NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1864-8 a. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
I find it difficult to make prompt report of results coupled with some data or information without occasionally making some mistakes. General McPherson’s sudden death, and General Logan succeeding to the command, as it were, in the midst of battle, made some confusion on our extreme left, but it soon recovered and made sad havoc with the enemy, who had practiced one of his favorite games of attacking our left when in motion and before it had time to cover its weak end. After riding over the ground and hearing the varying statements of the actors on that flank, I directed General Logan to make me an official report of the actual results, and I herewith inclose it.
Though the number of dead rebels seems excessive, I am disposed to give full credit to the report that our loss, though only 3,521 killed, wounded, and missing, the enemy’s dead alone on the field nearly equal that number, viz, 3,240. Happening at that point of the line when a flag of truce was sent in to ask permission for each party to bury its dead, I gave General Logan authority to permit a temporary truce on that flank alone, while our labors and fighting proceeded at all others. I also send you copy of General Garrard’s report of the breaking of railroad toward Augusta. Now I am grouping my command to attack the Macon road, and with that view will intrench a strong line of circumvallation and flanks, so as to have as large an infantry column to co-operate as possible with all the cavalry to swing round to the south and east to control that road at or below East Point.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,Major-General, Commanding
NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1864: 8.30 p.m.
Lieutenant-General GRANT, Petersburg, Va.:
Your dispatch of the 21st did not come till today. Johnston is relieved and Hood commands. Hood has made two attempts to strike hard since we crossed the Chattahoochee, and both times got more than he bargained for. No doubt he expects to cut to my rear, but I have already cut to his rear, having broken his Augusta road out for fifty miles, and his Southern road at Opelika. None remains to him but the Macon road, and I think I will have that soon. I would rather that Hood should fight it out at Atlanta than to retreat farther toward Macon. If you can keep away re-enforcement all will be well. My army is all in hand, and rear well guarded.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 25, 1864
Colonel JAMES A. HARDIE, Inspector-General:
I have your dispatch of yesterday, announcing the appointment of General Osterhaus as major-general. I do not object to his appointment, but I wish to put on record this my emphatic opinion, that it is an act injustice to officers who stand by their posts in the day of danger to neglect them and advance such as Hovey and Osterhaus, who left us in the midst of bullets to go the rear in search of personal advancement. If the rear be the post of honor, then we had better all change front on Washington.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
Garrard, Back from his raid to the Northeast reports:
Last night the rest of my command arrived, bringing about 30 prisoners and some hundred negroes. The depot at Social Circle and a large amount of supplies, including a lot of new Government wagons were burned. It will take three or four days to put my command in order. My wagons are not up, and I do not know where they are. I have also over 1,000 horses unshod. I can do all duty required of me on this flank, but, if possible, would like it to be so arranged as not to send me off again for some days. General Sherman spoke to me last night, before I had time to know fully my condition, about some expedition. I could only reply that I would try to carry out all orders, but could not at that time pass my judgment in regard to its probable success or the strength I could bring to bear. If the route is taken proposed by him I think it will amount to a fight with rebel cavalry and very doubtful if much damage can be done. A raid to be a success must be made be with light bodies and done quickly and the whole should be a surprise.
In connection with a general advance, of course, the cavalry expect to do its share of fighting and drive off that of the enemy. But I regard the two very different affairs. I inclose you the letter of instructions asked for, and in conclusion would mention to your favorable notice my three brigade commanders, Colonel Miller, Colonel Minty, and Colonel Long. They are all good officers and manage their brigades well.
K. GARRARD, Brigadier-General, Commanding Division
I wrote General Thomas:
General Garrard is back all safe, having lost but 2 men. He destroyed the bridges across the branches of the Ocmulgee, and the depots at Conveyers, Covington, and Social Circle, and brought in 200 prisoners and a fine lot of fresh horses and negroes. He is now at Decatur resting, but we must all get in motion by the day after tomorrow. I thought Captain Dayton had sent you word about General Garrard’s return. General Logan now foots up the killed of the enemy at 3,200, and 2,100 prisoners. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing, 3,500 and 10 guns.
Send word to General McCook and notify him to have his and Colonel Harrison’s command all ready for the big raid by daylight of day after tomorrow, and that if convenient after giving his orders, I would like to see him in person tomorrow.
I understand that General McCook’s cavalry was across Proctor’s Creek and held the east bank at Turner’s Ferry, and ordered a pontoon bridge to be made to connect his and Colonel Harrison’s cavalry, but on reaching Proctor’s Creek it was found that our pickets were across the creek, but not out as far as the Turner’s Ferry road. Order General McCook out early tomorrow to cover that ferry, that the bridge may be put down and Colonel Harrison and he put in communication.
I gave orders for tomorrow:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 25, Numbers 42. 1864
I. The several armies and bodies of cavalry will watch the enemy closely to their respective fronts, and in case the enemy retreats toward the southeast General Schofield will follow directly through Atlanta, General Thomas by roads on his right, and General Logan on his left. Generals Stoneman’s and Garrard’s cavalry will move by a circle to the left toward McDonough, break the railroad, and strike the enemy in front or flank, and General McCook’s and Colonel Harrison’s cavalry will move on Fayetteville and the railroad beyond, breaking it if possible, in advance of the enemy, and striking the enemy in flank.
II. Should the enemy remain as now, on the defensive, inside of the fortifications of Atlanta, the Macon road must be attacked by cavalry beyond Fayetteville and McDonough, and the infantry must cover the line from the Howard house, General Schofield’s present center, to General Davis’ position on the right, and the line extended east and south so as to reach or threaten the railroad toward East Point. To this end Generals Stoneman and Garrard will call in all detachments and send tomorrow to Roswell or in rear of the infantry all crippled stock and incumbrances, prepared to move at daylight the next morning by a circuit to the left, so as to reach the railroad below McDonough. General Stoneman will command this cavalry force, but will spare General Garrard’s fatigued horses as much as possible, using that command as reserve, and his own as the force with which to reach and break the railroad. In like manner General McCook will command the joint cavalry command, his own, and of Colonel Harrison’s, but will use Colonel Harrison’s fatigued command as a reserve, and his own to reach the road and break it. The railroad when reached must be substantially destroyed for a space of from two to five miles, telegraph wires pulled down as far as possible and hid in water or carried away.
III. Major-General Schofield will prepare to draw back his left division to the old rebel line, extending back from the Howard house toward the road by which General Stanley advanced, and be prepared on the withdrawal of the Army of the Tennessee to hold that line as the left flank of the grand army.
IV. Major-General Logan will tomorrow send all his trains, and sick, and impediments to the rear of General Thomas to any point near the mouth of Peach Tree Creek, and during the early morning by moonlight of the next day, viz, Wednesday, July 27, withdraw his army, corps by corps, and moved it to the right, forming on General Palmer, and advancing the right as much as possible.
V. Major-General Thomas having strongly fortified his front will hold it by an adequate force, and hold the reserves at points most convenient to move to the right, from which point he will strike and destroy the railroad, or so occupy the attention of the enemy that the cavalry may do its work completely and effectually.
VI. The cavalry will, unless otherwise orders, move out at daylight of Wednesday, 27th instant, and aim to reach and break the railroad during the day or night of the 28th, and having accomplished this work will return to their proper flanks of the army, unless the enemy should be discovered in retreat, when each force described will hang on the flanks of the retreating enemy and obstruct his retreat by all the energy in their power.
VII. All commanders will arrange that their trains be moved behind the Chattahoochee, or behind the center of the army during the time the cavalry is absent in the execution of this duty.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp
GENERAL ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Numbers 21. Nashville, Tenn., July 25, 1864.
I. General Orders, Numbers 20, current series, from these headquarters, is extended to include the prohibition of the exportation from this State of any agricultural produce of the kinds required for the army.
II. The use of grain for distillation within this State is prohibited.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.