Sunday, July 17, 1864

EAST OF CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER, GEORGIA

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Today we have moved out from the Chattahoochee to Nancy’s Creek, General Thomas on the right from Pace’s Ferry, toward Atlanta; General Schofield in the center, near Cross Keys, and General McPherson on the left near General Schofield. Tomorrow I propose to advance General Thomas to Peach Tree Creek, about Buck Head; General Schofield on the Decatur road, and General McPherson to the vicinity of the railroad east of Decatur, and his cavalry division, under Garrard, will break the railroad. If we can break the railroad I propose to place the left wing across it, near Decatur, and break up the railroad eastward as far as cavalry can operate with prudence. Today we encounter nothing but cavalry.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I wrote to General THOMAS:
If you find it difficult to pass Pace’s Ferry, move one of your corps now on this side up to General Howard’s, and, with the two corps, move out to the brigade at Kyle’s over Nancy’s Creek, leaving the other corps to cross at Pace’s, or to follow the first if unable to effect a crossing at Pace’s. All your army should be on Nancy’s Creek tonight. General Schofield and General McPherson moved at daylight.
General Schofield has just been here and describes his position as on Nancy’s Creek, his pickets on south side, near Cross Keys, about the lots 304, 315, and 316.
General McPherson is on the road from Roswell to Decatur, his advance about lot 326, about a mile above General Schofield. General Schofield says that the road represented on our maps as from Roswell to Buck Head is a broad, well traveled road and has a branch about lot Numbers 94, leading to Pace’s Ferry. This corresponds with what General Corse tells, me, that you found a large road branching to the left soon after leaving Pace’s Ferry. It is well to mark this road, as it may be useful to us. General Howard can take a good road from here to Buck Head, starting at his present front and moving southeast to the main road from Roswell to Buck Head, just before it crosses Nancy’s Creek. Approaching Buck Head from this quarter about the same time that Generals Schofield and McPherson get to the Peach Tree from the east, will of course relieve any pressure you may encounter on the main road.
General Schofield will move early for the Peach Tree road in front of Cross Keys, and take post about lots 239, 247, and 272, with pickets forward as far as 196, and General McPherson will seek for position in the valley of North Fork of Peach Tree, about 267, 266, 284, 285, and send General Garrard to break the road and telegraph.
You should leave a corps in front of Donaldson’s, and have the other two as early as possible at and in front of Buck Head. Then feel down strong to Peach Tree and see what is there. A vigorous demonstration should be made, and caution your commanders not to exhibit any of the signs of a halt or pause, as in that event too much resistance would be made on the other flank. You know the reasons for the utmost activity tonight, and before joining General Schofield in the morning I will point out to General Hoard the road by which he can reach Buck Head in five miles from here. Give orders as soon as any head of column reaches Buck Head to feel up the Peach Tree road for General Schofield, who will surely be in position before your troops can be.

THOMAS REPLIED:
General Hooker has his troops posted on the intermediate road between Pace’s and Powers’ Ferry roads. General Palmer has Johnson on the Pace’s Ferry road, and Davis on a road between that and the railroad bridge. All the troops occupy the ridge overlooking Nancy’s Creek, with their skirmishers bordering the creek. Baird is in reserve behind Davis. A rebel battery with its infantry support, which has been firing on McCook’s battery, posted in the redoubt to the left of the railroad, cleared out from its position in Peach Tree Creek this p. m. and retired across the creek in direction of Atlanta. Sutermeister has made excellent practice today, and will continue to fire at intervals through the night. I shall move my headquarters tomorrow to near Hooker, who will be in the center of my army.

I Replied:
I received a signal for Schofield. Schofield is on the road from Johnson’s by Cross Keys. Palmer had better move straight for Kyle’s Bridge, and Hooker from Powers’s to the crossing above near Schofield; Howard in reserve.

I modified Field Orders Number 36:

Memoranda to Special Field Orders, Numbers 36:
The map composed of two parts of the official compilation made at Marietta July 5 and 11, 1864, is the best and will be the standard for orders issued from these headquarters. As a general rule, old road will be found to lead to Decatur, but new roads to Atlanta. The general country is very hilly and stony, but improves south and east as we approach the head of the Ocmulgee.

Peach Tree Creek is considerable of a stream,but fordable at all points east of the main road from Buck Head to Atlanta. The first real lines to be found will be on the Old Peach Tree road, which starts at Turney’s Ferry, keeps near the Chattahoochee, crosses Peach Tree at Moore’s Mill and on a main ridge by Buck Head, Buchanan’s, and Pinckneyville. Our first line must be in front of this road, leaving it clear for communication; General Thomas the right, General Schofield the center, and General McPherson the left. General Thomas will move substantially on Atlanta, General Schofield on Decatur, and General McPherson, with General Garrard’s cavalry, is charged with the destruction of the railroad between Decatur and Stone Mountain.

As soon as the road is broken all the armies will close on General Thomas, occupying the main roads east of Atlanta, or, in other works, the line swung across the railroad near Decatur. General Thomas will press close on Atlanta, but not assault real works, but not be deterred by cavalry or light defenses. General Schofield will threaten the neighborhood of Decatur, but Generals McPherson and Garrard will risk much and break the railroad during the 18th or 19th.

The operations of the army for tomorrow, the 18th July, will be as follows:

I. Major-General Thomas will move forward, occupy Buck Head and the ridge between Nancy’s Creek and Peach Tree, also all the roads toward Atlanta, as far as Peach Tree Creek.

II. Major-General Schofield will pass through Cross Keys and occupy the Peach Tree road where intersected by the road from Cross Keys to Decatur.

III. Major-General McPherson will move toward Stone Mountain to secure strong ground within four miles of General Schofield’s position, and push Brigadier-General Garrard’s cavalry to the railroad, and destroy some section of the road, and then resume position to the front and left of General McPherson.

IV. All armies will communicate with their neighbors. The general-in-chief will be near General Thomas’ left, or near General Schofield.

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