Near Atlanta, Georgia
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Atlanta, August 10, 1864: 8 p.m.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Washington, D. C.:
Your dispatch of the 9th is received. It is to replace our daily losses that I propose that all recruits made daily in the Western States instead of accumulating at depots, should at once come to Nashville and be sent here on the cars, which can bring 400 a day without interfering with freights. I have ordered General Washburn, at Memphis, to have General A. J. Smith, who is now marching on Columbus, Mississippi, come to Decatur, Alabama, whence I can bring to this army certain regiments and fragments that properly belong here, and a division that I originally designed to form a part of this army. The balance of infantry and cavalry I would send back via Savannah and Jackson, Tennessee.
My lines are now ten miles long, extending from the Augusta road on the left, round of East Point on the south. I cannot extend more without making my lines too weak. We are in close contact and skirmishing all the time. I have just got up four 4 1/2-inch with ammunition, and propose to expend about 4,000 rifled shot into the heart of Atlanta. We have already commanded it with our lighter ordnance. Since July 28 General Hood has not attempted to meet us outside of his parapets. In order to possess and destroy effectually his communications, I may have to leave a corps at the railroad bridge, well intrenched, and cut loose with the balance and make a desolating circle around Atlanta. I do not propose to assault the works, which are to strong, or to proceed by regular approaches. I have lost a good many regiments and will loose more by the expiration of service, and this is the only reason why I want re-enforcements. I have killed, crippled, and captured more of the enemy than we have lost by his acts.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
I wrote General Thomas:
General Schofield has examined closely his whole line, which lies south, a little east, parallel with the enemy, one brigade being on the Campbellton road south of Utoy. He is not absolutely certain that his right is near the West Point railroad, and yet urges that another corps can reach the Macon road, and wants to make Proctor’s Creek our left flank, draw our supplies from Turner’s Ferry, and keep on extending. My own experience is the enemy can build parapets faster than we march and it would be the same thing by extending right or left. In a single night we would find ourselves confronted with parapets which we would fear to attack in the morning. He describes the country south of Utoy as more open and better cultivated. I want the 4 1/2-inch and 20-pounder guns to hammer away, and I will think of the next move.
The 4 1/2-inch guns have been firing every five minutes since 5 p.m. I will order them to increase. The battery on Williams’ front has been ordered ready as soon as possible and will live fire when completed. The shells from the 4 1/2-inch guns burst beautifully.
I have your last dispatch. I hear the guns and the shells also. The enemy’s battery of 32-pounder rifled are firing on us here from the White Hall fort to draw off or divert our fire. Keep up a steady, persistent fire on Atlanta with the 4 1/2-inch guns and 20-pounder Parrotts, and order them to pay no attention to the side firing by which the enemy may attempt to divert their attention. I think those guns will make Atlanta of less value to them as a large marching-shop and depot of supplies. The inhabitants have of course, got out.
I hear Branna’s guns at Geary’s battery, and hear the shells burst in Atlanta. Send men to the battery to work all night and not limit themselves to 5-minutes guns, but to fire slowly and steadily each gun as it is ready; also order the gun on Williams’ front to be got ready and put to work with similar orders tonight. Howard will get his 20s near the same point, which he pronounces much better than that at Geary’s, which he visited me to-day. Williams’ right and Howard’s left are on Proctor’s Creek, from which you look up the valley to what seems to the hear of Atlanta, the ridge on which are the railroad and White Hall being plainly visible, as also that by which the Marietta road enters the town, the intervening angle being cleared ground giving a fine field of fire. I think the 4 1/2-inch gun on William’s right can demolish the being engine-house.
I wrote Schofield:
I am deliberating what to do next, but despair of making a quick move. It takes two days to do what ought to be done in one. We are now bombarding the town of Atlanta, and I will await its effect, but rather prefer to cast loose from our base altogether to extending any more. I will come down tomorrow and go with you to Hascall’s position. I suppose Hamilton’s regiment of cavalry has reported to you. Kilpatrick is on the opposite bank at Sandtown. Order Colonel Garrard to-morrow to replace his bridge over Utoy and feel across to the south bank of the creek.
The question is a difficult one. I will get all the additional information I can about the country, roads, distances, &c., to aid you in determining what to do.
Howard suggests we send a corp to the right:
Instead of a greater detour, could not the present left of Fourteenth Corps (with cavalry to Proctor’s Creek) form a good flank, throwing the rest of the army to right of Schofield’s rapidly? Green’s Ferry and Sandtown, and perhaps Turner’s Ferry, roads could be kept open. Such an extension must bring the enemy out of Atlanta. I mean the above with other dispositions as you proposed today. It is possible the works being so strong, that the cavalry could hold the present lines of the Fourth Corps, so as to move that over without difficulty.
I thank you for the suggestion. I am studying all the combinations possible and beg you to think also, and communicate to me, but be careful to keep your own confidence. I spoke of the same thing today to General Thomas, and he goes to look at the railroad bridge to see to a proper cover there for the wagons and a corps. I want to expend 4,000 heavy rifle-shots on the town before doing anything new, and then will be prepared to act quick. General Schofield has been reconnoitering the right all day, and after he has answered a few more of my questions I will give you the substance of his report.