SHIP’S GAP, GEORGIA, October 16, 1864: 4:30 p. m.
I got the dispatch in cipher about providing me a place to come out on salt water, but the cipher is imperfect and I cannot make out whether Savannah or Mobile be the point preferred, but I also want to know if you are willing that I should destroy Atlanta and the railroad. Hood broke eight miles of road at Big Shanty and about fifteen from Resaca to the tunnel. The break at Big Shanty is repaired, but the other will take some time. I have now taken position where I don’t care which way he moves. I think the rebels will now go back south.
W.T. SHERMAN, Major-General
The enemy left Dalton at daylight on the 14th. The Fourth and Fourteenth Corps, having encamped last evening at Tilton, pursued him on the road he took through Nickajack Gap, going west. This morning I moved with the Army of the Tennessee, west from Resaca, through Snake Creek Gap and Villanow. I have directed Schofield to move with Morgan’s and Wagner’s Division up Lookout Valley, for the purpose of intercepting Hood, should he be marching for the Tennessee, and to enable me to get in his rear. News from Decatur and Rogersville indicates that the enemy’s cavalry still occupy the south bank of the Tennessee, but no signs of a disposition on his part to cross.
In the Field, near Shirp’s Gap, Ga., October 16, 1864
I have been forced to come here. We carried the gap this morning, and now can move in any direction. I think Hood will return south, and as soon as I get our trains up I shall follow him. I have ordered the road to be repaired, and shall move so as to prevent his swinging in about Atlanta. I think I will leave you in Atlanta and will swing round in the country for forage and adventure. Lookout for yourself and hold Atlanta. You have plenty of grub, and I will turn up somewhere.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
We Answered Slocum About the Railroad:
Hood went north from here to Tunnel Hill with two corps. Captured the garrisons at Tilton and Dalton, and destroyed railroad. Passed WEST thought Buzzard Roost, while Lee held Snake Creek Gap. Lee moved west through Ship’s Gap; left two brigades at Snake Creek Gap, which retreated before the deliberate preparations to dislodge them. Before General Stanley could reach their rear they crossed the mountain north along bridle paths. I am at Snake Creek Gap. Head of column near Villanow. General Schofield is at Chattanooga with 15,000 men. All goes well.
I want Watkins Cavalry to operate on the right of this army, harassing the rear of the enemy and obtaining such information as possible, and report as frequently as he can, keeping up communication. This is a modification of instructions as by Special Field Orders, Numbers 92, date 15th of October, 1864.
Kilpatrick’s cavalry with his Division, should occupy such a position, say Dallas, Burnt Hickory, or in that vicinity, as will protect the railroad from the Etowah to the Chattahoochee, communicating frequently by telegraph when practicable from time to time the state of affairs. The armies march from Resaca tonight and tomorrow.
Our skirmishers have encountered a skirmish line of the enemy on the summit of Taylor’s Ridge. General Osterhaus is feeling around to turn the enemy’s left. One of our negro soldiers, escaped prisoner, reports two corps at La Fayette. My impression is that two corps passed over this road and that one went down the valley toward Villanow. The negro came over the ridge beyond the enemy’s left. I do not think there is a large force on the ridge, probably a rear guard.
My signal officer reports the smoke and fires, apparently of a large force, from five to eight miles to the southwest of Ship’s Gap.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,In the Field, Ship‘s Gap, Ga., October 16, 1864.
I occupied Ship’s Gap today. Two corps of the enemy are represented as at La Fayette and one has gone down toward Dirt Town. I want to get one train up, and as soon as I know where the enemy is I will follow. I want all hands to go to work now to repair damages on the road. That south is nearly if not quite done and that north will be pushed with the utmost vigor. We must finish the road to prepare for the future. I want to make a raid that will make the South feel the terrible character of our people.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
Corse Writes from ROME, GA:
Escaped prisoners just arrived from Blue Mountain say that there are about 400 wagons. They say that Beauregard is at Jacksonville, with a brigade of cavalry as a guard. the barefoot men of Hood’s army are there. Also say Hood has gone into Tennessee.
Your dispatch of 10 a. m. received. I am closed up on the Fourth Corps in the gap where the timber blockade began, and will at once go to work on the double track as you direct.
The people on the Rome road report that once corps of Hood’s army went south by this road. As they say they have not been inquired of by any one in regard to the matter, I have thought best to report it, and to make some inquiries still farther south. My command is coming in good condition.
I write General THOMAS, Nashville:
Send me Davis’ and Newton’s old DIVISIONS. Re-establish the road and I will follow Hood wherever he may go. I think he will move to Blue Mountain. We can maintain our men and animals on the country.
I Write Major-General SCHOFIELD at Chattanooga:
Dispatches received. I am pushing straight for Hood wherever he may be; do the same with whatever force you have and let us run him down. I am now on his trail and will follow it. We pushed Lee’s corps through Snake Creek Gap today 15th, and at Villanow I will find out where he is going to and will follow him, no matter where. Get in communication with me as soon as possible. We hold Atlanta and the road up to Resaca. The break at Big Shanty must be nearly done.
We took Ship’s Gap today, capturing a part of the Twenty-fourth South Carolina. Two corps are represented at La Fayette and one went south from Villanow. They obstructed Snake Creek Pass to delay our trains, but by tomorrow I can move in any direction. I want the first positive fact that Hood contemplates an invasion of Tennessee; invite him to do so. Send him a free pass in. Re-occupy the railroad, and put the construction corps to work to repair the break from the tunnel to Resaca. I will get my trains up here and move according to the best information I can get.
I have received your dispatch from Villanow and will march accordingly at daylight in morning with about 10,000 men unless I receive further information before starting. I will take the Lookout Valley road for Trenton and then strike for Hood wherever I can hear of him. I started my troops for Ringgold, but learning that the enemy had moved West from Dalton I turned this way to cover Bridgeport and the railroad this side.
CITY POINT, VA., October 16, 1864: 3:30 p.m.
Major-General SHERMAN, Tilton, Ga.:
The moment I know you have started south stores will be shipped to Hilton Head, where there are transports ready to take them to meet you at Savannah. In case you go south I would not propose holding anything south of Chattanooga, certainly not south of Dalton. Destroy in such case all of military value in Atlanta.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General