On the Chattahoochee River 9 miles from Atlanta
Halleck shares this message from Grant:
Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
In view of the possible recurrence of the late raid into Maryland, I would suggest that the following precautions be taken: First. There should be an immediate call for all the troops we are likely to require. Second. Washington city, Baltimore, and Harper’s Ferry should be designated as schools of instruction, and all troops raised east of the State of Ohio should be sent to one of these three places as fast as raised. Nashville, Decatur, and Stevenson should also be names as schools of instruction, and all troops raise in Ohio and west of it should be sent to those. By doing this we always have the benefit of our increased force, and they in turn improve more rapidly by contact with veteran troops.
To supply Sherman, all the rolling-stock that can possibly be got to him should be sent. An effort ought to be made to transfer a large portion of stores now at Nashville to Chattanooga. This might be facilitated by withdrawing for awhile the rolling-stock from the Nashville and Reynoldsburg Railroad, and a large part of the stock upon the Kentucky roads. There is every indication now, judging from the tone of the Southern press, that, unless Johnston is re-enforced, Atlanta will not be defended. They seem to calculate largely upon driving Sherman out by keeping his lines of communication cut. If he can supply himself at once with ordnance and quartermaster’s stores, and partially with subsistence, he will find no difficulty in staying until a permanent line can be opened with the south coast. The road from Chattanooga and Atlanta will be much more easily defended than that north of the Tennessee. With the supplies above indicated at Chattanooga, with, say, sixty days’ provisions there, I think there will be no doubt but that the country will supply the balance.
Sherman will, once in Atlanta, devote himself to collecting the resources of the country. He will take everything the people have, and will then issue from the stores so collected to rich and poor alike. As he will take all their stock, they will have no use for grain further than is necessary for bread. If the enemy do not detach from here against Sherman, they will, in case Atlanta falls, bring most of Johnston’s army here with the expectation of driving us out, and then unite against Sherman. They will fail if they attempt this programme. My greatest fear is of their sending troops to Johnston first. Sherman ought to be notified of the possibility of a corps going from here, and should be prepared to take up a good defensive position in case one is sent – one which he could hold against such increase. If Hunter cannot get to Gordonsville and Charlottesville to cut the railroad, he should make all the valley south of the Baltimore and Ohio road a desert as high up as possible. I do not mean that houses should be burned, but all provisions and stock should be removed, and the people notified to move out.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General
Stoneman Reports from Down River:
CAMP NEAR VILLA RICA, July 15, 1864.
As I indicated to you in my last note, we completed the bridge (Moore’s), and were ready to cross at daybreak yesterday morning, but before we essayed it a report came from Major Buck, in command of a battalion seven miles above, that the enemy had been crossing above him on a boat or a bridge, and that his pickets had been cut off. I, of course, made preparations accordingly, and found that the report originated in the sound made by the enemy crossing a bridge over a creek on the other side of the river, and nearly opposite to Major Buck. On attempting to cross the bridge the enemy opened upon it with four pieces of artillery from the edge of the timbers on the opposite side and made an endeavor to retake their rifle-pits near the water’s edge. Deeming it inexpedient to push our endeavors farther, and knowing that it was easier to retain the men long enough to burn the bridge than to get them back again after they had been driven off, I ordered the bridge to be burned and the boats that had been collected there for security destroyed. During the day I sent scouts down the river to within thirteen miles of Franklin, where there is another bridge, and found neither ford nor ferry-boats, and in the evening came to this point. We shall remain here and graze during the day, and in the evening move to the vicinity of Sweet Water Town, or within eight miles of it.
Colonel Biddle, who was left with his brigade at Campbellton, reports the enemy quite strong at that point, with two guns of long range in each of the two redoubts on the opposite bluff, which are opened upon him whenever any of his men show themselves. We get plenty of forage for the horses, beef, and blackberries, and some bacon for the men, and are getting on finely. We want horseshoes and nails, and a little time where we can avail ourselves of a blacksmith shop to fit the shoes, to complete the cavalry and make it ready for any service. The artillery, however, want better horses and better ammunition, as the horses they have would be unable to make long consecutive marches, and the ammunition is but little better than solid-shot.
I was very anxious to strike the railroad from personal as well as other considerations, but I became convinced that to attempt it would incur risks inadequate to the results, and unless we could hold the bridge, as well as penetrate into the country, the risk of capture or dispersion, with loss of animals (as I could hear of no ford), was almost certain. It is impossible to move without every step we take being known, women as well as men acting as scouts and messengers. I have sent to the rear about 40 prisoners, 1 of them the commander of the picket at the bridge on this side, and 16 of 17 of them pickets and scouts in the vicinity of the bridge. I am unable to say how much force is opposite to us, but from what can be seen and I can hear, I am convinced it is no inconsiderable one.
GEORGE STONEMAN, Major-General, &c
I have just received your note of 15th and wish you to hasten to your old position to relieve General Blair. I want you to cover and watch Turner’s Ferry and mouth of Nickajack whilst we cross above and move out. You will have plenty of time to shoe and fix up. General Blair has your orders.
I wrote to Thomas:
I have heard from General Stoneman. He attempted to cross at Moore’s Bridge, but encountered too much artillery, and thought it imprudent to attempt, lest he might not get back. He is now near Villa Rica, and will move this evening to Sweet Water. I have ordered him to come on over to Turner’s Ferry and relieve General Blair, whom I have ordered to draw out of sight of the enemy tonight and move tomorrow for Roswell. You may therefore make all preparations to cross at Pace’s Ferry tomorrow night or next morning and move out to control the bridge over Nancy’s Creek. I will move my headquarters tomorrow to Powers’ Ferry. The redoubt from which General McCook is to control the lower bridge over Peach Tree Creek should be prepared for him tonight by infantry. Cavalry cannot work on parapets tomorrow.
Schofield sent me a map:
Sandy Spring Camp-Ground is an important center of roads. It is situated just at the head of Island Creek. The main road from that point appears to lead toward Pinckneyville at McAfee’s Bridge. No doubt the road to Cross Keys leaves it only a short distance beyond the camp-ground. There are no people left in the country except a few ignorant women and children. Hence, it is impossible to get accurate information except by actual reconnaissance. As soon as I receive information that the general movement is to commence as directed in your Field Orders, Numbers 35, I propose to move my command to the camp-ground, and then reconnoiter toward Pinckneyville, Cross Keys, and Buck Head until I find the ground you desire me to occupy, and its relation to that to be occupied by Generals Thomas and McPherson.
I Ordered Blair to go to Roswell
I have just heard from General Stoneman, who says he will be over at Sweet Water Town tonight. I have ordered him to hurry and relieve you. Haul out of sight all your guns tonight ready in the morning to move to Roswell. You can save much distance by coming by my headquarters and taking a road near the Chattahoochee, but the main Marietta road is plainer and easier for wagons and it may be is best. Choose for yourself. Do not go to Roswell town, but to the bridge or across where General McPherson is.
I wired McPherson:
I have heard from General Stoneman. He did not break the lower railroad, but burned a bridge over the Chattahoochee near Newman. He will be in tonight, and I have ordered General Blair to move for Roswell tomorrow. You may, therefore, make all preparations to move out toward the Stone Mountain the day after tomorrow. Notify General Garrard to move in connection with you, sending his train to yours. That Augusta road must be destroyed and occupied between Decatur and Stone Mountain by you and General Garrard.
What sort of a road do you find the Hightower trail? Do you find a road leading direct to Stone Mountain or to Decatur? If General Schofield moves straight on Cross Keys, and you so that your left is on Hightower trail, when across Nancy’s Creek or the ridge between Nancy’s and the Peach Tree, your centers should not be more than three miles apart. I would like you to find a road from about Buchanan’s to the head of Snapfinger Creek.