Near Atlanta Georgia
All my troops are pushed up close to the enemy and keeping him pinned to the trenches. I have freed as much of my army as possible to extend to the right in an attempt to reach the railroad to Macon. The enemy continues to successfully block the move.
I wrote General THOMAS:
The enemy’s cavalry manifests activity on our right, threatening to cross Utoy Creek to General Schofield’s rear. Schofield has little or no cavalry. I want him tomorrow to develop well the enemy’s flank, which I believe is along the south fork of Utoy Creek, covering East Point. To enable him to do this I want a general commanding tomorrow, the 4 1/2-inch guns included, if they come in time; and I want you to order General Garrard to send a brigade out to and beyond Decatur on your left, and let General Kilpatrick move down to Sandtown and feign as though intending to cross over. Send orders for him tonight, that the effect may be felt as early in the day as possible. I cannot move General Schofield with any activity as long as that cavalry hovers on his right and rear. We are now as much extended as possible, and must test the strength of our flanks and line.
Your dispatch about the cavalry received. Will be attended to immediately.
Order Captain Merrill to meet General Cullum at Nashville about the end of this week to consult about the defenses of Nashville. This by General Halleck’s order. General Schofield has made some progress on the right, but not enough. General Howard has also advanced his line somewhat. Let me know if the 4 1/2-inch guns have come and where you will place them. A very good place will be on General Ward’s right, on account of the opening made by the valley of Proctor’s Creek, giving a plain of view of the very heart of the town. I would like to have them at work tomorrow.
The 4 1/2-inch guns have not yet arrived. They are not due until tomorrow. I have selected a very good point for them on Geary’s left, where you can get a fair view of the town, and half a mile nearer than any other position. It was reported that that they were to leave Chattanooga at 8 a.m. today. The position selected enfilades White Hall street, upon which is General Hood’s headquarters, and the battery is being built tonight.
I will push forward and develop the enemy’s position as rapidly as practicable. I have just returned from the extreme right,which is near Utoy Creek. The enemy is behind intrenchments south of the creek and facing toward my flank. I have sent Hascall to cross the creek and try to clear that flank, while the rest of the corps is pushing forward. I think the force south of the creek is only cavalry with artillery.
General Hascall reports the enemy advancing in force on our rear his right. He has consequently suspended his movement and its preparing to receive an attack.
Your dispatches of 10.30 and 11.15 a.m. are received. I have been along General Corse’s line, also General William’s, and we are preparing for a dash at another hill that looks into the very streets of Atlanta. I expect the 30-pounder Parrotts up this p.m. and will use them freely. I have renewed my orders to attack at all points on hearing the sounds of battle over at your flank. I think you have force enough to fight all of Hood’s movable army if he comes outside his trenches. Go on, press him close, and trust to the chances of battle on anything like fair terms.
We have developed the enemy’s line to Utoy Creek. It runs nearly south from the salient in front of Morgan’s left center. We are about as close to it as we can get. Cox’s right rests substantially on the creek. Hascall had to bridge the creek to make his movement to the right. He has a brigade across and on the ridge beyond. It has met a pretty stubborn resistance, but not such as to indicate a large infantry force. The enemy’s cavalry is all along Utoy Creek beyond our right, but has made no attempt to cross. The ground is open from Cox’s right toward the railroad. The enemy’s line does not appear to cross the open ground. What appeared to be the railroad crosses this open ground about a mile from Cox’s right. I will try to learn all about it before dark. Hascal can’t do much more today.
Hascall only succeeded in getting one brigade across the creek and intrenched. The enemy is pretty strong in front of that brigade, and has used artillery freely. Hascall is making good roads and bridges across the creek. It seems clear that we are as near to the railroad as we can get on this side of the creek without breaking the rebel lines. To cross the creek takes us around below East Point. Whether one division is sufficient force to make that move with, seems extremely doubtful. Possibly the demonstration may be sufficient to make Hood let go of Atlanta. I am satisfied Cox’s right is not more than a mile from East Point.
When Hascall crosses the creek and begins to operate toward East Point there will be several miles of rebel cavalry line facing our rear, which I must detach infantry to operate against. The creek can be crossed anywhere at low water except near the mouth. The rebel cavalry attempted to cross at two points this evening. First at the bridge, which fortunately had been destroyed,and subsequently at a ford where, I had some troops stationed, where skirmishing was going on at dark. From the forks of the creek up they can cross anywhere as soon as my infantry is withdrawn. The force sent across the creek will, from the nature of the ground, have to act entirely independently, and having no cavalry on its flanks will have to rest both flanks on the creek. The commanding ground on the opposite side of the creek is at least a mile from Cox’s right. I do not think a single division can accomplish anything, but I will try what can be done.
General Thomas says that Kilpatrick is at the junction of the Sandtown and Powder Springs roads. I have ordered him to send instructions from him to move down to Sandtown and feign as though crossing. This will engage their attention, and I don’t believe the enemy will put any considerable cavalry force above Utoy Creek. I think Garrard below the forks and a brigade of infantry down the Sandtown road, near Uoty Post-Office, will make that flank perfect.
I sent orders for tomorrow:
SHERMAN’S HEADQUARTERS, August 8, 1864.
General HOWARD, SCHOFIELD & THOMAS:
Orders for tomorrow: August 9: All the batteries that can reach the buildings of Atlanta will fire steadily on the town tomorrow, using during the day about fifty rounds per gun, shell and solid shot. General Schofield will, during the cannonading, completely develop the enemy’s strength and position on his left flank.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General