NEAR WEST POINT RAILROAD, August 28, 1864: 4 p.m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Washington, D. C.:
Army of the Tennessee is on the West Point railroad near Fairburn; Army of the Cumberland is on the same road at Red Oak; and that of the Ohio will be tonight at Camp Creek. Enemy has made no serious opposition to our movement.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
My plan is not opposed by Hood. He must not know our intentions. We will wreck the railroad to Montgomery so it will be unusable for a long time. Then we will hit the Macon road. I am far enough south of Atlanta that there are places to hit the road that are too numerous to defend. I worry that Slocum will be attacked.
I sent a message to General HOWARD:
General Thomas’ column is on the railroad at Red Oak also; communicate with him up the Newnan road. Do the job of tearing up, burning, and twisting in the most approved style. You can’t do too much of it. I don’t think the enemy yet understand our movement. They have made no effort to stop us, only cavalry holding the road. Schofield reports a force which he thinks may threaten him. In case of heavy battle up our way come up the Newnan road.
General Thomas is in position, his two corps crossing the railroad and facing Atlanta. General Schofield still remains about Mount Gilead Church. We will remain on the road tomorrow, and break it in the most thorough manner possible. General Thomas will work forward and break to you. I want you to do the best job of railroad destruction on record, using General Kilpatrick to cover you while at work, and to explore roads to the east and make such reconnaissance toward Campbellton as would be useful to us in the future; also fill up some cuts in the railroad with logs and trees covered with dirt, so we may rest perfectly satisfied as regards the use of this railroad during the remainder of this campaign. It is more important that each bar of iron should be heated and twisted than a great amount of imperfect work done, for it the iron can be used again in this wooded country ties can be easily supplied.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Near Cook’s House, August 28, 1864
Major General W. T. SHERMAN, Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:
I have General Davis in position on commanding ground, his left resting on the railroad, his line extending south to within a mile of the Jonesborough road, from New Hope or Fairburn. I suppose it runs nearly east and west. General Morgan has a strong picket on that road, and General Davis’s right flank is completely covered by the breaks of the ground and General Morgan’s picket. General Stanley has been ordered to post his pickets on the north of the railroad, his left extending toward Mims’ house, and covering the road by which the troops marched. The trains are getting into position on the right and rear of our position. Major-General Howard is about a mile in rear of our right. Will we march tomorrow, or will we remain here to destroy the railroad? I had almost forgotten to report that General Morgan’s picket officer on the Jonesborough road reports that the woman living on that road at his picket-post says that a considerable body of rebel cavalry had passed there, and that they had informed her that the rebel army was moving toward Jonesborough.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Red Oak, Ga., 6:45 p.m.
Major-General THOMAS, Commanding:
We will remain here tomorrow. I wish the railroad thoroughly destroyed as far forward as possible, and to the rear until you meet General Howard’s troops. Let the destruction be so thorough that not a rail or tie can be used again. My own experience demonstrates the proper method to be: To march a regiment to the road, stack arms, loosen two rails opposite the right and two opposite the left of the regiment, then to heave the whole track, rails and ties, over, breaking it all to pieces, then pile the ties in the nature of crib work and lay the rails over them, then by means of fence rails make a bonfire, and when the rails are red-hot in the middle let men give the rail a twist, which cannot be straightened without machinery. Also fill up some of the cuts with heavy logs and trunks of trees and branches and cover up and fill with dirt. Please given minute instructions on this subject tonight, and have the work commenced as early in the morning as possible, taking proper precaution also to guard against attack on either the working parties or the general position. General Howard has received similar instructions and General Schofield will be moved to your left front.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
I sent the same instructions on railroad destruction to all my commanders.
I write to General SLOCUM guarding the railroad Bridge:
Army of the Tennessee is on the West Point railroad near Fairburn, Cumberland at Red Oak, and Ohio will be on Camp Creek tonight. We will break it good and move on to the other at once. Keep me advised of all things of interest, if possible, via Campbellton, and when you feel strong at the bridge give a help to Marietta. Order as many stores to your position as possible.
Thomas forwarded this message from Slocum’s corp:
Your note of this morning is just received. General Slocum is absent from headquarters along the lines. The firing yesterday was at Turner’s Ferry. The enemy’s cavalry, with a section of artillery, appeared in front of Ward’s division and fired a few rounds, which were returned. After a slight skirmish with our infantry they retired, and all has been quiet since. They have made no demonstrations on Williams’ division at the railroad crossing, though their cavalry picket along the front of that division. On the 26th, Geary’s division, at Pace’s Ferry, had a sharp skirmish with cavalry (dismounted), but nothing since. The demonstration of yesterday amounted to nothing, merely reconnoitering to ascertain whether or not Turner’s Ferry was held by us. The enemy have cavalry on all the roads leading from the river to Atlanta. Our positions at each of the three ferries have been strengthened so as to be perfectly safe, and we have one brigade on the north side of the river at this point, which occupies a portion of the old rebel works, and completely protects the depot and trains here from any attack in the rear.
Colonel Minty has one regiment of cavalry up the river from here toward Roswell Factory and two regiments at Sandtown. The enemy’s cavalry hold Roswell. Their force there is supposed to be about 400. They scout down the river as far as Soap Creek. A patrol this moment returned reports the enemy in front of Ward’s division withdrawn. The patrolling party, starting from Turner’s Ferry, went out on the road to Atlanta three miles, took a road to the left, and came in to our lines again at this point. The general will, I presume, make a reconnaissance tomorrow morning. Is it your intention to keep open the communication by courier line to this point via Sandtown?
I occupy the works vacated by General Stanley, with my left resting at Mrs. Holbrook’s. The enemy made a demonstration upon Cox’s right about noon, but got back into his works as quickly as possible upon finding that we were in force. We then withdrew without annoyance. General Garrard is on my left, keeping pace with me and covering the trains. If I do not hear from you before morning, I will move out early on the road taken by Wood this evening until I connect substantially with General Thomas (preserving a front toward East Point) or until I receive your orders. My movement will have to be governed somewhat by the trains, for there is still a vast part of them in this valley.
You had better move your trains by the middle road of the three in front of Mount Gilead Church. It will come out at Red Oak where there are cleared fields on corn – this is the same by which General Thomas moved his trains, and they report it very good. Move your troops by Redwine’s across Camp Creek to Oliver’s house, and thence to General Stanley’s left, about a mile from Oliver’s house, leaving a strong left flank near the Oliver house. Instruct General Garrard to feel eastward from the Oliver house and to reconnoiter well to the east and north, reaching, if possible, the point marked on our map as Trimble’s Mill.
Today, Howard’s corp is destroying the Montgomery Road. Tomorrow they march for Jonesboro and the Macon Road:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Numbers 89. Near Fairburn, Ga., August 28, 1864.
II. In pursuance of orders this command will move forward at 7 a. m. tomorrow on the direct route toward Jonesborough, crossing Pond Creek and Shoal Creek, aiming to reach the vicinity of Renfroe Place.
III. Brigadier General W. B. Hazen’s command will have the advance, and will be followed by the commands of Brigadier General William Howard and Major General P. Joseph Osterhaus, respectively.
IV. The same general disposition of trains as indicated in Special Field Orders, Numbers 88, of yesterday, will be observed.
V. Major-General Osterhaus will dispose a sufficient number of troops, with the wagons moving immediately in rear of the column, to protect them.
VI. The rule relating to straggling must be regarded strictly.
VII. Division commanders are hereby directed to act in compliance with instructions contained in Special Field Orders, Numbers 112, Department and Army of the Tennessee, herewith inclosed.
VIII. In accordance with instructions from department headquarters, the movements indicated in Special Field Orders, Numbers 89, extract II to VI, of this date, from these headquarters, are suspended, and will not be made until further orders.
IX. Brigadier General William Harrow, commanding Fourth Division, will forthwith throw out a strong line of pickets well to the east and north of the general supply train parked immediately in rear of department headquarters, in order to prevent any cavalry dash by the enemy upon them.
By order of Major General John A. Logan:
R. R. TOWNES, Assistant Adjutant-General
SPECIAL ORDERS, HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Numbers 215. In the Field, Ga., August 28, 1864.
I. This command will move forward at 7 a. m. tomorrow. The Fourth Division, Brigadier General Giles A. Smith commanding, will have the advance, and will move promptly at the hour indicated, following the Left Wing of the Sixteenth Army Corps. The Third Division, Brigadier General C. R. Woods commanding, will follow immediately in rear of the Fourth.
II. Brigadier General Giles A. Smith, commanding Fourth Division, will cause one of the brigades of his command to report to Captain J. T. Conklin, chief quartermaster, Department and Army of the Tennessee, at 6 a. m. tomorrow, for the purpose of relieving a brigade of the Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, on duty as guard for train. General Smith will please report to these headquarters the brigade assigned to this duty.
By command of Major General F. P. Blair