Monday, December 5, 1864

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Ogeechee Church, GA., December 5, 1864.

Major-General HOWARD, Commanding Army of the Tennessee;

Since sending the messenger to you this morning General Blair has entered this place almost unopposed. Some field works are fresh, and, so far as I have examined, would be such as would be thrown up by 5,000 inexperienced hands. General Slocum reports he will be tonight at the point where his road next north of this intersects the one from here to Poor Robin, but he has not heard from Generals Davis and Kilpatrick since he heard their firing yesterday morning. Davis has orders to move from the point where he separated from Slocum, viz, Buck Head Church, to Halley’s Ferry, abreast of this on the Savannah, via Sylvania. I have sent a courier to General Slocum, to communicate with General Davis at once and report to me at what moment he will be ready to move on. You will observe that, with Davis at Halley’s, we threaten South Carolina, and to that extent will confuse our enemy. But I will not lose a moment, only we must move in concert, or else will get lost. You may make all the dispositions to cross at 3, but the point 2 is the true one, unless modified by local geography. I will disturb the railroad but little south of this, as we may have use for it out this far. Still, Blair can burn the bridges and culverts, and also enough cotton-gins and barns to mark the progress of his head of column. I don’t want him to start till I know Davis is abreast.

Yours, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding

Slocum Writes:

Your dispatch of last evening is received. The one you allude to, written at 3:15 p. m., has not come to hand yet. Soon after my dispatch of 10 a.m. yesterday the enemy cut a mill-dam on Little Horse Creek, flooring the road to such an extent as to entirely stop that portion of the column on the other side. Being in the advance I did not hear of this until I had nearly reached this point. All of Geary’s and part of Ward’s division is still back of Little Horse Creek (ten miles from here), unable to cross. I cannot move from here until they close up, which will probably be nearly night.

I have learned that the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry passed from Sylvania to Numbers 5, about 10 a.m. yesterday, and it is reported that a regiment of a militia had gone in the same direction. I have not heard from Davis, but think he is some distance in rear. I think the two orderlies I sent to you at 10 a.m. yesterday must have been captured, as there have been small squads of cavalry between this column and the Seventeenth Corps.

…..

I have the honor to inform you that the General’s note of 3,15 p. m. yesterday, which I supposed was captured, has just come to hand. I have sent a staff officer, with what cavalry I have got, to open communication with General Davis and General Kilpatrick, and hope to hear from them during the day. This column is moving to-day, and the advance will probably encamp at the intersection of the road from Poor Robin to Ogeechee Church.

Dayton Replies:
General Blair is now crossing Little Ogeechee at Numbers 4 1/2. It is no longer necessary to demonstrate on its flank, but look to collecting your entire command, including General Kilpatrick’s, and getting it on the road heretofore described, which runs from Ogeechee Church to Halley’s Ferry. Report at the earliest practicable moment the time you will be able to move from that road to Savannah. It may be our interest to push matters, until, at all events, we get on the Charleston road. Your note of 9 this a.m. is received, and do not know whether the rear of the Twentieth Corps is closed up, until you hear from General Davis. The two couriers who brought your dispatch of 10 a.m. 4th played possum, and instead of going back with answer at 3:15 p. m., as ordered, put away their horses, kept out of my sight, and sloped off this morning after daylight. They should certainly be punished.

……………

General Blair’s troops secured this place early today, with a very little skirmishing, the movement of General Howard having had the desired effect. Field-works of a poor character were found. The General-in-chief is desirous of hearing from you, giving the position, of your command and intelligence from General Kilpatrick, if any. He also wishes to know when you will be up on and prepared to move beyond the Halley’s Ferry road. General Howard is tonight opposite Numbers 3. Both of these columns will remain as now until your command is up and ready to advance. There is no general news. Yours of 9 a.m. today is the last received.
L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp

Kilpatrick Reports:

I have the pleasure of reporting that I attacked Wheeler yesterday morning in position behind long lines of barricades, one mile and a half from Thomas’ Station and three and a half from Waynesborough, on the railroad. Wheeler had five pieces of artillery, and, as far as can be ascertained from prisoners, about 6,000 men. I drove in his pickets and skirmish line at 7:30 a. m., and rode over his barricades in less than thirty minutes. He left 23 dead and 41 wounded on the field. I then drove him from one position to another, till he made a final stand in and about the town of Waynesborough. Here his lines were too long to be flanked, so we boldly charged and broke his center. He fought stubbornly for a time, but finally gave way before our flashing sabers, and in twenty minutes was retreating in great confusion through the woods, fields, and on every available road leading toward Augusta.

I continued the pursuit upward of four miles; rushed him across and beyond Brier Creek. It was now 3 p.m., and being so far from the main army I deemed it best to halt. After burning various bridges on Brier Creek above and below the railroad bridge, including the latter, which I found had been imperfectly burned before, and, in fact, had been nearly repaired, I retired to Alexander and went into camp. The railroad bridge destroyed is certainly a very important one, reported by Colonel Heath, Fifth Ohio Cavalry, to be upward of 500 feet long.

I have to thank General Baird for kindly tendering me a brigade of infantry to support my attack. The infantry, however, was not engaged. My loss has been quite severe, particularly in horses, having lost upward of 200 in killed and wounded. As I am now marching in the rear of the army it is impossible to supply myself with fresh animals. I most respectfully suggest that captured horses now with the different army corps, and not needed by them, be sent to me, or left at some convenient point along my line of march. The enemy’s loss is not known; certainly could not be less than 500 killed and wounded, judging from his dead left upon the field, a large percentage being officers. My command is somewhat jaded, but I will make every effort to bring it up. All I need is some few hundred horses to supply the place of those broken down. These I could supply myself, were I marching upon the flank or in front. It is impossible, however, to find a single horse or mule in rear of the infantry; and would again most respectfully urge that a few hundred horses be turned over to me from one or more of the army corps marching on roads parallel or near to my line of march.

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