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Chattahoochee river, Pace's Ferry, July 7, 1864.
The day has passed, and no event of unusual, indeed, I might say, usual, importance has transpired. The artillery of the Fourth corps, last evening and this morning, were placed in position, on hastily-erected but substantial works constructed by the “shovel brigade,” and at nine o'clock, a number of our “rebel-demoralizers” opened upon the enemy's works upon the southern bank. No response from artillery was elicited; but the musketry fire was quite spirited and harmless for an hour, until our guns again resumed silence. Early in the morning, General Wood received orders to reconnoitre the banks of the stream for a place to lay pontoons, and the firing was, no doubt, to draw the enemy's attention from him. His movements were, no doubt, a feint, with the object of giving the enemy an impression that Sherman was ready for another grand flank movement. Whether the feint was successful is known alone to the enemy, whose sense of fear was not perceptibly affected by it, as no efforts were made by Hardee's corps, which is on this side of the river, strongly intrenched, to retire across upon the pontoons, which are in readiness to be laid.

The troops in Howard's front have been quite active since their arrival here, in erecting fortifications on the river front. They are very strong, and command the enemy's position as well as the crossing at the ferry.

Last night and to-night the enemy has made frequent attempts to save their pontoons, which on their crossing they cut loose from the northern bank, and permitted to float round to the south shore. Every effort however, was frustrated by Wood, who stationed a sentinel under cover on the bank, and when the enemy sent down a force to accomplish the work, gave a signal to our troops in the fortifications twelve yards in the rear, who opened heavy batteries upon them, with visible effect, compelling them to get back hurriedly.

Our present line is one eminently suited for defence. The river is the dividing line on the left, and when Hardee crosses, a very thin line can easily hold the enemy in check, while a vast force can be centered at some particular point, thrown across, and upon the flank of the enemy, thus rendering a passage of the river a matter of small importance. There Sherman, if so disposed, with a small force, could drive Hardee across the river and occupy his line; but I surmise that Sherman will do no such thing. He and Thomas wrap their intentions in considerable secrecy, which at the present time is very necessary. That their movements for the next two weeks will mystify the ever-watchful Johnston, I am constrained to believe; but when the enemy has the solution, I prophesy that he will have another example of the well-planned strategy of those experienced leaders. Meanwhile, it behooves the people, whose interests at the present moment are centered in the invincible line of bayonets that line the James and Chattahoochee, to patiently await the results when the mantle of the future is lifted, and they can plainly see the grand results that will have been worked out, sending a ray of joy to every loyal heart in the nation. Days and weeks may be consumed in knocking at the doors of Atlanta and Richmond; but there is an overruling Providence, and the day of treason must eventually succumb and fall before the awe-inspiring banner that so long has been trailed in the dust and debris of Southern streets, spit upon and insulted by the promoters of would-be slave oligarchy.

Reliable intelligence has been obtained as to the number composing the army in front. The total force, including infantry and artillery, is less than fifty thousand men. With this force behind strongly-built breastworks, our army may be held in check for a few days in crossing the river, but with the force at his command, the troops seem possessed of the idea that Sherman can accomplish everything and anything he attempts.

The prisoners and deserters who have been taken since the campaign opened, will fall not far short of twelve thousand. On the three days, from July second to the fifth, inclusive, between Kenesaw and this place, fully three thousand were taken. As our column marched along the roads from Marietta to Vining's, with flankers out, a very large number were picked up and sent in. Many of these fellows were found asleep in the woods, and when awakened protested against their capture, unavoidable, when the truth was that they had lagged behind the rebel rear for no other purpose than to be captured and get out of the service on taking the oath, which they will respect until they have an opportunity to visit their families, when they will turn bridge-burners and guerrillas. Nobody seems to have any confidence in their professed penitence.

Intelligence from the rear is frequently received, giving particulars of the operations of guerrillas, who lurk about their homes during the daytime, with the oath of allegiance in their pockets, to disappear mysteriously at nightfall, nobody knows where. As all the male residents in the country over which we pass are in the rebel service, excepting those who have deserted the rebel service and got home through the instrumentality of the President's amnesty proclamation, it is fair to presume that the frequent guerrilla outrages upon people, and burning of trains, is their devilish handiwork. Better, by far, lay every house in ashes, send the helpless families north and support them until the close of the war, than permit those unprincipled men to return home and perpetrate their villiany. I think I speak the truth when I say that sufficient Government property has been destroyed on the line of the Atlanta and Chattanooga railway to support the families of all the residents living on the route within twenty miles of the railway. There are those who have heretofore been opposed to injuring the country over

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W. T. Sherman (4)
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