Near Atlanta, Georgia
Enemy raiders have torn up the railroad in some places. I will ask my commanders to conserve.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, near Atlanta, August 15, 1864
Generals Howard, Schofield & Thomas:
Colonel Raum, at Resaca, reports the enemy’s cavalry on the railroad near Tilton tearing up track. Give orders that will insure great economy in provisions and forage until we can estimate the time required to repair damages. I have nothing from beyond Resaca. General John E. Smith, at Cartersville, will collect all the infantry that can be spared from the defense of material points about Allatoona and go up the road.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General, Commanding
Colonel Raum Telegraphs From Resaca:
Dalton is invested, the enemy using artillery. A bridge near that place is burnt; one mile of track south of Tilton burnt at 3 a.m. Bridge all right. The enemy retreated before the arrival of my troops.
Morning: I have a report of rebel cavalry around Vining Station’s. No word from Dalton. Thomas will send a force there.
Afternoon: All quiet at Tilton. Citizens coming into that place report that re- enfocements reached Dalton during the night, and that the firing this morning was northeast of the place and was gradually decreased in sound. About half a mile of railroad and a bridge were destroyed near Dalton. I will receive more definite information soon from Raum.
I Write McCook:
In the absence of General Smith, take command of all forces in Allatoona, and be sure to protect the rations deposited there. Can’t you hear of those cattle! Until Wheeler is disposed of, everything of value should be collected in Allatoona.
Raum Reports on Dalton:
I can now give you particulars of the Dalton affair. The town was sieged about 6 p.m. yesterday. Colonel Laiboldt occupied the fort and declined to surrender. Early this morning General Steedman arrived there with one New York and one Ohio regiment and six companies of negro troops, and immediately attacked the enemy, and after four hours’ fighting drove them toward Spring Place. The enemy’s loss heavy. We are collecting the dead and wounded. Colonel Laiboldt expects another attack. The enemy supposed to be 6,000 strong, with two batteries. I had two companies at the water-tank, one mile and three-quarters south of Dalton. They were attacked at daylight this morning, and after four hours’ fighting surrendered. The railroad is destroyed from the tank north to Dalton. The enemy still in the neighborhood of Tilton. General Smith, with 2,000 men, is due here at 11 o’clock. The cavalry at Calhoun, is thin, should be ordered to this place tonight.
General John E. Smith has gone up the road from Altoona with 2,000 men in cars. Wheeler failed to take Dalton, and has gone northeast, where he cannot do us much harm. I will order that he be kept in that direction. He may disturb some of General Schofield’s garrisons; but if he could not take Tilton or Dalton, he will not venture much, and all above will be on their guard and prepared.
I Telegraphed to Smith:
If Wheeler has gone above Dalton consult with General Steedman and telegraph men, and I will instruct as soon as I can learn the destination. Try, if possible, to force him to get back to Georgia through the passes of North Carolina, which will ruin his horses.
There are four trains of cars at Kingston, which I have ordered to drop back to Cartersville. I will order General McArthur to load with troops two trains now at Marietta, and hold subject to your orders. Whilst cut off from Steedman take control of all matters below the break, and use superhuman efforts to prevent Wheeler getting out with prisoners or plunder. By getting infantry to central points, and timely obstructing roads, &c., cavalry can be circumvented. General McCook will give directions to use bodies of cavalry. The posts and block- houses, if defended obstinately, will not be attacked by Wheeler.
You had better fill all the cars you can get with infantry at Rome, Marietta, and Allatoona, and proceed up the road as far as possible to act against Wheeler in concert with what General Steedman will do from the other end of the line. The bridges should be strongly defended, but other points might be stropped of their garrisons to increase the force to the capacity of available cars. Al should move in one group of trains.
As soon as this news of Wheeler is confirmed and ratified, I will put in execution our plans. So get ready. I want to hear of Generals Kilpatrick’s and Garrard’s expeditions before making orders.
Now that the enemy cavalry is out of our hair, I will go forward with our movement to block the rails into Atlanta. Thomas sends his plans:
I have the honor to submit the following plan for the withdrawal of my troops from the left, and concentrating them on the right, and at the same time place the Twentieth Corps in the fortifications at the railroad bridge.
First. Have all the wagons that are to be taken with the troops moved over to the right, and parked in some secure position. Then, early in the evening, about 8 o’clock, move General Stanley’s entire force from the intrenchments, and mass them on advantageous ground somewhere about the Meyer house. This will enable General Stanley to cover the retirement of the Twentieth Corps, which should be able to commence its movement by 12 o’clock at night. About 2 a. m. both General Stanley’s and General Williams’ pickets might be withdrawn, General Stanley’s pickets taking post in front of his line, near the Meyer house, and General Williams’ pickets covering his march to the river. General Garrard’s cavalry should preserve its position on the extreme left, and look out for the flank during the movement of the two corps, commencing to fall back when General Stanley’s pickets move, and so conduct his movement as to place his troops between General Williams’s skirmishers and the enemy if General Williams is pursued. General Garrard should maintain his position until General Williams has reached is position at the bridge and adjusted his troops.
Second. General Williams having adjusted his troops to cover the railroad bridge, General Garrard should move by the right and place himself on the right and rear of General Howard to protect his flank. After General Williams has passed toward the river General Stanley could continue his march ad go into camp behind and near the extreme right. If possible General Stanley should reach the position on the extreme right the first day, as it would enable his troops to have the whole of the second day to rest.
Third. In continuance of the movements for the concentration of the army, the second day General Howard could move from his position on the left of the Fourteenth Corps, and place his troops on the extreme right as you design, and the Fourteenth Corps shift its position from the left to the right of General Schofield’s corps, and in front of the Fourth Corps or on its right flank. This will place the troops in position in the order in which you designed moving them, with General Garrard’s cavalry on the left flank.
Schofield plans to carry rations for 12 days that can last 20 if need be. He asks about the wagons. There will be plenty of time to dispose of wagons after my orders are issued. I want to hear of General Kilpatrick and Garrard before making my orders, but I am more and more satisfied the movement we contemplate is the true one to be made. I think Generals Steedman and John E. Smith will drive Wheeler far away and repair out road in two days. Give me the earliest news of the cavalry on your flank.
I do not believe Wheeler can hurt us at all seriously; he cannot do more than break the road in a few places and possibly pick up one or two of my small garrisons and thus relieve Steedman of the dispute about internal discipline. I will give you my earliest news about the cavalry; a few artillery shots were heard in that direction this evening. I apprehend we will be troubled to find roads enough to move as rapidly as you desire, and with sufficient concentration near the left. That is the only difficulty I apprehend. Perhaps the cavalry will be able to give us better information.