Friday, December 2, 1864

Millen, Georgia

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Millen, GA., December 2, 1864.

Major General O. O. HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
The next movement will be on Savannah, your two corps moving along down the Ogeechee. General Blair is to destroy the railroad as far as Ogeechee Church, and the Fifteenth Corps keeping on the south and west bank, ready to cross over in case of opposition to General Blair. Otherwise it will not cross until near Eden (Numbers 2). General Slocum will take the two roads north of the railroad, and between it and the Savannah River. As he will have to make a wide detour we must allow him until the fourth day to reach the road from Mill Ray to Halley’s Ferry, on the Savannah River. This will make slow marching for you, but, as a general rule, the rear of the Fifteenth Corps should be about abreast of General Blair’s head of column. The general has a Savannah paper of yesterday, from which he notices the enemy still remain in doubt as to his intention, being divided between Macon, Augusta, and Savannah, and also that an expedition of gun-boats has passed up the Broad River toward the Coosawhatchie. If at any time during your progress you judge it feasible, you might dispatch a small force and hold bold party of scouts down toward Hinesville, to burn some culverts, tear up some track and cut the telegraph wire in several places on the Savannah and Gulf Railroad, over which the city of Savannah is now chiefly supplied. The fewer the men and the sooner such a party starts the better. The country is very sparsely settled, and very favorable for such an expedition.

I am, General, &c.,
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

Howard Replies:

The Fifteenth Corps marched in two columns as ordered. The left column reached Scull’s Creek between 10 and 11 a. m. ; the ford was too deep for wagons and ammunition, yet the pontoon bridge was crossed by it. General Corse built a log bridge across it; meanwhile the engineer regiment threw a bridge across at Clifton Ferry, and before 2 p.m. a brigade of General Corse’s was sent to destroy as much of the railroad as possible; one mile was completely burned. A scouting party went three miles below, to Scarborough, and captured a mail and procured some information, which I inclose. The right column is now in Statesborough road, near the Seventeenth to destroy the railroad as far as Scarborough, but will not advance unless you so direct.

I am now in readiness to cross at Clifton Ferry, or to move on and cross wherever you may wish.

Our telegraph operators are gleaning information from the enemy:

I have the honor to report that I tapped the Confederate telegraph line at Station Numbers 7, communicating with Savannah. I listened for about fifteen minutes to the rebel telegraph operators asking each other questions, none of which are important enough to quote. Hearing the signal “9” given repeatedly, I ventured to answer to that call, and succeeded well in deceiving the operator at Savannah, he thinking that I was the proper person. He asked, “What is the news? What is going on?” (These questions satisfied me that I answered properly.) To which I replied, “The Yankees have not yet crossed the river, and all is quiet. ” I then asked, “What is the news from the East? How are thins looking in Savannah?” He then asked for my name. (In the meantime Captain Taggart, assistant adjutant-General, ascertained the operator’s name, who had left an hour and a half previous to the capture of the station.) To which I replied promptly. The operator whose name I assumed had just arrived at the next office south of Station Numbers 7, and at once disclosed as to who I was. Knowing that I was discovered, and, at the suggestion of captain Taggart, I sent a message to the commanding officer at Savannah giving the compliments of General Howard and staff, signing Captain S. L. Taggart’s name; also, the compliments of General Howard to the mayor of Savannah, hoping to meet him soon, &c. Having been informed by a citizen who had left Savannah this day that Bragg was expected there with 10,000 men, I asked if he had arrived; to which the rebel operator replied, “Yes, and will soon give you all the information you desire; ” to which I replied, “We will be happy to see him and ascertain, as we did at Missionary Ridge. Darkness approaching and camp being some distance off, the conversation ended.

Respectfully, yours,
John LONERGAN, Operator

We hear from Augusta:

I send you a copy of another dispatch. The operator at Augusta called this office this afternoon before any dispatches were taken off, and said that he knew there was a Yankee operator on the line, and that he might as well let the cat out of the bag and acknowledge that he was there, and they would have a talk. Our operator has done nothing to excite his suspicions more than answering his call for a new office that has been put on the line today, and not far from here. Since this last dispatch was taken off they have been talking, as operators often do, about various subjects, our man assuming to be at the new station mention above. Among other things, the Augusta man said he never saw so many troops passing through the town as there were tonight. Upon being asked what troops they were, he said they were from Virginia. Our operator thinks now that they know what’s up, and are trying to stuff him; and I think he is right in his opinion. They are very communicative, and answer anything that is asked. The chief operator at Augusta is the one working the line.

Very respectfully,
C. CADLE, Jr., Assistant Adjutant-General.

Dayton sent messages to Blair:
The General-in-chief has made his camp on the west side of Buck Head Creek. He wishes you to camp a brigade near it and let the pontoon bridge remain until further orders.

The General-in-chief does not expect you to move more than five miles tomorrow, to the vicinity of Paramore’s Hill; but wishes you to make the most complete and perfect possible break of the railroad about Millen. Let it be more devilish than can be dreamed of.

Dayton Writes to Slocum:
The General-in-chief has made camp near the mouth of Buck Head Creek, and the troops are passing over into Millen. He wishes you tomorrow to make a good break of the railroad from Millen to Augusta, to the right and left of the points crossed by the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps, after which to move out and continue to march toward Savannah by two roads, leaving the one along the railroad for General Blair. The two roads indicated on our maps – the one passing near Millen and near Hunter’s Mills, and the other sweeping around by Sharp’s and Buck Creek Post-Office – will answer; but if one can be found leading from the upper road, through Sylvania, toward Halley’s Ferry, on the Savannah River, it would answer our purpose better for your left corps.

General Kilpatrick will be instructed to confer with you and cover your rear. Dress to the right on the Seventeenth Corps, whose progress you can rate by the smokes. General Blair will continue to burn the railroad as he marches as far as Ogeechee Church. The general wishes all the heads of columns to be on the road leading from Mill Ray to Halley’s Ferry on the fourth day, including tomorrow. Communicate as often as possible with him, but failing to hear from him always act in concert with General Blair’s column, which alone is expected to meet opposition. General Howard, with the Fifteenth Corps, will continue on the south bank of the Ogeechee, ready to turn any position of the enemy in case he offers opposition to our progress.

Dayton Write Kilpatrick:
The army will move on Savannah, delaying only to continue the destruction of the railroad from Millen as far as Ogeechee Church. General Howard will continue to move along the south bank of the Ogeechee, General Blair along the railroad, and General Slocum by the two roads lying north of the railroad, between it and the Savannah River. The general wishes you to confer with General Slocum, to make a strong feint up in the direction of Waynesborough, and then to cover his rear from molestation by dashes of cavalry. I send you copies of two letters from members of Wheeler’s staff which will interest you. After reading, please return, for file in this office.

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