Battle near Atlanta.
two miles East of Atlanta, July 23, 1864.The sanguinary assault by the rebels upon our right wing; on the twentieth, so shattered and disorganized their regiments, that they made no further offensive demonstrations during the twenty-first. Our own army, also, on the right wing, had escaped disaster at such cost that it was little disposed to advance, even if it had possessed the requisite strength; they were sufficiently rejoiced to see the rebel columns, beaten and broken, falling back before them. On the twenty-first, however, they advanced their line half a mile or so, and occupied the crest of the slope which descends into the valley of Peach-tree creek, and throwing up strong works of defence, remained quiet during the day. They reported to us of the center and left, certain movements of the enemy during the day, southward through Atlanta toward our left, which betokened another storm. It was not difficult to see that the rebels, goaded into a desperate energy by their continued retreats, and spurred on by the fiery words of their new leader, Hood, were forging another bolt to be hurled against us. The Twenty-third corps, constituting the centre, having strongly intrenched itself the night before, remained quiet during the twenty-first, though preparations were being made to open upon the rebels, when the time came for united action of the whole army, with all the batteries that the ground would allow to be got into position. Prompt and daring as usual, the Signal Corps had established a station of observation in the top of a tall tree, half a mile from the enemy, from which they could look down into Atlanta, two miles distant, with ease. To try an experiment, one of the pieces of Cockrill's battery, a three-inch Rodman gun, was brought near the tree and Lieutenant Reynolds took his station in the tree with a glass, to direct the gunners in their aim. The piece was heavily charged, and the first shell is supposed to have gone high above the city and fully a mile beyond it. The second was sent lower, and passed within ear-shot of the populace, as a slight commotion could be observed among the crowds on the house-tops. The third was directed much lower, and wrought a decided moral effect at least, as it cleared the tops of the houses of the gazing Atlantians, in a remarkably short space of time. General McPherson's cannons, also, were able to throw shells into the city, as they were planted even closer than those of the Twenty-third corps. General Blair had pushed forward his corps during the day, so as to bring them sharply in conflict with the enemy, causing pretty severe loss in wounded and captured. I have not been able to obtain full particulars of their movements, but it appears to have been made rather independently of the rest of the army, and to have entailed a loss disproportionate to the gain. The division of General Giles A. Smith was thrust out, so that it occupied three sides of a square, and in advance of its supports on the left and right. In doing so, it encountered strong opposition, but maintained all the ground it had occupied and threw up lines of breast-works. July 22-2.25 A. M.--It is a splendidly bright moonlight night, such as enables one almost to read, and all about camp, and along the whole battle-line, there is a silence contrasting strangely with the incessant rattle of musketry which lulled us to sleep. What does it mean? “Guard, I say, how goes the night? Have the rebels fallen back from Atlanta? Where's all the noise we heard last evening?” Morning showed that the rebels had withdrawn from the main line of fortifications at which they had first brought us to a halt, about two and a half miles from Atlanta, and had retired to another, which was about a mile and a half nearer the city. This they had done all along the line from the extreme right of General Thomas to the left of General McPherson, shortening their front, of course, and enabling us to shorten our own. As developed by the subsequent startling movements and events of the day, their reason for this move was obvious, and was the dictate of a daring and resolute mind, such as now appears to be at the head of the rebel armies, and drew us on after them into a pursuit which came near proving unfortunate. It seems to me to have been simply this: They designed, by thus shortening their lines and relieving some portions of their army from their left, to push the relieved corps rapidly and desperately against our left wing early in the forenoon, before our marching column had come in proximity to the rebel works, and were deployed and had thrown up defences. They could rely on our following them up closely as soon as we discovered they had fallen back; and, even if we did so with the men fully deployed in line of battle, they hoped to strike us before any works could be put in our front to break the assault. That this was their design appears from the testimony of a rebel Colonel who was captured in the assault, and said that the orders delivered to them were to assault our lines early in the morning. Fortunately for us, certain delays which took place in their march postponed the attack till nearly eleven o'clock, at which time our men had moved forward so as to come in sight of the new rebel works, had deployed and partially, and in some places wholly, completed their intrenchments. The Army of the Tennessee advanced along the main Decatur road in a direction nearly west, and parallel to the railroad, with the Sixteenth corps on the right, next the Twenty-third, the Fifteenth on both sides of the railroad, and the Seventeenth south of it, its extreme left being about two miles below it. The Twenty-third moved along a branch of the Bucktown road, which enters Atlanta in a south-west direction, and in consequence of the convergence of