Near Atlanta, Georgia
The enemy cavalry under Wheeler is raiding my railroads to the rear. I do not think they will do much damage and it is good opportunity to send my cavalry to destroy his.
The officer I sent to the right reports three strong batteries along the edge of the woods near East Point, all looking down the valley toward Hascall’s position. The one most to our right is where you saw the enemy working day before yesterday. The others are visible from a point on the Campbellton road, a few hundred yards west of where you were. The batteries are connected by infantry parapets, which, however, are not visible south or west of the left battery. Probably the line there bends southeast through the woods. A large force is working on each battery; but very few men are seen elsewhere. There has been no indication of movement of troops there today.
Captain Twining has sent Captain Poe a map of all the surveys we have been able to make up today. Tomorrow I will have it improved and extended as far as possible, and also get what information I can from citizens.
There is no doubt Wheeler is up about Dalton with a large cavalry force. I want our cavalry now to feel the enemy’s flanks strong, and will order General Kilpatrick to cross at Sandtown and make a bold push for Fairburn, and General Garrard in like manner to feel well round the enemy’s right flank. Let your cavalry go down in the morning to Sandtown and report for the expedition to General Kilpatrick.
Our information about the enemy:
A deserter, Captain Jordan says he came into our liens of his own accord yesterday evening. His regiment belongs to Hotzclaw’s brigade, Clayton’s division, of Lee’s corps, numbers about 250 men, and is the strongest regiment in the brigade. Says their division is about 2,500 strong, is in front of the Fourteenth Corps, the left resting on the Sandtown road and the right a little to the left, in front of General R. W. Johnson’s headquarters. Brigadier-General Stovall, Baker, Hotzclaw, and Gibson are the brigade commanders and are in position from right to left in the order named. Holtzclaw and Baker have Alabama troops; Gibson has Louisiana troops, and his is counted the best fighting brigade in the corps; Stavall has Georgia troops, and his men are very much demoralized, won’t fight, and are constantly deserting. Clayton’s division is on the left of the corps (Lee’s). Hindman’s division, now commanded by General Brown, of Tennessee, is in the center, and Stevenson’s is on the right.
Thinks their division, Clayton’s, is fully as strong as either of the others. All the regiments of their corps are very much extended, in many places the line being one rank and the men three feet apart. Gibson’s brigade, the left flank of their division, is one rank, with no reserves, and covers at least half a mile. Has not been to the left of their army and can give no particulars about position of troops there, except that Hardee’s corps (except Cheatham’s division) is on the left of Lee’s, and holds the left flank of the army; thinks the extreme left is near the river. Stewart’s corps is on Lee’s right; says Stewart’s divisions are much stronger than theirs. When he first came to them at Resaca some of his regiments numbered 1,500 men; thinks the right of Stewart’s corps is about half a mile from the Augusta railroad. The militia are on Stewart’s right, and are about 5,000 or 6,000 strong. Cheatham’s division, of Hardee’s corps, holds the right flank of the army and pickets the front of the militia; thinks Cheatham’s division is about 3,000 strong. Does not know of any reserves in rear of the line at any point, and is pretty confident that there are none. No re-enforcements have been received except militia and men from convalescent camps and hospitals; says a large number of men have been added to the army from these sources; thinks the aggregate number since Hood has been in command, including cooks, teamsters, and other detailed men, will reach 15,000 men. His own company, Jordan’s, numbered 14 men at Kenesaw, and yesterday mustered 34 guns; has received 12 men since the fight on the 22d. All he can say about the cavalry is that it is on the flanks; says Wheeler’s command numbers 25,000 men; has not heard of any raid contemplated by him.
The whole army is said to be 75,000 men. With regard to its morale Captain Jordan says it is greatly demoralized, both officers and men feel that they are whipped. The officers will not acknowledge it, but the men feel that there is no longer any chance of success, and, although they will fight desperately if attacked in their works, they would refuse to make a general charge; says he is confident that if the men could be made to know how they would be treated after coming over the majority of Hood’s soldiers would desert him, and that if the practice of the picket-lines agreeing to a truce for a few hours at a time was encouraged a great many men would desert them every day. Their men have great confidence in the honor of our soldiers, and a proposition to cease firing is at once accepted. It was during one of these armistices along the picket-lines that he questioned our pickets as to the kind of treatment he would receive in case he deserted, and was told he would be sent North.
Their men are taught to believe that the Government would force them into the army as soon as they came over; says he has been looking for an opportunity to desert during the whole campaign and improved the first opportunity after being assured that he would be sent North and allowed to stay there. Since the 20th of July only about one-quarter rations have been issued. There are no supplies of any kind in Atlanta. They are shipped from below as they are needed by the troops, two or three days’ supply being issued at a time. The ration consists of bacon and corn bread and occasionally beef; has often seen hi men east a day’s supply at a mean and then not be satisfied. Officers draw rations with their men. The supply of ammunition is very small; men are ordered not to fire when upon picket duty or when acting as sharpshooters unless sure of their mark, and whenever an assault is ordered or an attack expected an order is issued cautioning the men to be saving of the cartridges. Our artillery is often not replied to because of the scarcity of ammunition. One-third of the men in the trenches are kept up all night, and at 3 o’clock the whole force is ordered under arms until daylight.
Captain Jordan describes the breast-works as being very strong, and protected by abatis constructed with great care and extending along the whole line; thinks the weakest part of the line is that portion held by the militia. The works there are the same, and were constructed by old troops, but the militia will not stand. He does not know what damage was done to the railroad by Stoneman, but learned that all bridges south of Macon for a distance of thirty miles were burned, together with some engines and cars at or near Griswold Station; states that one of his men who was sick at Montgomery came over the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, and that about three miles at each end of the break was repaired. Parties were employed repairing the road at each end of the break. Has not heard anything in regard to the Augusta railroad, whether it is being repaired or not. States that supplies are scattered from Atlanta to Macon, no great quantity at any one point.
Statement of William McNabb (citizen).
Says he is a citizen of Dalton, Ga.; has been in the employ of the Confederate Government on the Western and Atlantic Railroad for three years; has been at Griswold Station with rolling-stock of the road. Came through Atlanta and Decatur day before yesterday. States that on the Central road General Stoneman burned all the bridges, trestles, depot buildings and Government store-houses between Macon and McIntire Station, a distance of sixty miles; did not disturb the track. A large lot of quartermaster’s stores, which had been sent from Griswold to Gordon Station, were burned at that station, together with 4 trains, 4 engines, and about 50 cars, which were standing on the side track at Gordon and Griswold. The first trestle south of Macon has been rebuilt and others are being framed at Millen Station, ten miles from Macon. Does not know whether the Atlanta and West Point Road is being repaired or not. Says he was in Augusta last Sunday, August 7. A bridge is being framed at Augusta to replace the one destroyed over the Alcova River. Saw workmen clearing off the timber and apparently getting ready to rebuild the bridge destroyed across the Yellow River. Learned from railroad men and workmen at Alcova Station that the road would be repaired as far as Covington. Did not see or hear of any bridge being built over Yellow River. Says they were looking for another raid. Understood that about 2,000 of Wheeler’s command started from Covington last week on a raid in our rear; was told this by citizens near Jonesborough.
The Signal Officer Reports:
The shells fired from the heavy guns, with but few exceptions, exploded in the city. The shells fired from a battery, I think on General Ward’s line, exploded in front, above, and to rear of the enemy’s works south and distant from station two miles and a half. The men in these works confined themselves closely all day to their bomb-proofs. In a direction 10 degrees west of south, and distant three miles and a half, the enemy were working on a fort all day. This evening heard rumbling in direction of the city as if the cars were running in. Considerable firing, both artillery and musketry, on right this evening.