All my troops have arrived at or near Atlanta, and are grouped into two wings, the right and left, commanded respectively by Major-Generals O.O. Howard and H.W. Slocum, both comparatively young men, but educated and experienced officers, fully competent to their command.
Howard’s right wing has the Fifteenth Corps, Major-General P. J. Osterhaus commanding, and the Seventeenth Corps, Major-General Frank P. Blair commanding. The Fifteenth Corps has four divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals Charles R. Woods, W. B. Hazen, John E. Smith, and John M. Gorse.
The Seventeenth Corps has three divisions, commanded by Major-General J. A. Mower, and Brigadier-Generals M. D. Leggett ad Giles A. Smith.
The left wing has the Fourteenth Corps, Major-General Jefferson C. Davis commanding, and the Twentieth Corps, Brigadier-General A. S.Williams commanding.
The Fourteenth Corps has three divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals W. P. Carlin, James D. Morgan, and A. Baird.
The Twentieth Corps has also three divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals N. J. Jackson, John W. Geary, and W. T. Ward.
I hold the cavalry division separate, subject to my own orders. It is commanded by Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick, and has two brigades, commanded by Colonels Eli H. Murray, of Kentucky, and Smith D. Atkins, of Illinois.
The strength of my army, is fifty-five thousand infantry, five thousand cavalry, and eighteen hundred artillery in all, sixty- two thousand.
The most extraordinary efforts have been made to purge this army of non-combatants and of sick men. There will be no place of safety save with the army itself; our wagons are loaded with ammunition, provisions, and forage. We could ill afford to haul even sick men in the ambulances, so that all are able-bodied, experienced soldiers, well armed, well equipped and provided with all the essentials of life, strength, and vigorous action.
The greatest possible attention is given to the artillery and wagon trains. The number of guns is reduced to sixty-five, or about one gun to each thousand men, and these are generally in batteries of four guns each.
Each gun, caisson, and forges is drawn by four teams of horses. We have in all about twenty-five hundred wagons, with teams of six mules to each, and sixhundred ambulances, with two horses to each. The loads are made comparatively light, about twenty-five hundred pounds net; each wagon carrying in addition the forage needed by its own team.
Each soldier carries on his person forty rounds of ammunition, and in the wagons are enough cartridges to make up about two hundred rounds per man, and in like manner two hundred rounds of assorted ammunition are carried for each gun.
The wagon-trains were divided equally between the four corps, so that each has about eight hundred wagons. Each corps commander is to manage his own train; and the artillery and wagons have the road, while the men march to the side.
I reached Atlanta during the afternoon of the 14th, and found that all preparations had been made. Colonel Beckwith, chief commissary, reports one million two hundred thousand rations in possession of the troops, which is about twenty days’ supply, and he have on hand a good supply of beef-cattle to be driven along on the hoof. The supply of forage is limited, being of oats and corn enough for five days. I know that within that time we will reach a country well stocked with corn, which has been gathered and stored in cribs, seemingly for our use, by Governor Brown’s militia.
Colonel Poe, United States Engineers, of my staff, has been busy in his special task of destruction. He has a large force at work, has leveled the great depot, round house, and the machine-shops of the Georgia Railroad, and applied fire to the wreck. One of these machine-shops had been used by the rebels as an arsenal, and in it were stored piles of shot and shell, some of which proved to be loaded. Tonight was made hideous by the bursting of shells, whose fragments came uncomfortably, near Judge Lyon’s house, in which I am quartered. The fire also reached the block of stores near the depot, and the heart of the city was in flames all night, but the fire did not reach the parts of Atlanta where the court-house is, or the great mass of dwelling houses.