Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

Illinois Infantry, could feel the country south of Rome about

Cedartown and Villa Rica; and reported the enemy to be in force at

both places. On the 9th I telegraphed to General Thomas, at

Nashville, as follows:

I came up here to relieve our road. The Twentieth Corps remains at

Atlanta. Hood reached the road and broke it up between Big Shanty

and Acworth. He attacked Allatoona, but was repulsed. We have

plenty of bread and meat, but forage is scarce. I want to destroy

all the road below Chattanooga, including Atlanta, and to make for

the sea-coast. We cannot defend this long line of road.

And on the same day I telegraphed to General Grant, at City Point:

It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that

Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned

loose without home or habitation. I think Hood's movements

indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma & Talladega road, at

Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he

will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I

propose that we break up the railroad from Ohattanooga forward, and

that we strike out with our wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and

Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless for us to

occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and

people, will cripple their military resources. By attempting to

hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will

gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl! We

have on hand over eight thousand head of cattle and three million

rations of bread, but no corn. We can find plenty of forage in the

interior of the State.

Meantime the rebel General Forrest had made a bold circuit in

Middle Tennessee, avoiding all fortified points, and breaking up

the railroad at several places; but, as usual, he did his work so

hastily and carelessly that our engineers soon repaired the

damage--then, retreating before General Rousseau, he left the State

of Tennessee, crossing the river near Florence, Alabama, and got

off unharmed.

On the 10th of October the enemy appeared south of the Etowah River

at Rome, when I ordered all the armies to march to Kingston, rode

myself to Cartersville with the Twenty-third Corps (General Cox),

and telegraphed from there to General Thomas at Nashville:

It looks to me as though Hood was bound for Tuscumbia. He is now

crossing the Coosa River below Rome, looking west. Let me know if

you can hold him with your forces now in Tennessee and the expected

reenforeements, as, in that event, you know what I propose to do.

I will be at Kingston to-morrow. I think Rome is strong enough to

resist any attack, and the rivers are all high. If he turns up by

Summerville, I will get in behind him.

And on the same day to General Grant, at City Point:

Hood is now crossing the Coosa, twelve miles below Rome, bound

west. If he passes over to the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, had I not

better execute the plan of my letter sent you by Colonel Porter,

and leave General Thomas, with the troops now in Tennessee, to

defend the State? He will have an ample force when the

reenforcements ordered reach Nashville.

I found General John E. Smith at Cartersville, and on the 11th

rode on to Kingston, where I had telegraphic communications in all


From General Corse, at Rome, I learned that Hood's army had

disappeared, but in what direction he was still in doubt; and I was

so strongly convinced of the wisdom of my proposition to change the

whole tactics of the campaign, to leave Hood to General Thomas, and

to march across Georgia for Savannah or Charleston, that I again

telegraphed to General Grant:

We cannot now remain on the defensive. With twenty-five thousand

infantry and the bold cavalry he has, Hood can constantly break my

road. I would infinitely prefer to make a wreck of the road and of

the country from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city;

send back all my wounded and unserviceable men, and with my

effective army move through Georgia, smashing things to the sea.

Hood may turn into Tennessee and Kentucky, but I believe he will be

forced to follow me. Instead of being on the defensive, I will be

on the offensive. Instead of my guessing at what he means to do,

he will have to guess at my plans. The difference in war would be

fully twenty-five per pent. I can make Savannah, Charleston, or

the month of the Chattahoochee (Appalachicola). Answer quick, as I

know we will not have the telegraph long.

I received no answer to this at the time, and the next day went on

to Rome, where the news came that Hood had made his appearance at

Resaca, and had demanded the surrender of the place, which was

commanded by Colonel Weaver, reenforced by Brevet Brigadier-General

Raum. General Hood had evidently marched with rapidity up the

Chattooga Valley, by Summerville, Lafayette, Ship's Gap, and

Snake-Creek Gap, and had with him his whole army, except a small

force left behind to watch Rome. I ordered Resaca to be further

reenforced by rail from Kingston, and ordered General Cox to make a

bold reconnoissance down the Coosa Valley, which captured and

brought into Rome some cavalrymen and a couple of field-guns, with

their horses and men. At first I thought of interposing my whole

army in the Chattooga Valley, so as to prevent Hood's escape south;

but I saw at a glance that he did not mean to fight, and in that

event, after damaging the road all he could, he would be likely to

retreat eastward by Spring Place, which I did not want him to do;

and, hearing from General Raum that he still held Resaca safe, and

that General Edward McCook had also got there with some cavalry

reenforcements, I turned all the heads of columns for Resaca, viz.,

General Cox's, from Rome; General Stanley's, from McGuire's; and

General Howard's, from Kingston. We all reached Resaca during that

night, and the next morning (13th) learned that Hood's whole army

had passed up the valley toward Dalton, burning the railroad and

doing all the damage possible.

On the 12th he had demanded the surrender of Resaca in the

following letter


IN THE FIELD, October 12,1861.

To the officer commanding the United Stales Forces at Resaca,


SIR: I demand the immediate and unconditional surrender of the post

and garrison under your command, and, should this be acceded to,

all white officers and soldiers will be parolled in a few days. If

the place is carried by assault, no prisoners will be taken. Most

respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. HOOD, General.

To this Colonel Weaver, then in command, replied:


RESACA, GEORGIA, October 12, 1884.

To General J. B. HOOD

Your communication of this date just received. In reply, I have to

state that I am somewhat surprised at the concluding paragraph, to

the effect that, if the place is carried by assault, no prisoners

will be taken. In my opinion I can hold this post. If you want it,

come and take it.

I am, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

CLARK R. WEAVER, Commanding Officer.

This brigade was very small, and as Hood's investment extended

only from the Oostenaula, below the town, to the Connesauga above,

he left open the approach from the south, which enabled General

Raum and the cavalry of Generals McCook and Watkins to reenforce

from Kingston. In fact, Hood, admonished by his losses at

Allatoona, did not attempt an assault at all, but limited his

attack to the above threat, and to some skirmishing, giving his

attention chiefly to the destruction of the railroad, which he

accomplished all the way up to Tunnel Hill, nearly twenty miles,

capturing en route the regiment of black troops at Dalton

(Johnson's Forty-fourth United States colored). On the 14th, I

turned General Howard through Snake-Creek Gap, and sent General

Stanley around by Tilton, with orders to cross the mountain to the

west, so as to capture, if possible, the force left by the enemy in

Snake-Creek Gap. We found this gap very badly obstructed by fallen

timber, but got through that night, and the next day the main army

was at Villanow. On the morning of the 16th, the leading division

of General Howard's column, commanded by General Charles R. Woods,

carried Ship's Gap, taking prisoners part of the Twenty-fourth

South Carolina Regiment, which had been left there to hold us in


The best information there obtained located Hood's army at

Lafayette, near which place I hoped to catch him and force him to

battle; but, by the time we had got enough troops across the

mountain at Ship's Gap, Hood had escaped down the valley of the

Chattooga, and all we could do was to follow him as closely as

possible. From Ship's Gap I dispatched couriers to Chattanooga,

and received word back that General Schofield was there,

endeavoring to cooperate with me, but Hood had broken up the

telegraph, and thus had prevented quick communication. General

Schofield did not reach me till the army had got down to

Gaylesville, about the 21st of October.

It was at Ship's Gap that a courier brought me the cipher message

from General Halleck which intimated that the authorities in

Washington were willing I should undertake the march across Georgia

to the sea. The translated dispatch named "Horse-i-bar Sound" as

the point where the fleet would await my arrival. After much time

I construed it to mean, "Ossabaw Sound," below Savannah, which was


On the 16th I telegraphed to General Thomas, at Nashville:

Send me Morgan's and Newton's old divisions. Reestablish the road,

and I will follow Hood wherever he may go. I think he will move to

Blue Mountain. We can maintain our men and animals on the country.

General Thomas's reply was:

NASHVILLE, October 17, 1864--10.30 a.m.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch from Ship's Gap, 5 p.m. of the 16th, just received.

Schofield, whom I placed in command of the two divisions (Wagner's

and Morgan's), was to move up Lookout Valley this A.M., to

intercept Hood, should he be marching for Bridgeport. I will order

him to join you with the two divisions, and will reconstruct the

road as soon as possible. Will also reorganize the guards for

posts and block-houses .... Mower and Wilson have arrived, and are

on their way to join you. I hope you will adopt Grant's idea of

turning Wilson loose, rather than undertake the plan of a march

with the whole force through Georgia to the sea, inasmuch as

General Grant cannot cooperate with you as at first arranged.

GEORGE H. THOMAS, Major-General.

So it is clear that at that date neither General Grant nor General

Thomas heartily favored my proposed plan of campaign. On the same

day, I wrote to General Schofield at Chattanooga:

Hood is not at Dear Head Cove. We occupy Ship's Gap and Lafayette.

Hood is moving south via Summerville, Alpine, and Gadsden. If he

enters Tennessee, it will be to the west of Huntsville, but I think

he has given up all such idea. I want the road repaired to

Atlanta; the sick and wounded men sent north of the Tennessee; my

army recomposed; and I will then make the interior of Georgia feel

the weight of war. It is folly for us to be moving our armies on

the reports of scouts and citizens. We must maintain the

offensive. Your first move on Trenton and Valley Head was right

--the move to defend Caperton's Ferry is wrong. Notify General

Thomas of these my views. We must follow Hood till he is beyond

the reach of mischief, and then resume the offensive.

The correspondence between me and the authorities at Washington, as

well as with the several army commanders, given at length in the

report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, is full on all

these points.

After striking our road at Dalton, Hood was compelled to go on to

Chattanooga and Bridgeport, or to pass around by Decatur and

abandon altogether his attempt to make us let go our hold of

Atlanta by attacking our communications. It was clear to me that

he had no intention to meet us in open battle, and the lightness

and celerity of his army convinced me that I could not possibly

catch him on a stern-chase. We therefore quietly followed him down

the Chattooga Valley to the neighborhood of Gadsden, but halted the

main armies near the Coosa River, at the mouth of the Chattooga,

drawing our supplies of corn and meat from the farms of that

comparatively rich valley and of the neighborhood.

General Slocum, in Atlanta, had likewise sent out, under strong

escort, large trains of wagons to the east, and brought back corn,

bacon, and all kinds of provisions, so that Hood's efforts to cut

off our supplies only reacted on his own people. So long as the

railroads were in good order, our supplies came full and regular

from the North; but when the enemy broke our railroads we were

perfectly justified in stripping the inhabitants of all they had.

I remember well the appeal of a very respectable farmer against our

men driving away his fine flock of sheep. I explained to him that

General Hood had broken our railroad; that we were a strong, hungry

crowd, and needed plenty of food; that Uncle Sam was deeply

interested in our continued health and would soon repair these

roads, but meantime we must eat; we preferred Illinois beef, but

mutton would have to answer. Poor fellow! I don't believe he was

convinced of the wisdom or wit of my explanation. Very soon after

reaching Lafayette we organized a line of supply from Chattanooga

to Ringgold by rail, and thence by wagons to our camps about

Gaylesville. Meantime, also, Hood had reached the neighborhood of

Gadsden, and drew his supplies from the railroad at Blue Mountain.

On the 19th of October I telegraphed to General Halleck, at


Hood has retreated rapidly by all the roads leading south. Our

advance columns are now at Alpine and Melville Post-Office. I

shall pursue him as far as Gaylesville. The enemy will not venture

toward Tennessee except around by Decatur. I propose to send the

Fourth Corps back to General Thomas, and leave him, with that

corps, the garrisons, and new troops, to defend the line of the

Tennessee River; and with the rest I will push into the heart of

Georgia and come out at Savannah, destroying all the railroads of

the State. The break in our railroad at Big Shanty is almost

repaired, and that about Dalton should be done in ten days. We

find abundance of forage in the country.

On the same day I telegraphed to General L. C. Easton,

chief-quartermaster, who had been absent on a visit to Missouri,

but had got back to Chattanooga:

Go in person to superintend the repairs of the railroad, and make

all orders in my name that will expedite its completion. I want it

finished, to bring back from Atlanta to Chattanooga the sick and

wounded men and surplus stores. On the 1st of November I want

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