Tuesday, August 9, 1864

Near Atlanta, Georgia

Rain has been pouring down making movements next to impossible. I wrote Schofield:
Your dispatch is received. All we can now do is to shorten our lines when practicable, strengthen the front and flanks as much as possible with parapets and abatis, and study the ground. We are extended enough. There must be some weak points in the enemy’s line which we must study and develop. If we can’t do that we must cut loose from our base and go south, a measure almost too rash to undertake, but inevitable unless we can draw Hood out otherwise.

I wrote Generals THOMAS and HOWARD:
Schofield has his right division up to the enemy below Utoy Creek and south of East Point,and yet the enemy overlap him with redoubts and men. They must have more men than we estimate, or are thinly strung out. Their line must be full fifteen miles long. Of course the bulk must be militia. I want our lines and flanks strengthened as much as possible with parapets and abatis, Thomas to get his 4 1/2-inch guns to work, and study the ground a little more before adopting new plans. We are as much extended now as is prudent.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I ordered Thomas:
I have examined the cavalry reports. You will please organize all on your returns according to the best interests of the service, and I will instruct General Schofield to do the same. I will have to give General Schofield the Ninth Ohio Cavalry, Colonel Hamilton. With this regiment, and the wreck of General Stoneman’s command, he can make a small brigade, enough to picket his flank on the Utoy Creek. If General Elliott has put the regiment on any kind of duty, please order him to have Colonel Hamilton to report to General Schofield.

General Schofield should have something in lieu of what General Stoneman lost. Colonel Capron, long missing, is at Marietta, and reports a good many scattered detachments coming in. You can increase your divisions of Generals Kilpatrick and McCook by calling forward some of the cavalry in Tennessee, which cannot be needed there, save to allay the fears of the old women. Forrest is in no condition to enter Tennessee, and General A. J. Smith is after him.

Send me word when the 4 1/2-inch guns come, as I want to come over and watch the effect of a few of the first shots.

8:30 p.m. Thomas Replies:

The ammunition will be here tomorrow morning for the 4 1/2-inch guns. The battery is formed and there of the guns here now. I have already made my intrenchments almost impregnable, but will have them re-examined for additional improvements if necessary. Deserters and refugees report tonight that Farragut has passed into Mobile Bay with his gun-boats and transports, and it is believed in Atlanta that he has possession of Mobile.

I Responded:
I believe the report of the Mobile matter. It was, as you remember, a part of the original design. Now if General Canby can follow it up it will be of vast assistance to us. Get your guns well into position, and the moment the ammunition comes, let them open slowly, and with great precision, making all parts of the town unsafe. Guns of that caliber with good shells have a better effect than any I ever used.

My Signal Officer Reports:
I have to make following report of the artillery firing along front today as seen from a tree at General Geary’s headquarters. The explosion of shells could be seen from a point southeast around to south. Shells burst in front, above,and in rear of the large redoubt southeast, and between it and the four-gun fort. I saw none strike either, although they burst very low. The most noticeable effect of the shelling was in front of General Geary’s division at a fort and house. This fort was struck; also the works near it, and the house had quite a large hole knocked in it besides being riddled. Shells burst over the works here and in the woods to rear of them. The shells, which were few, I saw burst along to south, were in rear of enemy’s works. Shells exploded over the city and in it, judging from the sound. A small piece was knocked off top of a brick smoke-stack in town. The rebels who have usually been lounging around their works went into the ditches, seldom showing themselves, and this evening could be seen coming out for their rations, but a shell bursting near soon dispersed them. Horses which have been daily grazing around large redoubt were led off. The enemy fired from a fort in front of the First Division for a short time this evening. Their shots seemed to be directed at battery of 20-pounder Parrotts and one on line in front of it. This was the only place I was them fire from during the day.

A Scout Reports From Atlanta:
He Left Atlanta on the evening of the 8th instant and came with his wife to Decatur. Saw no pickets on the way who halted him until within three miles of Decatur. He saw but few troops on the road, and those he saw were cavalry. Thinks there are no troops east of the cemetery except cavalry pickets. There is a camp of cavalry three miles south of Decatur. The State troops occupy the trenches on the north and northeast side of town, and their front is picketed by Cheatham’s troops. The State troops number about 20,000. The whole rebel force is estimated at 60,000. There is one heavy gun located north of the female college. All business in Atlanta is suspended; the goods have been removed to other points in the State. There is but one grocery running in Atlanta and no stores or other business places. Hotels are closed.

Most of the shells from Federal guns strike in the vicinity of the depot, the larger part of them south of the depot. Seven shells have been sent through the Western and Atlantic Depot. In order for the gun firing upon Marietta street to strike the commissary depot it should be depressed a little and the aim taken about 100 yards to the left of its usual range; the shells go about sixty feet over the commissary stores. No buildings have been burned by the shells. The subsistence on hand amounts to about six days.

There have been several rumors of a new commander for the rebel army. One report was that Lee was coming to Atlanta and Jeff. Davis was going to command the Eastern army. The last report was that Beauregard was going to relieve Hood. A report came into Atlanta on our about the 5th instant from Brigadier-General Page, commanding Fort Morgan, in Mobile Bay, to General Higgins, that three gun-boats and fourteen ships had passed Fort Morgan into the bay. The rebel gun-boat Tennessee surrendered after a terrific fight, the Gaines was beached, the Selma was captured. The Tecumseh sunk under the guns of the water battery. Federal troops were landed on Dauphin Island; city in great excitement. General Maury called all citizens to arms.

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