The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Vol. II., Part 3
William T. Sherman

Part 1 out of 4

Produced by David Widger


By William T. Sherman


Part 3




On the 18th day of March, 1864, at Nashville, Tennessee, I relieved
Lieutenant-General Grant in command of the Military Division of the
Mississippi, embracing the Departments of the Ohio, Cumberland,
Tennessee, and Arkansas, commanded respectively by Major-Generals
Schofield, Thomas, McPherson, and Steele. General Grant was in the
act of starting East to assume command of all the armies of the
United States, but more particularly to give direction in person to
the Armies of the Potomac and James, operating against Richmond;
and I accompanied him as far as Cincinnati on his way, to avail
myself of the opportunity to discuss privately many little details
incident to the contemplated changes, and of preparation for the
great events then impending. Among these was the intended
assignment to duty of many officers of note and influence, who had,
by the force of events, drifted into inactivity and discontent.
Among these stood prominent Generals McClellan, Burnside, and
Fremont, in, the East; and Generals Buell, McCook, Negley, and
Crittenden, at the West. My understanding was that General Grant
thought it wise and prudent to give all these officers appropriate
commands, that would enable them to regain the influence they had
lost; and, as a general reorganization of all the armies was then
necessary, he directed me to keep in mind especially the claims of
Generals Buell, McCook, and Crittenden, and endeavor to give them
commands that would be as near their rank and dates of commission
as possible; but I was to do nothing until I heard further from
him on the subject, as he explained that he would have to consult
the Secretary of War before making final orders. General Buell and
his officers had been subjected to a long ordeal by a court of
inquiry, touching their conduct of the campaign in Tennessee and
Kentucky, that resulted in the battle of Perryville, or Chaplin's
Hills, October 8,1862, and they had been substantially acquitted;
and, as it was manifest that we were to have some hard fighting, we
were anxious to bring into harmony every man and every officer of
skill in the profession of arms. Of these, Generals Buell and
McClellan were prominent in rank, and also by reason of their fame
acquired in Mexico, as well as in the earlier part of the civil

After my return to Nashville I addressed myself to the task of
organization and preparation, which involved the general security
of the vast region of the South which had been already conquered,
more especially the several routes of supply and communication with
the active armies at the front, and to organize a large army to
move into Georgia, coincident with the advance of the Eastern
armies against Richmond. I soon received from Colonel J. B. Fry
--now of the Adjutant-General's Department, but then at Washington in
charge of the Provost-Marshal-General's office--a letter asking me to
do something for General Buell. I answered him frankly, telling him
of my understanding with General Grant, and that I was still awaiting
the expected order of the War Department, assigning General Buell to
my command. Colonel Fry, as General Buell's special friend, replied
that he was very anxious that I should make specific application for
the services of General Buell by name, and inquired what I proposed
to offer him. To this I answered that, after the agreement with
General Grant that he would notify me from Washington, I could not
with propriety press the matter, but if General Buell should be
assigned to me specifically I was prepared to assign him to command
all the troops on the Mississippi River from Cairo to Natchez,
comprising about three divisions, or the equivalent of a corps
d'armee. General Grant never afterward communicated to me on the
subject at all; and I inferred that Mr. Stanton, who was notoriously
vindictive in his prejudices, would not consent to the employment of
these high officers. General Buell, toward the close of the war,
published a bitter political letter, aimed at General Grant,
reflecting on his general management of the war, and stated that both
Generals Canby and Sherman had offered him a subordinate command,
which he had declined because he had once outranked us. This was not
true as to me, or Canby either, I think, for both General Canby and I
ranked him at West Point and in the old army, and he (General Buell)
was only superior to us in the date of his commission as
major-general, for a short period in 1862. This newspaper
communication, though aimed at General Grant, reacted on himself, for
it closed his military career. General Crittenden afterward obtained
authority for service, and I offered him a division, but he declined
it for the reason, as I understood it, that he had at one time
commanded a corps. He is now in the United States service,
commanding the Seventeenth Infantry. General McCook obtained a
command under General Canby, in the Department of the Gulf, where he
rendered good service, and he is also in the regular service,
lieutenant-colonel Tenth Infantry.

I returned to Nashville from Cincinnati about the 25th of March,
and started at once, in a special car attached to the regular
train, to inspect my command at the front, going to Pulaski,
Tennessee, where I found General G. M. Dodge; thence to Huntsville,
Alabama, where I had left a part of my personal staff and the
records of the department during the time we had been absent at
Meridian; and there I found General McPherson, who had arrived from
Vicksburg, and had assumed command of the Army of the Tennessee.
General McPherson accompanied me, and we proceeded by the cars to
Stevenson, Bridgeport, etc., to Chattanooga, where we spent a day
or two with General George H. Thomas, and then continued on to
Knoxville, where was General Schofield. He returned with us to
Chattanooga, stopping by the way a few hours at Loudon, where were
the headquarters of the Fourth Corps (Major-General Gordon
Granger). General Granger, as usual, was full of complaints at the
treatment of his corps since I had left him with General Burnside,
at Knoxville, the preceding November; and he stated to me
personally that he had a leave of absence in his pocket, of which
he intended to take advantage very soon. About the end of March,
therefore, the three army commanders and myself were together at
Chattanooga. We had nothing like a council of war, but conversed
freely and frankly on all matters of interest then in progress or
impending. We all knew that, as soon as the spring was fairly
open, we should have to move directly against our antagonist,
General Jos. E. Johnston, then securely intrenched at Dalton,
thirty miles distant; and the purpose of our conference at the time
was to ascertain our own resources, and to distribute to each part
of the army its appropriate share of work. We discussed every
possible contingency likely to arise, and I simply instructed each
army commander to make immediate preparations for a hard campaign,
regulating the distribution of supplies that were coming up by rail
from Nashville as equitably as possible. We also agreed on some
subordinate changes in the organization of the three separate
armies which were destined to take the field; among which was the
consolidation of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps (Howard and Slocum)
into a single corps, to be commanded by General Jos. Hooker.
General Howard was to be transferred to the Fourth Corps, vice
Gordon Granger to avail himself of his leave of absence; and
General Slocum was to be ordered down the Mississippi River, to
command the District of Vicksburg. These changes required the
consent of the President, and were all in due time approved.

The great question of the campaign was one of supplies. Nashville,
our chief depot, was itself partially in a hostile country, and
even the routes of supply from Louisville to Nashville by rail, and
by way of the Cumberland River, had to be guarded. Chattanooga
(our starting-point) was one hundred and thirty-six miles in front
of Nashville, and every foot of the way, especially the many
bridges, trestles, and culverts, had to be strongly guarded against
the acts of a local hostile population and of the enemy's cavalry.
Then, of course, as we advanced into Georgia, it was manifest that
we should have to repair the railroad, use it, and guard it
likewise: General Thomas's army was much the largest of the three,
was best provided, and contained the best corps of engineers,
railroad managers, and repair parties, as well as the best body of
spies and provost-marshals. On him we were therefore compelled in a
great measure to rely for these most useful branches of service. He
had so long exercised absolute command and control over the railroads
in his department, that the other armies were jealous, and these
thought the Army of the Cumberland got the lion's share of the
supplies and other advantages of the railroads. I found a good deal
of feeling in the Army of the Tennessee on this score, and therefore
took supreme control of the roads myself, placed all the army
commanders on an equal footing, and gave to each the same control, so
far as orders of transportation for men and stores were concerned.
Thomas's spies brought him frequent and accurate reports of Jos. E.
Johnston's army at Dalton, giving its strength anywhere between forty
and fifty thousand men, and these were being reenforced by troops
from Mississippi, and by the Georgia militia, under General G. W.
Smith. General Johnston seemed to be acting purely on the defensive,
so that we had time and leisure to take all our measures deliberately
and fully. I fixed the date of May 1st, when all things should be in
readiness for the grand forward movement, and then returned to
Nashville; General Schofield going back to Knoxville, and McPherson
to Huntsville, Thomas remaining at Chattanooga.

On the 2d of April, at Nashville, I wrote to General Grant, then at
Washington, reporting to him the results of my visit to the several
armies, and asked his consent to the several changes proposed,
which was promptly given by telegraph. I then addressed myself
specially to the troublesome question of transportation and
supplies. I found the capacity of the railroads from Nashville
forward to Decatur, and to Chattanooga, so small, especially in the
number of locomotives and care, that it was clear that they were
barely able to supply the daily wants of the armies then dependent
on them, with no power of accumulating a surplus in advance. The
cars were daily loaded down with men returning from furlough, with
cattle, horses, etc.; and, by reason of the previous desolation of
the country between Chattanooga and Knoxville, General Thomas had
authorized the issue of provisions to the suffering inhabitants.

We could not attempt an advance into Georgia without food,
ammunition, etc.; and ordinary prudence dictated that we should
have an accumulation at the front, in case of interruption to the
railway by the act of the enemy, or by common accident.
Accordingly, on the 6th of April, I issued a general order,
limiting the use of the railroad-cars to transporting only the
essential articles of food, ammunition, and supplies for the army
proper, forbidding any further issues to citizens, and cutting off
all civil traffic; requiring the commanders of posts within thirty
miles of Nashville to haul out their own stores in wagons;
requiring all troops destined for the front to march, and all
beef-cattle to be driven on their own legs. This was a great help,
but of course it naturally raised a howl. Some of the poor Union
people of East Tennessee appealed to President Lincoln, whose kind
heart responded promptly to their request. He telegraphed me to know
if I could not modify or repeal my orders; but I answered him that a
great campaign was impending, on which the fate of the nation hung;
that our railroads had but a limited capacity, and could not provide
for the necessities of the army and of the people too; that one or
the other must quit, and we could not until the army of Jos. Johnston
was conquered, etc., etc. Mr. Lincoln seemed to acquiesce, and I
advised the people to obtain and drive out cattle from Kentucky, and
to haul out their supplies by the wagon-road from the same quarter,
by way of Cumberland Gap. By these changes we nearly or quite
doubled our daily accumulation of stores at the front, and yet even
this was not found enough.

I accordingly called together in Nashville the master of
transportation, Colonel Anderson, the chief quartermaster, General
J. L. Donaldson, and the chief commissary, General Amos Beckwith,
for conference. I assumed the strength of the army to move from
Chattanooga into Georgia at one hundred thousand men, and the
number of animals to be fed, both for cavalry and draught, at
thirty-five thousand; then, allowing for occasional wrecks of
trains, which were very common, and for the interruption of the
road itself by guerrillas and regular raids, we estimated it would
require one hundred and thirty cars, of ten tons each, to reach
Chattanooga daily, to be reasonably certain of an adequate supply.
Even with this calculation, we could not afford to bring forward
hay for the horses and mules, nor more than five pounds of oats or
corn per day for each animal. I was willing to risk the question
of forage in part, because I expected to find wheat and corn
fields, and a good deal of grass, as we advanced into Georgia at
that season of the year. The problem then was to deliver at
Chattanooga and beyond one hundred and thirty car-loads daily,
leaving the beef-cattle to be driven on the hoof, and all the
troops in excess of the usual train-guards to march by the ordinary
roads. Colonel Anderson promptly explained that he did not possess
cars or locomotives enough to do this work. I then instructed and
authorized him to hold on to all trains that arrived at Nashville
from Louisville, and to allow none to go back until he had secured
enough to fill the requirements of our problem. At the time he
only had about sixty serviceable locomotives, and about six hundred
cars of all kinds, and he represented that to provide for all
contingencies he must have at least one hundred locomotives and one
thousand cars. As soon as Mr. Guthrie, the President of the
Louisville & Nashville Railroad, detected that we were holding on
to all his locomotives and cars, he wrote me, earnestly
remonstrating against it, saying that he would not be able with
diminished stock to bring forward the necessary stores from
Louisville to Nashville. I wrote to him, frankly telling him
exactly how we were placed, appealed to his patriotism to stand by
us, and advised him in like manner to hold on to all trains coming
into Jeffersonville, Indiana. He and General Robert Allen, then
quartermaster-general at Louisville, arranged a ferry-boat so as to
transfer the trains over the Ohio River from Jeffersonville, and in
a short time we had cars and locomotives from almost every road at
the North; months afterward I was amused to see, away down in
Georgia, cars marked "Pittsburg & Fort Wayne," "Delaware &
Lackawanna," "Baltimore & Ohio," and indeed with the names of
almost every railroad north of the Ohio River. How these railroad
companies ever recovered their property, or settled their
transportation accounts, I have never heard, but to this fact, as
much as to any other single fact, I attribute the perfect success
which afterward attended our campaigns; and I have always felt
grateful to Mr. Guthrie, of Louisville, who had sense enough and
patriotism enough to subordinate the interests of his railroad
company to the cause of his country.

About this time, viz., the early part of April, I was much
disturbed by a bold raid made by the rebel General Forrest up
between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. He reached the Ohio
River at Paducah, but was handsomely repulsed by Colonel Hicks. He
then swung down toward Memphis, assaulted and carried Fort Pillow,
massacring a part of its garrison, composed wholly of negro troops.
At first I discredited the story of the massacre, because, in
preparing for the Meridian campaign, I had ordered Fort Pillow to
be evacuated, but it transpired afterward that General Hurlbut had
retained a small garrison at Fort Pillow to encourage the
enlistment of the blacks as soldiers, which was a favorite
political policy at that day. The massacre at Fort Pillow occurred
April 12, 1864, and has been the subject of congressional inquiry.
No doubt Forrest's men acted like a set of barbarians, shooting
down the helpless negro garrison after the fort was in their
possession; but I am told that Forrest personally disclaims any
active participation in the assault, and that he stopped the firing
as soon as he could. I also take it for granted that Forrest did
not lead the assault in person, and consequently that he was to the
rear, out of sight if not of hearing at the time, and I was told by
hundreds of our men, who were at various times prisoners in
Forrest's possession, that he was usually very kind to them. He
had a desperate set of fellows under him, and at that very time
there is no doubt the feeling of the Southern people was fearfully
savage on this very point of our making soldiers out of their late
slaves, and Forrest may have shared the feeling.

I also had another serious cause of disturbance about that time. I
wanted badly the two divisions of troops which had been loaned to
General Banks in the month of March previously, with the express
understanding that their absence was to endure only one month, and
that during April they were to come out of Red River, and be again
within the sphere of my command. I accordingly instructed one of
my inspector-generals, John M. Corse, to take a fleet steamboat at
Nashville, proceed via Cairo, Memphis, and Vicksburg, to General
Banks up the Red River, and to deliver the following letter of
April 3d, as also others, of like tenor, to Generals A. J. Smith
and Fred Steele, who were supposed to be with him:


Major-General N. P. BANKS, commanding Department of the Gulf, Red

GENERAL: The thirty days for which I loaned you the command of
General A. J. Smith will expire on the 10th instant. I send with
this Brigadier-General J. M. Corse, to carry orders to General A.
J. Smith, and to give directions for a new movement, which is
preliminary to the general campaign. General Corse may see you and
explain in full, but, lest he should not find you in person, I will
simply state that Forrest, availing himself of the absence of our
furloughed men and of the detachment with you, has pushed up
between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers, even to the Ohio. He
attacked Paducah, but got the worst of it, and he still lingers
about the place. I hope that he will remain thereabouts till
General A. J. Smith can reach his destined point, but this I can
hardly expect; yet I want him to reach by the Yazoo a position near
Grenada, thence to operate against Forrest, after which to march
across to Decatur, Alabama. You will see that he has a big job,
and therefore should start at once. From all that I can learn, my
troops reached Alexandria, Louisiana, at the time agreed on, viz.,
March 17th, and I hear of them at Natchitoches, but cannot hear of
your troops being above Opelousas.

Steele is also moving. I leave Steele's entire force to cooperate
with you and the navy, but, as I before stated, I must have A. T.
Smith's troops now as soon as possible.

I beg you will expedite their return to Vicksburg, if they have not
already started, and I want them if possible to remain in the same
boats they have used up Red River, as it will save the time
otherwise consumed in transfer to other boats.

All is well in this quarter, and I hope by the time you turn
against Mobile our forces will again act toward the same end,
though from distant points. General Grant, now having lawful
control, will doubtless see that all minor objects are disregarded,
and that all the armies act on a common plan.

Hoping, when this reaches you, that you will be in possession of
Shreveport, I am, with great respect, etc.,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.

Rumors were reaching us thick and fast of defeat and disaster in
that quarter; and I feared then, what afterward actually happened,
that neither General Banks nor Admiral Porter could or would spare
those two divisions. On the 23d of April, General Corse returned,
bringing full answers to my letters, and I saw that we must go on
without them. This was a serious loss to the Army of the
Tennessee, which was also short by two other divisions that were on
their veteran furlough, and were under orders to rendezvous at
Cairo, before embarking for Clifton, on the Tennessee River.

On the 10th of April, 1864, the headquarters of the three Armies of
the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio, were at Chattanooga.,
Huntsville, and Knoxville, and the tables on page 16, et seq., give
their exact condition and strength.

The Department of the Arkansas was then subject to my command, but
General Fred Steele, its commander, was at Little Rock, remote from
me, acting in cooperation with General Banks, and had full
employment for every soldier of his command; so that I never
depended on him for any men, or for any participation in the
Georgia campaign. Soon after, viz., May 8th, that department was
transferred to the Military Division of "the Gulf," or "Southwest,"
Major-General E. R. S. Canby commanding, and General Steele served
with him in the subsequent movement against Mobile.

In Generals Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield, I had three generals
of education and experience, admirably qualified for the work
before us. Each has made a history of his own, and I need not here
dwell on their respective merits as men, or as commanders of
armies, except that each possessed special qualities of mind and of
character which fitted them in the highest degree for the work then
in contemplation.

By the returns of April 10, 1864, it will be seen that the
Army of the Cumberland had on its muster-rolls--

Present and absent...................171,450
Present for duty..................... 88,883

The Army of the Tennessee--
Present and absent....................134,763
Present for duty...................... 64,957

The Army of the Ohio--
Present and absent ................... 46,052
Present for duty ..................... 26,242

The department and army commanders had to maintain strong garrisons
in their respective departments, and also to guard their respective
lines of supply. I therefore, in my mind, aimed to prepare out of
these three armies, by the 1st of May, 1864, a compact army for
active operations in Georgia, of about the following numbers:

Army of the Cumberland................ 50,000
Army of the Tennessee................. 35,000
Army of the Ohio ..................... 15,000

Total ............................... 100,000

and, to make these troops as mobile as possible, I made the
strictest possible orders in relation to wagons and all species of
incumbrances and impedimenta whatever. Each officer and soldier
was required to carry on his horse or person food and clothing
enough for five days. To each regiment was allowed but one wagon
and one ambulance, and to the officers of each company one pack
horse or mule.

Each division and brigade was provided a fair proportion of wagons
for a supply train, and these were limited in their loads to carry
food, ammunition, and clothing. Tents were forbidden to all save
the sick and wounded, and one tent only was allowed to each
headquarters for use as an office. These orders were not
absolutely enforced, though in person I set the example, and did
not have a tent, nor did any officer about me have one; but we had
wall tent-flies, without poles, and no tent-furniture of any kind.
We usually spread our flies over saplings, or on fence-rails or
posts improvised on the spot. Most of the general officers, except
Thomas, followed my example strictly; but he had a regular
headquarters-camp. I frequently called his attention to the orders
on this subject, rather jestingly than seriously. He would break
out against his officers for having such luxuries, but, needing a
tent himself, and being good-natured and slow to act, he never
enforced my orders perfectly. In addition to his regular
wagon-train, he had a big wagon which could be converted into an
office, and this we used to call "Thomas's circus." Several times
during the campaign I found quartermasters hid away in some
comfortable nook to the rear, with tents and mess-fixtures which
were the envy of the passing soldiers; and I frequently broke them
up, and distributed the tents to the surgeons of brigades. Yet my
orders actually reduced the transportation, so that I doubt if any
army ever went forth to battle with fewer impedimenta, and where
the regular and necessary supplies of food, ammunition, and
clothing, were issued, as called for, so regularly and so well.

My personal staff was then composed of Captain J. C. McCoy,
aide-de-camp; Captain L. M. Dayton, aide-de-camp; Captain J. C.
Audenried, aide-de-camp; Brigadier-General J. D. Webster, chief of
staff; Major R. M. Sawyer, assistant adjutant-general; Captain
Montgomery Rochester, assistant adjutant-general. These last three
were left at Nashville in charge of the office, and were empowered
to give orders in my name, communication being generally kept up by

Subsequently were added to my staff, and accompanied me in the
field, Brigadier-General W. F. Barry, chief of artillery; Colonel
O. M. Poe, chief of engineers; Colonel L. C. Easton, chief
quartermaster; Colonel Amos Beckwith, chief commissary; Captain
Thos. G. Baylor, chief of ordnance; Surgeon E. D. Kittoe, medical
director; Brigadier-General J. M. Corse, inspector-general;
Lieutenant-Colonel C. Ewing, inspector-general; and Lieutenant-
Colonel Willard Warner, inspector-general.

These officers constituted my staff proper at the beginning of the
campaign, which remained substantially the same till the close of
the war, with very few exceptions; viz.: Surgeon John Moore, United
States Army, relieved Surgeon Kittoe of the volunteers (about
Atlanta) as medical director; Major Henry Hitchcock joined as
judge-advocate, and Captain G. Ward Nichols reported as an extra
aide-de-camp (after the fall of Atlanta) at Gaylesville, just
before we started for Savannah.

During the whole month of April the preparations for active war
were going on with extreme vigor, and my letter-book shows an
active correspondence with Generals Grant, Halleck, Thomas,
McPherson, and Schofield on thousands of matters of detail and
arrangement, most of which are embraced in my testimony before the
Committee on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., Appendix.

When the time for action approached, viz., May 1,1864, the actual
armies prepared to move into Georgia resulted as follows, present
for battle:
Army of the Cumberland, Major-General THOMAS.
Infantry ....................... 54,568
Artillery ...................... 2,377
Cavalry......................... 3,828
Aggregate............... 60,773
Number of field-guns, 130.

Army of the Tennessee, Major-General McPHERSON.

Infantry ....................... 22,437
Artillery ...................... 1,404
Cavalry ........................ 624
Aggregate ............. 24,465
Guns, 96

Army of the Ohio, Major-General SCHOFIELD.

Infantry ....................... 11,183
Artillery....................... 679
Cavalry......................... 1,697
Aggregate .............. 13,559
Guns, 28.

Grand aggregate, 98,797 men and 254 guns

These figures do not embrace the cavalry divisions which were still
incomplete, viz., of General Stoneman, at Lexington, Kentucky, and
of General Garrard, at Columbia, Tennessee, who were then rapidly
collecting horses, and joined us in the early stage of the
campaign. General Stoneman, having a division of about four
thousand men and horses, was attached to Schofield's Army of the
Ohio. General Garrard's division, of about four thousand five
hundred men and horses, was attached to General Thomas's command;
and he had another irregular division of cavalry, commanded by
Brigadier-General E. McCook. There was also a small brigade of
cavalry, belonging to the Army of the Cumberland, attached
temporarily to the Army of the Tennessee, which was commanded by
Brigadier-General Judson Kilpatrick. These cavalry commands
changed constantly in strength and numbers, and were generally used
on the extreme flanks, or for some special detached service, as
will be herein-after related. The Army of the Tennessee was still
short by the two divisions detached with General Banks, up Red
River, and two other divisions on furlough in Illinois, Indiana,
and Ohio, but which were rendezvousing at Cairo, under Generals
Leggett and Crocker, to form a part of the Seventeenth Corps, which
corps was to be commanded by Major-General Frank P. Blair, then a
member of Congress, in Washington. On the 2d of April I notified
him by letter that I wanted him to join and to command these two
divisions, which ought to be ready by the 1st of May. General
Blair, with these two divisions, constituting the Seventeenth Army
Corps, did not actually overtake us until we reached Acworth and
Big Shanty, in Georgia, about the 9th of June, 1864.

In my letter of April 4th to General John A. Rawains, chief of
staff to General Grant at Washington, I described at length all the
preparations that were in progress for the active campaign thus
contemplated, and therein estimated Schofield at twelve thousand,
Thomas at forty-five thousand, and McPherson at thirty thousand.
At first I intended to open the campaign about May 1st, by moving
Schofield on Dalton from Cleveland, Thomas on the same objective
from Chattanooga, and McPherson on Rome and Kingston from Gunter's
Landing. My intention was merely to threaten Dalton in front, and
to direct McPherson to act vigorously against the railroad below
Resaca, far to the rear of the enemy. But by reason of his being
short of his estimated strength by the four divisions before
referred to, and thus being reduced to about twenty-four thousand
men, I did not feel justified in placing him so far away from the
support of the main body of the army, and therefore subsequently
changed the plan of campaign, so far as to bring that army up to
Chattanooga, and to direct it thence through Ship's Gap against the
railroad to Johnston's rear, at or near Resaca, distant from Dalton
only eighteen miles, and in full communication with the other
armies by roads behind Rocky face Ridge, of about the same length.

On the 10th of April I received General Grant's letter of April 4th
from Washington, which formed the basis of all the campaigns of the
year 1864, and subsequently received another of April 19th, written
from Culpepper, Virginia, both of which are now in my possession,
in his own handwriting, and are here given entire. These letters
embrace substantially all the orders he ever made on this
particular subject, and these, it will be seen, devolved on me the
details both as to the plan and execution of the campaign by the
armies under my immediate command. These armies were to be
directed against the rebel army commanded by General Joseph E.
Johnston, then lying on the defensive, strongly intrenched at
Dalton, Georgia; and I was required to follow it up closely and
persistently, so that in no event could any part be detached to
assist General Lee in Virginia; General Grant undertaking in like
manner to keep Lee so busy that he could not respond to any calls
of help by Johnston. Neither Atlanta, nor Augusta, nor Savannah,
was the objective, but the "army of Jos. Johnston," go where it


WASHINGTON D. C., April 4, 1864.

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

GENERAL: It is my design, if the enemy keep quiet and allow me to
take the initiative in the spring campaign, to work all parts of
the army together, and somewhat toward a common centre. For your
information I now write you my programme, as at present determined

I have sent orders to Banks, by private messenger, to finish up his
present expedition against Shreveport with all dispatch; to turn
over the defense of Red River to General Steels and the navy, and
to return your troops to you, and his own to New Orleans; to
abandon all of Texas, except the Rio Grande, and to hold that with
not to exceed four thousand men; to reduce the number of troops on
the Mississippi to the lowest number necessary to hold it, and to
collect from his command not less than twenty-five thousand men.
To this I will add five thousand from Missouri. With this force he
is to commence operations against Mobile as soon as he can. It
will be impossible for him to commence too early.

Gillmore joins Butler with ten thousand men, and the two operate
against Richmond from the south aide of James River. This will
give Butler thirty-three thousand men to operate with, W. F. Smith
commanding the right wing of his forces, and Gillmore the left
wing. I will stay with the Army of the Potomac, increased by
Burnside's corps of not less than twenty-five thousand effective
men, and operate directly against Lee's army, wherever it may be

Sigel collects all his available force in two columns, one, under
Ord and Averill, to start from Beverly, Virginia, and the other,
under Crook, to start from Charleston, on the Kanawha, to move
against the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad.

Crook will have all cavalry, and will endeavor to get in about
Saltville, and move east from there to join Ord. His force will be
all cavalry, while Ord will have from ten to twelve thousand men of
all arms.

You I propose to move against Johnston's army, to break it up, and
to get into the interior of the enemy's country as far as you can,
inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.

I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of campaign, but simply
to lay down the work it is desirable to have done, and leave you
free to execute it in your own way. Submit to me, however, as
early as you can, your plan of operations.

As stated, Banks is ordered to commence operations as soon as he
can. Gillmore is ordered to report at Fortress Monroe by the 18th
inst., or as soon thereafter as practicable. Sigel is
concentrating now. None will move from their places of rendezvous
until I direct, except Banks. I want to be ready to move by the
25th inst., if possible; but all I can now direct is that you get
ready as soon as possible. I know you will have difficulties to
encounter in getting through the mountains to where supplies are
abundant, but I believe you will accomplish it.

From the expedition from the Department of West Virginia I do not
calculate on very great results; but it is the only way I can take
troops from there. With the long line of railroad Sigel has to
protect, he can spare no troops, except to move directly to his
front. In this way he must get through to inflict great damage on
the enemy, or the enemy must detach from one of his armies a large
force to prevent it. In other words, if Sigel can't skin himself,
he can hold a leg while some one else skins.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.


Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief, Washington, D.

DEAR GENERAL: Your two letters of April 4th are now before me, and
afford me infinite satisfaction. That we are now all to act on a
common plan, converging on a common centre, looks like enlightened

Like yourself, you take the biggest load, and from me you shall
have thorough and hearty cooperation. I will not let side issues
draw me off from your main plans in which I am to knock Jos.
Johnston, and to do as much damage to the resources of the enemy as
possible. I have heretofore written to General Rawlins and to
Colonel Comstock (of your staff) somewhat of the method in which I
propose to act. I have seen all my army, corps, and division
commanders, and have signified only to the former, viz., Schofield,
Thomas, and McPherson, our general plans, which I inferred from the
purport of our conversation here and at Cincinnati.

First, I am pushing stores to the front with all possible dispatch,
and am completing the army organization according to the orders
from Washington, which are ample and perfectly satisfactory.

It will take us all of April to get in our furloughed veterans, to
bring up A. J. Smith's command, and to collect provisions and
cattle on the line of the Tennessee. Each of the armies will
guard, by detachments of its own, its rear communications.

At the signal to be given by you, Schofield, leaving a select
garrison at Knoxville and London, with twelve thousand men will
drop down to the Hiawassee, and march against Johnston's right by
the old Federal road. Stoneman, now in Kentucky, organizing the
cavalry forces of the Army of the Ohio, will operate with Schofield
on his left front--it may be, pushing a select body of about two
thousand cavalry by Ducktown or Elijah toward Athens, Georgia.

Thomas will aim to have forty-five thousand men of all arms, and
move straight against Johnston, wherever he may be, fighting him
cautiously, persistently, and to the best advantage. He will have
two divisions of cavalry, to take advantage of any offering.

McPherson will have nine divisions of the Army of the Tennessee, if
A. J. Smith gets here, in which case he will have full thirty
thousand of the best men in America. He will cross the Tennessee
at Decatur and Whitesburg, march toward Rome, and feel for Thomas.
If Johnston falls behind the Coosa, then McPherson will push for
Rome; and if Johnston falls behind the Chattahoochee, as I believe
he will, then McPherson will cross over and join Thomas.

McPherson has no cavalry, but I have taken one of Thomas's
divisions, viz., Garrard's, six thousand strong, which is now at
Colombia, mounting, equipping, and preparing. I design this
division to operate on McPherson's right, rear, or front, according
as the enemy appears. But the moment I detect Johnston falling
behind the Chattahoochee, I propose to cast off the effective part
of this cavalry division, after crossing the Coosa, straight for
Opelika, West Point, Columbus, or Wetumpka, to break up the road
between Montgomery and Georgia. If Garrard can do this work well,
he can return to the Union army; but should a superior force
interpose, then he will seek safety at Pensacola and join Banks,
or, after rest, will act against any force that he can find east of
Mobile, till such time as he can reach me.

Should Johnston fall behind the Chattahoochee, I will feign to the
right, but pass to the left and act against Atlanta or its eastern
communications, according to developed facts.

This is about as far ahead as I feel disposed, to look, but I will
ever bear in mind that Johnston is at all times to be kept so busy
that he cannot in any event send any part of his command against
you or Banks.

If Banks can at the same time carry Mobile and open up the Alabama
River, he will in a measure solve the most difficult part of my
problem, viz., "provisions." But in that I must venture. Georgia
has a million of inhabitants. If they can live, we should not
starve. If the enemy interrupt our communications, I will be
absolved from all obligations to subsist on our own resources, and
will feel perfectly justified in taking whatever and wherever we
can find. I will inspire my command, if successful, with the
feeling that beef and salt are all that is absolutely necessary to
life, and that parched corn once fed General Jackson's army on that
very ground.
As ever, your friend and servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.


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

GENERAL: Since my letter to you of April 4th I have seen no reason
to change any portion of the general plan of campaign, if the enemy
remain still and allow us to take the initiative. Rain has
continued so uninterruptedly until the last day or two that it will
be impossible to move, however, before the 27th, even if no more
should fall in the meantime. I think Saturday, the 30th, will
probably be the day for our general move.

Colonel Comstock, who will take this, can spend a day with you, and
fill up many little gaps of information not given in any of my

What I now want more particularly to say is, that if the two main
attacks, yours and the one from here, should promise great success,
the enemy may, in a fit of desperation, abandon one part of their
line of defense, and throw their whole strength upon the other,
believing a single defeat without any victory to sustain them
better than a defeat all along their line, and hoping too, at the
same time, that the army, meeting with no resistance, will rest
perfectly satisfied with their laurels, having penetrated to a
given point south, thereby enabling them to throw their force first
upon one and then on the other.

With the majority of military commanders they might do this.

But you have had too much experience in traveling light, and
subsisting upon the country, to be caught by any such ruse. I hope
my experience has not been thrown away. My directions, then, would
be, if the enemy in your front show signs of joining Lee, follow
him up to the full extent of your ability. I will prevent the
concentration of Lee upon your front, if it is in the power of this
army to do it.

The Army of the Potomac looks well, and, so far as I can judge,
officers and men feel well. Yours truly,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.


Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, Commander-in-Chief,
Culpepper, Virginia

GENERAL: I now have, at the hands of Colonel Comstock, of your
staff, the letter of April 19th, and am as far prepared to assume
the offensive as possible. I only ask as much time as you think
proper, to enable me to get up McPherson's two divisions from
Cairo. Their furloughs will expire about this time, and some of
them should now be in motion for Clifton, whence they will march to
Decatur, to join General Dodge.

McPherson is ordered to assemble the Fifteenth Corps near Larkin's,
and to get the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps (Dodge and Blair) at
Decatur at the earliest possible moment. From these two points he
will direct his forces on Lebanon, Summerville, and Lafayette,
where he will act against Johnston, if he accept battle at Dalton;
or move in the direction of Rome, if the enemy give up Dalton, and
fall behind the Oostenaula or Etowah. I see that there is some
risk in dividing our forces, but Thomas and Schofield will have
strength enough to cover all the valleys as far as Dalton; and,
should Johnston turn his whole force against McPherson, the latter
will have his bridge at Larkin's, and the route to Chattanooga via
Willa's Valley and the Chattanooga Creek, open for retreat; and if
Johnston attempt to leave Dalton, Thomas will have force enough to
push on through Dalton to Kingston, which will checkmate him. My
own opinion is that Johnston will be compelled to hang to his
railroad, the only possible avenue of supply to his army, estimated
at from forty-five to sixty thousand men.

At Lafayette all our armies will be together, and if Johnston
stands at Dalton we must attack him in position. Thomas feels
certain that he has no material increase of force, and that he has
not sent away Hardee, or any part of his army. Supplies are the
great question. I have materially increased the number of cars
daily. When I got here, the average was from sixty-five to eighty
per day. Yesterday the report was one hundred and ninety-three;
to-day, one hundred and thirty-four; and my estimate is that one
hundred and forty-five cars per day will give us a day's supply and
a day's accumulation.

McPherson is ordered to carry in wagons twenty day's rations, and
to rely on the depot at Ringgold for the renewal of his bread.
Beeves are now being driven on the hoof to the front; and the
commissary, Colonel Beckwith, seems fully alive to the importance
of the whole matter.

Our weakest point will be from the direction of Decatur, and I will
be forced to risk something from that quarter, depending on the
fact that the enemy has no force available with which to threaten
our communications from that direction.

Colonel Comstock will explain to you personally much that I cannot
commit to paper. I am, with great respect,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

On the 28th of April I removed my headquarters to Chattanooga, and
prepared for taking the field in person. General Grant had first
indicated the 30th of April as the day for the simultaneous
advance, but subsequently changed the day to May 5th. McPhersons
troops were brought forward rapidly to Chattanooga, partly by rail
and partly by marching. Thomas's troops were already in position
(his advance being out as far as Ringgold-eighteen miles), and
Schofield was marching down by Cleveland to Red Clay and Catoosa
Springs. On the 4th of May, Thomas was in person at Ringgold, his
left at Catoosa, and his right at Leet's Tan-yard. Schofield was
at Red Clay, closing upon Thomas's left; and McPherson was moving
rapidly into Chattanooga, and out toward Gordon's Mill.

On the 5th I rode out to Ringgold, and on the very day appointed by
General Grant from his headquarters in Virginia the great campaign
was begun. To give all the minute details will involve more than
is contemplated, and I will endeavor only to trace the principal
events, or rather to record such as weighed heaviest on my own mind
at the time, and which now remain best fixed in my memory.

My general headquarters and official records remained back at
Nashville, and I had near me only my personal staff and
inspectors-general, with about half a dozen wagons, and a single
company of Ohio sharp-shooters (commanded by Lieutenant McCrory) as
headquarters or camp guard. I also had a small company of
irregular Alabama cavalry (commanded by Lieutenant Snelling), used
mostly as orderlies and couriers. No wall-tents were allowed, only
the flies. Our mess establishment was less in bulk than that of
any of the brigade commanders; nor was this from an indifference to
the ordinary comforts of life, but because I wanted to set the
example, and gradually to convert all parts of that army into a
mobile machine, willing and able to start at a minute's notice, and
to subsist on the scantiest food. To reap absolute success might
involve the necessity even of dropping all wagons, and to subsist
on the chance food which the country was known to contain. I had
obtained not only the United States census-tables of 1860, but a
compilation made by the Controller of the State of Georgia for the
purpose of taxation, containing in considerable detail the
"population and statistics" of every county in Georgia. One of my
aides (Captain Dayton) acted as assistant adjutant general, with an
order-book, letter-book, and writing-paper, that filled a small
chest not much larger than an ordinary candle-boa. The only
reports and returns called for were the ordinary tri-monthly
returns of "effective strength." As these accumulated they were
sent back to Nashville, and afterward were embraced in the archives
of the Military Division of the Mississippi, changed in 1865 to the
Military Division of the Missouri, and I suppose they were burned
in the Chicago fire of 1870. Still, duplicates remain of all
essential papers in the archives of the War Department.

The 6th of May was given to Schofield and McPherson to get into
position, and on the 7th General Thomas moved in force against
Tunnel Hill, driving off a mere picket-guard of the enemy, and I
was agreeably surprised to find that no damage had been done to the
tunnel or the railroad. From Tunnel Hill I could look into the
gorge by which the railroad passed through a straight and
well-defined range of mountains, presenting sharp palisade faces,
and known as "Rocky Face." The gorge itself was called the
"Buzzard Roost." We could plainly see the enemy in this gorge and
behind it, and Mill Creek which formed the gorge, flowing toward
Dalton, had been dammed up, making a sort of irregular lake,
filling the road, thereby obstructing it, and the enemy's batteries
crowned the cliffs on either side. The position was very strong,
and I knew that such a general as was my antagonist (Jos.
Johnston), who had been there six months, had fortified it to the
maximum. Therefore I had no intention to attack the position
seriously in front, but depended on McPherson to capture and hold
the railroad to its rear, which would force Johnston to detach
largely against him, or rather, as I expected, to evacuate his
position at Dalton altogether. My orders to Generals Thomas and
Schofield were merely to press strongly at all points in front,
ready to rush in on the first appearance of "let go," and, if
possible, to catch our enemy in the confusion of retreat.

All the movements of the 7th and 8th were made exactly as ordered,
and the enemy seemed quiescent, acting purely on the defensive.

I had constant communication with all parts of the army, and on the
9th McPherson's head of column entered and passed through Snake
Creek, perfectly undefended, and accomplished a complete surprise
to the enemy. At its farther debouche he met a cavalry brigade,
easily driven, which retreated hastily north toward Dalton, and
doubtless carried to Johnston the first serious intimation that a
heavy force of infantry and artillery was to his rear and within a
few miles of his railroad. I got a short note from McPherson that
day (written at 2 p.m., when he was within a mile and a half of the
railroad, above and near Resaca), and we all felt jubilant. I
renewed orders to Thomas and Schofield to be ready for the instant
pursuit of what I expected to be a broken and disordered army,
forced to retreat by roads to the east of Resaca, which were known
to be very rough and impracticable.

That night I received further notice from McPherson that he had
found Resaca too strong for a surprise; that in consequence he had
fallen back three miles to the month of Snake Creek Gap, and was
there fortified. I wrote him the next day the following letters,
copies of which are in my letter-book; but his to me were mere
notes in pencil, not retained


Major-General McPHERSON, commanding army of the Tennessee,
Sugar Valley, Georgia.

GENERAL: I received by courier (in the night) yours of 5 and 8.30
P. M. of yesterday.

You now have your twenty-three thousand men, and General Hooker is
in close support, so that you can hold all of Jos. Johnston's army
in check should he abandon Dalton. He cannot afford to abandon
Dalton, for he has fixed it up on purpose to receive us, and he
observes that we are close at hand, waiting for him to quit. He
cannot afford a detachment strong enough to fight you, as his army
will not admit of it.

Strengthen your position; fight any thing that comes; and threaten
the safety of the railroad all the time. But, to tell the truth, I
would rather the enemy would stay in Dalton two more days, when he
may find in his rear a larger party than he expects in an open
field. At all events, we can then choose our own ground, and he
will be forced to move out of his works. I do not intend to put a
column into Buzzard-Roost Gap at present.

See that you are in easy communication with me and with all
head-quarters. After to-day the supplies will be at Ringgold.


W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding.


Major-General McPHERSON, commanding army of the Tennessee,
Sugar Valley, Georgia

GENERAL: The indications are that Johnston is evacuating Dalton.
In that event, Howard's corps and the cavalry will pursue; all the
rest will follow your route. I will be down early in the morning.

Try to strike him if possible about the forks of the road.

Hooker must be with you now, and you may send General Garrard by
Summerville to threaten Rome and that flank. I will cause all the
lines to be felt at once.

W. T. SHERMAN, major-general commanding.

McPherson had startled Johnston in his fancied security, but had
not done the full measure of his work. He had in hand twenty-three
thousand of the best men of the army, and could have walked into
Resaca (then held only by a small brigade), or he could have placed
his whole force astride the railroad above Resaca, and there have
easily withstood the attack of all of Johnston's army, with the
knowledge that Thomas and Schofield were on his heels. Had he done
so, I am certain that Johnston would not have ventured to attack
him in position, but would have retreated eastward by Spring Place,
and we should have captured half his army and all his artillery and
wagons at the very beginning of the campaign.

Such an opportunity does not occur twice in a single life, but at
the critical moment McPherson seems to have been a little cautious.
Still, he was perfectly justified by his orders, and fell back and
assumed an unassailable defensive position in Sugar Valley, on the
Resaca side of Snake-Creek Gap. As soon as informed of this, I
determined to pass the whole army through Snake-Creek Gap, and to
move on Resaca with the main army.

But during the 10th, the enemy showed no signs of evacuating
Dalton, and I was waiting for the arrival of Garrard's and
Stoneman's cavalry, known to be near at hand, so as to secure the
full advantages of victory, of which I felt certain. Hooker's
Twentieth Corps was at once moved down to within easy supporting
distance of McPherson; and on the 11th, perceiving signs of
evacuation of Dalton, I gave all the orders for the general
movement, leaving the Fourth Corps (Howard) and Stoneman's cavalry
in observation in front of Buzzard-Roost Gap, and directing all the
rest of the army to march through Snake-Creek Gap, straight on
Resaca. The roads were only such as the country afforded, mere
rough wagon-ways, and these converged to the single narrow track
through Snake-Creek Gap; but during the 12th and 13th the bulk of
Thomas's and Schofield's armies were got through, and deployed
against Resaca, McPherson on the right, Thomas in the centre, and
Schofield on the left. Johnston, as I anticipated, had abandoned
all his well-prepared defenses at Dalton, and was found inside of
Resaca with the bulk of his army, holding his divisions well in
hand, acting purely on the defensive, and fighting well at all
points of conflict. A complete line of intrenchments was found
covering the place, and this was strongly manned at all points. On
the 14th we closed in, enveloping the town on its north and west,
and during the 15th we had a day of continual battle and skirmish.
At the same time I caused two pontoon-bridges to be laid across the
Oostenaula River at Lay's Ferry, about three miles below the town,
by which we could threaten Calhoun, a station on the railroad seven
miles below Resaca. At the same time, May 14th, I dispatched
General Garrard, with his cavalry division, down the Oostenaula by
the Rome road, with orders to cross over, if possible, and to
attack or threaten the railroad at any point below Calhoun and
above Kingston.

During the 15th, without attempting to assault the fortified works,
we pressed at all points, and the sound of cannon and musketry rose
all day to the dignity of a battle. Toward evening McPherson moved
his whole line of battle forward, till he had gained a ridge
overlooking the town, from which his field-artillery could reach
the railroad-bridge across the Oostenaula. The enemy made several
attempts to drive him away, repeating the sallies several times,
and extending them into the night; but in every instance he was
repulsed with bloody loss.

Hooker's corps had also some heavy and handsome fighting that
afternoon and night on the left, where the Dalton roan entered the
intrenchments, capturing a four-gun intrenched battery, with its
men and guns; and generally all our men showed the finest fighting

Howard's corps had followed Johnston down from Dalton, and was in
line; Stoneman's division of cavalry had also got up, and was on
the extreme left, beyond the Oostenaula.

On the night of May 15th Johnston got his army across the bridges,
set them on fire, and we entered Resaca at daylight. Our loss up
to that time was about six hundred dead and thirty-three hundred
and seventy-five wounded--mostly light wounds that did not
necessitate sending the men to the rear for treatment. That
Johnston had deliberately designed in advance to give up such
strong positions as Dalton and Resaca, for the purpose of drawing
us farther south, is simply absurd. Had he remained in Dalton
another hour, it would have been his total defeat, and he only
evacuated Resaca because his safety demanded it. The movement by
us through Snake-Creek Gap was a total surprise to him. My army
about doubled his in size, but he had all the advantages of natural
positions, of artificial forts and roads, and of concentrated
action. We were compelled to grope our way through forests, across
mountains, with a large army, necessarily more or less dispersed.
Of course, I was disappointed not to have crippled his, army more
at that particular stage of the game; but, as it resulted, these
rapid successes gave us the initiative, and the usual impulse of a
conquering army.

Johnston having retreated in the night of May 15th, immediate
pursuit was begun. A division of infantry (Jeff. C. Davis's) was
at once dispatched down the valley toward Rome, to support
Garrard's cavalry, and the whole army was ordered to pursue,
McPherson by Lay's Ferry, on the right, Thomas directly by the
railroad, and Schofield by the left, by the old road that crossed
the Oostenaula above Echota or Newtown.

We hastily repaired the railroad bridge at Resaca, which had been
partially burned, and built a temporary floating bridge out of
timber and materials found on the spot; so that Thomas got his
advance corps over during the 16th, and marched as far as Calhoun,
where he came into communication with McPherson's troops, which had
crossed the Oostenaula at Lay's Ferry by our pontoon-bridges,
previously laid. Inasmuch as the bridge at Resaca was overtaxed,
Hooker's Twentieth Corps was also diverted to cross by the fords
and ferries above Resaca, in the neighborhood of Echota.

On the 17th, toward evening, the head of Thomas's column, Newton's
division, encountered the rear-guard of Johnston's army near
Adairsville. I was near the head of column at the time, trying to
get a view of the position of the enemy from an elevation in an
open field. My party attracted the fire of a battery; a shell
passed through the group of staff-officers and burst just beyond,
which scattered us promptly. The next morning the enemy had
disappeared, and our pursuit was continued to Kingston, which we
reached during Sunday forenoon, the 19th.

From Resaca the railroad runs nearly due south, but at Kingston it
makes junction with another railroad from Rome, and changes
direction due east. At that time McPherson's head of column was
about four miles to the west of Kingston, at a country place called
"Woodlawn;" Schofield and Hooker were on the direct roads leading
from Newtown to Casaville, diagonal to the route followed by
Thomas. Thomas's head of column, which had followed the country
roads alongside of the railroad, was about four miles east of
Kingston, toward Cassville, when about noon I got a message from
him that he had found the enemy, drawn up in line of battle, on
some extensive, open ground, about half-way between Kingston and
Cassville, and that appearances indicated a willingness and
preparation for battle.

Hurriedly sending orders to McPherson to resume the march, to
hasten forward by roads leading to the south of Kingston, so as to
leave for Thomas's troops and trains the use of the main road, and
to come up on his right, I rode forward rapidly, over some rough
gravel hills, and about six miles from Kingston found General
Thomas, with his troops deployed; but he reported that the enemy
had fallen back in echelon of divisions, steadily and in superb
order, into Cassville. I knew that the roads by which Generals
Hooker and Schofield were approaching would lead them to a seminary
near Cassville, and that it was all-important to secure the point
of junction of these roads with the main road along which we were
marching. Therefore I ordered General Thomas to push forward his
deployed lines as rapidly as possible; and, as night was
approaching, I ordered two field-batteries to close up at a gallop
on some woods which lay between us and the town of Cassville. We
could not see the town by reason of these woods, but a high range
of hills just back of the town was visible over the tree-tops. On
these hills could be seen fresh-made parapets, and the movements of
men, against whom I directed the artillery to fire at long range.
The stout resistance made by the enemy along our whole front of a
couple of miles indicated a purpose to fight at Cassville; and, as
the night was closing in, General Thomas and I were together, along
with our skirmish-lines near the seminary, on the edge of the town,
where musket-bullets from the enemy were cutting the leaves of the
trees pretty thickly about us. Either Thomas or I remarked that
that was not the place for the two senior officers of a great army,
and we personally went back to the battery, where we passed the
night on the ground. During the night I had reports from
McPherson, Hooker, and Schofield. The former was about five miles
to my right rear, near the "nitre-caves;" Schofield was about six
miles north, and Hooker between us, within two miles. All were
ordered to close down on Cassville at daylight, and to attack the
enemy wherever found. Skirmishing was kept up all night, but when
day broke the next morning, May 20th, the enemy was gone, and our
cavalry was sent in pursuit. These reported him beyond the Etowah
River. We were then well in advance of our railroad-trains, on
which we depended for supplies; so I determined to pause a few days
to repair the railroad, which had been damaged but little, except
at the bridge at Resaca, and then to go on.

Nearly all the people of the country seemed to have fled with
Johnston's army; yet some few families remained, and from one of
them I procured the copy of an order which Johnston had made at
Adairsville, in which he recited that he had retreated as far as
strategy required, and that his army must be prepared for battle at
Cassville. The newspapers of the South, many of which we found,
were also loud in denunciation of Johnston's falling back before us
without a serious battle, simply resisting by his skirmish-lines
and by his rear-guard. But his friends proclaimed that it was all
strategic; that he was deliberately drawing us farther and farther
into the meshes, farther and farther away from our base of
supplies, and that in due season he would not only halt for battle,
but assume the bold offensive. Of course it was to my interest to
bring him to battle as soon as possible, when our numerical
superiority was at the greatest; for he was picking up his
detachments as he fell back, whereas I was compelled to make
similar and stronger detachments to repair the railroads as we
advanced, and to guard them. I found at Cassville many evidences
of preparation for a grand battle, among them a long line of fresh
intrenchments on the hill beyond the town, extending nearly three
miles to the south, embracing the railroad-crossing. I was also
convinced that the whole of Polk's corps had joined Johnston from
Mississippi, and that he had in hand three full corps, viz.,
Hood's, Polk's, and Hardee's, numbering about sixty thousand men,
and could not then imagine why he had declined battle, and did not
learn the real reason till after the war was over, and then from
General Johnston himself.

In the autumn of 1865, when in command of the Military Division of
the Missouri, I went from St. Louis to Little Rock, Arkansas, and
afterward to Memphis. Taking a steamer for Cairo, I found as
fellow-passengers Generals Johnston and Frank Blair. We were, of
course, on the most friendly terms, and on our way up we talked
over our battles again, played cards, and questioned each other as
to particular parts of our mutual conduct in the game of war. I
told Johnston that I had seen his order of preparation, in the
nature of an address to his army, announcing his purpose to retreat
no more, but to accept battle at Cassville. He answered that such
was his purpose; that he had left Hardee's corps in the open fields
to check Thomas, and gain time for his formation on the ridge, just
behind Cassville; and it was this corps which General Thomas had
seen deployed, and whose handsome movement in retreat he had
reported in such complimentary terms. Johnston described how he
had placed Hood's corps on the right, Polk's in the centre, and
Hardee's on the left. He said he had ridden over the ground, given
to each corps commander his position, and orders to throw up
parapets during the night; that he was with Hardee on his extreme
left as the night closed in, and as Hardee's troops fell back to
the position assigned them for the intended battle of the next day;
and that, after giving Hardee some general instructions, he and his
staff rode back to Cassville. As he entered the town, or village,
he met Generals Hood and Polk. Hood inquired of him if he had had
any thing to eat, and he said no, that he was both hungry and
tired, when Hood invited him to go and share a supper which had
been prepared for him at a house close by. At the supper they
discussed the chances of the impending battle, when Hood spoke of
the ground assigned him as being enfiladed by our (Union)
artillery, which Johnston disputed, when General Polk chimed in
with the remark that General Hood was right; that the cannon-shots
fired by us at nightfall had enfiladed their general line of
battle, and that for this reason he feared they could not hold
their men. General Johnston was surprised at this, for he
understood General Hood to be one of those who professed to
criticise his strategy, contending that, instead of retreating, he
should have risked a battle. General Johnston said he was
provoked, accused them of having been in conference, with being
beaten before battle, and added that he was unwilling to engage in
a critical battle with an army so superior to his own in numbers,
with two of his three corps commanders dissatisfied with the ground
and positions assigned them. He then and there made up his mind to
retreat still farther south, to put the Etowah River and the
Allatoona range between us; and he at once gave orders to resume
the retrograde movement.

This was my recollection of the substance of the conversation, of
which I made no note at the time; but, at a meeting of the Society
of the Army of the Cumberland some years after, at Cleveland, Ohio,
about 1868, in a short after-dinner speech, I related this
conversation, and it got into print. Subsequently, in the spring
of 1870, when I was at New Orleans, on route for Texas, General
Hood called to see me at the St. Charles Hotel, explained that he
had seen my speech reprinted in the newspapers and gave me his
version of the same event, describing the halt at Cassville, the
general orders for battle on that ground, and the meeting at supper
with Generals Johnston and Polk, when the chances of the battle to
be fought the next day were freely and fully discussed; and he
stated that he had argued against fighting the battle purely on the
defensive, but had asked General Johnston to permit him with his
own corps and part of Polk's to quit their lines, and to march
rapidly to attack and overwhelm Schofield, who was known to be
separated from Thomas by an interval of nearly five miles, claiming
that he could have defeated Schofield, and got back to his position
in time to meet General Thomas's attack in front. He also stated
that he had then contended with Johnston for the "offensive-
defensive" game, instead of the "pure defensive," as proposed by
General Johnston; and he said that it was at this time that General
Johnston had taken offense, and that it was for this reason he had
ordered the retreat that night. As subsequent events estranged
these two officers, it is very natural they should now differ on
this point; but it was sufficient for us that the rebel army did
retreat that night, leaving us masters of all the country above the
Etowah River.

For the purposes of rest, to give time for the repair of the
railroads, and to replenish supplies, we lay by some few days in
that quarter--Schofield with Stoneman's cavalry holding the ground
at Cassville Depot, Cartersville, and the Etowah Bridge; Thomas
holding his ground near Cassville, and McPherson that near
Kingston. The officer intrusted with the repair of the railroads
was Colonel W. W. Wright, a railroad-engineer, who, with about two
thousand men, was so industrious and skillful that the bridge at
Resaca was rebuilt in three days, and cars loaded with stores came
forward to Kingston on the 24th. The telegraph also brought us the
news of the bloody and desperate battles of the Wilderness, in
Virginia, and that General Grant was pushing his operations against
Lee with terrific energy. I was therefore resolved to give my
enemy no rest.

In early days (1844), when a lieutenant of the Third Artillery, I
had been sent from Charleston, South Carolina, to Marietta,
Georgia, to assist Inspector-General Churchill to take testimony
concerning certain losses of horses and accoutrements by the
Georgia Volunteers during the Florida War; and after completing the
work at Marietta we transferred our party over to Bellefonte,
Alabama. I had ridden the distance on horseback, and had noted
well the topography of the country, especially that about Kenesaw,
Allatoona, and the Etowah River. On that occasion I had stopped
some days with a Colonel Tumlin, to see some remarkable Indian
mounds on the Etowah River, usually called the "Hightower:" I
therefore knew that the Allatoona Pass was very strong, would be
hard to force, and resolved not even to attempt it, but to turn the
position, by moving from Kingston to Marietta via. Dallas;
accordingly I made orders on the 20th to get ready for the march to
begin on the 23d. The Army of the Cumberland was ordered to march
for Dallas, by Euharlee and Stilesboro; Davis's division, then in
Rome, by Van Wert; the Army of the Ohio to keep on the left of
Thomas, by a place called Burnt Hickory; and the Army of the
Tennessee to march for a position a little to the south, so as to
be on the right of the general army, when grouped about Dallas.

The movement contemplated leaving our railroad, and to depend for
twenty days on the contents of our wagons; and as the country was
very obscure, mostly in a state of nature, densely wooded, and with
few roads, our movements were necessarily slow. We crossed the
Etowah by several bridges and fords, and took as many roads as
possible, keeping up communication by cross-roads, or by couriers
through the woods. I personally joined General Thomas, who had the
centre, and was consequently the main column, or "column of
direction." The several columns followed generally the valley of
the Euharlee, a tributary coming into the Etowah from the south,
and gradually crossed over a ridge of mountains, parts of which had
once been worked over for gold, and were consequently full of paths
and unused wagon-roads or tracks. A cavalry picket of the enemy at
Burnt Hickory was captured, and had on his person an order from
General Johnston, dated at Allatoona, which showed that he had
detected my purpose of turning his position, and it accordingly
became necessary to use great caution, lest some of the minor
columns should fall into ambush, but, luckily the enemy was not
much more familiar with that part of the country than we were. On
the other side of the Allatoona range, the Pumpkin-Vine Creek, also
a tributary of the Etowah, flowed north and west; Dallas, the point
aimed at, was a small town on the other or east side of this creek,
and was the point of concentration of a great many roads that led
in every direction. Its possession would be a threat to Marietta
and Atlanta, but I could not then venture to attempt either, till I
had regained the use of the railroad, at least as far down as its
debouche from the Allatoona range of mountains. Therefore, the
movement was chiefly designed to compel Johnston to give up

On the 25th all the columns were moving steadily on Dallas
--McPherson and Davis away off to the right, near Van Wert; Thomas on
the main road in the centre, with Hooker's Twentieth Corps ahead,
toward Dallas; and Schofield to the left rear. For the convenience
of march, Hooker had his three divisions on separate roads, all
leading toward Dallas, when, in the afternoon, as he approached a
bridge across Pumpkin-Vine Creek, he found it held by a cavalry
force, which was driven off, but the bridge was on fire. This fire
was extinguished, and Hooker's leading division (Geary's) followed
the retreating cavalry on a road leading due east toward Marietta,
instead of Dallas. This leading division, about four miles out from
the bridge, struck a heavy infantry force, which was moving down from
Allatoona toward Dallas, and a sharp battle ensued. I came up in
person soon after, and as my map showed that we were near an
important cross-road called "New Hope," from a Methodist
meeting-house there of that name, I ordered General Hooker to secure
it if possible that night. He asked for a short delay, till he could
bring up his other two divisions. viz., of Butterfield and Williams,
but before these divisions had got up and were deployed, the enemy
had also gained corresponding strength. The woods were so dense, and
the resistance so spirited, that Hooker could not carry the position,
though the battle was noisy, and prolonged far into the night. This
point, "New Hope," was the accidental intersection of the road
leading from Allatoona to Dallas with that from Van Wert to Marietta,
was four miles northeast of Dallas, and from the bloody fighting
there for the next week was called by the soldiers "Hell-Hole."

The night was pitch-dark, it rained hard, and the convergence of
our columns toward Dallas produced much confusion. I am sure
similar confusion existed in the army opposed to us, for we were
all mixed up. I slept on the ground, without cover, alongside of a
log, got little sleep, resolved at daylight to renew the battle,
and to make a lodgment on the Dallas and Allatoona road if
possible, but the morning revealed a strong line of intrenchments
facing us, with a heavy force of infantry and guns. The battle was
renewed, and without success. McPherson reached Dallas that
morning, viz., the 26th, and deployed his troops to the southeast
and east of the town, placing Davis's division of the Fourteenth
Corps, which had joined him on the road from Rome, on his left; but
this still left a gap of at least three miles between Davis and
Hooker. Meantime, also, General Schofield was closing up on
Thomas's left.

Satisfied that Johnston in person was at New Hope with all his
army, and that it was so much nearer my "objective;" the railroad,
than Dallas, I concluded to draw McPherson from Dallas to Hooker's
right, and gave orders accordingly; but McPherson also was
confronted with a heavy force, and, as he began to withdraw
according to his orders, on the morning of the 28th he was fiercely
assailed on his right; a bloody battle ensued, in which he repulsed
the attack, inflicting heavy loss on his assailants, and it was not
until the 1st of June that he was enabled to withdraw from Dallas,
and to effect a close junction with Hooker in front of New Hope.
Meantime Thomas and Schofield were completing their deployments,
gradually overlapping Johnston on his right, and thus extending our
left nearer and nearer to the railroad, the nearest point of which
was Acworth, about eight miles distant. All this time a continual
battle was in progress by strong skirmish-lines, taking advantage
of every species of cover, and both parties fortifying each night
by rifle-trenches, with head-logs, many of which grew to be as
formidable as first-class works of defense. Occasionally one party
or the other would make a dash in the nature of a sally, but
usually it sustained a repulse with great loss of life. I visited
personally all parts of our lines nearly every day, was constantly
within musket-range, and though the fire of musketry and cannon
resounded day and night along the whole line, varying from six to
ten miles, I rarely saw a dozen of the enemy at any one time; and
these were always skirmishers dodging from tree to tree, or behind
logs on the ground, or who occasionally showed their heads above
the hastily-constructed but remarkably strong rifle-trenches. On
the occasion of my visit to McPherson on the 30th of May, while
standing with a group of officers, among whom were Generals
McPherson, Logan, Barry, and Colonel Taylor, my former chief of
artillery, a Minie-ball passed through Logan's coat-sleeve,
scratching the skin, and struck Colonel Taylor square in the
breast; luckily he had in his pocket a famous memorandum-book, in
which he kept a sort of diary, about which we used to joke him a
good deal; its thickness and size saved his life, breaking the
force of the ball, so that after traversing the book it only
penetrated the breast to the ribs, but it knocked him down and
disabled him for the rest of the campaign. He was a most competent
and worthy officer, and now lives in poverty in Chicago, sustained
in part by his own labor, and in part by a pitiful pension recently

On the 1st of June General McPherson closed in upon the right, and,
without attempting further to carry the enemy's strong position at
New Hope Church, I held our general right in close contact with it,
gradually, carefully, and steadily working by the left, until our
strong infantry-lines had reached and secured possession of all the
wagon-roads between New Hope, Allatoona, and Acworth, when I
dispatched Generals Garrard's and Stoneman's divisions of cavalry
into Allatoona, the first around by the west end of the pass, and
the latter by the direct road. Both reached their destination
without opposition, and orders were at once given to repair the
railroad forward from Kingston to Allatoona, embracing the bridge
across the Etowah River. Thus the real object of my move on Dallas
was accomplished, and on the 4th of June I was preparing to draw
off from New Hope Church, and to take position on the railroad in
front of Allatoona, when, General Johnston himself having evacuated
his position, we effected the change without further battle, and
moved to the railroad, occupying it from Allatoona and Acworth
forward to Big Shanty, in sight of the famous Kenesaw Mountain.

Thus, substantially in the month of May, we had steadily driven our
antagonist from the strong positions of Dalton, Resaea, Cassville,
Allatoona, and Dallas; had advanced our lines in strong, compact
order from Chattanooga to Big Shanty, nearly a hundred miles of as
difficult country as was ever fought over by civilized armies; and
thus stood prepared to go on, anxious to fight, and confident of
success as soon as the railroad communications were complete to
bring forward the necessary supplies. It is now impossible to
state accurately our loss of life and men in any one separate
battle; for the fighting was continuous, almost daily, among trees
and bushes, on ground where one could rarely see a hundred yards

The aggregate loss in the several corps for the month of May is
reported-as follows in the usual monthly returns sent to the
Adjutant-General's office, which are, therefore, official:

Casualties during the Month of May, 1864
(Major-General SHERMAN commanding).

Killed and Missing. Wounded. Total.
1,863 7,436 9,299

General Joseph E. Johnston, in his "Narrative of his Military
Operations," just published (March 27, 1874), gives the effective
strength of his army at and about Dalton on the 1st of May, 1864
(page 302), as follows:

Infantry..................... 37,652
Artillery.................... 2,812
Cavalry...................... 2,392

Total ................... 42,856

During May, and prior to reaching Cassville, he was further
reenforced (page 352)

Polk's corps of three divisions....... 12,000
Martin's division of cavalry.......... 3,500
Jackson's division of cavalry......... 3,900

And at New Hope Church, May 26th

Brigade of Quarles.................... 2,200

Grand-total.................. 64,456

His losses during the month of May are stated by him, as taken from
the report of Surgeon Foard (page 325)

Killed Wounded Total
721 4,672 5,393

These figures include only the killed and wounded, whereas my
statement of losses embraces the "missing," which are usually
"prisoners," and of these we captured, during the whole campaign of
four and a half months, exactly 12,983, whose names, rank, and
regiments, were officially reported to the Commissary-General of
Prisoners; and assuming a due proportion for the month of May,
viz., one-fourth, makes 3,245 to be added to the killed and wounded
given above, making an aggregate loss in Johnston's army, from
Dalton to New Hope, inclusive, of 8,638, against ours of 9,299.

Therefore General Johnston is greatly in error, in his estimates on
page 357, in stating our loss, as compared with his, at six or ten
to one.

I always estimated my force at about double his, and could afford
to lose two to one without disturbing our relative proportion; but
I also reckoned that, in the natural strength of the country, in
the abundance of mountains, streams, and forests, he had a fair
offset to our numerical superiority, and therefore endeavored to
act with reasonable caution while moving on the vigorous

With the drawn battle of New Hope Church, and our occupation of the
natural fortress of Allatoona, terminated the month of May, and the
first stage of the campaign.



JUNE, 1864.

On the 1st of June our three armies were well in hand, in the
broken and densely-wooded country fronting the enemy intrenched at
New Hope Church, about five miles north of Dallas. General
Stoneman's division of cavalry had occupied Allatoona, on the
railroad, and General Garrard's division was at the western end of
the pass, about Stilesboro. Colonel W. W. Wright, of the
Engineers, was busily employed in repairing the railroad and
rebuilding the bridge across the Etowah (or High tower) River,
which had been destroyed by the enemy on his retreat; and the
armies were engaged in a general and constant skirmish along a
front of about six miles--McPherson the right, Thomas the centre,
and Schofield on the left. By gradually covering our front with
parapet, and extending to the left, we approached the railroad
toward Acworth and overlapped the enemy's right. By the 4th of
June we had made such progress that Johnston evacuated his lines in
the night, leaving us masters of the situation, when I deliberately
shifted McPherson's army to the extreme left, at and in front of
Acworth, with Thomas's about two miles on his right, and
Schofield's on his right all facing east. Heavy rains set in about
the 1st of June, making the roads infamous; but our marches were
short, as we needed time for the repair of the railroad, so as to
bring supplies forward to Allatoona Station. On the 6th I rode
back to Allatoona, seven miles, found it all that was expected, and
gave orders for its fortification and preparation as a "secondary

General Blair arrived at Acworth on the 8th with his two divisions
of the Seventeenth Corps--the same which had been on veteran
furlough--had come up from Cairo by way of Clifton, on the
Tennessee River, and had followed our general route to Allatoona,
where he had left a garrison of about fifteen hundred men. His
effective strength, as reported, was nine thousand. These, with
new regiments and furloughed men who had joined early in the month
of May, equaled our losses from battle, sickness, and by
detachments; so that the three armies still aggregated about one
hundred thousand effective men.

On the 10th of June the whole combined army moved forward six
miles, to "Big Shanty," a station on the railroad, whence we had a
good view of the enemy's position, which embraced three prominent
hills known as Kenesaw, Pine Mountain, and Lost Mountain. On each
of these hills the enemy had signal-stations and fresh lines of
parapets. Heavy masses of infantry could be distinctly seen with
the naked eye, and it was manifest that Johnston had chosen his
ground well, and with deliberation had prepared for battle; but his
line was at least ten miles in extent--too long, in my judgment, to
be held successfully by his force, then estimated at sixty
thousand. As his position, however, gave him a perfect view over
our field, we had to proceed with due caution. McPherson had the
left, following the railroad, which curved around the north base of
Kenesaw; Thomas the centre, obliqued to the right, deploying below
Kenesaw and facing Pine Hill; and Schofield, somewhat refused, was
on the general right, looking south, toward Lost Mountain.

On the 11th the Etowah bridge was done; the railroad was repaired
up to our very skirmish line, close to the base of Kenesaw, and a
loaded train of cars came to Big Shanty. The locomotive, detached,
was run forward to a water-tank within the range of the enemy's
guns on Kenesaw, whence the enemy opened fire on the locomotive;
but the engineer was not afraid, went on to the tank, got water,
and returned safely to his train, answering the guns with the
screams of his engine, heightened by the cheers and shouts of our

The rains continued to pour, and made our developments slow and
dilatory, for there were no roads, and these had to be improvised
by each division for its own supply train from the depot in Big
Shanty to the camps. Meantime each army was deploying carefully
before the enemy, intrenching every camp, ready as against a sally.
The enemy's cavalry was also busy in our rear, compelling us to
detach cavalry all the way back as far as Resaca, and to
strengthen all the infantry posts as far as Nashville. Besides,
there was great danger, always in my mind, that Forrest would
collect a heavy cavalry command in Mississippi, cross the Tennessee
River, and break up our railroad below Nashville. In anticipation
of this very danger, I had sent General Sturgis to Memphis to take
command of all the cavalry in that quarter, to go out toward
Pontotoc, engage Forrest and defeat him; but on the 14th of June I
learned that General Sturgis had himself been defeated on the 10th
of June, and had been driven by Forrest back into Memphis in
considerable confusion. I expected that this would soon be
followed by a general raid on all our roads in Tennessee. General
G. J. Smith, with the two divisions of the Sixteenth and
Seventeenth Corps which had been with General Banks up Red River,
had returned from that ill-fated expedition, and had been ordered
to General Canby at New Orleans, who was making a diversion about
Mobile; but, on hearing of General Sturgis's defeat, I ordered
General Smith to go out from Memphis and renew the offensive, so as
to keep Forrest off our roads. This he did finally, defeating
Forrest at Tupelo, on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of July; and
he so stirred up matters in North Mississippi that Forrest could
not leave for Tennessee. This, for a time, left me only the task
of covering the roads against such minor detachments of cavalry as
Johnston could spare from his immediate army, and I proposed to
keep these too busy in their own defense to spare detachments. By
the 14th the rain slackened, and we occupied a continuous line of
ten miles, intrenched, conforming to the irregular position of the
enemy, when I reconnoitred, with a view to make a break in their
line between Kenesaw and Pine Mountain. When abreast of Pine
Mountain I noticed a rebel battery on its crest, with a continuous
line of fresh rifle-trench about half-way down the hill. Our
skirmishers were at the time engaged in the woods about the base of
this hill between the lines, and I estimated the distance to the
battery on the crest at about eight hundred yards. Near it, in
plain view, stood a group of the enemy, evidently observing us with
glasses. General Howard, commanding the Fourth Corps, was near by,
and I called his attention to this group, and ordered him to compel
it to keep behind its cover. He replied that his orders from
General Thomas were to spare artillery-ammunition. This was right,
according to the general policy, but I explained to him that we
must keep up the morale of a bold offensive, that he must use his
artillery, force the enemy to remain on the timid defensive, and
ordered him to cause a battery close by to fire three volleys. I
continued to ride down our line, and soon heard, in quick
succession, the three volleys. The next division in order was
Geary's, and I gave him similar orders. General Polk, in my
opinion, was killed by the second volley fired from the first
battery referred to.

In a conversation with General Johnston, after the war, he
explained that on that day he had ridden in person from Marietta to
Pine Mountain, held by Bates's division, and was accompanied by
Generals Hardee and Polk. When on Pine Mountain, reconnoitring,
quite a group of soldiers, belonging to the battery close by,
clustered about him. He noticed the preparations of our battery to
fire, and cautioned these men to scatter. They did so, and he
likewise hurried behind the parapet, from which he had an equally
good view of our position but General Polk, who was dignified and
corpulent, walked back slowly, not wishing to appear too hurried or
cautious in the presence of the men, and was struck across the
breast by an unexploded shell, which killed him instantly. This is
my memory of the conversation, and it is confirmed by Johnston
himself in his "Narrative," page 337, except that he calculated the
distance of our battery at six hundred yards, and says that Polk
was killed by the third shot; I know that our guns fired by volley,
and believe that he was hit by a shot of the second volley. It has
been asserted that I fired the gun which killed General Polk, and
that I knew it was directed against that general. The fact is, at
that distance we could not even tell that the group were officers
at all; I was on horseback, a couple of hundred yards off, before
my orders to fire were executed, had no idea that our shot had
taken effect, and continued my ride down along the line to
Schofield's extreme flank, returning late in the evening to my
head-quarters at Big Shanty, where I occupied an abandoned house.
In a cotton-field back of that house was our signal-station, on the
roof of an old gin-house. The signal-officer reported that by
studying the enemy's signals he had learned the key, and that he
could read their signals. He explained to me that he had
translated a signal about noon, from Pine Mountain to Marietta,
"Send an ambulance for General Polk's body;" and later in the day
another, "Why don't you send an ambulance for General Polk?" From
this we inferred that General Polk had been killed, but how or
where we knew not; and this inference was confirmed later in the
same day by the report of some prisoners who had been captured.

On the 15th we advanced our general lines, intending to attack at
any weak point discovered between Kenesaw and Pine Mountain; but
Pine Mountain was found to be abandoned, and Johnston had
contracted his front somewhat, on a direct line, connecting Kenesaw
with Lost Mountain. Thomas and Schofield thereby gained about two
miles of most difficult, country, and McPherson's left lapped well
around the north end of Kenesaw. We captured a good many
prisoners, among them a whole infantry regiment, the Fourteenth
Alabama, three hundred and twenty strong.

On the 16th the general movement was continued, when Lost Mountain
was abandoned by the enemy. Our right naturally swung round, so as
to threaten the railroad below Marietta, but Johnston had still
further contracted and strengthened his lines, covering Marietta
and all the roads below.

On the 17th and 18th the rain again fell in torrents, making army
movements impossible, but we devoted the time to strengthening our
positions, more especially the left and centre, with a view
gradually to draw from the left to add to the right; and we had to
hold our lines on the left extremely strong, to guard against a
sally from Kenesaw against our depot at Big Shanty. Garrard's
division of cavalry was kept busy on our left, McPherson had
gradually extended to his right, enabling Thomas to do the same
still farther; but the enemy's position was so very strong, and
everywhere it was covered by intrenchments, that we found it as
dangerous to assault as a permanent fort. We in like manner
covered our lines of battle by similar works, and even our
skirmishers learned to cover their bodies by the simplest and best
forms of defensive works, such as rails or logs, piled in the form
of a simple lunette, covered on the outside with earth thrown up at

The enemy and ourselves used the same form of rifle-trench, varied
according to the nature of the ground, viz.: the trees and bushes
were cut away for a hundred yards or more in front, serving as an
abatis or entanglement; the parapets varied from four to six feet
high, the dirt taken from a ditch outside and from a covered way
inside, and this parapet was surmounted by a "head-log," composed
of the trunk of a tree from twelve to twenty inches at the butt,
lying along the interior crest of the parapet and resting in
notches cut in other trunks which extended back, forming an
inclined plane, in case the head-log should be knocked inward by a
cannon-shot. The men of both armies became extremely skillful in
the construction of these works, because each man realized their
value and importance to himself, so that it required no orders for
their construction. As soon as a regiment or brigade gained a
position within easy distance for a sally, it would set to work
with a will, and would construct such a parapet in a single night;
but I endeavored to spare the soldiers this hard labor by
authorizing each division commander to organize out of the freedmen
who escaped to us a pioneer corps of two hundred men, who were fed
out of the regular army supplies, and I promised them ten dollars a
month, under an existing act of Congress. These pioneer
detachments became very useful to us during the rest of the war,
for they could work at night while our men slept; they in turn were
not expected to fight, and could therefore sleep by day. Our
enemies used their slaves for a similar purpose, but usually kept
them out of the range of fire by employing them to fortify and
strengthen the position to their rear next to be occupied in their
general retrograde. During this campaign hundreds if not thousands
of miles of similar intrenchments were built by both armies, and,
as a rule, whichever party attacked got the worst of it.

On the 19th of June the rebel army again fell back on its flanks,
to such an extent that for a time I supposed it had retreated to
the Chattahoochee River, fifteen miles distant; but as we pressed
forward we were soon undeceived, for we found it still more
concentrated, covering Marietta and the railroad. These successive
contractions of the enemy's line encouraged us and discouraged him,
but were doubtless justified by sound reasons. On the 20th
Johnston's position was unusually strong. Kenesaw Mountain was his
salient; his two flanks were refused and covered by parapets and by
Noonday and Nose's Creeks. His left flank was his weak point, so
long as he acted on the "defensive," whereas, had he designed to
contract the extent of his line for the purpose of getting in
reserve a force with which to strike "offensively" from his right,
he would have done a wise act, and I was compelled to presume that
such was his object: We were also so far from Nashville and
Chattanooga that we were naturally sensitive for the safety of our
railroad and depots, so that the left (McPherson) was held very

About this time came reports that a large cavalry force of the
enemy had passed around our left flank, evidently to strike this
very railroad somewhere below Chattanooga. I therefore reenforced
the cavalry stationed from Resaca to Casaville, and ordered forward
from Huntsville, Alabama, the infantry division of General John E.
Smith, to hold Kingston securely.

While we were thus engaged about Kenesaw, General Grant had his
hands full with Lee, in Virginia. General Halleck was the chief of
staff at Washington, and to him I communicated almost daily. I
find from my letter-book that on the 21st of June I reported to him
tersely and truly the condition of facts on that day: "This is the
nineteenth day of rain, and the prospect of fair weather is as far
off as ever. The roads are impassable; the fields and woods become
quagmire's after a few wagons have crossed over. Yet we are at
work all the time. The left flank is across Noonday Creek, and the
right is across Nose's Creek. The enemy still holds Kenesaw, a
conical mountain, with Marietta behind it, and has his flanks
retired, to cover that town and the railroad behind. I am all
ready to attack the moment the weather and roads will permit troops
and artillery to move with any thing like life."

The weather has a wonderful effect on troops: in action and on the
march, rain is favorable; but in the woods, where all is blind and
uncertain, it seems almost impossible for an army covering ten
miles of front to act in concert during wet and stormy weather.
Still I pressed operations with the utmost earnestness, aiming
always to keep our fortified lines in absolute contact with the
enemy, while with the surplus force we felt forward, from one flank
or the other, for his line of communication and retreat. On the
22d of June I rode the whole line, and ordered General Thomas in
person to advance his extreme right corps (Hooker's); and
instructed General Schofield, by letter, to keep his entire army,
viz., the Twenty-third Corps, as a strong right flank in close
support of Hooker's deployed line. During this day the sun came
out, with some promise of clear weather, and I had got back to my
bivouac about dark, when a signal message was received, dated--


General SHERMAN:
We have repulsed two heavy attacks, and feel confident, our only
apprehension being from our extreme right flank. Three entire
corps are in front of us.

Major-General HOOKER.

Hooker's corps (the Twentieth) belonged to Thomas's army; Thomas's
headquarters were two miles nearer to Hooker than mine; and Hooker,
being an old army officer, knew that he should have reported this
fact to Thomas and not to me; I was, moreover, specially disturbed
by the assertion in his report that he was uneasy about his right
flank, when Schofield had been specially ordered to protect that.
I first inquired of my adjutant, Dayton, if he were certain that
General Schofield had received his orders, and he answered that the
envelope in which he had sent them was receipted by General
Schofield himself. I knew, therefore, that General Schofield must
be near by, in close support of Hooker's right flank. General
Thomas had before this occasion complained to me of General
Hooker's disposition to "switch off," leaving wide gaps in his
line, so as to be independent, and to make glory on his own
account. I therefore resolved not to overlook this breach of
discipline and propriety. The rebel army was only composed of
three corps; I had that very day ridden six miles of their lines,
found them everywhere strongly occupied, and therefore Hooker could
not have encountered "three entire corps." Both McPherson and
Schofield had also complained to me of this same tendency of Hooker
to widen the gap between his own corps and his proper army
(Thomas's), so as to come into closer contact with one or other of
the wings, asserting that he was the senior by commission to both
McPherson and Schofield, and that in the event of battle he should
assume command over them, by virtue of his older commission.

They appealed to me to protect them. I had heard during that day
some cannonading and heavy firing down toward the "Kulp House,"
which was about five miles southeast of where I was, but this was
nothing unusual, for at the same moment there was firing along our
lines full ten miles in extent. Early the next day (23d) I rode
down to the "Kulp House," which was on a road leading from Powder
Springs to Marietta, about three miles distant from the latter. On
the way I passed through General Butterfield's division of Hooker's
corps, which I learned had not been engaged at all in the battle of
the day before; then I rode along Geary's and Williams's divisions,
which occupied the field of battle, and the men were engaged in
burying the dead. I found General Schofield's corps on the Powder
Springs road, its head of column abreast of Hooker's right,
therefore constituting "a strong right flank," and I met Generale
Schofield and Hooker together. As rain was falling at the moment,
we passed into a little church standing by the road-side, and I
there showed General Schofield Hooker's signal-message of the day
before. He was very angry, and pretty sharp words passed between
them, Schofield saying that his head of column (Hascall's division)
had been, at the time of the battle, actually in advance of
Hooker's line; that the attack or sally of the enemy struck his
troops before it did Hooker's; that General Hooker knew of it at
the time; and he offered to go out and show me that the dead men of
his advance division (Hascall's) were lying farther out than any of
Hooker's. General Hooker pretended not to have known this fact. I
then asked him why he had called on me for help, until he had used
all of his own troops; asserting that I had just seen Butterfield's
division, and had learned from him that he had not been engaged the
day before at all; and I asserted that the enemy's sally must have
been made by one corps (Hood's), in place of three, and that it had
fallen on Geary's and Williams's divisions, which had repulsed the
attack handsomely. As we rode away from that church General Hooker
was by my side, and I told him that such a thing must not occur
again; in other words, I reproved him more gently than the occasion
demanded, and from that time he began to sulk. General Hooker had
come from the East with great fame as a "fighter," and at
Chattanooga he was glorified by his "battle above the clouds,"
which I fear turned his head. He seemed jealous of all the army
commanders, because in years, former rank, and experience, he
thought he was our superior.

On the 23d of June I telegraphed to General Halleck this summary,
which I cannot again better state:

We continue to press forward on the principle of an advance against
fortified positions. The whole country is one vast fort, and
Johnston must have at least fifty miles of connected trenches, with
abatis and finished batteries. We gain ground daily, fighting all
the time. On the 21st General Stanley gained a position near the
south end of Kenesaw, from which the enemy attempted in vain to
drive him; and the same day General T. J. Wood's division took a
hill, which the enemy assaulted three times at night without
success, leaving more than a hundred dead on the ground. Yesterday
the extreme right (Hooker and Schofield) advanced on the Powder
Springs road to within three miles of Marietta. The enemy made a
strong effort to drive them away, but failed signally, leaving more
than two hundred dead on the field. Our lines are now in close
contact, and the fighting is incessant, with a good deal of
artillery-fire. As fast as we gain one position the enemy has
another all ready, but I think he will soon have to let go Kenesaw,
which is the key to the whole country. The weather is now better,
and the roads are drying up fast. Our losses are light, and,
not-withstanding the repeated breaks of the road to our rear,
supplies are ample.

During the 24th and 25th of June General Schofield extended his
right as far as prudent, so as to compel the enemy to thin out his
lines correspondingly, with the intention to make two strong
assaults at points where success would give us the greatest
advantage. I had consulted Generals Thomas, McPherson, and
Schofield, and we all agreed that we could not with prudence
stretch out any more, and therefore there was no alternative but to
attack "fortified lines," a thing carefully avoided up to that
time. I reasoned, if we could make a breach anywhere near the
rebel centre, and thrust in a strong head of column, that with the
one moiety of our army we could hold in check the corresponding
wing of the enemy, and with the other sweep in flank and overwhelm
the other half. The 27th of June was fixed as the day for the
attempt, and in order to oversee the whole, and to be in close
communication with all parts of the army, I had a place cleared on
the top of a hill to the rear of Thomas's centre, and had the
telegraph-wires laid to it. The points of attack were chosen, and
the troops were all prepared with as little demonstration as
possible. About 9 A.M. Of the day appointed, the troops moved to
the assault, and all along our lines for ten miles a furious fire
of artillery and musketry was kept up. At all points the enemy met
us with determined courage and in great force. McPherson's
attacking column fought up the face of the lesser Kenesaw, but
could not reach the summit. About a mile to the right (just below
the Dallas road) Thomas's assaulting column reached the parapet,
where Brigadier-General Barker was shot down mortally wounded, and
Brigadier-General Daniel McCook (my old law-partner) was
desperately wounded, from the effects of which he afterward died.
By 11.30 the assault was in fact over, and had failed. We had not
broken the rebel line at either point, but our assaulting columns
held their ground within a few yards of the rebel trenches, and
there covered themselves with parapet. McPherson lost about five
hundred men and several valuable officers, and Thomas lost nearly
two thousand men. This was the hardest fight of the campaign up to
that date, and it is well described by Johnston in his "Narrative"
(pages 342, 343), where he admits his loss in killed and wounded

Total ............. 808

This, no doubt, is a true and fair statement; but, as usual,
Johnston overestimates our loss, putting it at six thousand,
whereas our entire loss was about twenty-five hundred, killed and

While the battle was in progress at the centre, Schofield crossed
Olley's Creek on the right, and gained a position threatening


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