Sunday, October 23, 1864

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Alabama, October 23, 1864

Colonel EASTON, Chief Quartermaster, Chattanooga or Atlanta, Ga.:
Come to Rome and to me for consultation, prepared with a summary of all property from Chattanooga forward. Send back all unserviceable stock, wagons, and stores, and keep on hand only a limited supply, just what we can pick up in our wagons and haul.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

The Pontoons are ready to head downriver from Rome to allow troops to cross the river.

PONTOON, COOSA RIVER, October 23, 1864. 4:07 p.m.
General W. T. SHERMAN:
I arrived here and found everything in readiness to proceed to the point designated. We will start just after dark. We will try and arrive at the bluff at 3 o’clock tomorrow morning.
E. L. GARDNER, First Lieutenant, Sixty-sixth Indiana Infantry Volunteers.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 23, 1864.

General SLOCUM, Atlanta, Ga.:
Your dispatch of the 20th received. Am delighted at your success in foraging. Go on, pile up the forage, corn, and potatoes, and keep your artillery horses fat. Send back all unserviceable artillery, and at the last moment we can count up horses and see what we can haul, and send back all else. One gun per thousand men will be plenty to take along.

Hood is doubtless now at Blue Mountain, and Forrest over about Corinth and Tuscumbia, hoping by threatening Tennessee to make me quit Georgia. We are piling up men in Tennessee, enough to attend to them and leave me free to go ahead. The railroad will be done in a day or two. We find abundance of corn and potatoes out here, and enjoy them much. They cost nothing a bushel. If Georgia can afford to break our railroads, she can afford to feed us. Please preach this doctrine to men who go forth, and are likely to spread it. All well.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

W. L. ELLIOTT Reports on his Cavalry:

In compliance with your instructions of the 22nd I marched to this place. This morning early I marched on the Gadsden road, skirmishing with the advance of Harrison’s and Armistead’s brigades, driving it from a strong position at King’s Hill to its command, about two miles beyond. From this point it fell back to a stronger position about one mile beyond where we developed a larger force, with artillery in position, two pieces in our front and one or more to our left. At this place we found the enemy occupied a line extending from the mountain to the Coosa River, from one miles and a half to two miles in length. I learned that the enemy held another similar line about two miles beyond, at Turkeytown. The front of the first line was obstructed by felled timber and the position was too strong for my available dismounted force to assault.

From King’s Hill I had sent a strong regiment of mounted infantry to Will’s Valley, at the junction of the road with that from Leesburg. It encountered a force of from 150 to 200 holding the gap leading into Will’s Valley. This regiment rejoined me. I find less forage as I have advanced, and for position and forage returned to my camp at this place. From all that I can learn I think the enemy is holding Gadsden and its approaches, but cannot say whether to move on Guntersville, Decatur, or to Blue Mountain. All reports seem to agree that two corps of infantry have crossed the Coosa and that the cavalry is holding the approaches to Gadsden. A captured scout represents that he was “pressed” into service and claims to be a Union man; gave himself up; says a rebel infantry force is in Turkeytown Valley. I inclose a copy of a bulletin issued by Beauregard.

A Defector, Malachi S. Carter, Second Georgia Cavalry Gives Information:

I reached Atlanta yesterday. I live in De Kalb County, seven miles from Atlanta. Was conscripted in June, 1864, and kept under guard until I reached my regiment, belonging to Iverson’s brigade. About August 10 we left Covington to make a raid under Wheeler. The force consisted of William S. Robinson’s brigade, Humes’ Division, and Martin’s Division, all but a part of our brigade. Were not all armed. We went up into East Tennessee, crossed the river at Strawberry Plains, and then back through Middle Tennessee. Recrossed Tennessee River below Muscle Shoals and crossed the Coosa at Edwards’ Ferry, near Round Mountain Iron-Works. Joined Hood’s army near Cedartown; were assigned to the advance, and recrossed the Coosa on pontoons, fifteen miles below Rome, going northwest. All the army crossed, but sent back most of their wagons and beef-cattle to Jacksonville and Blue Mountain.

The report was that the army was going to Summerville. Opinions vary as to whether they will cross the Tennessee. Many say that they will only cut the railroads and then come back into Alabama. The men are discouraged, and just now are very poorly fed and clothed. Many more would desert, but fear being caught and shot. I escaped at Dir Town, Chattanooga County, on the 11th instant, after the army had crossed the river. Came around through Alabama. Saw no troops there but train guards. The army get their supplies by wagon from Blue Mountain, in Calhoun County, fifty or sixty miles from Summerville and five to ten miles north of east from Jacksonville; it is the terminus of the railroad.

Wheeler has lost about half of his men by desertion since August 1. Iverson is now somewhere below Stockbridge, between Jonesborough and McDonough, with several hundred men. At Morrow’s Mills, west of Jonesborough, about nine miles this side of Fayetteville, is a cavalry force of 300 or 400; don’t know who commands them. Know of no other forces near Atlanta. There are some militia at Macon. I have heard, I believe, that there are many Union men in hiding throughout Northeast Georgia, many of them armed. There are some such between Lawrenceville and Gainesville. These men often bushwhack the rebel cavalry very pertinaciously. I am an original Union man and was near hung for my sentiments in this city.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 23, 1864. 9 a.m.

General GEORGE H. THOMAS, Nashville, Tenn.:

Dispatch of 18th received. I wrote you in great detail by Colonel Warner. Hood is now at Blue Mountain, and Forrest is evidently over about Tuscumbia. No doubt they will endeavor conjointly to make me come out of Georgia, but I don’t want them to succeed. All Georgia is now open to me and I do believe you are the man best qualified to manage the affairs of Tennessee and North Mississippi. I want approximate returns of all troops subject to your orders, and, as wrote you, I can spare you the Fourth Corps and about 5,000 men not fit for my purpose, but which will be well enough for garrison at Chattanooga, Murfreesborough, and Nashville. What you need is a few points fortified and stocked with provisions, and a good movable column of 25,000 men that can strike in any direction. I await further reports from you before doing anything, but am making all preparations necessary.

We find abundance of forage and stores down here, and have not the most distant fears of want or starvation. All my animals are improving, and General Slocum, at Atlanta, reports foraging most successful, 400 wagons on one occasion, 700 on another, and 600 now out. If Hood breaks our road Georgia must pay for it.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

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