in front, the only question being as to the amount of force he could employ at that point. I hastily transmitted orders to all parts of our centre and right to press forward and give full employment to all the enemy in his lines, and for General Schofield to hold as large a force in reserve as possible, awaiting developments. Not more than half an hour after General McPherson had left me, viz., about 12:30 P. M. of the twenty-second, his Adjutant-General, Lieutenant Colonel Clark, rode up and reported that General McPherson was either dead or a prisoner; that he had ridden from me to General Dodge's column, moving as heretofore described, and had sent off nearly all his staff and orderlies on various errands, and himself had passed into a narrow path or road that led to the left and rear of General Giles A. Smith's division, which was General Blair's extreme left; that a few minutes after he had entered the woods a sharp volley was heard in that direction, and his horse had come out riderless, having two wounds. The suddenness of this terrible calamity would have overwhelmed me with grief, but the living demanded my whole thoughts. I instantly despatched a staff officer to General John A. Logan, commanding the Fifteenth corps, to tell him what had happened; that he must assume command of the Army of the Tennessee, and hold stubbornly the ground already chosen, more especially the hill gained by General Leggett the night before. Already the whole line was engaged in battle. Hardee's corps had sallied from Atlanta, and by a wide circuit to the east had struck General Blair's left flank, enveloped it, and his right had swung around until it hit General Dodge in motion. General Blair's line was substantially along the old line of the rebel trench, but it was fashioned to fight outward. A space of wooded ground of near half a mile, intervened between the head of General Dodge's column and General Blair's line, through which the enemy had poured, but the last order ever given by General McPherson was to hurry a brigade (Colonel Wangelin's) of the Fifteenth corps across from the railroad to occupy this gap. It came across on the double-quick, and checked the enemy. While Hardee attacked in flank, Stewart's corps was to attack in front directly out from the main works, but fortunately their attacks were not simultaneous. The enemy swept across the bill which our men were then fortifying, and captured the pioneer company, its tools, and almost the entire working party, and bore down on our left until he encountered General Giles A. Smith's division of the Seventeenth corps, who was somewhat “in air,” and forced to fight first from one side of the old rifle parapet and then from the other, gradually withdrawing, regiment by regiment, so as to form a flank to General Leggett's division, which held the apex of the hill, which was the only part that was deemed essential to our future plans. General Dodge had caught and held well in check the enemy's right, and punished him severely, capturing many prisoners. Smith (General Giles A.) had gradually given up the extremity of his line and formed a new one, whose right connected with General Leggett, and his left refused, facing south-east. On this ground and in this order the men fought well and desperately for near four hours, checking and repulsing all the enemy's attacks. The execution on the enemy's ranks at the angle was terrible, and great credit is due both Generals Leggett and Giles A. Smith and their men for their hard and stubborn fighting. The enemy made no further progress on that flank, and by four P. M. had almost given up the attempt. In the meantime, Wheeler's cavalry unopposed (for General Gerrard was absent at Covington by my order), had reached Decatur and attempted to capture the wagon trains, but Colonel, now General Sprague, covered them with great skill and success, sending them to the rear of General Schofield and Thomas, and not drawing back from Decatur till every wagon was safe except three, which the teamsters had left, carrying off the mules. On our extreme left the enemy had taken a complete battery of six guns, with its horses (Murray's), of the Regular Army, as it was moving along unsupported and unapprehensive of danger, in a narrow, wooded road in that unguarded space between the head of General Dodge's column and the line of battle on the ridge above, but most of the men escaped to the bushes. He also got two other guns on the extreme left flank, that were left on the ground as General Giles A. Smith drew off his men in the manner heretofore described. About four P. M., there was quite a lull, during which the enemy felt forward on the railroad and main Decatur road, and suddenly assailed a regiment which, with a section of guns, had been thrown forward as a kind of picket, and captured the two guns; he then advanced rapidly and broke through our lines at that point, which had been materially weakened by the withdrawal of Colonel Martin's brigade, sent by General Logan's order to the extreme left. The other brigade, General Lightburn, which held this part of the line, fell back in some disorder, about four hundred yards, to a position held by it the night before, leaving the enemy for a time in possession of two batteries, one of which, a twenty-pounder Parrott battery of four guns, was most valuable to us, and separating General Wood's and General Harrow's divisions of the Fifteenth corps, that were on the right and left of the railroad. Being in person close by the spot, and appreciating the vast importance of the connection at that point,I ordered certain batteries of General Schofield to be moved to a position somewhat commanding, by a left flank fire, and ordered an incessant fire of shells on the enemy within sight and the woods beyond, to prevent his reinforcing. I also sent orders to General Logan, which he had already anticipated, to make the Fifteenth corps regain its lost ground at any cost, and instructed General Wood, supported by General Schofield,to use his division and sweep the
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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 .
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