Halleck sends his thoughts to Grant:
Some time since General Sherman asked my opinion in regard to his operations after the capture of Atlanta. While free to give advice to the best of my ability, I felt it my duty to refer him to you for instructions, not being advised of your views on that subject. I presume from his dispatches that you have corresponded upon the subject, and perhaps his plan of future operations has already been decided upon. At one he seemed most decidedly of opinion that he ought to operate by Montgomery and Selma and connect himself with Canby and Farragut on the Alabama River, thus severing the northern part of Georgia and Alabama and all of Mississippi from the rebel Confederacy. This view was taken in his letters to General Canby, copies of which were sent to the Adjutant-General’s Office, and in this opinion I fully concurred, and so wrote both to him and Canby, directing them, however, to make no important movements till they received your instructions.
I judge from a dispatch just received from General Sherman that he is now proposing to move eastwardly toward Augusta or Millen, expecting to connect with the coast by the Savannah River. Whether this is simply a suggestion or change of opinion on his part, or the result of his consultation with you, or of your orders to him, I have no means of knowing. All I wish to say or know upon the subject is, that if any definite plans have been adopted it is desirable that the Secretary of War or myself should be informed of that plan as early as possible. Large requisitions have been received within the last day or two from General Canby’s staff officers for water transportation and quartermasters, commissary, and medical stores to be sent to Mobile and Pensacola for an army of 30,000 or 40,000 men. Indeed, in the single article of forage the amount asked for is more than can possibly be furnished in the Northern and Eastern States, and more than all the available sea- going vessels in Northern ports could float. On receiving these requisitions I directed General Meigs to take active measures to fill them so far as possible, but to make no shipments until further orders.
Now, if General Sherman is going to move east to connect with the coast by the Savannah River these stores should not be shipped to Mobile or Pensacola, but to Hilton Head, and transportation be sent to New Orleans to move all available troops to that point. Moreover, operations at Mobile should in that case be limited to a mere demonstration and continued only so long as they may serve to deceive the enemy. It is exceedingly important that some definite conclusion should be arrived at as early as possible, for the expenses of the water transportation, and especially of the demurrage of large fleets, are enormous.
Perhaps it may be desirable that I should give my reasons in brief for concurring with General Sherman in his first proposed plan of operations:
In the first place, that line of connection with the coast is the shortest and most direct; Second, by cutting off a smaller slice of rebel territory it is not so directly exposed, and leaves a smaller force to attack in rear;
THIRD, it does not leave Tennessee and Kentucky so open to rebel raids;
Fourth, the Alabama River is more navigable for our gun-boats than the Savannah;
Fifth, this line is more defensible for General Canby’s troops than the other;
Sixth, Montgomery, Selma, and Mobile are, in a military point of view, more important than Augusta, Millen, and Savannah;
Seventh, Mobile can be more easily captured than Savannah, and
Eight, this line will bring within our control a more valuable and important section of country than that by the Savannah.
There is a section of country from FIFTY to one hundred and FIFTY miles wide extending from Selma WEST to Meridian, and thence north on both sides of the Tombigbee to Columbus, Aderdeen, and Okolona, more rich in agricultural products than any equal extent of country in the Confederacy. Slave labor has been but very little disturbed in this section, and the large corps of this year are being collected at Demopolis, Selma, Montgomery, and other points for the use of the rebel army. By moving that line, they will be converted to our use or be destroyed. By moving on Augusta they will be left for the use of Hood’s forces.
I do not write this for the purpose of influencing your adoption of a particular plan of camping, or of changing your decision, if you have adopted any plan, but simply to urge on you an early decision if you have not already made one. It is proper, however, to remark that I have taken every possible means to obtain correct information on the subject and present these conclusions only after through examination and the most mature consideration.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General and Chief of Staff
I have ordered Webster at Nashville to have every man possible mounted to chase Forrest from the state. I am moving some troops out of Atlanta to defend my roads. Hood I believe will head north to attack my railroads.
I Write General STANLEY:
Move your command, with orders for your wagons to fallow with ten days’ rations, to Chattahoochee bridge, and in the direction of Marietta as far as the rebel intrenchments about Smyrna Camp- Ground. Open communication with General Elliott, who is over toward the Sweet Water and Noye’s Creek, and communicate with me promptly all matters of importance by telegraph from the bridge.
I Write General JEFF. C. DAVIS:
Communicate with General Howard, and be prepared to send into Atlanta all your troops and to move, with ten days’ rations, toward Marietta or to Fairburn, as the case may call for. I think Hood has crossed the Chattahoochee with two corps to attack our road, and has left one corps on this side, near Campbellton. We should interpose.
I Write Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
There is a flood in the Chattahoochee, which has damaged our railroad bridge, and will, of course, eat away any of Hood’s bridges. I want that reconnaissance pushed out boldly. As soon as it reaches Fairburn let me know, as I may push it on to the rear of their bridge. All the valuable part of the enemy’s cavalry is over beyond Sweet Water, and we can do them damage on this side now. The same cause which produced the rise in the Chattahoochee will affect the Tennessee, and Forrest will be in danger with a swollen river to his rear.
I have word from Ransom. He found large number of enemy’s infantry, at least one corps, on this side of Chattahoochee. He will encamp to-night eight miles from here. Further particulars by courier.
I Write Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
Let Ransom come in slowly, and if the enemy approach sally out and attack him fiercely. General Davis will be in close support. I will throw General Stanley across the Chattahoochee and be prepared to put our whole force in motion to interpose between Hood who may attempt to mash our road about Marietta and his bridges at Campbellton. Be prepared to send in all your troops at Atlanta, and to follow General Stanley. I would attack this corps in position and presume it is strongly intrenched.
General Ransom will not be in before tomorrow noon. I cannot be prepared to move command till tomorrow afternoon. I would rather not do so until the next morning. All stores and extra baggage will have to be taken to Atlanta and stored. I have not transportation for camp and garrison equipage.
John E. SMITH Telegraphs from Allatoona:
Telegram just received that Wheeler has demanded the surrender of Dalton. I sent 500 men at once to re-enforce them.
Corse Writes from Rome:
There are one or two regiments of Texas cavalry living in and about Burnt’s Hickory and Dallas that commit the mischief done our communications. If you will send, permit me to suggest, about 1,000 cavalry to Dallas, via Villa Rica, I will, with a less number, drive them down, and the two commands can kill or capture the greater portion of them. If this meets with your approval please let me know at once. I propose burning Cedartown, Van Wert, and Buchanan for atrocities committed by gangs of thieves having their rendezvous at those places.
McARTHUR Writes from Marietta:
The enemy are in considerable force at Big Shanty. Have burnt one train. General Corse’s wagon train is encamped there, and the guard altogether too small to guard so much property. I will tool what force I could spare from here and proceeded to Big Shanty as fast as possible.
Rebels driven off and quiet restored. Three cars burned. Road being repaired. Casualties not yet reported. Citizens coming in for protection report that Hood was to encamp near Gray’s Mill tonight. They also report that an attack will be made on Acworth or Allatoona, afterward Rome. In the event of a repluse they will retreat by Blue Mountain to Jacksonville and Selma.
General Cox Writes:
The DIVISION sent on reconnaissance to Flat Rock reached there at noon, as I learn by courier from General Cooper, in command. He reports they found no enemy on the route, and the citizens report the force which had been in that vicinity to have moved toward Jonesborough. I will send fuller report when General Cooper comes in. Yesterday and the day before I had a brigade make reconnaissance and foraging expedition to Stone Mountain, and the cavalry pushed on beyond to Lithonia. Only small parties of rebel scouts were discovered. A camps had been at Lithonia some days ago, but was moved, as was reported, toward Monroe.
I am at the telegram office. If you hear of any corn-fields down about Flat Rock avail yourself of this chance to gather some corn, and let that DIVISION seem to threaten McDonough, but not to go beyond Flat Rock except by a detachment.
General Cox Replies:
I sent a train with the DIVISION this morning to gather corn. As I did not get your first dispatch on the subject of the reconnaissance yesterday I fear I may not have your full purpose as to the time the DIVISION should remain out. Unless they get orders to the contrary they will return in the morning. If you intended anything different from this please advise me. The first dispatch I received was by telegraph at 11:30 last night, and Captain Dayton informed me that one had been sent by you on the same subject earlier. The operators know nothing of it. The tenor of the one I received implied that prior instructions had been given.
Make all preparation to send into Atlanta tents and baggage, and to start for Chattahoochee bridge on short notice. Send word and recall that DIVISION at Flat Rock. Hood has evidently crossed Chattahoochee with two corps and left one on this side of the Chattahoochee River near Campbellton. I propose to attack the force on the other side.
GEO. H. THOMAS WRITES FROM TULLAHOMA:
I arrived here at 6 p. m. today. Rousseau had already gone to Nashville to organize his infantry and cavalry, and will will start tomorrow for Columbia, in which direction Forrest was moving this morning. He will follow Forrest by that road with his command, Steedman commanding the infantry and Croxton the cavalry. I have ordered Morgan to move today to Athens, for by so doing he moves directly on Forrest’s line of communications, and covers the construction parties on the railroad between Decatur and Athens. As soon as he can get supplies he will move from Athens to Bainbridge for the purpose of getting Forrest’s bridge, whilst Rousseau pushes him by way of Columbia. If by that move I can run Forrest off toward Florence, or farther down the river, I have great hopes of capturing many of his men. Granger reports tonight that Buford withdrew from Huntsville yesterday about 11 a. m. on the Athens road and attacked the fort at Athens, which Granger had reoccupied by my orders with the Seventy-THIRD Indiana, Colonel Wade, but made no impression; repeated his attack this morning at 6 o’clock, and was handsomely repulsed. He then withdrew toward Elk River. Major McBath, with 200 Second Tennessee Cavalry, followed him. Granger does not report by which of the roads from Athens to Elk River the enemy withdrew, but I am inclined to think that it was the Elkton road, for the purpose of concentration and a final withdrawal. I will get to Nashville tomorrow and commence disposing the troops for the security of the road at once and finish as soon as possible.