Near Atlanta Georgia
The enemy is attacking my railroad with cavalry. We must find a way to defend it.
I would like to send cavalry on an attempt to destroy Hoods, railroad, but I need the right commander to do so. I would like Kilpatrick to lead the expedition.
In case cavalry cannot destroy the railroad, I plan to throw my whole army against it. We have been discussing plans.
The operator at Cartersville began a message, saying six regiments were approaching Cartersville. I think all the enemy’s cavalry must be up there, and it may be necessary to send ours after it. They may do so much damage to the railroad that it will take a long time to repair it.
There are troops at Allatoona and the bridge. I have called for a report since John E. Smith took 2,000 men up the road from Marietta, Rome, and Allatoona, but I have no report of what force remains. The telegraph wire does not work beyond Allatoona. Garrard may have to go from here with his cavalry.
I send a message to McCook and his cavalry to the North:
Remain with General Smith and help him all you can. If you can keep Wheeler up about Spring Place and Cleveland, do so. Telegraph to Colonel Donaldson, Nashville, to send down cavalry by cars, and also call for all cavalry you can hear of that is within reach. I want Wheeler dogged, the prisoners and plunder rescued, and his force damaged all that is possible. Kilpatrick has already driven Jackson off the West Point road, and smashed that again, and Garrard is out on the other flank. I will avail myself all I can of Wheeler’s absence to destroy the railroads south and the cavalry he has left behind. Did you hear anything of the cavalry you sent out from Cartersville!
I send a message to General John E Smith to chase the enemy cavalry into East Tennessee:
You should make a junction with the Dalton force as soon as possible, restore the telegraph and railroad, and feel out to Spring Place. If Wheeler goes up into East Tennessee, well; only get word to Chattanooga and Nashville as soon as possible; I would rather he was there than here. Do all you can to rescue his prisoners, and don’t let him return. Get on the road by which he went and obstruct by all the mans in your power. It may be he has gone up into East Tennessee with a part, and a part remains; in that event fall upon the latter and drive it as far as your men have endurance. Clean out Spring Place, move its inhabitants north and burn the town, if you think they have connived or played spies on our road. Communicate these views to General Steedman and I will approve whatever you or he amy do.
I consult with Thomas about the cavalry:
General Schofield reports that General Kilpatrick did not find the enemy’s cavalry at his old camp at Mount Gilead Church; but I don’t know where that church is. It is manifest that all the efficient cavalry of the enemy is to our rear. They will tear up all the road beyond Cartersville; but I think Wheeler has been driven off toward East Tennessee, and trust that General John E. Smith will return to Cartersville; he has cars enough. There are three regiments and eight guns at Allatoona and Etowah bridge, and I have ordered General McArthur to send any re-enforcements he can spare, and call on us to replace them at Marietta.
I do think our cavalry should now break the Macon road for many miles. What say you to letting General Kilpatrick have two of General Garrard’s brigades, and then to strike across the Macon road and tear it up good! He has scouted the country now and knows it, and can act with confidence and due caution. General Schofield is well on that flank and makes a good cover. I like the plan better than to send General Garrard up to Cartersville, for the enemy will simply run off, but General Kilpatrick, with two good brigades, can reach across to the Macon road about Rough and Ready, and tear up about six or eight miles by tomorrow night or next day.
I am willing to admit that General Garrard’s excessive prudence saves his cavalry to us, but though saved, it is as useless as so many sticks. Saving himself, he sacrifices others operating in conjoint expeditions. I am so thoroughly convinced that if he can see a horseman in the distance with a spy- glass he will turn back, that I cannot again depend on his making an effort, though he knows a commander depends on him. If we cannot use that cavalry now, at this moment, when can we! Wheeler is out of the way, and when shall we use cavalry, if not now! If we wait till Wheeler returns, of course an opportunity is lost, which never is repeated in war.
SCHOFIELD sends his plan:
I respectfully suggest the following details in the execution of the plan proposed by you on the 13th instant:
First day. Twentieth Corps to take its position on the Chattahoochee and the Fourth Corps in rear of the Fourteenth, the trains which are to move with the army being previously parked along the Utoy, and those to be left in rear sent to the bridge-head.
Second day. General Howard to move via Utoy Post- Office to the south bank of Utoy Creek. General Thomas to pass around General Schofield, beyond the Campbellton road. General Howard’s trains to move to where the road from Utoy Post Office to Campbellton crosses a branch of Utoy Creek, those of Generals Thomas and Schofield, near the Campbellton road, in rear of General Thomas.
Third day. General Howard to move via Elton to Fairburn, General Thomas via Mount Gilead Church to Red O; General Schofield to follow General Thomas. Trains to follow General Howard on the road his troops take and ones intermediate between Generals Thomas and Howard. Generals Thomas and Schofield to march by the right flank in strong order of battle (three parallel columns), using the wagon road for artillery and ammunition wagons alone, and cutting roads where necessary for the infantry to the left of the wagon road. I deem this order of march necessary for the reason that the enemy will most probably attack our left during the third day’s march. General Kilpatrick to cover the interval between the heads of column and General Howard’s right. General Garrard to cover the rear from General Howard’s right. General Garrard to cover the rear from General Schofield’s left to the Chattahoochee. Upon reaching the West Point toad General Schofield to take position facing East Point, Generals Thomas, Howard, and Kilpatrick to deploy along the road and destroy it.