Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

my horse, and rode rapidly back to see that Davis's division had

been dispatched as ordered. I found General Davis in person, who

was unwell, and had sent his division that morning early, under the

command of his senior brigadier, Morgan; but, as I attached great

importance to the movement, he mounted his horse, and rode away to

overtake and to hurry forward the movement, so as to come up on the

left rear of the enemy, during the expected battle.

By this time the sound of cannon and musketry denoted a severe

battle as in progress, which began seriously at 11.30 a.m., and

ended substantially by 4 p.m. It was a fierce attack by the enemy

on our extreme right flank, well posted and partially covered. The

most authentic account of the battle is given by General Logan, who

commanded the Fifteenth Corps, in his official report to the

Adjutant-General of the Army of the Tennessee, thus:



Lieutenant-Colonel WILLIAM T. CLARK, Assistant Adjutant-General,

Army of the Tennessee, present.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in pursuance of orders, I

moved my command into position on the right of the Seventeenth

Corps, which was the extreme right of the army in the field, during

the night of the 27th and morning of the 28th; and, while advancing

in line of battle to a more favorable position, we were met by the

rebel infantry of Hardee's and Lee's corps, who made a determined

and desperate attack on us at 11 A.M. of the 28th (yesterday).

My lines were only protected by logs and rails, hastily thrown up

in front of them.

The first onset was received and checked, and the battle commenced

and lasted until about three o'clock in the evening. During that

time six successive charges were made, which were six times

gallantly repulsed, each time with fearful loss to the enemy.

Later in the evening my lines were several times assaulted

vigorously, but each time with like result. The worst of the

fighting occurred on General Harrow's and Morgan L. Smith's fronts,

which formed the centre and right of the corps. The troops could

not have displayed greater courage, nor greater determination not

to give ground; had they shown less, they would have been driven

from their position.

Brigadier-Generals C. R. Woods, Harrow, and Morgan L. Smith,

division commanders, are entitled to equal credit for gallant

conduct and skill in repelling the assault. My thanks are due to

Major-Generals Blair and Dodge for sending me reenforeements at a

time when they were much needed. My losses were fifty killed, four

hundred and forty-nine wounded, and seventy-three missing:

aggregate, five hundred and seventy-two.

The division of General Harrow captured five battle-flags. There

were about fifteen hundred or two thousand muskets left on the

ground. One hundred and six prisoners were captured, exclusive of

seventy-three wounded, who were sent to our hospital, and are being

cared for by our surgeons. Five hundred and sixty-five rebels have

up to this time been buried, and about two hundred are supposed to

be yet unburied. A large number of their wounded were undoubtedly

carried away in the night, as the enemy did not withdraw till near

daylight. The enemy's loss could not have been less than six or

seven thousand men. A more detailed report will hereafter be made.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


Major-General, commanding Fifteenth Army Corps.

General Howard, in transmitting this report, added:

I wish to express my high gratification with the conduct of the

troops engaged. I never saw better conduct in battle. General

Logan, though ill and much worn out, was indefatigable, and the

success of the day is as much attributable to him as to any one


This was, of coarse, the first fight in which General Howard had

commanded the Army of the Tennessee, and he evidently aimed to

reconcile General Logan in his disappointment, and to gain the

heart of his army, to which he was a stranger. He very properly

left General Logan to fight his own corps, but exposed himself

freely; and, after the firing had ceased, in the afternoon he

walked the lines; the men, as reported to me, gathered about him in

the most affectionate way, and he at once gained their respect and

confidence. To this fact I at the time attached much importance,

for it put me at ease as to the future conduct of that most

important army.

At no instant of time did I feel the least uneasiness about the

result on the 28th, but wanted to reap fuller results, hoping that

Davis's division would come up at the instant of defeat, and catch

the enemy in flank; but the woods were dense, the roads obscure,

and as usual this division got on the wrong road, and did not come

into position until about dark. In like manner, I thought that

Hood had greatly weakened his main lines inside of Atlanta, and

accordingly sent repeated orders to Schofield and Thomas to make an

attempt to break in; but both reported that they found the parapets

very strong and full manned.

Our men were unusually encouraged by this day's work, for they

realized that we could compel Hood to come out from behind his

fortified lines to attack us at a disadvantage. In conversation

with me, the soldiers of the Fifteenth Corps, with whom I was on

the most familiar terms, spoke of the affair of the 28th as the

easiest thing in the world; that, in fact, it was a common

slaughter of the enemy; they pointed out where the rebel lines had

been, and how they themselves had fired deliberately, had shot down

their antagonists, whose bodies still lay unburied, and marked

plainly their lines of battle, which must have halted within easy

musket-range of our men, who were partially protected by their

improvised line of logs and fence-rails. All bore willing

testimony to the courage and spirit of the foe, who, though

repeatedly repulsed, came back with increased determination some

six or more times.

The next morning the Fifteenth Corps wheeled forward to the left

over the battle-field of the day before, and Davis's division still

farther prolonged the line, which reached nearly to the ever-to-be-

remembered "Sandtown road."

Then, by further thinning out Thomas's line, which was well

entrenched, I drew another division of Palmer's corps (Baird's)

around to the right, to further strengthen that flank. I was

impatient to hear from the cavalry raid, then four days out, and

was watching for its effect, ready to make a bold push for the

possession of East Point. General Garrard's division returned to

Decatur on the 31st, and reported that General Stoneman had posted

him at Flat Rock, while he (Stoneman) went on. The month of July

therefore closed with our infantry line strongly entrenched, but

drawn out from the Augusta road on the left to the Sandtown road on

the right, a distance of full ten measured miles.

The enemy, though evidently somewhat intimidated by the results of

their defeats on the 22d and 28th, still presented a bold front at

all points, with fortified lines that defied a direct assault. Our

railroad was done to the rear of our camps, Colonel W. P. Wright

having reconstructed the bridge across the Chattahoochee in six

days; and our garrisons and detachments to the rear had so

effectually guarded the railroad that the trains from Nashville

arrived daily, and our substantial wants were well supplied.

The month, though hot in the extreme, had been one of constant

conflict, without intermission, and on four several occasions

--viz., July 4th, 20th, 22d, and 28th--these affairs had amounted to

real battles, with casualty lists by the thousands. Assuming the

correctness of the rebel surgeon Foard's report, on page 577 of

Johnston's "Narrative," commencing with July 4th and terminating

with July 31st, we have:

Aggregate loss of the enemy......... 10,841

Our losses, as compiled from the official returns for July,

1864, are:

Killed and Missing. Wounded. Total.

Aggregate loss of July....... 3,804 5,915 9,719

In this table the column of "killed and missing" embraces the

prisoners that fell into the hands of the enemy, mostly lost in the

Seventeenth Corps, on the 22d of July, and does not embrace the

losses in the cavalry divisions of Garrard and McCook, which,

however, were small for July. In all other respects the statement

is absolutely correct. I am satisfied, however, that Surgeon Foard

could not have been in possession of data sufficiently accurate to

enable him to report the losses in actual battle of men who never

saw the hospital. During the whole campaign I had rendered to me

tri-monthly statements of "effective strength," from which I

carefully eliminated the figures not essential for my conduct, so

that at all times I knew the exact fighting-strength of each corps,

division, and brigade, of the whole army, and also endeavored to

bear in mind our losses both on the several fields of battle and by

sickness, and well remember that I always estimated that during the

month of July we had inflicted heavier loss on the enemy than we

had sustained ourselves, and the above figures prove it

conclusively. Before closing this chapter, I must record one or

two minor events that occurred about this time, that may prove of


On the 24th of July I received a dispatch from Inspector-General

James A. Hardie, then on duty at the War Department in Washington,

to the effect that Generals Osterhaus and Alvan P. Hovey had been

appointed major-generals. Both of these had begun the campaign

with us in command of divisions, but had gone to the rear--the

former by reason of sickness, and the latter dissatisfied with

General Schofield and myself about the composition of his division

of the Twenty-third Corps. Both were esteemed as first-class

officers, who had gained special distinction in the Vicksburg

campaign. But up to that time, when the newspapers announced daily

promotions elsewhere, no prominent officers serving with me had

been advanced a peg, and I felt hurt. I answered Hardie on the

25th, in a dispatch which has been made public, closing with this

language: "If the rear be the post of honor, then we had better all

change front on Washington." To my amazement, in a few days I

received from President Lincoln himself an answer, in which he

caught me fairly. I have not preserved a copy of that dispatch,

and suppose it was burned up in the Chicago fire; but it was

characteristic of Mr. Lincoln, and was dated the 26th or 27th day

of July, contained unequivocal expressions of respect for those who

were fighting hard and unselfishly, offering us a full share of the

honors and rewards of the war, and saying that, in the cases of

Hovey and Osterhaus, he was influenced mainly by the

recommendations of Generals Grant and Sherman. On the 27th I

replied direct, apologizing somewhat for my message to General

Hardie, saying that I did not suppose such messages ever reached

him personally, explaining that General Grant's and Sherman's

recommendations for Hovey and Osterhaus had been made when the

events of the Vicksburg campaign were fresh with us, and that my

dispatch of the 25th to General Hardie had reflected chiefly the

feelings of the officers then present with me before Atlanta. The

result of all this, however, was good, for another dispatch from

General Hardie, of the 28th, called on me to nominate eight

colonels for promotion as brigadier-generals. I at once sent a

circular note to the army-commanders to nominate two colonels from

the Army of the Ohio and three from each of the others; and the

result was, that on the 29th of July I telegraphed the names of--

Colonel William Gross, Thirty-sixth Indiana; Colonel Charles C.

Walcutt, Forty-sixth Ohio; Colonel James W. Riley, One Hundred and

Fourth Ohio; Colonel L. P. Bradley, Fifty-first Illinois; Colonel

J. W. Sprague, Sixty-third Ohio; Colonel Joseph A. Cooper, Sixth

East Tennessee; Colonel John T. Croxton, Fourth Kentucky; Colonel

William W. Belknap, Fifteenth Iowa. These were promptly appointed

brigadier-generals, were already in command of brigades or

divisions; and I doubt if eight promotions were ever made fairer,

or were more honestly earned, during the whole war.




The month of August opened hot and sultry, but our position before

Atlanta was healthy, with ample supply of wood, water, and

provisions. The troops had become habituated to the slow and

steady progress of the siege; the skirmish-lines were held close up

to the enemy, were covered by rifle-trenches or logs, and kept up a

continuous clatter of musketry. The mainlines were held farther

back, adapted to the shape of the ground, with muskets loaded and

stacked for instant use. The field-batteries were in select

positions, covered by handsome parapets, and occasional shots from

them gave life and animation to the scene. The men loitered about

the trenches carelessly, or busied themselves in constructing

ingenious huts out of the abundant timber, and seemed as snug,

comfortable, and happy, as though they were at home. General

Schofield was still on the extreme left, Thomas in the centre, and

Howard on the right. Two divisions of the Fourteenth Corps

(Baird's and Jeff. C. Davis's) were detached to the right rear,

and held in reserve.

I thus awaited the effect of the cavalry movement against the

railroad about Jonesboro, and had heard from General Garrard that

Stoneman had gone on to Mason; during that day (August 1st) Colonel

Brownlow, of a Tennessee cavalry regiment, came in to Marietta from

General McCook, and reported that McCook's whole division had been

overwhelmed, defeated, and captured at Newnan. Of course, I was

disturbed by this wild report, though I discredited it, but made

all possible preparations to strengthen our guards along the

railroad to the rear, on the theory that the force of cavalry which

had defeated McCook would at once be on the railroad about

Marietta. At the same time Garrard was ordered to occupy the

trenches on our left, while Schofield's whole army moved to the

extreme right, and extended the line toward East Point. Thomas was

also ordered still further to thin out his lines, so as to set free

the other division (Johnson's) of the Fourteenth Corps (Palmer's),

which was moved to the extreme right rear, and held in reserve

ready to make a bold push from that flank to secure a footing on

the Mason Railroad at or below East Point.

These changes were effected during the 2d and 3d days of August,

when General McCook came in and reported the actual results of his

cavalry expedition. He had crossed the Chattahoochee River below

Campbellton, by his pontoon-bridge; had then marched rapidly across

to the Mason Railroad at Lovejoy's Station, where he had reason to

expect General Stoneman; but, not hearing of him, he set to work,

tore up two miles of track, burned two trains of cars, and cut away

five miles of telegraph-wire. He also found the wagon-train

belonging to the rebel army in Atlanta, burned five hundred wagons,

killed eight hundred mules; and captured seventy-two officers and

three hundred and fifty men. Finding his progress eastward, toward

McDonough, barred by a superior force, he turned back to Newnan,

where he found himself completely surrounded by infantry and

cavalry. He had to drop his prisoners and fight his way out,

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