Tuesday, July 12 1864

NEAR CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER, GA., July 12, 1864: 8.30 p. m.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:

Mark your maps Phillips’ Ferry at mouth of Soap Creek; Powers’ Ferry just above the mouth of the Rottenwood and Island Creeks; Pace’s Ferry one mile below the mouth of Island Cree. General Dodge’s corps is across at Roswell; General Schofield’s corps at Phillips’; General Howard’s corps at Powers’.

All well.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

General Thomas and I are planning the next crossing. I asked where to send the pontoons.:

Please have the pontoon train sent to Powers’ Ferry.

I Added:
Has anything been done with the pontoon bridge of the enemy at Pace’s? We should either get full possession of it or destroy it altogether, for when we cross to the other side, leaving a mere guard of cavalry on this, the bridge might be most mischievous to us. Please order that it be got at night, or the planking thrown off and boats scuttled.

Thomas Replied:
My intention is to use the enemy’s pontoon bridge in connection with ours. If it is not used in that way I will have it destroyed.

I Replied:
General McPherson’s pontoons will make two good bridges at Powders’. You have enough for two at Pace’s. If we can save the rebel bridge it will do for one, and save us enough boats for a spare one. I want that very much, so that in leaving General Stoneman to watch at Turner’s, he will have a bridge and can threaten to cross at Turner’s and below when we are engaged over about the neighborhood of Decatur. Try and manage to accomplish this result. General McPherson will have a good, permanent bridge at Roswell, and General Schofield a pier or trestle bridge at Phillips’, so that you will have control of all the pontoons. I estimate we have enough for four bridges, and if we can secure that left by the rebels it will exactly fill our wants.
I have ordered the Fifteenth Corps to move this afternoon for Roswell, leaving General Blair’s corps to watch Turner’s Ferry and Sandtown till General Stoneman returns. Better notify Hooker, as it leaves a gap, but the gap is well covered by the river.

Thomas Asks:
General Howard reports two divisions of his command across the river and in position near Abernathy’s house. Do you wish Palmer to cross at Pace’s Ferry tomorrow or next day? I do not think Buell can reach there in time for him to cross tomorrow.

I ask:
Where is Abernathy’s house, in reference to Schofield’s position?

Thomas Replied:
Abernathy’s house is about one-fourth of a mile in front of Schofield’s right center; Howard’s troops overlap Schofield’s right. I have directed Howard to send a division down the river to Pace’s Ferry at daylight Thursday morning to cover the laying of the bridges at that place.

I Replied:
I understand that Howard has a pontoon bridge at Powers’ Ferry.

Thomas Replied:
The road from Powers’ Ferry to Abernathy’s house is said to be good. Howard has one bridge at Powers’ Ferry, but I want to replace that by McPherson’s bridge, as it will be nearer to his position, and Buell’s at Pace’s Ferry will be nearer to mine.

I Answered:
You need not attempt the crossing at Pace’s till I hear further of General Stoneman. The day after tomorrow will be soon enough. I heard of twenty men on foot armed, about four miles from Big Shanty, who questioned a negro as to the force at Marietta. Yet it is well that Colonel Gleason sent the regiment, as it will make it certain. The Fifteenth Corps will pass Marietta in the night for Roswell, and it seems impossible that any force should be near the place described. The brigade from Allatoona for Kenesaw should also be in position by tomorrow.

I wrote orders for McPherson:

In the Field, near Chattahoochee, July 12, 1864: 2 a. m.

Major-General McPHERSON, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
I have received your dispatches of last night. You may put in motion at once the Fifteenth Corps and trains for Roswell, leaving General Blair with such artillery and wagons as he may need to await the return of General Stoneman, and to make in the mean time the necessary demonstrations about Sandtown, Howell’s, and Turner’s. The enemy having destroyed his bridges, cannot come back on General Blair, and therefore he can strip light so as to follow you as little encumbered as possible when General Stoneman does get back or is heard from. Instruct General Blair fully on these points, and let him report to me direct while thus detached.

Let your troops move in the cool of the evening and moonlight and in the morning, sparing men and animals as such as possible. You will then proceed in person to Roswell, and take control of matters on that flank, giving the necessary orders to your own troops and General Garrard’s cavalry. I want everything done that is prudent and necessary at Roswell to make it a kind of secondary base for operations against Atlanta, and the roads east toward Augusta and Macon. As you know, the bridges are under progress and the telegraph will be there as soon as you. The ford there, though rough, is always practicable in case of accident to ourselves or the bridges, and constitute one of the reasons for its use as a point of departure. The roads to and from Roswell are all old and much used. The country thereabouts is also represented as abounding in grass, grain, and corn-fields, all of which will come into use. Your wagons and artillery should move by Marietta and fill up with provisions, forage, and ammunition, and, I think, that also is the best road for the troops, although a few miles could be saved by cutting across by Smyrna Camp-Ground. If convenient, you might ride by the Turner’s Ferry road along the enemy’s recent works by General Thomas’ and my headquarters to confer and to compare maps.

I am, with respect, yours, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Dodge Reports from Roswell:
I send herewith a rough map of the country south of here, taking in nearly all the roads. I got it up from surveys and from information received from different citizens, and I think generally it is as correct as such maps can be made. The roads, citizens living upon them, &c., are pretty reliable. You will see it is different from any of our maps. I pushed my mounted infantry down five miles today to the crossing of Nancy’s Creek, where we found the enemy’s cavalry in force, and they followed us back. One-half mile above the bridge at this place is a ferry, and will be a good place to put in a pontoon bridge should you desire. The river is about 300 feet wide. I will have the bridge at this place finished tomorrow. All the bents are up tonight, stringers on, and planked one-third the distance across. When done it will take safely over any number of troops and their trains. All quiet here. River slowly rising.
All deserters and prisoners of war state that the enemy’s works are from two to four miles north of Atlanta. None this side of that. A very intelligent man, who left Lee’s army at Petersburg last Wednesday, came in. He says this is the first time that Lee’s army was ever discouraged; that their losses have been enormous, and that every man in the country has gone to it. Ewell, with his corps, he says, has been sent on a raid to Pennsylvania. He also says that there are no guards on the railroads after getting twenty miles away from Atlanta, and that Johnston’s trains have all gone to Augusta, Ga.

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