HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 22, 1864. 8 a. m.
General GRANT, City Point, Va.:
I feel perfectly master of the situation here. I still hold Atlanta and the road, with all bridges and vital points well guarded, and I have in hand an army before which Hood has retreated precipitately down the valley of the Coosa. It is hard to divine his future plans, but by abandoning Georgia, and taking position with his rear to Selma, he threatens the road from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and may move to Tennessee by Decatur. He cannot cross the Tennessee except at Muscle Shoals, for all other points are patrolled by our gun-boats. I am now perfecting arrangements to put into Tennessee a force able to hold the line of the Tennessee whilst I break up the railroad in front of Dalton, including the city of Atlanta, and push into Georgia, and break up all its railroads and depots, capture its horses and negroes, make desolation everywhere, destroy the factories at Macon, Milledgeville, and Augusta, and bring up with 60,000 men on the seashore about Savannah or Charleston. I think this far better than defending a long line of railroad.
I will leave General George H. Thomas to command all my Divisions behind me, and take with me only the best fighting material. Of course I will subsist on the bountiful corn-fields and potato patches, as I am now doing luxuriously. I have now all your dispatches, and there will be time to give me any further instructions. Canby should be most active as against Selma from the direction of Mobile, and I will order similar movements from the Mississippi River and Decatur, provided Beauregard follows me, as he will be forced to do by public clamor.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
General Elliott Writes:
Does the general wish me to push on to Gadsden today? If so, where will, the command cross the Coosa, should the army cross to the east side? The First Ohio, a small regiment, was with the train, and, being short of ammunition, was detailed for the courier-line.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, October 22, 1864.
Your note by Captain Langdon is in hand. Your train will be sent to Little River. The general does not care about your pushing into Gadsden, but to press the enemy until you know he has not turned toward the Tennessee. A Division of infantry is at Alpine and a brigade at Valley Head. General Schofield is up and the army remains as before reported.
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 22, 1864.
General CORSE, Rome, Ga.:
I got your letter of yesterday, and General Force got here also. I wrote you yesterday that I wanted you to send down the Coosa to Cedar Bluff, just above the Chattanooga, the spare pontoon bridge, and as accident may have interfered I repeat the order. Also that you cover the movement by a strong foraging expedition down the Vann’s Valley, Cave Spring, and center road. As soon as I get the pontoons I will throw a force into Centre.
I now have the head of one column at Cedar Bluff, another at Little River on the Gadsden road, and an army in reserve here. Yesterday the cavalry pushed Wheeler back on the Gadsden road and will continue to press him to his end, Blue Mountain, but I will not move the infantry farther without new developments. I want all the preparations continued that I have heretofore marked out in a quiet way, not to attract too much attention, but it will be some time before I can uncover Tennessee. I must give General George H. Thomas full time to prepare his new lines. Continue to notify all the post commanders where we are and that absentees fit for honest duty can find us via Rome. I have no doubt the road via Coosaville is safe, though I have not yet seen any one who has come that way; all here come via Dirt Town or Price’s Bridge, which is eight miles above this on the Chattanooga. By tonight I will have a good bridge at Gaylesville, one three miles below on the Cedar Bluff road, and Price’s Bridge, eight miles above Gaylesville. I want a good pontoon bridge at Cedar Bluff, and those at Rome will give me two good crossing places on the Coosa, in the direction I expect to move. General Garrard had some pretty fair fighting with Wheeler yesterday and reports satisfactory results. General Schofield is close at hand. Keep me fully posted and use my name freely in orders sent to the rear to accomplish my purpose and plans.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding
I will send Colonel Spencer, with about 300 mounted men, and a brigade of infantry to support him, down the left bank of the Coosa at once, and start sixteen pontoons at 3 p. m., or as soon as I can get the oars and rope ready, down the Coosa with three or four armed men in each boat; that is all they will hold after the flooring is loaded. I hardly think they can go farther than Coosaville, as the left bank is watched very closely, I learn, by Jackson’s and Wheeler’s cavalry. Please send some cavalry up toward Coosaville to meet them and designate the place of landing.
The courier-posts are now established between here and Coosavile and will open communication with the posts you contemplate establishing south of that point. The bearer, Captain Hinds, will have charge of my line. I have directed the flotilla to tie up at Coosaville and try and get information of the enemy, and if they find it clear below, to float as far as possible by daylight and again tie up and get word to your forces where they are. My force on the left bank will cover them to Coosaville without difficulty I think.
Captain Hinds will be able to give you more information on his arrival. The bridge can cover 300 feet of water, which I concluded would be as much surface as the Coosa presents at any point near you. All quiet along the Railroad. The communication with Chattanooga will be opened positively, I am informed, by Monday. I have ten days’ rations for my command and about 500,000 for your force. Do you want any quartermaster stores brought here? Mower and Wilson will be here today. I think I can get the sick and wounded off Monday or Tuesday on through trains. There are about 1,200 here now; when they are gone I am ready to clean the place and move with ten days’ rations. Should you require the place to be abandoned please give instructions as to disposition of things left here.