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[313] offensively or defensively, as the case called for

I was that night with General Thomas at Couch's, and as soon as I learned that General Howard had passed Renfro's, I directed General Thomas to send to that place a division of General Jeff. C. Davis' corps, to move General Stanley's corps in connection with General Schofield's toward Rough-and-Ready, and then to send forward due east a strong detachment of General Davis' corps to feel for the railroad. General Schofield was also ordered to move boldly forward and strike the railroad near Rough-and-Ready. These movements were progressing during the thirty-first, when the enemy came out of his works at Jonesboroa and attacked General Howard in position described. General Howard was admirably situated to receive him, and repulsed the attack thoroughly. The enemy attacked with Lee's and Hardee's corps, and after a contest of over two hours, withdrew, leaving over four hundred dead on the ground, and his wounded, of which about three hundred were left in Jonesboroa, could not have been much less than two thousand five hundred. Hearing the sounds of battle at Jonesboroa about noon, orders were renewed to push the other movements on the left and centre, and about four P. M., the reports arrived simultaneously that General Howard had thoroughly repulsed the enemy at Jonesboroa; that General Schofield had reached the railroad a mile below Rough-and-Ready, and was working up the road, breaking it as he went; that General Stanley of General Thomas' army, had also got the road below General Schofield and was destroying its working south, and that General Baird of General Davis' corps had struck it still lower down within four miles of Jonesboroa.

Orders were at once given for all the army to turn on Jonesboroa, General Howard to keep the enemy busy while General Thomas should move down from the north, with General Schofield on his left. I also ordered the troops as they moved down to continue the thorough destruction of the railroad, because we had it then and I did not know but that events might divert our attention. General Garrard's cavalry was directed to watch the roads to our rear, the north. General Kilpatrick was sent south, down the west bank of Flint, with instructions to attack or threaten the railroad below Jonesboroa. I expected the whole army would close down on Jonesboroa by noon of the first of September. General Davis' corps, having a shorter distance to travel, was on time, and deployed, facing south, his right in connection with General Howard, and his left on the railroad. General Stanley and General Schofield were coming down along the Rough-and-Ready road, and along the railroad, breaking it as they came. When General Davis joined to General Howard, General Blair's corps, on General Howard's left, was thrown in reserve, and was immediately sent well to the right below Jonesboroa, to act against that flank along with General Kilpatrick's cavalry. About four P. M., General Davis was all ready, and assaulted the enemy's lines across open fields, carrying them very handsomely, and taking as prisoners the greater part of Govan's brigade, including its commander, with two four-gun batteries. Repeated orders were sent to Generals Stanley and Schofield to hurry up, but the difficult nature of the country and the absence of roads are the reasons assigned why these troops did not get well into position for attack before night rendered further operations impossible. Of course the next morning the enemy was gone, and had retreated south. About two o'clock that night the sounds of heavy explosions were heard in the direction of Atlanta, distant about twenty miles, with a succession of minor explosions, and what seemed like the rapid firing of cannon and musketry. These continued for about an hour, and again about four A. M. occurred another series of similar discharges, apparently nearer us, and these sounds could be accounted for on no other hypothesis than of a night attack on Atlanta by General Slocum or the blowing up of the enemy's magazines. Nevertheless, at daybreak, on finding the enemy gone from his lines at Jonesboroa,I ordered a general pursuit south, General Thomas following to the left of the railroad, General Howard on its right, and General Schofield keeping off about two miles to the east. We overtook the enemy again near Lovejoy's station, in a strong, intrenched position, with his flanks well protected behind a branch of Walnut creek to the right, and a confluent of the Flint river to his left. We pushed close up and reconnoitered the ground, and found he had evidently halted to cover his communication with the McDonough and Fayetteville roads.

Rumors began to arrive through prisoners captured that Atlanta had been abandoned during the night of September first; that Hood had blown up his ammunition-trains, which accounted for the sounds so plainly heard by us, and which were yet unexplained; that Stewart's corps was then retreating toward McDonough, and that the militia had gone off toward Covington. It was then too late to interpose and prevent their escape, and I was satisfied with the substantial success already gained. Accordingly I ordered the work of destroying railroad to cease, and the troops to be held in hand, ready for any movement that further information from Atlanta might warrant.

General Jeff. C. Davis' corps had been left above Jonesboroa, and General Garrard's cavalry was still further back, and the latter was ordered to send back to Atlanta and ascertain the exact truth and the real situation of affairs. But the same night, viz.: of September fourth, a courier arrived from General Slocum, reporting the fact that the enemy had evacuated Atlanta, blown up seven trains of cars, and had retreated on the McDonough road. General Slocum had entered and taken possession on the second of September.

The object of my movement against the railroad

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