Thursday, August 4, 1864

Near Atlanta, Georgia

Grant Telegraphs:

CITY POINT, VA., August 4, 1864: 10 a. m.
Major-General SHERMAN:
Richmond papers of yesterday announce the capture of General Stoneman and 500 of his party near Macon. Ga. The capture took place the 31st of July. Have you heard anything of this?
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General

I Reply:
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, City Point:
General Stoneman had only 2,300 men; 900 have got in. I fear the balance are captured as related in your dispatch. General Stoneman was sent to break railroad, after which I consented he should attempt the rescue of our prisoners at Andersonville.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

NEAR ATLANTA, GA., August 4, 1864: 1.30 p. m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, City Point:
I have your second dispatch about General stoneman. I have newspapers with dates from Macon of the 1st, speaking of Stoneman’s capture as a rumor, but not as a fact. He started from here in connection with other parties who have got back. He had 2,300 men, and after breaking the Macon road, he was to make an effort to rescue our prisoners. Colonel Adams, with 900 of his men, got back to Marietta today and telegraphed me he was attacked at Clinton, GA, by overwhelming numbers, and they fear Stoneman is captured. It may be so, but I hope he may, like McCook, dodge and get in. Washburn is moving from Holly spring on Columbus, Miss. He thinks that Forrest is dead of the wound received in his battle with General Smith. The country in which I am operating is very difficult for large army, and the defensive positions very strong and hard to circumvent, but perseverance will move mountains. I ought to be better advised of your plans and movements. I hear you have blown up the other bastion of Petersburg, but don’t know how near you are to getting full possession of the place, or its bearing on Richmond. Hood uses his militia to fill his lines, and shows a bold front wherever I get at him.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., August 4, 1864.

General WEBSTER, Nashville:
As some confusion and misunderstanding has occurred relative to my orders as to newspapers and newspaper carriers, I will repeat that it is a small business for me to attend to it in the midst of an active campaign, and one that ought never to reach my notice. The military railroad is to carry supplies for the army. It cannot carry all the supplies allowed by law and usage, and therefore preference must be given to some things over others:
First, ammunition; second, clothing; third, provisions for men; fourth, forage for horses; and as I cannot in person supervise the bills of lading or loading of trains, I leave this to the quartermaster at Nashville, who has the best knowledge of the state of supplies forward and at the depot, as well as the capacity of the cars. Newspapers are a kind of freight, and as such I do not object to the quartermaster at Nashville shipping any number of bundles consigned to any of the posts forward, because they occupy little space, and the bulk of such newspapers cannot materially affect the quantity of provisions shipped; but newsvenders, like any other merchants, must not travel in the cars to sell their good any more than grocers or hucksters. They may send bundles of their papers in the cars by consent of the quartermaster who loads the cars. Every army command can send his mail messengers daily each way, and these may carry papers as a part of the army mails, and the orders of Generals Thomas, Howard, and Schofield for offices and men are military orders of transportation that quartermasters will respect the same as mine.

Passes to citizens as far as Chattanooga, in very limited numbers, may be granted by the authority of either of these army commanders, and they may send to the rear car-loads of prisoners, refugees and citizens, without limit, but I have ordered that on no pretense must citizens come this side of Chattanooga, for I find them useless mouths that we cannot afford to feed. My orders also are that officers must live on the soldier’s ration; yet if the quartermaster at Nashville can keep our supplies up, and also send supplies to officers above the rations without interfering with the regular freight, he may do so. In other words, I hold the officers of the quartermaster’s department responsible that the army stores take precedence of all other stores, and if he sends anything else he cannot allege it as reason for a failure to keep up the regular supplies. The railroad has supplied us well, better than I expected, and I am willing to continue to trust the regular quartermasters who thus far have managed the business well.

There is and can be no conflict of orders. No one can question my orders when they are positive, but I do not choose to make orders touching freight absolutely positive, save in large articles, such as cotton and produce, that would, if attempted, soon absorb our cars, and thereby diminish the ability of our railroad to handle the vast amount of supplies on which we depend. All I order as to newspapers is that no monopoly should be allowed, and officers can be supplied as in other mail matters, and venders may get the quartermaster at Nashville to carry their bundles, but not their carriers. These are superfluous.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Dayton Sent Orders for Today:
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., Numbers 51. 
August 4, 1864
The order of movement of the army today will be as follows:

I. Major-General Schofield with his own command and General Palmer’s corps will move directly on the railroad which leads south out of Atlanta, at any point between White Hall and East Point, and will not stop until he has absolute control of that railroad, but must not extend more to the right than is absolutely necessary to that end.

II. Major-Generals Thomas and Howard will press close on the enemy at all points, and re-enforce well the points of the line where the enemy is most likely to sally, viz, on the Decatur, Buck Head, and Turner’s Ferry roads, but more especially watch the outlet along the railroad, viz, General Williams’ front.

III. On the right we must assume the offensive and every man be prepared to fight, leaving knapsacks, &c., in the present trenches. Wagons will not be taken east of Utoy Creek until General Schofield has secured position on the railroad or so near it that it can be reached by musket-balls and canister. If necessary to secure this and ordinary parapets must be charged and carried, and every hour’s delay enables the enemy to strengthen. Therefore let it be done today.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

Colonel Ross Reports a part of Stoneman’s Cavalry appeared at Marietta:
Colonel Adams, commanding brigade of Stoneman’s cavalry, is here with the First and Eleventh Kentucky, about 900 strong. He thinks that the balance of the command are prisoners, including General Stoneman. He cut the railroad south of Macon. The command was overwhelmed by the rebels between Monticello and Clinton.
SAML. ROSS, Colonel Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers, Commanding

I Replied:
Let Colonel Adams collect all of General Stoneman’s cavalry, make his depot at Marietta, and picket Roswell in connection with the regiment of infantry there. I will trust that General Stoneman will fight his way out like General McCook. Tell Colonel Adams to make a minute report of the facts and let me draw conclusions.

Schofield informs me that General Palmer refuses to follow the orders. This hesitation in our attack could ruin our surprise.

August 4, 1864–9.20 p. m.
Major-General SHERMAN:
I have your dispatch directing me to order certain movements by General Palmer’s corps. I did not understand that the question of rank raised by General Palmer was settled. In his reply to my orders for today’s movements and your order to report to me he said: “I will not obey either General Sherman’s order or yours,” the reason being his assumed seniority. In subsequent conversations he still maintained the same ground and I did not understand him to yield or you to decide the question after you arrived but to waive it, with the remark that no such question could arise between such men, and that we could co-operate harmoniously. I feel confident that General Palmer understands the question as having been so waived. Please inform me if you gave General Palmer distinctly to understand that he is to obey my orders. Please have it understood before I send him orders for to-morrow. It is a very delicate and unpleasant matter for me to correspond with him about.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General

In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., August 4, 1864: 10.45 p. m.
General PALMER:
From the statements made by yourself and General Schofield today, my decision is that he ranks you as major-general, being of same date of commission by previous rank as brigadier-general. The movements for tomorrow are so important that the orders of the superior on that flank should be minutely followed. General Schofield’s orders for movement tomorrow must be regarded as military orders and not in the nature of co-operation. I did hope that there was no necessity of making this decision, but it is better for all parties interested that no question of rank should occur during active battle. The Sandtown road and the railroad, if possible, must be gained tomorrow if it costs half your command. I regard the loss of time this afternoon as equal to the loss of 2,000 men.
Major-General, Commanding

Palner Replies:

In the Field, August 4, 1864: 11.55 p. m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN:
Dispatch of 10.45 of this p. m. this moment received. I am unable to acquiesce in the correctness of the decision that Major-General Schofield legally ranks me. I do not argue the question, but repeat the facts. General Schofield was appointed brigadier-general on the 21st of November, 1861, and I was appointed to the same on the 20th of December of the same year. At the session of Congress 1862–’63 General Schofield and myself were promoted to the rank of major-general of volunteers. My appointment was confirmed by the Senate, and his expired by constitutional limitation. Not having been confirmed by the Senate his name, therefore, does not appear in the list of major-generals in the Army Register of April 1, 1863. He was reappointed by the President and confirmed since the commencement of the present campaign. His commission must be a year in date junior to my own, though he is said to take rank from the 29th of November, 1862.

The question of rank has arisen by accident and I agree with you that it is better for the interest of all parties that it should be decided, but I cannot acquiesce in the correctness of the decision made. I respectfully ask, therefore, that some officer be designated to whom I may turn over the command of the Fourteenth Army Corps.

I think I need not assure you or General Schofield that I am not influenced by any desire to command him, nor that, if I deemed it consistent with my self-respect to waive the question or my views of our relative rank, I would obey his orders as cheerfully as I would those of any gentleman connected with the army.
I am, very respectfully,
JOHN M. PALMER, Major-General

I have asked Thomas to make sure that Palmer follows orders.

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