HEADQUARTERS, Powers’ Ferry, on the Chattahoochee, Georgia, 9 miles from Atlanta.
CITY POINT, July 16, 1864-10 a. m.
The attempted invasion of Maryland having failed to give the enemy a firm foothold North, they are now returning, with possibly 25,000 troops. All the men they have here, beyond those sufficient to hold their strong fortifications, will be an element of weakness to eat up their supplies. It is not improbable, therefore, that you will find in the next fortnight re-enforcements in your front to the number indicated above. I advise, therefore, that if you get to Atlanta you set about destroying the railroads as far to the east and south of you as possible. Collect all the stores of the country for your own use, and select a point that you can hold until help can be had. I shall make a desperate effort to get a position here which will hold the enemy without the necessity of so many men. If successful, I can detach from here for other enterprises, looking as much to your assistance as anything else.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
WASHINGTON, July 16, 1864: 4.30 p. m.
Major-General SHERMAN, Georgia:
General Grant wishes me to call your attention to the possibility of Johnston’s being re-enforced from Richmond, and the importance of your having prepared a good line of defense against such increase of rebel force; also, the importance of getting as large an amount of supplies as possible collected at Chattanooga.
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General and Chief of Staf
HEADQUARTERS, Powers’ Ferry, on the Chattahoochee, Ga., July 16, 1864: 11 p. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
I have yours and General Grant’s dispatches. I had anticipated all possible chances and am accumulating all the stores possible at Chattanooga and Allatoona, but I do not fear Johnston with re-enforcements of 20,000 if he will take the offensive; but I recognize the danger arising from my long line and the superiority of the enemy’s cavalry in numbers and audacity. I move tomorrow from the Chattahoochee toward Decatur and Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta. All well. Copy of this to General Grant.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
I received this letter from Halleck:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, July 16, 1864.
General SHERMAN, Georgia, via Chattanooga:
MY DEAR GENERAL: Yours of the 9th is just received. If I have written you no “encouragement or advice” it has been mainly because you have not wanted either. Your operations thus far have been the admiration of all military men; and they prove what energy and skill combined can accomplish, while either without the other may utterly fail. In the second place, I must be exceedingly cautions about making military suggestions not through General Grant. While the general himself is free from petty jealousies, he has men about him who would gladly make difficulties between us. I know that they have tried it several times, but I do not think they will succeed. Nevertheless, I think it well to act with caution. I therefore make all suggestions to him and receive his orders. In my present position I cannot assume responsibility except in matters of mere administration or in way of advice. The position is not an agreeable one, but I am willing to serve wherever the Government thinks I can be most useful.
As you will learn from the newspapers, we have just escaped another formidable raid on Baltimore and Washington. As soon as Hunter retreated southwest from Lynchburg the road to Washington was open to the rebels, and I predicted to General Grant that a raid would be made. But he would not believe that Ewell’s corps had left his front till it had been gone more than two weeks and had already reached Maryland. He was deceived by the fact that prisoners captured about Petersburg represented themselves as belonging to Ewell’s old corps, being so ordered no doubt by their officers. We had nothing left for the defense of Washington and Baltimore but militia, invalids, and convalescents, re-enforced by armed clerks and quartermaster’s employees. As the lines about Washington alone are thirty-seven and a half miles in length, laid out by McClellan for an army of 150,000, you may judge that with 15,000 such defenders we were in no little danger of losing the capital or Baltimore, attacked by a veteran force of 30,000. Fortunately the Sixth Corps, under Wright, arrived just in the nick of time, and the enemy did not attempt an assault.
Entre nous. I fear Grant has made a fatal mistake in putting himself south of James River. He cannot now reach Richmond without taking Petersburg, which is strongly fortified, crossing the Appomattox and recrossing the James. Moreover, by placing his army south of Richmond he opens the capital and the whole North to rebel raids. Lee can at any time detach 30,000 or 40,000 men without our knowing it till we are actually threatened. I hope we may yet have full success, but I find that many of Grant’s general officers think the campaign already a failure. Perseverance, however, may compensate for all errors and overcome all obstacles.
Be assured, general, that all your friends here fell greatly gratified with your operations, and I have not heard the usual growling and fault-finding by outsiders. I have twice presented in writing your name for major-general regular army, but for some reason the matter still hangs fire.
Best regards to Thomas and McPherson.
H. W. HALLECK
We have brought up supplies and prepared the bridges and pontoons for crossing. Dispatches from Generals Grant and Halleck today speak of the enemy having failed in his designs in Maryland, and cautioning me that Lee may in the next fortnight re-enforce Johnston by 20,000. It behooves us, therefore, to hurry. So all will move tomorrow as far as Nancy’s Creek.
I am about moving camp to vicinity of Powers’, and will visit Generals Howard and Schofield, where I can be found in case of necessity. General Wood will send men down the south bank of Chattahoochee River to cover the laying of the pontoons at Pace’s Ferry. Thomas will move his army tomorrow across the River.
I have just heard from General McPherson. He moves in the morning for his position on a Decatur road till abreast of Schofield, his cavalry at or near Buchanan’s. Schofield will move tomorrow to the position described in Special Field Orders, Numbers 35, which will be at the camp-ground with an advance down to Nancy’s Creek. This will divert attention to men engaged in crossing at Pace’s. General Garrard has been to Cross Keys and finds nothing on the road but bands of cavalry.
General Blair is on the march from the right flank and should reach Marietta tonight. He will leave tomorrow at 4 a.m., marching in the cool of the day and should reach Roswell by 9 a.m. should join McPherson at Roswell on our left tomorrow. McPherson will cross and head toward Decatur and Stone Mountain. His right will be near Schofield’s Camp. Supply trains will be left north of the river and strongly guarded.
These movements will positions the troops to destroy the railroad to Augusta and form a line of battle facing Atlanta.