between Generals Schofield and Thomas, two divisions of General Howard's corps of General Thomas' army were moved to the left to connect with General Schofield, leaving General Newton's division of the same corps on the Buckhead road. During the afternoon of the twentieth, about four P. M., the enemy sallied from his works in force, and fell in line of battle against our right centre, composed of General Newton's division of General Howard's corps, on the main Buckhead road; of General Hooker's corps next south, and General Johnson's division of General Palmer's corps. The blow was sudden and somewhat unexpected, but General Newton had hastily covered his front by a line of rail piles which enabled him to meet and repulse the attack on him. General Hooker's whole corps was uncovered, and had to fight on comparatively open ground, and it, too, after a very severe battle, drove the enemy back to his intrenchments. The action in front of General Johnson was comparatively light, that division being well intrenched. The enemy left on the field over five hundred dead, about one thousand wounded severely, seven stands of colors, and many prisoners. His loss could not have fallen short of five thousand, whereas ours was covered by one thousand five hundred killed, wounded, and missing; the greater loss fell on General Hooker's corps, from its exposed position. On the twenty-first we felt the enemy in his intrenched position, which was found to crown the heights overlooking the comparatively open ground of the valley of Peach-tree creek, his right beyond the Augusta road to the east, and his left well toward Turner's ferry on the Chattahoochee, at a general distance from Atlanta of about four miles. On the morning of the twenty-second, somewhat to my surprise, this whole line was found abandoned, and I confess I thought the enemy had resolved to give us Atlanta without further contest; but General Johnston had been relieved of his command, and General Hood substituted. A new policy seemed resolved on, of which the bold attack on our right was the index. Our advancing ranks swept across the strong and well-finished parapet of the enemy and closed in upon Atlanta, until we occupied a line in the form of a general circle of about two miles' radius, when we again found him occupying in force a line of finished redoubts, which had been prepared for more than a year, covering all the roads leading into Atlanta; and we found him also busy in connecting those redoubts with curtains strengthened by rifle-trenches, abatis, and chevaux de frise. General McPherson, who had advanced from Decatur, continued to follow substantially the railroad, with the Fifteenth corps, General Logan, and Seventeenth, General Blair on its left, and the Sixteenth, General Dodge, on its right, but as the general advance of all the armies contracted the circle, the Sixteenth corps, General Dodge, was thrown out of line by the Fifteenth connecting on the right with General Schofield near the Howard house. General McPherson, the night before, had gained a high hill to the south and east of the railroad, where the Seventeenth corps had, after a severe fight, driven the enemy, and it gave him a most commanding position within easy view of the very heart of the city. He had thrown out working parties to it, and was making preparations to occupy it in strength with batteries. The Sixteenth corps, General Dodge, was ordered from right to left to occupy this position, and make it a strong general left flank. General Dodge was moving by a diagonal path or wagon-track leading from the Decatur road in the direction of General Blair's left flank. About ten A. M., I was in person, with General Schofield, examining the appearance of the enemy's lines opposite the distillery, where we attracted enough of the enemy's fire of artillery and musketry to satisfy me the enemy was in Atlanta in force, and meant to fight, and had gone to a large dwelling close by, known as the Howard house, where General McPherson joined me. He described the condition of things on his flank and the disposition of his troops. I explained to him that if we met serious resistance in Atlanta, as present appearances indicated, instead of operating against it by the left, I would extend to the right, and that I did not want him to gain much distance to the left. He then described the hill occupied by General Leggett's division of General Blair's corps as essential to he occupation of any ground to the east and south of the Augusta railroad, on account of its commanding nature. I therefore ratified his disposition of troops, and modified a previous order I had sent him in writing to use General Dodge's corps, thrown somewhat in reserve by the closing up of our line, to break up railroad, and I sanctioned its going, as already ordered by General McPherson, to his left, to hold and fortify that position. The General remained with me until near noon, when some reports reaching us that indicated a movement of the enemy on that flank, he mounted and rode away with his staff. I must here also state that the day before I had detached General Garrard's cavalry to go to Covington, on the Augusta road, forty-two miles east of Atlanta, and from that point to send detachments to break the two important bridges across the Yellow and Ulcofauhatchee rivers, tributaries of Ocmulgee, and General McPherson had also left his wagontrain at Decatur, under a guard of three regiments commanded by Colonel, now General Sprague. Soon after General McPherson left me at the Howard house, as before described, I heard the sounds of musketry to our left rear, at first mere pattering shots, but soon they grew in volume, accompanied with artillery, and about the same time the sound of guns was heard in the direction of Decatur. No doubt could longer be entertained of the enemy's plan of action, which was to throw a superior force on our left flank, while he held us with his forts
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.