now in support of General Schofield, eight miles below you. General Garrard will picket the roads, and I want you to fortify a tete-de-pont and bridge. General McPherson will operate to the right and then when all is ready will come rapidly to your flank, therefore make all preparations to that end. General Schofield has a secure place opposite the mouth of Soap Creek. Keep me well advised by courier to Marietta, and telegraph.
Garrard Reports from Upstream:
Today I have sent patrols toward Canton, Loring’s, Goodbridge, Cumming, and up the river, and I can learn of no large force of cavalry on this side of the river. There are small parties of five to ten scattered through the country, but no organized force. As well as I can judge, the cavalry have fallen back toward Cross Keys. The bridge today eight miles above was crossed by my troops and is in good order. Shall I send a force to keep it from being destroyed?
McPherson reports from the right:
My skirmishers are near the river and the enemy on the opposite side in rifle-pits, both above and below Turner’s Ferry. The enemy also have a work on the opposite side within easy cannon-range of the bluffs on the north side, in which they have artillery. I am having a battery of 3-inch Rodmans and 20-pounder Parrotts put in position, and will try to develop what is in front of us. We have captured about 50 prisoners, principally from the enemy’s skirmish line.
Colonel Scott, of Leggett’s division, reports that the rebels burned their pontoon bridge after the main body crossed, and before their skirmishers were relieved.
Brigadier-General Gresham has four of his regiments in the enemy’s works, and is now getting a battery in position to shell them on the other side of the river. The enemy’s sharpshooters are still on the south bank.
Major-General Stoneman is here, and desires to know whether the retreat of the rebels across the Chattahoochee will make any change in the plans proposed for him yesterday. If he goes on the expedition, he wishes to start at 8 o’clock this evening. From the result of his reconnaissance last night in the vicinity of Campbellton, the finds here is no bridge or ford until he reaches Franklin, and no enemy on this side of the river. I send this by Captain Gile in order to get an answer quickly.
I write to McPherson:
I have pretty much made up my mind as to the next move, but would be glad to hear any suggestion from you. I propose that General Stoneman shall attempt to break the road below Atlanta. I will accumulate stores at Marietta and increase our guards to the rear, then suddenly to shift you to Roswell. General Dodge in the mean time is to get you a good tete-de-pont and bridge. General Schofield is already at Phillips’ Ferry, across and fortified. He too will make a good trestle bridge. General Thomas will group his at Powers’ and Pace’s Ferries. But for the next three days, while these preparations are being made, I want you to demonstrate as though intending to cross at Turner’s or below, and General Thomas the same at the railroad bridge.
When General Stoneman is back, I will give you the word to shift rapidly to Roswell and cross, and in anticipation you can get your wagons back to Marietta, except such as you need. General Thomas will need yours and his pontoons to cross at Powers’ and Pace’s. At the right time I will leave Generals Stoneman and McCook to cover the front, and cross all the balance of the army and advance its right on or near Peach Tree Creek, and the left swing toward Stone Mountain. Johnston will be found to occupy his redoubts about Atlanta and also Stone Mountain and Decatur. We can maneuver so as to compel him to weaken his center or one of his flanks, when we can act. If he neglect his right or center we get on his Augusta road. if he neglect Atlanta, we take it. If he assumed the offensive, we cover our roads and base and can make as good use of Peach Tree Creek as he.
If General Stoneman could break the road, so much the better, but if he cannot, I calculate that General Rousseau will do so within a week, quite as early as we can be at or near Cross Keys. The ground opposite still continues rough, but that we cannot help. I find all the roads leading back from Roswell, Phillips’ and Powers’ Ferries to Marietta are good, but the cross-roads are hilly and steep. The advantage of this plan over the one crossing to the south is, that we are all between the enemy and our base, and now that he has destroyed his own bridges he cannot get over without fighting us. Study your maps and be ready, but in the mean time stir up the enemy all you can on that flank and make feints as though designing to cross.