Near Atlanta, Georgia
August 18, 1864: 6 p.m
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
We have been hammering away at Atlanta, and I was going to put a corps (intrenched) at the railroad bridge, and with the balance swing round by the south and east. But Hood has sent off his cavalry, which touched our road at two or three points, which are already repaired, and that cavalry has gone up into East Tennessee, leaving me now superior in cavalry. I hope the opportunity thus given me will save me the risk and excessive labor of making a wide circuit in this hot weather. Tonight General Kilpatrick will start for the Macon road with five brigades of cavalry, which can whip all the enemy’s cavalry present, and tomorrow I will demonstrate along my whole line to give General Kilpatrick time to make a good break in that road, so vital to Hood. We all feel confident we can succeed, and for that reason I do not regret that Wheeler has gone up to East Tennessee. I think we have force enough at Knoxville, the Gap, and Kingston to hold vital points until necessity will force Wheeler to come back; but I will leave him to be attended to by those in my rear.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
CITY POINT, VA., August 18, 1864
Richmond papers of the 17th give it as the opinion military men that Atlanta can hold out one month yet. In the mean time, like Micawber, they expect something to turn up. If you can hold fast as you are now and prevent raids upon your rear you will destroy most of that army. I never would advise going backward even if your roads are cut so as to preclude the possibility of receiving supplies from the North, but would recommend the accumulation of ordnance stores and supplies while you can, and if it comes to the worst move south as you suggested. I have forced the enemy to move a large force north of the James River, and am now moving one corps by our left around Petersburg. I expect no great results, but will probably cut the Weldon road again, and will also demonstrate to the enemy that he has now the minimum garrison possible to hold his present lines with, and that to hold his roads he must re-enforce.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General
The enemy continues to raid railroads and cut telegraphs in our rear. I will establish a signal corp on the high elevations to send signals by flag when the telegraph is cut.
We continue to shell Atlanta. The shots that go so deep into the city are from 10-pounder Parrotts in General Ransom’s front. The 4 1/2-inch gun of General Corse has an equally good position. We are in close musket-range of the enemy’s main line.
That General Kilpatrick may succeeded perfectly and do plenty of damage to the railroad to the west, it is, of course, important to draw off from him all the cavalry we can. To that end, General Garrard should be east in Decatur by daylight, then move some four or five miles in the direction of Flat Rock and skirmish with the enemy, then toward Stone Mountain, and then swinging round toward the Peach Tree road & come home, as it were trolling off any party of cavalry that may be kept by Hood to watch his right flank. General Kilpatrick will be near Fairburn at daylight, with his horses cool and fresh. He will then push rapidly for Jonesborough, and ought to be there by 1 or 2 p. m. tomorrow. If he can then have twelve hours of uninterrupted work he can do much damage. General Garrard should therefore maneuver and threaten all day and night tomorrow and into next day. He should keep a respectable force of the enemy’s cavalry in sight all the time, for, if after him, they cannot be bothering General Kilpatrick, whose real task is not to fight but to work.
If the railroad is sufficiently destroyed, Hood may attempt to pass round our left flank to our, rear following the cavalry movement, in which even I will move General Schofield, and if need be General Howard, in that direction. We must ascertain as soon as possible if any infantry has passed out of Atlanta to the east.
Our telegraph now works to Chattanooga. The conclusion my mind has arrived at is that Hood sent Wheeler’s cavalry to occupy our road at Dalton; that he had re-enforced East Point with a division of his old corps, which last night was brought back on the supposition that Wheeler had succeeded, and we would begin to detach to our rear. This is why they are feeling our lines to see if we are still here. They expect us to withdraw. Now, of all times, is the time four our cavalry to do its work well, and if Scholfield hears nothing from me before 3 o’clock, he will send a messenger to General Kilpatrick with a note stating that all things are most favorable for his work; to break as much of the Macon road as he possibly can, and, as he swings back, to rest on the West Point road at come point below Fairburn, and make another big tear up. If he feels master of the situation on the road he cannot tear up to much track nor twist too much iron. It may save this army the necessity of making a long, hazardous flank march. We will occupy the enemy’s infantry on that flank, and assure Kilpatrick I will cause the same along our whole line, especially on our extreme left. I will see that General Garrard risks all he can to amuse what cavalry the enemy has about Decatur and Stone Mountain.
Our scout return from Atlanta with a report:
Went into Atlanta past our left flank on 13th instant; saw one brigade of Martin’s division of cavalry between the cemetery and Decatur. Strahl’s brigade, of Cheatham’s division, holds the extreme right of the enemy’s infantry line and is in position about one mile from the cemetery toward Decatur on the south side of the railroad. Says the militia commences on the left of Strahl’s brigade. Lee’s corps is on the left of the militia and Stewart on his left. Hardee is on the extreme left; Cleburne’s division hold s the left flank and is in position, the left resting opposite Mims’, five or six miles southwest of East Point. Says he rode along the liens from Atlanta to East Point on Monday; left East Point yesterday morning and went to Fairburn. Did not see or hear of any reserves along their lines; says their lines are very thin.
The country between the enemy and Fairburn is open; nothing there but a few cavalry pickets and scouts. Saw large squads of negroes throwing up breast-works. General Toombs arrived there about one week ago with second in command of the militia, and that there were 30,000 of them, including the troops brought up some time ago by Generals Roddey and Lee. Was told also that these troops, the 30,000, were to be organized into two corps. Says this Camp of Direction is a sort of headquarters for guards and couriers.
Says that Wheeler started from Covington with about 6,000 men, and that Lewis with about 800 Kentuckians crossed the Chattahoochee below Campbellton and passed our right flank. Thinks it was Lewis’ brigade that cut the railroad at Acworth. Says the enemy was very anxious to learn from him what force was after Wheeler. Heard that Morgan was to form a junction with Wheeler some place near Cleveland in East Tennessee. Reports the Atlanta and West Point Railroad in running order. Trains passed through Fairburn yesterday morning for Atlanta. Reports the depot buildings and car sheds destroyed by Kilpatrick. Says that a large block of buildings near the corner of Marietta and Woodley streets was fired by our shells on Saturday night and destroyed. The buildings contained cotton and a large drug store; another building in same part of town was destroyed Sunday evening.
Visited several camps; the men appear to have plenty of rations and forage from day to day, but there is no supply on hand; supplies are all brought from Macon. Says there are six strong forts at East Point all ready for artillery; none in them yet. On the evening of the 15th instant a train of fifteen cars loaded with infantry went down the Macon road; did not learn to what point; and on the 16th another train full of troops, about 1,000 men, went down same road. Says no train came up from Macon on 16th and that the cause of detention was not known at headquarters. Thinks Wheeler has all their mounted force off with him, except the brigade on their right near Decatur, and about two small brigades picketing and scouting between East Point and Fairburn.