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[323] either flank of the Federal army as it approached. Johnston thought that success in any of these proposed attacks would be very decisive against Sherman, while failure would leave the Atlanta lines intact, which the army could hold forever. One of the weak points in this calculation is pointed out by General Smith, who shows that the Georgia reserves, old men and boys, were never collected in such numbers as to swell his command to 5,000 men. It is not certain, therefore, that Johnston, if left in command, could have followed his plans to the letter.

The Federal army moved forward in a southeasterly direction, bringing McPherson on the 18th to the Georgia railroad, several miles east of Decatur, where Garrard's cavalry and M. L. Smith's division broke up four miles of the road. Schofield reached the town of Decatur. On the next day, McPherson moved west into Decatur, and Schofield marched thence toward Atlanta from the east. These movements were singularly disjointed and careless, for which the Federal chief engineer gives the insufficient excuse: ‘We knew but little of the country, and the inhabitants, always few in number and indisposed to give us information, had all gone further south. Not an able-bodied man was to be found between Marietta and the enemy's line.’

On the 19th, Thomas' army still being north of Atlanta, the head of Howard's corps reached the Buckhead bridge on Peachtree creek, protected on the south side by an infantry work. During the afternoon Wood's division crossed below there and Stanley's division above, after stubborn fighting, and were moved eastward to connect with Schofield, leaving Newton's division at the crossing place. Parts of Hooker's and Palmer's corps also crossed, Palmer meeting with considerable resistance. In these encounters Reynolds' Confederate brigade captured 150 prisoners and two flags.

On the 20th, Thomas was comparatively isolated, with

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