SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, Ship’s Gap, Ga., Numbers 93. October 17, 1864.
I. Army commanders will at once park their trains at points convenient to roads leading south. Each army will make up a train of the most indifferent wagons and worthless mules and horses, and prepare to send them to Chattanooga, together with the sick and wounded, prisoners of war, surplus servants, tents, chairs, cots, and the furniture that now fill our wagons and disgrace the army: in other words, each army will strip its trains to the best teams, loaded only with the essentials for a long march, depending on the country for forage and vegetables. Each army commander will report at what time of today or tonight he will be ready to send back such a train, and hold it at a point convenient to move toward Ringgold, but not dispatch it until further orders.
II. Major-General Howard will continue to reconnoiter well forward; also down along the ridge about as far south as La Fayette. General Stanley will examine roads toward Dirt Town, and General Cox will do the same, but the armies will not move until further orders based on more complete intelligence of the plans and designs of the enemy.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, Ship’s Gap, Ga., Numbers 94. October 17, 1864.
The armies will move tomorrow against the enemy, supposed to be at or near Summerville, as follows:
I. The Army of the Tennessee will move through La Fayette and by the direct road to Summerville, followed by its ammunition train and ambulances.
II. The Army of the Cumberland will cross Ship’s Gap and take the road to Summerville to the left and east of that followed by the Army of the Tennessee, keeping abreast of and in communication with it.
III. The Army of the Ohio will move from Villanow down the Rome road, across to Subligna, and thence by the best road to Summerville; it may take its whole train.
IV. General Garrard’s cavalry will press the rear of the enemy from the direction of
Dirt Town, and the brigade of Colonel Watkins’ cavalry will do the same from the direction of La Fayette, each bearing in mind where their infantry supports are. If possible the cavalry should reach and destroy the wagon transportation of the enemy.
V. The Armies of the Cumberland and Tennessee should have from three to five days’ rations in their haversacks, and beef on the hoof, and send their trains down by way of Subligna and Gover’s Pass.
VI. Rome will be our next point of supply.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp
Slocum Reports from ATLANTA:
I have a Montgomery paper of the 12th. The dispatches from Hood as well as the editorials state that Beauregard is with Hood and that the army is going to cross the Tennessee River.
I want General Garrard to leave his wagons to join the train of the army of the Cumberland, and with his command to at once move down the Oostenaula from the east of Snake Creek Gap to about the Armuchee and turn toward Dirt Town, making a bold reconnaissance toward Summerville. Report via the back track and Villanow, any movement of the enemy, and its direction and import, as far as possible. Also to strike the enemy, if possible, in flank.
Watkins Reports from his Cavalry:
The near of Cheatham’s corps left here at 6 o’clock this morning, moving in the direction of Summerville. A Union lady that I can depend upon says that they are going into Middle Tennessee by the way of Blue Mountain. A wagon train left here yesterday for Summerville, numbering 700 wagons. General Hood stopped eight miles from here Saturday night on the Summerville road, and had not left at 11 a. m. yesterday. Doctor Gordon says that Hood’s whole army is on this side of Taylor’s Ridge. The road to Chattanooga is clear of rebels. I will follow on until I come up with them.
There is no doubt but what General Hood is making for Alpine with all dispatch. I came up with his rear guard this morning five miles from here on the Summerville road, but not knowing your exact position, I concluded to return to La Fayette and await orders. I will camp tonight in the vicinity of Trion Factory and push on early in the morning and try and communicate with General Garrard.
SHIP’S GAP, October 17, 1864.
General John E. SMITH
We have headed the enemy off at La Fayette, and he has turned south through Alpine. We move on Summerville tomorrow. Send half a million rations of bread, coffee, and sugar to Rome from Allatoona. Notify Kilpatrick, who is out about Stilesborough, of our position and the movements of the enemy. Keep your men at the Allatoona Pass well employed in perfecting their fortifications.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General
General Raum Reports:
I have information that after crossing their artillery and trains the enemy left a pontoon bridge across the Coosa at Edwards’ Ferry, thirty-two miles from Rome.
I Write General CORSE at Rome:
We occupy Ship’s Gap and La Fayette, and will move tomorrow on Summerville. General Garrard is sent to Dirt Town. I want you to show your cavalry and some infantry about Coosaville, and to keep up communication with General Garrard. If a chance offers your small force can hit some part of Hood’s army in flank. I think he will move, via Summerville and Alpine, on Gadsden. At Chattanooga they expect him at Caperton’s Ferry, which is absurd.
Your dispatch received. Will try and open communication with Garrard at Dirt Town. Will also send force toward Coosaville,, and hold my force in readiness to strike whenever I find a favorable opportunity. We get very little information, owing to the large number of cavalry surrounding us. Wagon trains and supplies are reported occasionally in and about Jacksonville. Have nothing of importance.
I Write Thomas:
The necessary orders have been given for the repair of the railroad. Deserters from Hood’s army report his force at about 30,000; the strength of his cavalry force not known. No additional news from the Tennessee River, except that Roddey’s force moved from Tuscumbia to Courtland yesterday.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Ship’s Gap, Ga., October 17, 1864: 12 m.
General THOMAS, Nashville:
Hood won’t dare go into Tennessee. I hope he will. We now occupy Ship’s Gap and La Fayette, and Hood is retreating toward Alpine and Gadsen. I am moving General Garrard today to Dirt Town, and will move General Corse out to Coosaville, and with the main army move on Summerville. If Hood wants to go into Tennessee west of Huntsville let him go, and then we can all turn on him and he cannot escape. The gun-boats can break any bridge he may attempt above Decatur. If he attempts to cross let him do so in part, and then let a gun-boat break through his bridge. I will follow him to Gadsden, and then want my whole army united for the grand move into Georgia.
Tomorrow I move on Summerville. Hood is not going to enter Tennessee. Keep enough force to watch the river below and at the Shoals, and let all the rest march toward me, or to re-enforce the railroad. Order in my name the renewal of the attempt to get Eastport, and ask Porter, if necessary, to send up an iron-clad. We should command the Tennessee up to Muscle Shoals perfectly. I will follow Hood to and below Gadsden. He cannot maintain an army north of the Tennessee, especially if we hold Eastport, and thereby control or threaten the railroad from Corinth to Decatur, which I am told has been partially restored by Forrest, who is not now with Hood.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.
Your dispatch from Ship’s Gap, 5 p. m. 16th, just received, Schofield, whom I placed in command of the two Divisions, Wagner’s and Morgan’s, was to move up Lookout Valley this a. m. to intercept Hood should he be marching for Bridgeport. I will order him to join you with the two Divisions and reconstruct the road as soon as possible. Will also organize the guards for posts and block-houses. The latter is a difficult undertaking, as several of the regiments on that duty are clamorous to be sent home to be mustered out of service, and new regiments and recruits do not arrive rapidly enough to relieve them. I am accomplishing work, however, as fast as possible. Mower and Wilson have arrived and are on their way to join you. I hope you will adopt Grant’s idea of turning Wilson loose rather than undertake the plan of a march with the whole force through Georgia to the sea, inasmuch as General Grant cannot co-operate with you as at first arranged.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Ship’s Gap, Ga., October 17, 1864.
Your dispatch is received. Hood is not at Deer Head Cove. We occupy Ship’s Gap and La Fayette. Hood is moving south, via Summerville, Alpine, and Gadsden. If he enters Tennessee it will be to the left of Huntsville, but I think he has given up all such idea. I want the road repaired to Atlanta, the sick and wounded sent north of the Tennessee, my army recomposed, and I will make the interior of Georgia fell the weight of war. It is folly for me to be moving our armies on the reports of scouts and citizens. We must maintain the offensive. Your first move on Trenton and Valley Head was right; the move to defend Caperton’s Ferry is wrong. Notify General Thomas of these my views. We must follow Hood till he is beyond reach of mischief and then resume the offensive.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
Unless I receive further orders from you, or such information as renders it unwise, I will march tomorrow with Morgan’s and Wagner’s Divisions, via Rossville and Gordon’s Mills, and join you as soon as practicable. I will bring as many beef cattle as the troops can take care of. My scouts report no enemy west of Lookout Mountain today; they report Bird and Dug Gaps held by rebel cavalry. Colonel Warner is here. I have no later information from you than what he brought.