Near Atlanta, Georgia
I Wrote THOMAS:
General McArthur, at Marietta, reports small bodies of cavalry approach Marietta from the northeast. General Garrard should send frequently up to Roswell and McAfee’s. You may order General Kilpatrick to lay down a bridge at Sandtown, and be prepared to scour the country down as far as Camp Creek.
Garrard has already received orders to scout as far as Roswell. He sent a scouting party some distance beyond Decatur, both south and in the direction of Covington, yesterday, but discovered nothing. Have sent orders for Kilpatrick to put down the bridge at Sandtown.
I Notified Thomas:
Colonel Raum, commanding at Resaca, reports Wheeler passed Oldtown going north at daylight this morning with 3,000 cavalry and wagon train. He should never be allowed to return. What think you of taking advantage of the occasion to put all our cavalry in motion?
My telegraph operator says he heard the operator at Resaca say that he heard a fragment of a message coming from Chickamauga Station to the effect that Wheeler was at Dalton and had demanded the surrender of the place. The wires are again broken beyond Resaca.
I would not be surprised if Wheeler is up at Dalton. If so, now is the time for General Elliott to collect all his cavalry and make a break round the enemy by either flank. I send you a copy of dispatch just received from General J. E. Smith.
I think it better to pursue Wheeler with our cavalry than to attempt another raid with it on the enemy’s communications during Wheeler’s absence; but Elliott will be over to see you.
The telegraph has just announced the capture, by the rebel cavalry, of a drove of 1,000 cattle about Adairsville. Let General McCook have a determined pursuit and General Garrard a brigade ready to push across to and beyond Canton, to prevent the driving away of these cattle.
We should either act offensively with our cavalry or so place it that it catch Wheeler on his return. Let General Elliott give orders that those cattle must be recovered at all hazards, and we will await further news as to the force Wheeler carried off with him. Generals Garrard’s and Kilpatrick’s cavalry could operate in the absence of Wheeler from Decatur without risk.
Your dispatch received and shown to Elliott. He will be over to see you. But do you think it prudent to risk my more cavalry on their communications until our force is materially increased?
General Elliott is here. Inasmuch as we propose to throw the bulk of our army on the enemy’s communications I will not risk our cavalry, but will get General Elliott to have General Kilpatrick make a bold reconnaissance toward Fairburn and engage any cavalry he meets to test its strength; General Schofield’s cavalry to go with him.
I write McCook:
Cannot John E. Smith’s infantry drive that brigade at Fairmount? I think that Steedman at Chattanooga will come out and meet Wheeler at or near Dalton. I have just ordered Garrard and Kilpatrick to take advantage of the absence of Wheeler to strike the enemy’s flanks. Collect your men and be ready to catch detachments of Wheeler on their return.
Colonel Faulkner has just returned from pursuit of the party that captured cattle. It was Hannon’s brigade, four regiments, and two pieces artillery. Major Fidler drove in enemy’s pickets at Fairmount. Colonel Faulkner telegraphs that his horses are exhausted, and that Wheeler with 6,000 men is on Oldtown road from Tilton to Dalton, and had demanded surrender of Dalton. Forces ought to be concentrated up there. The Second Brigade detachments still out. I have nothing to take the offensive with.
Kilpatrick has been ordered to raid the railroad:
You will make a bold reconnaissance in the direction of Fairburn to railroad if you can reach it. It is reported that Wheeler with 6,000 cavalry and artillery has gone north. If true, you will have only Jackson’s cavalry to contend with. If the opportunity offers try to break him up. General Schofield’s small force of cavalry will be ordered to co-operate with you. It is on the south side of Utoy Creek, and will report to you at Sandtown tomorrow.
Garrard will test the enemy cavalry on our left:
You will with your entire cavalry force to-morrow early, and by easy marches, test the strength of the enemy’s cavalry on our left flank without risking too much. Give him a hard fight if the opportunity offers. There is no doubt that Wheeler is about Dalton with a large force, variously reported at from 3,000 to 6,000. If the opportunity offers to reach the Macon road without too much risk, don’t fail to avail yourself of it.
J.E. Smith Reports from Allatoona:
A drove of cattle was this a.m. captured together with escort. Have sent out all available cavalry and 300 infantry. Commanding officer at Adairsville telegraphs 6 p.m. that a captured prisoner reports the force to consist of 6,000 men under General Wheeler, with ten pieces of artillery, and that the party capturing the cattle were 2,000 strong, with two pieces artillery, and that their main force is pushing still farther north.
I cannot get any believable information, but do not think there is more than 1,000 or 1,500. I understand further that the telegraph operators at Resaca and Calhoun heard a message from a colonel at Dalton to General Steedman, stating that the rebels had demanded the surrender of that place.
If Wheeler has passed north, look well to the security of the Etowah bridge and Allatoona. Have as strong a force collected as possible, and watch to catch parties on their return. General Steedman has force enough. In an emergency like this, you can call on the force at Rome, which is not on the main line, and therefore not essential.
I have sent a brigade of General Garrard’s cavalry over toward Canton to intercept those cattle. Tell General McCook it is important that party represented as 200 strong that has been on the road should be hunted down, else you will have no peace on the road.
Use all the infantry you can spare in connection with cavalry, and interpose so as to prevent the escape up the valley of the Etowah of the party who captured the drove of cattle at Adairsville.
Raum Reports from Resaca:
The enemy, reported to be under Wheeler, commenced passing Oldtown, eighteen miles east, going north, at daylight. They passed during the day until 1 p. m. with wagon train. My scout think they numbered at least 3,000. A force of 700 is now at Fairmount, being part of the force which captured Captain Thornton and drove. Colonel Faulkner with 250 cavalry skirmished with them, and returned to Calhoun this evening. The enemy is moving upon Tilton. I will have over 300 men there and a block- house. Dalton is threatened. I have 700 men there and four guns. There is a brigade of cavalry at Calhoun under Colonel Faulkner, besides half a regiment of infantry. I have half a regiment of infantry at Adairsville and two regiments at Kingston.
An orderly just arrived from Tilton. All safe there. Dalton has been attacked and reported captured. No trains burnt. My patrols from Tilton north found all right. T he commanding officer at Tilton is sanguine of saving the bridge.
G. B. RAUM
Wheeler has demanded surrender of Dalton, Georgia. They request reinforcements.