Headquarters, Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Near Atlanta, Georgia,
Aug. 2, 1864
I got a letter from you last night and one for Charley, and was glad to hear you were getting along so well, and that the baby exhibits signs of healthy life. I have for some days been occupying a good house on the Buckhead Road about 4 miles north of Atlanta but am going to move in the morning nearer to the Right to be nearer where I expect the next battle. You have heard doubtless full accounts of the Battles of the 20, 22 & 28, all in which the enemy attacked a part of our Lines in force but was always repulsed with heavy loss.
I fear we have sustained a reverse in some Cavalry that I sent round by the Rear to break the Macon Road. It was commanded by McCook a cousin of Dan’s. They reached the Railroad & broke it, also burned a large number of the Baggage wagons belonging to the Enemy and were on their way back when they were beset by heavy forces of Cavalry about New Macon and I fear were overpowered and a great part killed or captured. Some 500 have got in and give composed accounts, but time enough has elapsed for the party to be back, and I hear nothing further of them. Somehow or other we cannot get Cavalry. The enemy takes all the horses of the Country and we have to buy and our People won’t sell. Stoneman is also out with a cavalry force attempting to reach our prisoners confined at Andersonville, but since McCook’s misfortune I also have fears for his safety.
I am now moving so as to get possession of the Railroad out of Atlanta to the South. We already have possession of those on the north & east, where it will be difficult for Hood to maintain his army in Atlanta. This army is much reduced in strength by deaths, sickness and Expiration of service. It looks hard to see Regiments march away when their time is up. On the other side they have every body old & young and for indefinite periods. I have to leave along the Railroad a large force to guard the supplies, so that I doubt if our army much exceeds that of Hood. No Recruits are coming for the draft is not till September and then I suppose it will consist mostly of freed slaves & bought recruits that must be kept well to the Rear. I sometimes think our People do not deserve to succeed in War. They are so apathetic.
McPherson was shot dead. I had his body brought to me, and sent it back to the Railroad. He was shot high up in the breast with a bullet, & must have fallen from his horse dead. Howard who succeeds him is a fine gentleman and a good officer. Hooker got mad because he was not appointed to the command and has gone north. This ought to damn him, showing that he is selfish & not patriotic. He was not suited to the Command.
I expect we will have a hard fight for the Railroad about the day after tomorrow, and it must be more heavy on us as we must attack. I am always glad when the enemy attacks for the advantage then is with us. Now our Line is as strong as theirs, but being on the Outer Circle is longer.
I see that Grant has sprung his mines at Petersburg and hope he will succeed in taking that town, as it will be a constant threat to Richmond but Richmond itself can only be taken by regular siege.
Atlanta is on high ground and the woods extend up to the forts which look strong and encircle the whole town. Most of the People are gone & it is now simply a big Fort. I have been a little sick today but feel better. Weather very hot.
Love to all. Yours ever
W. T. Sherman