Wednesday, October 19, 1864

SUMMERVILLE, GA., October 19, 1864. 12 noon.

Major General W. H. HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
Hood has retreated rapidly by all roads leading south. Our advance columns are now at Alpine and Melville Post-Office. I shall pursue him as far as Gaylesville. The enemy will not venture toward Tennessee, except around by Decatur. I propose to send the Fourth Corps back to General Thomas, and leave him with that corps, the garrisons and new troops, to defend the line of the Tennessee, and, with the rest, push into the heart of Georgia, and come out at Savannah, destroying all the railroads of the State. The break at Big Shanty is repaired, and that about Dalton should be in ten days. We find abundance of forage in the country.

At some more leisure time I will record the facts relating to Hood’s attack on my communications. He has partially succeeded from the superior mobility of is columns, moving without food or wagons. I now have him turned back and am pursuing him till he will not dare turn up Will’s Valley without having me at his rear and the Tennessee at his front. My opinion is he will go to Blue Mountain, the terminus of the Selma and Talladega road, where he and Beauregard will concoct more mischief.

We must not be on the defensive, and I now consider myself authorized to execute my plan to destroy the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city, strike out into the heart of Georgia, and make for Charleston, Savannah, or the mouth of the Appalachicola. General Grant prefers the middle one, Savannah, and I understand you to prefer Selma and the Alabama. I must have alternates, else, being confined to one route, the enemy might so oppose that, delay me and want would trouble me. Having alternates, I can take so eccentric a course that no general can guess at my objective. Therefore, when you hear I am off have lookouts at Morris Island, S. C., Ossabaw Sound, Ga., Pensacola and Mobile Bays. I will turn up somewhere, and believe I can take Macon and Milledgeville, Augusta and Savannah, Ga., and wind up with closing the neck back of Charleston so that they will starve out.

This movement is not purely military or strategic, but it will illustrate the vulnerability of the South. They don’t know what war means, but when the rich planters of the Oconee and Savannah see their fences and corn and hogs and sheep vanish before their eyes they will have something more than a mean opinion of the “Yanks. ” Even now our poor mules laugh at the fine corn-fields, and our soldiers riot on chestnuts, sweet potatoes, pigs, chickens, &c. The poor people come to me and beg as for their lives, but my answer is, “Your friends have broken our railroads, which supplied us bountiful and you cannot suppose our soldiers will suffer when there is abundance within reach. ”
It will take ten days to finish up our road, during which I will eat out this flank and along down the Coosa, and then will rapidly put into execution the plan. In the mean time I ask that you give to General Thomas all the troops you can spare of the new levies, that he may hold the line of the Tennessee during my absence of, say, ninety days.
I am, &c., W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I Write My New Cavalry Commander:
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, Ga., October 19, 1864.
General WILSON, Nashville:
General Garrard has about 2,500 cavalry, General Kilpatrick 1,500, General McCook 600. There may be about 1,000 other cavalry with my army. These embrace all the cavalry ready for battle. I wish you would see Generals Johnson and Thomas, bring to me about 2,500 new cavalry, and then go to work to make up three Divisions, each of 2,500, for the hardest fighting of the war. I am going into the very bowels of the Confederacy, and propose to leave a trail that will be recognized fifty years hence.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, Ga., October 19, 1864.
Colonel A. BECKWITH, Atlanta, Ga.:
Hood will escape me. I want to prepare for my big raid. On the 1st of November I want nothing but what is necessary to war. Send all trash to the rear at once and have on hand thirty days’ food and but little forage. I propose to abandon Atlanta and the railroad back to Chattanooga, and sally forth to ruing Georgia and bring up on the seashore. Make all dispositions accordingly. I will go down the Coosa until sure that Hood has gone to Blue Mountain.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, Ga., October 19, 1864.
Colonel L. C. EASTON, Chief Quartermaster, Chattanooga:
Go in person to superintend the repairs of the railroad, and make all orders in my name that will expedite its completion. I want it finished to bring back to Chattanooga the sick, wounded, and surplus trash. On the 1st of November I want nothing in front of Chattanooga save what we can use as food and clothing and haul in our wagons. There is plenty of corn in the country, and we only want forage for the posts. I allow ten days to do all this, by which time I expect to be near Atlanta.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS.,In the Field, Summerville, Ga., Numbers 97. October 19, 1864.
The armies will move tomorrow on Gaylesville, as follows:

I. The Army of the Tennessee and General Schofield via Alpine, and the Armies of the Ohio and Cumberland by the direct road. All the columns will be well closed up and in good order, halting as the head of the leading column reaches Gaylesville, and selecting good ground for camps.

II. The cavalry will push on to Little River and beyond, securing the bridge, if any.

III. Headquarters will be near Gaylesville, and army commanders will make prompt reports of appearances of the enemy.

By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

Howard Reports:
The head of column Seventeenth Corps has reached Alpine. The Seventeenth Corps will encamp one mile beyond Alpine, the Fifteenth Corps about half a mile to the rear. Colonel Watkins, who moved on, on my arrival here, reports indications of the enemy’s moving to the right, taking a road about one mile beyond this place. I think the enemy went down Shinbone. Valley. Colonel Watkins will reconnoiter and report as soon as possible. The inclosed sketch will indicate my position and this locality.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, October 19, 1864.
General HOWARD:
I have received your note of 3:30 by your brother. My orders are for all the armies to move on Gaylesville, on the supposition that the enemy has gone to Blue Pond. If the Blue Pond road does not carry you more than three miles west of Gaylesville, and if the enemy has not turned up the pass you lay down as Stanifer’s Pass you may follow it. Gaylesville will be the point of confluence for the different columns. Cox will be there early, and I hope Garrard is there now. It seems to me that it would be absurd for Hood to turn toward the Tennessee with us on his trail before he gets to Gadsden, which is twenty miles below Little River. That is the point where we will first find his infantry. Still, if I am mistaken, send me word across to Melville Post-Office, where I can turn my troops. Schofield has 10,000 men and is ordered to follow you, but I am not certain I can get my orders to him. The Coast Survey map makes the roads from Summerville and Alpine come together this side of Gaylesville. If you find this the case and reach the point common before Cox gets there you had better await his coming, and, if possible, work a way on his right to some good point near Gaylesville. If Watkins develops anything positive that I should know don’t fail to send it to me. I will ride tomorrow down the main road past Melville Post-Office to Gaylesville.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Howard Reports:

Every trail indicates that the enemy have gone toward Blue Pond. I had sent Colonel Watkins to follow the trail of Cheatham’s corps in the direction of Gaylesville before I received your order. I inclose his report.

Watkins Reports:

I am here all safe. Found no rebels except a few stragglers, whom I picked up. General Hood took the Broomtown Valley road and Cheatham and Cleburne the Gaylesville road, all moving toward Gaylesville. They were moving from before daylight till midday yesterday. None of them went up Henderson’s Gap. As soon as I feed I will move on and try to communicate with General Garrard.

Corse Reports:

A cavalry force attacked Vining’s Station, cut the wires, and, it is presumed, destroyed a part of the road, as we have no communication south of Marietta. A small force cut the wires near Big Shanty, but they have since been repaired. Another cavalry force fired into the construction train between Adairsville and Calhoun, killing and wounding a few. And still another force attacked train of Twenty-THIRD Army Corps near Cartersville, with what result I have not heard. Kilpatrick reports Armstrong, Ferguson, Gholson, and Ross, and Cedartown yesterday. Hood’s whereabouts we know nothing of here. Supplies are being received for your command. Trains have discontinued running south of Allatoona. I have everything busy here, and am getting on well. Please send by bearer any news or orders you may wish executed.

Cox Reports:

My command is encamped – one DIVISION a mile beyond Melville on the Gaylesville road, the other at Melville. I have informed General Garrard that I will press a brigade to the front in the morning unless orders from headquarters Military

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, Ga., October 19, 1864.
General G. H. THOMAS, Nashville, Tenn.:
Make a report to me as soon as possible of what troops you now have in Tennessee, what are expected and how disposed. I propose with the Army of the Tennessee, the Ohio, and two corps of yours, to sally forth and make a hole in Georgia and Alabama that will be hard to mend. Hood has little or no baggage, and will escape me. He cannot invade Tennessee except to the west of Huntsville. I want the gun-boats and what troops are on the Tennessee to be must active up at the head of navigation. I want General Wilson and General Mower with me, and would like General McCook’s Division made up to 2,500 men mounted. I will send back into Tennessee the Fourth Corps, all dismounted cavalry, all sick and wounded, and all incumbrance whatever, except what I haul in our wagons, and will probably, about November 1, break up the railroad and bridges, destroy Atlanta, and make a break for Mobile, Savannah, or Charleston. I want you to remain in Tennessee and take command of all my Divisions not actually present with me. Hood’s army may be set down at 40,000 of all arms fit for duty. He may follow me or turn against you. If you can defend the line of the Tennessee in my absence of three months, it is all I ask.
W. T. SHERMAN,Major-General, Commanding

Thomas Writes from Nashville:

General Washburn is here. He reports his force not large enough to undertake the capture of Eastport, as he represents Forrest has a larger force there, with considerable artillery. Have just heard from commanding officer gun-boat fleet, at Mound City, who says he will not be able to furnish an iron-clad for the expedition. Morgan’s and Wagner’s Divisions having been sent to you, I have no force to aid Washburn, but if you will send me one of my Divisions, one of General Howard’s, I will organize a force to operate against Eastport and destroy railroad. If my information of Forrest’s strength is correct, there should be from 5,000 to 6,000 reliable infantry added to the cavalry force that can be raised, to insure success. Major-General Mower is here, and if General Howard can send a Divisions of infantry the expedition might be placed under command of General Mower.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI In the Field, Summerville, Ga., October 19, 1864.
General MOWER, Nashville:
Join me by way of Rome. I can at this time only give you a Division, but I want you to give energy to the head of a column. I sent for you for another purpose, but will explain all when I see you.
W. T. SHERMAN,Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Summerville, October 19, 1864. noon.
Move by the most direct route to Alpine, and overtake me en route for Gaylesville. If you have not passed La Fayette take the road along the west of the valley, known as the Broomtown road. On reaching Alpine keep your command as it is till I see you, but, of course, as soon as possible I will send the two Divisions of the Army of the Cumberland to their proper corps, and the unassigned troops may go to your army. The Army of the Ohio tonight will be rear Melville Post-Office.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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