Wednesday, October 26, 1864

SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS, HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 26, 1864. Numbers 104.

Major-General Stanley will move his entire corps, wagons, artillery, sick, and everything to Chattanooga, and report for orders to Major-General Thomas. He will move his troops, via Alpine, Winston’s, &c., to Chattanooga or Bridgeport, according to the intelligence that reaches him of the enemy. He should send all wheels not absolutely necessary to Chattanooga, under small guard, via La Fayette. Any surplus provisions he may have on hand he will turn over to the Fourteenth Corps.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

Hood is moving west, leaving the door open for me to invade Georgia. I will leave General Thomas in command of the forces while I lead an army through Georgia.

HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, Gaylesville, Alabama, October 26, 1864. Numbers 105.
In the event of military movements or the accidents of war separating the general in command from his military Division, Major General George H. Thomas, commanding the department of the Cumberland, will exercise command over all troops and garrisons not absolutely in the presence of the general-in-chief. The commanding generals of the Departments and Armies of the Ohio and Tennessee will forthwith send abstracts of their returns to General Thomas, at Nashville, in order that he may understand the position and distribution of the troops, and General Thomas may call for such further reports as he may require, disturbing the actual condition of affairs and mixing up the troops of separate departments as little as possible, consistent with the interests of the service.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman:
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp.

I approved the letter by Wilson, my new cavalry commander:


Gaylesville, Ala., October 26, 1864. Brigadier General J. A. RAWLINS, Chief of Staff:

I wish I could write you as fully as I wish, but there is some danger of letters falling into other hands than those intended. This is for you and General Grant, that you may be correctly informed of the condition of the cavalry question out west. I have been assigned to the command of all the cavalry forces of the Military Division of the Mississippi, and an order, subject to the President’s approval, has been issued by General Sherman, constituting the Cavalry Corps, &c., with instructions to mount, arm, and bring into the field the largest possible force that can be made available, leaving such police force as may be needed in Middle Tennessee. The last returns show a nominal cavalry force of nearly 60,000 men, but in reality there are not over 14,000 mounted, including all that are behind. There are three Divisions here in the field, formerly belonging to the Army of the Cumberland, and commanded by Kilpatrick, McCook, and Garrard, mounting about 1,500 men each, 4,500 in all. They have about twice as many dismounted, guarding railroads and block-houses. Colonel Garrard commands a Division formerly attached to the Army of the Ohio; five regiments are at the remount camp at Louisville preparing for the field, leaving only parts of two regiments in the field near Atlanta; there are, besides, Grierson’s and Hatch’s DIVISION in WEST Tennessee, and a part of Winslow’s. The majority of the last went with Mower to Missouri, and have not returned. In addition to this there are five new Indiana regiments, averaging 750 men, now at Nashville and below, never mounted. They are splendid material, in for three years, and should be brought out at once; and still further, in addition, two Divisions of Tennessee cavalry, not counted on the returns; they are to be left in Tennessee. From this you will see there are six Division actually organized -material enough to make another or fill up the old ones -besides Winslow’s Division average about ten regiments each, and ought to yield, under thorough organization, 500 men, or an aggregate of 30,000, under even tolerable organization 20,000, for the field.

But what are the facts now? We cannot raise 6,000, and because horses, arms, and equipments have not been furnished. General Sherman estimates that Forrest (now commanding all the cavalry of Beauregard’s military Division) has 26,000 men mounted and menacing his communications, the bulk of it concentrated under himself and Wheeler somewhere between here and Decatur. Armstrong, Gholson, Ferguson, Jackson, and Roddey are on Beauregard’s right flank, south of the Coosa, menacing the railroad between Allatoona and the Chattahoochee. From this hasty sketch you may readily perceive how vastly superior the enemy is to us in the number of his mounted troops actually in the field and concentrated for service, and how necessary it will be to have activity on the part of the Cavalry Bureau and an inexorable policy of concentration on the part of General Sherman. If we can organize and get out of Tennessee our six DIVISIONS and assume the offensive against Beauregard’s communications and cavalry roving the rich region of Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas, we shall soon destroy their cavalry and establish the invincibility of our own.

General Grant’s telegram to General Sherman, on the 8th looks exactly to the adoption of this policy, and I hope he will repeat it in an order to General Sherman. The latter says he don’t expect anything from the cavalry, and that all I can do with it will be entirely to my credit, but if General Thomas is left in Tennessee, the infantry forces must necessarily be more or less divided between him and General Sherman; if the cavalry force is divided equally between them, we shall effect nothing. Cavalry is useless for defense; its only power is in a vigorous offensive; therefore I urge its concentration south of the Tennessee and hurling it into the bowels of the South drive back as it did Sooy Smith at Sturgis. We shall certainly be able to do this if the enemy doesn’t cross the Tennessee or assume such an offensive as to throw us on the defensive, neither of which is very probable.

My main effort are now directed to mounting McCook, Garrard, and Kilpatrick, and I am doing all in my power to urge that forward. Hatch, on the Tennessee, has been ordered to move his mounted force, via Nashville, to this place, and the send his dismounted men to Nashville for remount. Grierson is ordered to collect his Division and what remains of Winslow’s, thoroughly organize it, keep it well in hand and well fed till the order is given him to move, via Columbus, Selma, &c., to join us in the field. General Johnson has been directed to collect the loose regiments and temporarily organize them into a Division, under General Upton, if we can get him, so that the new organization will be: First Division, McCook; Second Division, Long (now Garrard); Third Division, Kilpatrick; Fourth Division, Grierson; Fifth Division, Hatch; Sixth Division, Upton (now Colonel Garrard’s, Army of the Ohio, and new Indiana regiments); Seventh Division, Winslow’s (if we can ever get it back from Missouri, but Winslow won’t do; therefore, I shall divide him between Grierson and Hatch); Eighth and Ninth Division, the two Tennessee Division, which, if ever got out of Tennessee, I will break up and distribute between others; and independent brigade in the District of Vicksburg, under some good officer, to be sent there hereafter.

If we get into the field finally and Beauregard on the defensive, so that the troops north of the Tennessee can also shove south, I anticipate but little difficulty in carrying out this policy, but should we be thrown on the defensive, you will allow, the difficulties will be greatly increased. From the above sketch you will also see the absolute necessity of my having good officers. At present I have but one brigade commander who is a general officer. Garrard, Elliott, and Knipe are to be assigned to infantry, for which they are better suited. We have abolished department chiefs of cavalry, so that I have the whole motion under my special and exclusive control. General R. W. Johnson is at Nashville, charged with the duty of mounting, remounting, and preparing for the field all cavalry on this line, and superintending it elsewhere.

The inspectors of the Cavalry Bureau at Memphis, Louisville, and Nashville are the officers whose duty it is to provide remounts and anticipate demands for the same. I have already asked General Grant twice by telegraph for General Upton and Colonel Mackenzie (to be promoted by brevet), Custer, Pennington, and ReNumbers Custer I don’t expect much to get, but Pennington, now colonel of the Third New Jersey, and Reno, now captain of regular cavalry, have been recommended, ought to be promoted. The cavalry of the Army of the Potomac has already achieved an acknowledged superiority over that of the enemy, and officers detached from it will not disable it, but will carry a prestige with them highly advantageous to us out west. I don’t think. either, it will discourage our own officer, for we shall have a large field for promotion.

Please lay these suggestions before the general and ask him to do what he can for me. All I wish is to get my tools in an efficient condition. I shall answer for the consequences. I have read this letter to General Sherman, and he concurs in what I have said. I would like, therefore, to have the officers sent to me whom I have designated, and horse equipments sufficient to put my troops in the field, and the policy of concentration adopted, so, finally, that I may be able to exceed Forrest in numbers and organization.

General Sherman sends his very kindest regards to you and the general. Doctor Kittoe is very well, and wishes to be most kindly remembered by all. He would be very much pleased with an order to report to the general as medical inspector, or to go North on a tour of duty. The old gentleman will not complain, or ask for anything, but he evidently looks with some trepidation upon the prospect of an campaign this winter, and, I think, is getting rather too old for such work. Remembered me kindly to Colonels Bowers, Babcock, Badeau, Parker, and Comstock.

Hoping to hear from you, I am always, very truly, your friend,
J. H. WILSON, Brevet Major-General

Howard Writes from LITTLE RIVER, ALABAMA. October 26, 1864. 10 p.m.

General Osterhaus reported under date of Turkeytown, 4 p. m. 25th, that he met a second line of the enemy, to which he had pursued them since his last note. They seemed to be in some force there, at least they showed quite a front formed across the valley. On his arriving within range they opened with two pieces of artillery. He brought up a section, and while demonstrating briskly on their front, he sent a brigade of General Hazen’s Division forward on the enemy’s left flank. After a brisk fire for a short time the rebels withdrew. General Wheeler is said to be in command. General Osterhaus, in accordance with your directions, has not proceeded any farther and has withdrawn to a creek three miles north of Turkeytown and will return today. He states that he engaged no rebel infantry and that none had been seen since last Wednesday.

My staff officers have just returned from Osterhaus. He is on his way back. All citizens unite in saying “the rebels have gone north. ” The pontoon bridge this side of Gadsden was taken up on this side of the river. The rebel cavalry gave way before our infantry, but showed much boldness and our cavalry don’t seem to have displayed much vigor in the pursuit. The rebels have filled the mountains with scouts, and the sources of information are pretty well barred up. I do not feel at all sure that the rebels have gone north.

GAYLESVILLE, ALA., October 26, 1864

Major-General STEEDMAN:
The Fourth Corps marches tomorrow for Chattanooga. Make arrangements to relieve John E. Smith’s men at Resaca, and prepare to receive at Resaca and Chattanooga all the wounded and sick of this army. Also be prepared when I give you notice, or when you know that I have started south, to burn the Resaca bridge, and take up all the iron back to Dalton or even to Chattanooga, according to General Thomas’ orders.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

GAYLESVILLE, October 26, 1864. 9 a.m.

Major-General THOMAS, Commanding, &c.:
I have your dispatch of the 22d. Beauregard assumed command on the 17th, and may go on to perfect Davis plan for invading Tennessee and Kentucky to make me let go of Atlanta, but I adhere to my former plan, provided always you can defend the line of the Tennessee. Decatur and Chattanooga must be held to the death. Minor points may be neglected, but the stronger places of Nashville, Murfreesborough, Pulaski, and Columbia, strengthened. Don’t make a move into WEST Tennessee or beyond the river unless you know that Beauregard follows me south. When you move it should be against Selma. I will give you command of all my troops not actually with me, and if any interruption should take place between us, keep in mind the programme laid down in my letter of the 20th, sent by Colonel Warner. Urge the coming of the Ohio and Indiana conscripts and new troops. Brigade them and put them in good order. I will send you the Fourth Corps the moment I hear Beauregard turns toward the Tennessee. I have strong reconnaissances in Will’s Valley, near Gadsden, and at Centre, and am now working to get my stock in good order, and getting the sick and surplus stores back to Chattanooga. If Beauregard attempts Tennessee it will be from the direction of Decatur. He will hardly attempt it by Guntersville, as he has universally promised his men, as I would be on his heels.
T. SHERMAN,Major-General

GAYLESVILLE, October 26, 1864. 8 p.m.
Major-General THOMAS, Nashville, Tenn.:
A reconnaissance pushed down to Gadsden today reveals the fact that the rebel army is not there, and the chances are it has moved west. If it turns up at Guntersville I will be after it, but if it goes, as I believe, to Decatur and beyond, I must leave it to you for the present and push for the heart of Georgia. All I want is to get all my sick and wounded back to a safe place.

I start the Fourth Corps back tomorrow, via Winston’s and Valley Head, ordering it to Bridgeport or Chattanooga, according to what orders Stanley may have from you. Stanley will have about 15,000 men. Beauregard may attempt Tennessee from the direction of Muscle Shoals; but when he finds me pushing for Macon, Milledgeville, &c., he will turn back. I send you copy of my orders giving you supreme command in my absence.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

Thomas Writes From Nashville:

General Granger reports that Hood’s army is threatening to cross the Tennessee River at various places between Guntersville and Decatur. The enemy appeared in force in front of Decatur today about 3 p. m. His pickets were driven in, but no serious attack was made on him by the enemy. Have sent him all the re-enforcements I can get. From this report it would seem that Hood intends to attempt the crossing of the Tennessee River.

Schofield Writes From Cedar Bluff, Alabama:

I have made a reconnaissance as far as Centre. We met a small scouting party near our pickets, and drove them before us with a few mounted men some distance beyond Centre. They evidently had no supports near. I could learn nothing of Hood’s movements beyond the current rumor that he has gone toward Guntersville. His wagon train which passed through Centre several days ago went toward Jacksonville. No troops passed center on the retreat, except the train guards. My troops have started back toward this place. I took a DIVISION within two miles of Centre, and a brigade to that place.

Johnson informs me of the problems equipping the cavalry:

Nashville, Tenn., October 26, 1864.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,Commanding Military DIVISION of the Mississippi:

That you may be informed of what I am doing here toward remounting the cavalry, and the difficulties which stand in my way, I beg leave to submit the following report of what has been accomplished and what is in progress:

On my arrival here I took the earliest opportunity to ascertain the condition of things here, the number of cavalry dismounted, and the means of equipping them again for the field. The result of my examination was by no means encouraging. I found at the cavalry camp organized by General Smith, near this place, near 2,000 dismounted men, detachments from many different regiments; on the line of the Tennessee and Alabama road where some 2,500 of Garrard’s cavalry Division dismounted; five new regiments Indiana cavalry – Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth -never mounted, and nearly all of the Fourth Cavalry Division, Army of the Cumberland, mostly dismounted, and as nearly as I could learn in perfectly armed. On the whole, I computed there were 10,000 of the cavalry in Middle Tennessee, at the least which to fit them for duty in the field would require remounts, and wholly or in part a new equipment. Besides which there was, as you know, a considerable force dismounted on the railroads below Chattanooga, of which I could not learn with any degree of precision the number or condition, and General Croxton’s brigade at this place nearly ready to march. I must say here that the information afforded by the records found in this office on my arrival here was very imperfect and unsatisfactory; there was no report or returns from the cavalry of the Army of the Ohio later than March 30, and none from the Army of the Cumberland later than May 30. Though I have made application for them, they have not been able to bring them up in General Thomas’ command to a letter date than June 20. I never received any from the Army of the Ohio.

To equip this vast cavalry, I found absolutely no serviceable cavalry horses, a very meager supply of horse equipments, and no saddle blankets, some 100 sabers, and no reliable cavalry fire-arms; altogether there was not enough of everything to equip, indifferently, one full cavalry regiment. I immediately addressed myself to urging upon the officials of the ordnance and quartermaster’s departments such measures as seemed to be likely to remedy this condition of things in the hope that time would be afforded me to so arrange affairs that I should be enabled to send out from the start complete organizations, thoroughly mounted, armed, and equipped.

The presence of the enemy under General Wheeler, however, who appeared within sight of Nashville on the 1st of September, interfered with my plans, and made it necessary to send out every man for whom a horse, a saddle, and a gun could be provided; accordingly, I organized a battalion of near 1,000 men, composed of detachments from different regiments, and mounted mostly on unserviceable horses and many of them on mules saddles and armed with infantry arms, and sent them out under General Croxton, whose brigade, as I have mentioned, was then here nearly ready to go to the front.

Immediately upon the return of these troops, which was not until the 15th, I dispatched the Ninth Ohio Cavalry to Louisville to draw 500 horse equipments which I had provided there, enough to equip the regiment, and to bring down 1,00 horses. In the mean time I got off 400 horses in charge of 247 men of his brigade, for Colonel Watkins at Calhoun, Ga. ; remounted and armed the Sixth Indiana, and a good number of detachments along the line of the Tennessee and Alabama road, which it seemed desirable to keep in serviceable condition, in order that we might have early notice, or that, at least, the officer commanding that district might have the means of keeping himself notified of any movement of the enemy’s cavalry in that direction, which then seemed probable. Croxton was also at Franklin waiting for horse equipments, to supply some men whom he had compelled to leave behind on the Wheeler raid, and horses in place of those which had given out. I had hardly gotten a and some other detachments into shape to send off, about 2,000 in all, and Croxton was ready to march, when Forrest’s raid compelled the retention of all these troops in Middle Tennessee. I was able to bring into the field to co-operate with General Rousseau against Forrest near 5,000 cavalry. But all of these, except the Sixth Indiana and Ninth Ohio, were so indifferently organized and officered, being composed of detachments from nearly all the regiments in the army, raw recruits, stragglers, hospital rangers, &c., that they broke down their horses, short as the campaign was, and I had to bring them back here to recuperate. Major-General Thomas gave orders to General Croxton, who, I believe, is now still at Pulaski. I, however, sent off the Ninth Ohio from Athens, to report to Major-General Schofield at Chattanooga. In addition to the force of cavalry mentioned in default of armed cavalry, I had furnished horses to General Rousseau to mount five small regiments of infantry, equipping them with citizen’s saddles impressed here in this city. These horses I left at Athens to mount some dismounted cavalry of Major-General Thomas’ command at and near that place.

During my absence with Major-General Rousseau in the pursuit after Forrest, there were
sent to the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Army of the Cumberland, 300 horses to mount recruits, and since my return here I have mounted, equipped, and armed, as well as the facilities afforded by the ordnance depot here permitted, detachments of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry Ninth Ohio Cavalry, First Wisconsin Cavalry, Eighth Indiana Cavalry, Fourth Ohio Cavalry, and some others, over 1,000 in all.

There is now at the cavalry camp here a detachment of the Second Kentucky, mostly non-veterans whose term of service has expired, detachment Fourth Indiana, which I have permitted to await here the receipt of an invoice of cavalry arms on the way to them from Washington, and what is known as the First Battalion Detached Men, composed of odds and ends from all regiments, organized by General Sooy Smith during his administration, and which, on account of its character in this respect, I have retained here until I should get off those detachments which have officers and a semblance of organization. I send 400 of the Fifth Iowa to Louisville to-morrow for horses; this regiment will number near 700, and, with General Thomas’ approval, I have determined to keep it here for the present. Thee are three regiments of the new cavalry belonging to Army of the Cumberland, Ninth, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Indiana, or rather detachments from these, about 1,200 men in all, now at Louisville; one of them starts to-morrow, one of them on the 28th, and the THIRD as soon as saddle blankets can be procured. The saddles which they have drawn there are, I am informed by telegraph, very poor.
The ordnance department is the great difficulty in my way now; to- day they report to me on hand at the depot here 5,460 blankets and only 381 saddles; less than ten days ago they had 1,200 saddles and no blankets. In both the depot here and that at Louisville there are not enough serviceable carbines of any one kind to arm one squadron. There is not enough of all kinds here to arm more than 300 men. However, I have assurances from the Cavalry Bureau that this shall be remedied. They telegraph me there are 5,000 horse equipments now on the way to this depot and Louisville. I hope I shall within a week be able to equip a brigade, if one is sent up, and I particular recommend that hereafter brigades, or at least regiments complete, be sent up. The practice of sending detachments is a bad one. I respectfully inclose copies of orders issued by me, or at my suggestion, to which I invite attention, particularly that dismounting the Sixth Indiana Cavalry; I satisfied myself before recommending this order, of the justice of this course, and being unable to communicate with you submitted my purpose to Major- General Thomas, who approved it. I earnestly request that for the sake of the example upon the cavalry generally, this order may be adhered to. There are, I omitted to mention, in Kentucky seven regiments of cavalry refitting, under the direction of an officer of Major-General Schofield’s staff, to whose command they belong. In answer to an inquiry of mine I was informed, under date of September 23, that they would be ready to move in four weeks. I have telegraphed to-day to hurry them up.

In conclusion, permit me to say that while so much has not been accomplished as I desired, or as perhaps you may have expected, I trust the difficulties to which I have alluded and the frequent interruption to the communications with the army will seem a sufficient excuse.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. W. Johnson, Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Chief of Cavalry

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