"Personnel," the correspondent of the Columbia
writes an account on the 20th of the fight which took place on that day"the first of the series of attacks commenced by General Hood
after taking command:
Riding along our lines last evening, I found the men busy in building entrenchments after their own notions, and preparing for the battle which appeared about to burst.
Some of the commands, more nice than others, had even erected bowers of leaves above the works as a shield from sun and rain.
Skirmishing was audible in the distance, while from the extreme left the heavy booms of artillery proclaimed a duel between two rival batteries.
The movements of this morning have been in a measure significant of the events about to follow.
At daylight, the enemy commenced pressing our cavalry on the light, now covering the Augusta and Atlanta Railroad, several miles of which they destroyed.
Heavy skirmishing ensued, during which the enemy planted a battery within range of the city, and threw three shells in the vicinity of one of our hospitals, not more than five hundred yards from the heart of the town.
, observing this diabolical act, promptly ran a battery into position, and after a half dozen well directed shots, drove the Yankees
from their temporary foothold.
Believing that this demonstration was the beginning of a general attack, I left Wheeler
's lines and rode towards headquarters.
Troops appeared to be in motion on all sides.
, with three brigades of Hindman
's division, was throwing up heavy breast works across the elegant grounds which enclose one of the handsomest residences in the vicinity of Atlanta
; dismounted cavalry were getting into line; wagons pushing to the rear and couriers dashing by; while far and near there arose above the inxuriant foliage of the woods heavy clouds of dust, which betokened the manœuvring of troops.
Spurring forward to the headquarters of the commander-in chief
, which had been transferred to the edge of town, and nearer the centre of our lines.
I found there other signs which added to the perplexity of the moment.
The principal officers of the army were in close council — all grave, severe, and apparently deeply impressed with some new responsibility.
The consultation concluded, the Generals
mounted and, followed by their respective staffs, rode swiftly away in direction of the army.
At just 12 o'clock a gathering of General Hood
's own military household in front of headquarters announced still another in the chain of mysterious events.
But I had not long to wait for the unraveling of the web. The noble Texan
, arrayed in full uniform, leaning on his crutch and stick, was standing in the door-way, his manner calm, but his eyes flashing with a strange indescribable light, which gleams from them only in the hour of battle.
His first observation, as he took my hand, was, "Mr.
--, at 1 o'clock I attack the enemy.
He has pressed our lines until be is within a short distance of Atlanta
, and I must fight or evacuate.
I am going to fight.
The odds are against us, but I leave the issue with the God of Battles." We parted, and General Hood
with his staff, General Lovell
, General Mackall
, and escort, then proceeded to the lines.
I have remained at headquarters to write these hurried words, anticipators of the battle.
The moments are slipping by — as anxious moments always do — tediously, and yet not without a sensation of heart agony that is utterly depressing.
One hour more, and the metric of our army opposed to double its numbers, fighting behind breastworks, with catabolic incentive, the spires of Atlanta
in view, and its booty in prospect, will be undergoing an ordeal by fire.
One hour more, and hundreds of dear friends, whose merry laugh you have answered around their camp fires, may be weltering in their blood on these strange hillsides, or gone forever to their long home.
One hour more, and thousands will become widows and orphans, and weary heart cries will ascend to Heaven over the new sacrifice which this cruel struggle demands, while brave men, borne to the rear, will linger for a time under the knife and saw of the surgeons, and then, perhaps, return to their homes gained for life.
Night, July 20.--A battle, or rather an engagement, has taken place, and the fitful flashes of musketry along the lines denote that it has ended without substantial results.
I am too weary to enter much into details, and probably it would not be prudent to do so--first, because of the incompleteness of the affair, and secondly, the liability of capture while this letter is en route
, it being feared that the enemy will strike our only remaining line of communication to-night.
The following, therefore, is only a simple outline of the afternoon's work:
The object of General Hood
in planning the attack was two fold — namely, to withdraw, if possible from the enemy's left to centre and right a portion of the forces with which he had been so persistently pressing our right and to defeat and cut up one of his wings.
By examining the map and recalling the preceding description of the situation of Sherman
's forces, you will observe that a portion of the line-of the latter extended from near the junction of the Chattahoochee and Peachtree creek
in an easterly direction into this angle it was believed that, by a proper combination of our forces, we could drive the right of Sherman
's army and effect the object in view.
's corps held our left, Hardee
's the centre.
The attack by these two bodies was nearly simultaneous.
The advance commenced about two o'clock. Leaving their breast works, our men slowly but confidently pushed their way towards the front.
Skirmishing began almost immediately.
Strange to say, a part of the enemy's line was discovered to be also advancing.
Our men charged with a yell, and drove it back in disorder.--One, two, and, in some instances, three lines of incipient or temporary breastworks were mounted and left behind, and the battle in our favor appeared to go on swimmingly.
was brought to a stand still.
In his front was the main line of Yankee entrenchments and a redoubt manned by a battery.
Gathering fresh strength, however, one of his brigades plunged against the work and it yielded.
A heavy enfilading fire from a park of artillery on the right drove them back.
The Federals re-occupied the redoubt.
Our men advanced a second time, and again captured, but by the same terrible fire poured upon them from the distant artillery were compelled to abandon the prize.
Mean while, Hardee
had also reached the continuation of the same line.
His men, fighting bravely, had overcome every obstacle thus far, and were prepared to dash yet further on and drive the enemy into the creek.
But here the judgment of the commander and the gallantry of the troops were at variance.
deemed it imprudent to risk the lives of his men in achieving an object which threatened to cost
A halt was ordered, and, in brief, no further efforts were made to accomplish the end of the expedition.
Of course, disappointment prevails throughout the army at the result, for the troops engaged — each one emulating the dash and gallantry of the other — were satisfied of their ability to go on. No blame can, therefore, attach to any one for the negative victory plainly won, and the only regret expressed among the men is, that the officers in command were, as they believe, in the present in stance, over-prudent in pitting probability against what seemed a certainly.
Our losses in the affair will doubtless not fall short of a thousand or twelve hundred men. Six hundred and five killed and wounded have been reported in the corps of General Stewart
Our captures are two or three stands of colors and some three or four hundred prisoners. Hooker
's corps is reported by prisoners to be badly crippled.
was shot while leading his men, the ball entering behind the right ear and lodging in the brain, from which it has not, up to this writing, been removed.
His horse was killed at the same moment, and two men who went to his relief were wounded.
One may judge of the severity of the enemy's fire from these statements.--General Stevens
will probably be sent to Macon
to morrow, and, if possible, from that point homewards.
A letter to the Columbus
speaking of the reception of the intelligence of General Johnston
's removal, says:
The news of the removal of General Johnston
from the command of the Army of Tennessee fell like a thunderbolt upon our citizens and the army this morning.
Scarcely any one early in the day could be made to believe it, and it was looked upon even in semi-official circles as a canard.
Reliable intelligence from headquarters followed by General Johnston
's farewell address to his troops, left no room for doubt, and the people had nothing left to do but wonder.
I rode out to General Johnston
's headquarters about ten o'clock, and all along the road could be seen groups of soldiers, talking earnestly together about the all important news, which had speeded like wildfire along the whole line — front and rear.
Teamsters checked their teams and blocked up the road, canvassing the matter with brother teamsters, and horsemen and foot soldiers mingled together in the dust, and told each other all they knew about it.
There was apparently little excitement about headquarters.
was sitting upon a beach upon the front gallery of the pretty little cottage in close conversation with General Hood
, and upon the lap of the former a map was spread out, over which the index finger of the great chief passed from time to time, while General Hood
bent over in earnest attention.
It was an interesting sight, these two great men, all alone there, not a staff officer to be seen, pouring over the map of the situation; one imparting the plans by which he had hoped to achieve victory — the other drinking in everything which fell from the lips of his old commander and stowing it away for future use.
is said to have been taken quite by surprise by this unlooked-for promotion.
The news was conveyed to him last night at midnight by a telegram direct from Richmond
, and it was some time after he had read the dispatch before he could realize that he had been selected to take supreme command of the Army of Tennessee.
will have but little time to make changes of any great importance, even should be desire to do so, for the enemy have already crossed in force upon our right, and will soon be down upon us. He crossed the main body of his army at Isham Ferry, below Roswell
, leaving two corps on the other side — at least they had not followed up to this morning.
They will, doubtless, advance by what is known as the Peachtree Road