which it has been attended thus far is made the more brilliant and gratifying by the fact that, as yet, not a single life, so far as I can learn, has been lost in crossing the river — that river which was to be made so bloody and fearful to us by the desperation of its defenders. Two of the attempts made by us — that on the right and the one in the centre — have been unsuccessful, though unattended with loss of life, because so cautiously made. The attempt to cross on the right was made first. The entire Army of the Tennessee was massed near the river, above Sweetwater's factory, about five miles below the railroad bridge, and, on the sixth, the pontoon train attached to that army was sent down within a short distance of the river, and a cannonade was opened upon the opposite bank, to ascertain if it were practicable to cross at that point. The enemy were discovered to be in too strong force, and too well strengthened by artillery to allow the crossing without great sacrifice of life. On the sixth of July the pontoon train attached to the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Colonel Buell, of the Fifty-eighth Indiana, was brought down within three quarters of a mile of the river, in front of the Fourth corps, but here again the enemy were awaiting us, and our cannon elicited such replies as made it plainly evident that the crossing should not be attempted there. On the evening of the sixth, the train was withdrawn to a position a few miles in rear of this ford, where it remained over the seventh, and arrived here in the afternoon of the eighth, in time for the Twenty-third corps to cross that evening, as has been heretofore narrated. Fortunately, our superiority in numbers enabled us to leave large bodies of men at the points where we had previously attempted to cross, who made such demonstrations there as induced the rebels to believe we still intended to attempt to cross, while we sent others still further up the river, who reached above the rebel line, and crossed without opposition. To me it seems a great mistake on the part of the rebels to cross the river in detail, as they did, instead of making the passage with their entire army simultaneously, and deploying at once to the greatest possible extent along the banks, to oppose all attempts. Still, it was only a question of time, since the Chattahoochee is too narrow and too shallow to form an obstacle to an enterprising General and a great army. July 17.--This portion of the army has at length entered upon the last stage of its victorious advance from Chattanooga to Atlanta; that between the Chattahoochee river and the city. The progress through this interval will constitute a distinct campaign; it is now fully inaugurated, and there is little to induce the belief that it will consume as much time, or cost as much effort and life, as did the last one, from Kenesaw Mountain to the Chattahoochee. Early on the morning of the seventeenth, the Army of the Ohio, holding the centre, and the Army of the Tennessee on the left, moved out from the positions they had held for a week, on the south bank of the river; the former at Isham's Ford, and the latter at Roswell, ten miles above. Advancing with a vew to forming a junction as soon as possible, the Twenty-third corps moved out on a road running east, while General McPherson's corps proceeded along the Atlanta road, south. About noon, General Hascall's division debouched to the right, on a road running south-east, and soon after the signal-officers announced that General McPherson was near, and in a short time he opened communication on the left of the Twenty-third. Although it was not expected that we should find any substantial force of the enemy this side of Peach-tree creek, a stream running west about five miles north of Atlanta, still it was necessary to advance with caution for fear of a surprise. The columns moved slowly, with skirmishers deployed on either side of the roads to beat about for ambuscades, and an occasional shell was pitched into suspicious woods and ridges. No response was elicited, however, nor anything seen except flying scouts of cavalry, in bodies of from two to six, until about the middle of the afternoon, when a body of cavalry was discovered in an open field at a distance, drawn up in line of battle. Citizens found along the road and questioned, said three brigades of cavalry had been there the day before, but hearing that General Stoneman was getting in their rear, two of them had left. It was evident, then, that their force was small, though it stretched thinly over an extent of a mile and a half. They had four pieces of artillery in position, and threw a few shells at us, which were replied to by a section on our part. But their cavalry could make no head against the rattling musketry fire of our skirmishers. The range of their carbines was too short, and as soon as our line approached them so that the bullets from our long-range guns began to whistle about them, they were compelled to withdraw, artillery and all. No body of men can stand long against a fire which they are entirely unable to return. These did not, but fled precipitately. What loss we inflicted cannot be told; our own was so slight as scarcely to deserve mention--one man in the Sixth Tennessee slightly wounded. These operations had consumed the time, so that the line advanced perhaps no more than five miles during the day; headquarters moved about four. The line of march which the two armies had pursued brought General McPherson's line at right-angles with that of General Schofield's, the latter running east and west. General Hascall's division having pursued a diverging road, had become detached from the remainder, and at night a strong patrol was ordered to be kept up between his division until a junction could be effected along the lines. The country through which we now advance is a compromise between hilly and rolling; the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.