Tuesday, October 18, 1864

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In
The movements of the armies to-morrow will be as follows:

I. The Army of the Tennessee will pass to the right of Summerville and move toward Alpine in support of Colonel Watkins’ cavalry, which is ordered to ascertain what part, if any, of the enemy has passed up Henderson’s Gap.

II. The Army of the Ohio will move on the main Gaylesville road toward Melville Post-Office in support of General Garrard’s cavalry which is ordered to reconnoiter toward Gaylesville.

III. The Army of the Cumberland will mass near Summerville ready to move in any direction.

IV. Trains will be brought up to points convenient to the rear of each army near to the fords of the Chattanooga and near cornfields.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

Slocum Writes From Atlanta:

ATLANTA, October 18, 1864: 1:30 p.m.
Major-General SHERMAN:
I have just received Montgomery papers of the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th, and paper of 13th says that Hood will evidently make Blue Mountain his base, as everything is now going in that direction. That of the 14th says:

We suspect Hood will make Blue Mountain his base for the fall and winter and hold himself in a position Sherman’s rear and keep his railroad communications disabled.

The paper of the 13th contains the following dispatch from Forrest:

CHEROKEE, ALA., October 10, 1864.
Generals Rousseau and Thomas are following me with about 12,000 men, and organizing to cross here. I have still 500 men on the north side of the river who have gone to the hills. I think them safe. Three gun-boats and four transports came up river today as far as Eastport and landed 2,000 emn and three pieces of artillery. Kelley drove them back and captured their artillery.
N. B. FORREST, Major-General.

If Hood goes to Blue Mountain I would like to take two Divisions and strike out for Macon and Milledgeville. One Divisions in our new works, with all our surplus artillery, can hold Atlanta, and I believe I can go through the State with two good Divisions. I can get a new outfit of horses and mules and damage the enemy seriously by destroying the railroad, &c., even if I fail in capturing either Macon or Milledgeville. I am positive they have no force in this section of the State except Iverson’s cavalry. Let me try it. I will return if I beocme satisfied I am hazarding too much.

Watkins Reports From His Cavalry at Summerville:

General Hood left here yesterday morning on the Alpine road with his army, leaving only a few regiments of cavalry as a rearguard. Part of his force took the Gaylesville road, and followed it for a mile, then crossed over to the Alpine road. I charged two regiments of rebel cavalry at Trion Factory, capturing 27 prisoners. I also had some work driving them out of Summerville. Cheatham’s corps passed down the Broontown Valley road the day before yesterday. A reliable citizen says that the rebels will cross Tennessee River at Guntersville.

General Howard Writes:

Union citizens report that Cheatham’s corps took the right fork at Hall’s house, six miles from La Fayette, going into Broomtown Valley. Soldiers report that they aim to cross the Tennessee at Guntersville. My column is just passing this point. Colonel Watkins is engaged with the enemy’s cavalry, between five and six miles ahead. Says he is holding on, and wants the infantry to come on. Has sent back about a dozen prisoners.

General Cox Writes:

My column reached the east side of the gap at 4:30 p.m. I have now one Division on the west side covering the Summerville and La Fayette roads, and one on the east side covering the Rome and Dirt Town roads. The advance of Garrard’s cavalry reached the gap shortly after we did. We met no resistance but some cavalry vedettes, which fled at our approach. My advanced Division has marched twenty-two miles today. I sent Major Wells, of my staff, with a regiment, over the mountain near Subligna to communicate with General Stanley’s column there. The rebels dug away part of the road in the gap where it runs on a shelf scarped in the steep mountain side. I hope to have it repaired before morning; the cavalry of the rebels retreated on the Rome road.

Thomas Writes From Nashville:

I have received your dispatch from Ship’s Gap of yesterday noon. Am ready to carry out your orders should Hood attempt to come into Tennessee. General Wilson will take a duplicate of this to you, and will explain my views on your plan of operations, telegraphed to General Grant, and his replies and suggestions to you. There is one thing, however, I don’t wish to be left in command of the defenses of Tennessee unless you and the authorities in Washington deem it absolutely necessary. Major-General Mower has arrived here, and has reported to you some days since for orders. I have advised him to remain here until he hears from you, not knowing but that you may still wish to place him at Eastport. I heard from Generals Granger and Croxton last night, who report nothing new of the movements of the enemy. Morgan’s and Wagner’s Divisions leave Chattanooga today to report to you, escorting about 8,000 beef-cattle for the army. The necessary orders have been given for the repair of the railroad, and it will be completed as rapidly as possible. I have arranged with Lieutenant Greer, commanding gun-boat fleet on lower Tennessee, to patrol the river as far up as Eastport. Lieutenant- Glass ford commanding between Bridgeport and Decatur patrols that portion of the river daily, and co-operates with me very cordially. I believe affairs north of the Tennessee River are getting into much better shape, and I hope to join you very soon.
Your dispatch of yesterday, 2 p. m., is just received. I have given the necessary directions for carrying out your orders for again attempting to drive the enemy from Easport. Troops will be forwarded to the front as rapidly as possible, after making the necessary dispositions, as directed by you, for the defense of the railroad.
The One hundred and eightieth Regiment Ohio Volunteers has not yet arrived here, but when it does come it will be put into camp here and held until you arrive so you can join here. All the information I have been able to obtain of Hood indicates that he is falling back with his force in the direction of Blue Mountain. Morgan’s and Wagner’s DIVISIONS have been ordered to join the army. You can say to General Sherman that if Hood should invade by way of south of Florence that I will send him word immediately, and so impede Hood’s progress as to enable General Sherman to get up troops in his rear.

SHIP’S GAP, I Reply To Thomas:
Order in my name the renewal of the attempt to get Eastport, and ask Admiral Porter, if necessary, to send up an iron-clad. We should command the Tennessee River up to Muscle Shoals perfectly.

Thomas Writes from Nashville:

I have applied by telegraph to Admiral Porter for the iron-clad, and I desire to know whether you can collect a sufficient force of infantry, to act in conjunction with your cavalry and the iron-clad and gun-boats, to lead you to hope for a successful attack upon and capture of Eastport. Answer by telegraph, letting me know what force you can collect, and how soon you can start upon the expedition. It should be done so soon as possible.

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