Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman


Text to Speech

enemy took one of our batteries (Murray's, of the Regular Army)

that was marching in its place in column in the road, unconscious

of danger. About 4 p.m. the enemy sallied against the division of

General Morgan L. Smith, of the Fifteenth Corps, which occupied an

abandoned line of rifle-trench near the railroad east of the city,

and forced it back some four hundred yards, leaving in his hands

for the time two batteries, but the ground and batteries were

immediately after recovered by the same troops reenforced. I

cannot well approximate our loss, which fell heavily on the

Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, but count it as three thousand; I

know that, being on the defensive, we have inflicted equally heavy

loss on the enemy.

General McPherson, when arranging his troops about 11.00 A.M., and

passing from one column to another, incautiously rode upon an

ambuscade without apprehension, at some distance ahead of his staff

and orderlies, and was shot dead.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI

IN THE FIELD NEAR ATLANTA, July 26,1864.

Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: I find it difficult to make prompt report of results,

coupled with some data or information, without occasionally making

mistakes. McPherson's sudden death, and Logan succeeding to the

command as it were in the midst of battle, made some confusion on

our extreme left; but it soon recovered and made sad havoc with the

enemy, who had practised one of his favorite games of attacking our

left when in motion, and before it had time to cover its weak

flank. After riding over the ground and hearing the varying

statements of the actors, I directed General Logan to make an

official report of the actual result, and I herewith inclose it.

Though the number of dead rebels seems excessive, I am disposed to

give full credit to the report that our loss, though only thirty-

five hundred and twenty-one killed, wounded, and missing, the

enemy's dead alone on the field nearly equaled that number, viz.,

thirty-two hundred and twenty. Happening at that point of the line

when a flag of truce was sent in to ask permission for each party

to bury its dead, I gave General Logan authority to permit a

temporary truce on that flank alone, while our labors and fighting

proceeded at all others.

I also send you a copy of General Garrard's report of the breaking

of the railroad toward Augusta. I am now grouping my command to

attack the Macon road, and with that view will intrench a strong

line of circumvallation with flanks, so as to have as large an

infantry column as possible, with all the cavalry to swing round to

the south and east, to strike that road at or below East Point.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE

BEFORE ATLANTA GEORGIA, July 24, 1864

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding Military Division of the

Mississippi.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following general summary

of the result of the attack of the enemy on this army on the 22d

inst.

Total loss, killed, wounded, and missing, thirty-five hundred and

twenty-one, and ten pieces of artillery.

We have buried and delivered to the enemy, under a flag of truce

sent in by them, in front of the Third Division, Seventeenth Corps,

one thousand of their killed.

The number of their dead in front of the Fourth Division of the

same corps, including those on the ground not now occupied by our

troops, General Blair reports, will swell the number of their dead

on his front to two thousand.

The number of their dead buried in front of the Fifteenth Corps, up

to this hour, is three hundred and sixty, and the commanding

officer reports that at least as many more are yet unburied;

burying-parties being still at work.

The number of dead buried in front of the Sixteenth Corps is four

hundred and twenty-two. We have over one thousand of their wounded

in our hands, the larger number of the wounded being carried off

during the night, after the engagement, by them.

We captured eighteen stands of colors, and have them now. We also

captured five thousand stands of arms.

The attack was made on our lines seven times, and was seven times

repulsed. Hood's and Hardee's corps and Wheeler's cavalry engaged

us.

We have sent to the rear one thousand prisoners, including

thirty-three commissioned officers of high rank.

We still occupy the field, and the troops are in fine spirits. A

detailed and full report will be furnished as soon as completed.

Recapitulation.

Our total loss............................ 3,521

Enemy's dead, thus far reported, buried,

and delivered to them..................... 3,220

Total prisoners sent North................ 1,017

Total prisoners, wounded, in our hands.... 1,000

Estimated loss of the enemy, at least.... 10,000

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Joan A. Logan, Major-General.

On the 22d of July General Rousseau reached Marietta, having

returned from his raid on the Alabama road at Opelika, and on the

next day General Garrard also returned from Covington, both having

been measurably successful. The former was about twenty-five

hundred strong, the latter about four thousand, and both reported

that their horses were jaded and tired, needing shoes and rest.

But, about this time, I was advised by General Grant (then

investing Richmond) that the rebel Government had become aroused to

the critical condition of things about Atlanta, and that I must

look out for Hood being greatly reenforced. I therefore was

resolved to push matters, and at once set about the original

purpose of transferring the whole of the Army of the Tennessee to

our right flank, leaving Schofield to stretch out so as to rest his

left on the Augusta road, then torn up for thirty miles eastward;

and, as auxiliary thereto, I ordered all the cavalry to be ready to

pass around Atlanta on both flanks, to break up the Macon road at

some point below, so as to cut off all supplies to the rebel army

inside, and thus to force it to evacuate, or come out and fight us

on equal terms.

But it first became necessary to settle the important question of

who should succeed General McPherson? General Logan had taken

command of the Army of the Tennessee by virtue of his seniority,

and had done well; but I did not consider him equal to the command

of three corps. Between him and General Blair there existed a

natural rivalry. Both were men of great courage and talent, but

were politicians by nature and experience, and it may be that for

this reason they were mistrusted by regular officers like Generals

Schofield, Thomas, and myself. It was all-important that there

should exist a perfect understanding among the army commanders, and

at a conference with General George H. Thomas at the headquarters

of General Thomas J. Woods, commanding a division in the Fourth

Corps, he (Thomas) remonstrated warmly against my recommending that

General Logan should be regularly assigned to the command of the

Army of the Tennessee by reason of his accidental seniority. We

discussed fully the merits and qualities of every officer of high

rank in the army, and finally settled on Major-General O. O. Howard

as the best officer who was present and available for the purpose;

on the 24th of July I telegraphed to General Halleck this

preference, and it was promptly ratified by the President. General

Howard's place in command of the Fourth Corps was filled by General

Stanley, one of his division commanders, on the recommendation of

General Thomas. All these promotions happened to fall upon

West-Pointers, and doubtless Logan and Blair had some reason to

believe that we intended to monopolize the higher honors of the war

for the regular officers. I remember well my own thoughts and

feelings at the time, and feel sure that I was not intentionally

partial to any class, I wanted to succeed in taking Atlanta, and

needed commanders who were purely and technically soldiers, men who

would obey orders and execute them promptly and on time; for I knew

that we would have to execute some most delicate manoeuvres,

requiring the utmost skill, nicety, and precision. I believed that

General Howard would do all these faithfully and well, and I think

the result has justified my choice. I regarded both Generals Logan

and Blair as "volunteers," that looked to personal fame and glory

as auxiliary and secondary to their political ambition, and not as

professional soldiers.

As soon as it was known that General Howard had been chosen to

command the Army of the Tennessee; General Hooker applied to

General Thomas to be relieved of the command of the Twentieth

Corps, and General Thomas forwarded his application to me approved

and heartily recommended. I at once telegraphed to General

Halleck, recommending General Slocum (then at Vicksburg) to be his

successor, because Slocum had been displaced from the command of

his corps at the time when the Eleventh and Twelfth were united and

made the Twentieth.

General Hooker was offended because he was not chosen to succeed

McPherson; but his chances were not even considered; indeed, I had

never been satisfied with him since his affair at the Gulp House,

and had been more than once disposed to relieve him of his corps,

because of his repeated attempts to interfere with Generals

McPherson and Schofield. I had known Hooker since 1836, and was

intimately associated with him in California, where we served

together on the staff of General Persifer F. Smith. He had come to

us from the East with a high reputation as a "fighter," which he

had fully justified at Chattanooga and Peach-Tree Creek; at which

latter battle I complimented him on the field for special

gallantry, and afterward in official reports. Still, I did feel a

sense of relief when he left us. We were then two hundred and

fifty miles in advance of our base, dependent on a single line of

railroad for our daily food. We had a bold, determined foe in our

immediate front, strongly intrenched, with communication open to

his rear for supplies and reenforcements, and every soldier

realized that we had plenty of hard fighting ahead, and that all

honors had to be fairly earned.

Until General Slocum joined (in the latter part of August), the

Twentieth Corps was commanded by General A. S. Williams, the senior

division commander present. On the 25th of July the army,

therefore, stood thus: the Army of the Tennessee (General O. O.

Howard commanding) was on the left, pretty much on the same ground

it had occupied during the battle of the 22d, all ready to move

rapidly by the rear to the extreme right beyond Proctor's Creek;

the Army of the Ohio (General Schofield) was next in order, with

its left flank reaching the Augusta Railroad; next in order,

conforming closely with the rebel intrenchmenta of Atlanta, was

General Thomas's Army of the Cumberland, in the order of--the

Fourth Corps (Stanley's), the Twentieth Corps (Williams's), and the

Fourteenth Corps (Palmer's). Palmer's right division (Jefferson C.

Davis's) was strongly refused along Proctor's Creek. This line was

about five miles long, and was intrenched as against a sally about

as strong as was our enemy. The cavalry was assembled in two

strong divisions; that of McCook (including the brigade of Harrison

which had been brought in from Opelika by General Rousseau)

numbered about thirty-five hundred effective cavalry, and was

posted to our right rear, at Turner's Ferry, where we had a good

pontoon-bridge; and to our left rear, at and about Decatur, were

the two cavalry divisions of Stoneman, twenty-five hundred, and

Garrard, four thousand, united for the time and occasion under the

command of Major-General George Stoneman, a cavalry-officer of high

repute. My plan of action was to move the Army of the Tennessee to

the right rapidly and boldly against the railroad below Atlanta,

and at the same time to send all the cavalry around by the right

and left to make a lodgment on the Macon road about Jonesboro.

All the orders were given, and the morning of the 27th was fixed

for commencing the movement. On the 26th I received from General

Stoneman a note asking permission (after having accomplished his

orders to break up the railroad at Jonesboro) to go on to Macon to

rescue our prisoners of war known to be held there, and then to

push on to Andersonville, where was the great depot of Union

prisoners, in which were penned at one time as many as twenty-three

thousand of our men, badly fed and harshly treated. I wrote him an

answer consenting substantially to his proposition, only modifying

it by requiring him to send back General Garrard's division to its

position on our left flank after he had broken up the railroad at

Jonesboro. Promptly, and on time, all got off, and General Dodge's

corps (the Sixteenth, of the Army of the Tennessee) reached its

position across Proctor's Creek the same evening, and early the

next morning (the 28th) Blair's corps (the Seventeenth) deployed on

his right, both corps covering their front with the usual parapet;

the Fifteenth Corps (General Logan's) came up that morning on the

right of Blair, strongly refused, and began to prepare the usual

cover. As General Jeff. C. Davis's division was, as it were, left

out of line, I ordered it on the evening before to march down

toward Turner's Ferry, and then to take a road laid down on our

maps which led from there toward East Point, ready to engage any

enemy that might attack our general right flank, after the same

manner as had been done to the left flank on the 22d.

Personally on the morning of the 28th I followed the movement, and

rode to the extreme right, where we could hear some skirmishing and

an occasional cannon-shot. As we approached the ground held by the

Fifteenth Corps, a cannon-ball passed over my shoulder and killed

the horse of an orderly behind; and seeing that this gun enfiladed

the road by which we were riding, we turned out of it and rode down

into a valley, where we left our horses and walked up to the hill

held by Morgan L. Smith's division of the Fifteenth Corps. Near a

house I met Generals Howard and Logan, who explained that there was

an intrenched battery to their front, with the appearance of a

strong infantry support. I then walked up to the ridge, where I

found General Morgan L. Smith. His men were deployed and engaged

in rolling logs and fence-rails, preparing a hasty cover. From

this ridge we could overlook the open fields near a meeting-house

known as "Ezra Church," close by the Poor-House. We could see the

fresh earth of a parapet covering some guns (that fired an

occasional shot), and there was also an appearance of activity

beyond. General Smith was in the act of sending forward a regiment

from, his right flank to feel the position of the enemy, when I

explained to him and to Generals Logan and Howard that they must

look out for General Jeff. C. Davis's division, which was comming

up from the direction of Turner's Ferry.

As the skirmish-fire warmed up along the front of Blair's corps, as

well as along the Fifteenth Corps (Logan's), I became convinced

that Hood designed to attack this right flank, to prevent, if

possible, the extension of our line in that direction. I regained

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