Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

nothing in front of Chattanooga except what we can use as food and

clothing and haul in our wagons. There is plenty of corn in the

country, and we only want forage for the posts. I allow ten days

for all this to be done, by which time I expect to be at or near


I telegraphed also to General Amos Beckwith, chief-commissary in

Atlanta, who was acting as chief-quartermaster during the absence

of General Easton:

Hood will escape me. I want to prepare for my big raid. On the

1st of November I want nothing in Atlanta but what is necessary for

war. Send all trash to the rear at once, and have on hand thirty

days' food and but little forage. I propose to abandon Atlanta,

and the railroad back to Chattanooga, to sally forth to ruin

Georgia and bring up on the seashore. Make all dispositions

accordingly. I will go down the Coosa until I am sure that Hood

has gone to Blue Mountain.

On the 21st of October I reached Gaylesville, had my bivouac in an

open field back of the village, and remained there till the 28th.

During that time General Schofield arrived, with the two divisions

of Generals Wagner (formerly Newton's) and Morgan, which were

returned to their respective corps (the Fourth and Fourteenth), and

General Schofield resumed his own command of the Army of the Ohio,

then on the Coosa River, near Cedar Bluff. General Joseph A. Mower

also arrived, and was assigned to command a division in the

Seventeenth Corps; and General J. H. Wilson came, having been sent

from Virginia by General Grant, for the purpose of commanding all

my cavalry. I first intended to organize this cavalry into a corps

of three small divisions, to be commanded by General Wilson; but

the horses were well run down, and, at Wilson's instance, I

concluded to retain only one division of four thousand five hundred

men, with selected horses, under General Kilpatrick, and to send

General Wilson back with all the rest to Nashville, to be

reorganized and to act under General Thomas in the defense of

Tennessee. Orders to this effect were made on the 24th of October.

General Grant, in designating General Wilson to command my cavalry,

predicted that he would, by his personal activity, increase the

effect of that arm "fifty per cent.," and he advised that he should

be sent south, to accomplish all that I had proposed to do with the

main army; but I had not so much faith in cavalry as he had, and

preferred to adhere to my original intention of going myself with a

competent force.

About this time I learned that General Beauregard had reached

Hood's army at Gadsden; that, without assuming direct command of

that army, he had authority from the Confederate Government to

direct all its movements, and to call to his assistance the whole

strength of the South. His orders, on assuming command, were full

of alarm and desperation, dated:


October 17, 1864

In assuming command, at this critical juncture, of the Military

Division of the West, I appeal to my countrymen, of all classes and

sections, for their generous support. In assigning me to this

responsible position, the President of the Confederate States has

extended to me the assurance of his earnest support. The

Executives of your States meet me with similar expressions of their

devotion to our cause. The noble army in the field, composed of

brave men and gallant officers, are strangers to me, but I know

they will do all that patriots can achieve.....

The army of Sherman still defiantly holds Atlanta. He can and must

be driven from it. It is only for the good people of Georgia and

surrounding states to speak the word, and the work is done, we have

abundant provisions. There are men enough in the country, liable

to and able for service, to accomplish the result.....

My countrymen, respond to this call as you have done in days that

are past, and, with the blessing of a kind and overruling

Providence, the enemy shall be driven from your soil. The security

of your wives and daughters from the insults and outrages of a

brutal foe shall be established soon, and be followed by a

permanent and honorable peace. The claims of home and country,

wife and children, uniting with the demands of honor and

patriotism, summon us to the field. We cannot, dare not, will not

fail to respond. Full of hope and confidence, I come to join you

in your struggles, sharing your privations, and, with your brave

and true men, to strike the blow that shall bring success to our,

arms, triumph to our cause, and peace to our country!......

G. T. BEAUREGARD, General.

Notwithstanding this somewhat boastful order or appeal, General

Beauregard did not actually accompany General Hood on his

disastrous march to Nashville, but took post at Corinth,

Mississippi, to control the movement of his supplies and to watch


At Gaylesville the pursuit of Hood by the army under my immediate

command may be said to have ceased. During this pursuit, the

Fifteenth Corps was commanded by its senior major-general present,

P. J. Osterhaus, in the absence of General John A. Logan; and the

Seventeenth Corps was commanded by Brigadier-General T. E. G.

Ransom, the senior officer present, in the absence of General Frank

P. Blair.

General Ransom was a young, most gallant, and promising officer,

son of the Colonel Ransom who was killed at Chapultepec, in the

Mexican War. He had served with the Army of the Tennessee in 1862

and 1863, at Vicksburg, where he was severely wounded. He was not

well at the time we started from Atlanta, but he insisted on going

along with his command. His symptoms became more aggravated on the

march, and when we were encamped near Gaylesville, I visited him in

company with Surgeon John Moors, United States Army, who said that

the case was one of typhoid fever, which would likely prove fatal.

A few days after, viz., the 28th, he was being carried on a litter

toward Rome; and as I rode from Gaylesville to Rome, I passed him

by the way, stopped, and spoke with him, but did not then suppose

he was so near his end. The next day, however, his escort reached

Rome, bearing his dead body. The officer in charge reported that,

shortly after I had passed, his symptoms became so much worse that

they stopped at a farmhouse by the road-side, where he died that

evening. His body was at once sent to Chicago for burial, and a

monument has been ordered by the Society of the Army of the

Tennessee to be erected in his memory.

On the 26th of October I learned that Hood's whole army had made

its appearance about Decatur, Alabama, and at once caused a strong

reconnoissance to be made down the Coosa to near Gadsden, which

revealed the truth that the enemy was gone except a small force of

cavalry, commanded by General Wheeler, which had been left to watch

us. I then finally resolved on my future course, which was to

leave Hood to be encountered by General Thomas, while I should

carry into full effect the long-contemplated project of marching

for the sea-coast, and thence to operate toward Richmond. But it

was all-important to me and to our cause that General Thomas should

have an ample force, equal to any and every emergency.

He then had at Nashville about eight or ten thousand new troops,

and as many more civil employs of the Quartermaster's Department,

which were not suited for the field, but would be most useful in

manning the excellent forts that already covered Nashville. At

Chattanooga, he had General Steedman's division, about five

thousand men, besides garrisons for Chattanooga, Bridgeport, and

Stevenson; at Murfreesboro' he also had General Rousseau's

division, which was full five thousand strong, independent of the

necessary garrisons for the railroad. At Decatur and Huntsville,

Alabama, was the infantry division of General R. S. Granger,

estimated at four thousand; and near Florence, Alabama, watching

the crossings of the Tennessee, were General Edward Hatch's

division of cavalry, four thousand; General Croxton's brigade,

twenty-five hundred; and Colonel Capron's brigade, twelve hundred;

besides which, General J. H. Wilson had collected in Nashville

about ten thousand dismounted cavalry, for which he was rapidly

collecting the necessary horses for a remount. All these

aggregated about forty-five thousand men. General A. J. Smith at

that time was in Missouri, with the two divisions of the Sixteenth

Corps which had been diverted to that quarter to assist General

Rosecrans in driving the rebel General Price out of Missouri. This

object had been accomplished, and these troops, numbering from

eight to ten thousand, had been ordered to Nashville. To these I

proposed at first to add only the Fourth Corps (General Stanley),

fifteen thousand; and that corps was ordered from Gaylesville to

march to Chattanooga, and thence report for orders to General

Thomas; but subsequently, on the 30th of October, at Rome, Georgia,

learning from General Thomas that the new troops promised by

General Grant were coming forward very slowly, I concluded to

further reenforce him by General Schofield's corps (Twenty-third),

twelve thousand, which corps accordingly marched for Resaca, and

there took the cars for Chattanooga. I then knew that General

Thomas would have an ample force with which to encounter General

Hood anywhere in the open field, besides garrisons to secure the

railroad to his rear and as far forward as Chattanooga. And,

moreover, I was more than convinced that he would have ample time

for preparation; for, on that very day, General R. S. Granger had

telegraphed me from Decatur, Alabama:

I omitted to mention another reason why Hood will go to Tusomnbia

before crossing the Tennessee River. He was evidently out of

supplies. His men were all grumbling; the first thing the

prisoners asked for was something to eat. Hood could not get any

thing if he should cross this side of Rogersville.

I knew that the country about Decatur and Tuscumbia, Alabama, was

bare of provisions, and inferred that General Hood would have to

draw his supplies, not only of food, but of stores, clothing, and

ammunition, from Mobile, Montgomery, and Selma, Alabama, by the

railroad around by Meridian and Corinth, Mississippi, which we had

most effectually disabled the previous winter.

General Hood did not make a serious attack on Decatur, but hung

around it from October 26th to the 30th, when he drew off and

marched for a point on the south side of the Tennessee River,

opposite Florence, where he was compelled to remain nearly a month,

to collect the necessary supplies for his contemplated invasion of

Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Fourth Corps (Stanley) had already reached Chattanooga, and had

been transported by rail to Pulaski, Tennessee; and General Thomas

ordered General Schofield, with the Twenty-third Corps, to

Columbia, Tennessee, a place intermediate between Hood (then on the

Tennessee River, opposite Florence) and Forrest, opposite


On the 31st of October General Croxton, of the cavalry, reported

that the enemy had crossed the Tennessee River four miles above

Florence, and that he had endeavored to stop him, but without

success. Still, I was convinced that Hood's army was in no

condition to march for Nashville, and that a good deal of further

delay might reasonably be counted on. I also rested with much

confidence on the fact that the Tennessee River below Muscle Shoals

was strongly patrolled by gunboats, and that the reach of the river

above Muscle Shoals, from Decatur as high up as our railroad at

Bridgeport, was also guarded by gunboats, so that Hood, to cross

over, would be compelled to select a point inaccessible to these

gunboats. He actually did choose such a place, at the old

railroad-piers, four miles above Florence, Alabama, which is below

Muscle Shoals and above Colbert Shoals.

On the 31st of October Forrest made his appearance on the Tennessee

River opposite Johnsonville (whence a new railroad led to

Nashville), and with his cavalry and field pieces actually crippled

and captured two gunboats with five of our transports, a feat of

arms which, I confess, excited my admiration.

There is no doubt that the month of October closed to us looking

decidedly squally; but, somehow, I was sustained in the belief that

in a very few days the tide would turn.

On the 1st of November I telegraphed very fully to General Grant,

at City Point, who must have been disturbed by the wild rumors that

filled the country, and on the 2d of November received (at Rome)

this dispatch:

CITY POINT, November 1, 1864--6 P.M.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Do you not think it advisable, now that Hood has gone so far north,

to entirely ruin him before starting on your proposed campaign?

With Hood's army destroyed, you can go where you please with

impunity. I believed and still believe, if you had started south

while Hood was in the neighborhood of you, he would have been

forced to go after you. Now that he is far away he might look upon

the chase as useless, and he will go in one direction while you are

pushing in the other. If you can see a chance of destroying Hood's

army, attend to that first, and make your other move secondary.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

My answer is dated

ROME, GEORGIA, November 2, 1864.

Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:

Your dispatch is received. If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I

would turn against him with my whole force; then he would retreat

to the south west, drawing me as a decoy away from Georgia, which

is his chief object. If he ventures north of the Tennessee River, I

may turn in that direction, and endeavor to get below him on his

line of retreat; but thus far he has not gone above the Tennessee

River. General Thomas will have a force strong enough to prevent

his reaching any country in which we have an interest; and he has

orders, if Hood turns to follow me, to push for Selma, Alabama. No

single army can catch Hood, and I am convinced the best results

will follow from our defeating Jeff. Davis's cherished plea of

making me leave Georgia by manoeuvring. Thus far I have confined

my efforts to thwart this plan, and have reduced baggage so that I

can pick up and start in any direction; but I regard the pursuit of

Hood as useless. Still, if he attempts to invade Middle Tennessee,

I will hold Decatur, and be prepared to move in that direction;

but, unless I let go of Atlanta, my force will not be equal to his.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

By this date, under the intelligent and energetic action of Colonel

W. W. Wright, and with the labor of fifteen hundred men, the

railroad break of fifteen miles about Dalton was repaired so far as

to admit of the passage of cars, and I transferred my headquarters

to Kingston as more central; and from that place, on the same day

(November 2d), again telegraphed to General Grant:

KINGSTON, GEORGIA, November 2, 1884.

Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:

If I turn back, the whole effect of my campaign will be lost. By my

movements I have thrown Beauregard (Hood) well to the west, and

Thomas will have ample time and sufficient troops to hold him until

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