Chapter 19: Atlanta and after — pursuit of Hood.
September and October, 1864.
By the middle of September, matters and things had settled down in Atlanta
, so that we felt perfectly at home.
The telegraph and railroads were repaired, and we had uninterrupted communication to the rear.
The trains arrived with regularity and dispatch, and brought us ample supplies.
had been driven out of Middle Tennessee
, escaping south across the Tennessee River
; and things looked as though we were to have a period of repose.
One day, two citizens, Messrs. Hill
, came into our lines at Decatur
, and were sent to my headquarters.
They represented themselves as former members of Congress, and particular friends of my brother John Sherman
; that Mr. Hill
had a son killed in the rebel army as it fell back before us somewhere near Cassville
, and they wanted to obtain the body, having learned from a comrade where it was buried.
I gave them permission to go by rail to the rear, with a note to the commanding officer
, General John E. Smith
, at Cartersville
, requiring him to furnish them an escort and an ambulance for the purpose.
I invited them to take dinner with our mess, and we naturally ran into a general conversation about politics and the devastation and ruin caused by the war. They had seen a part of the country over which the army had passed, and could easily apply its measure of desolation to the remainder of the State
, if necessity should compel us to go ahead.
resided at Madison
, on the main road to Augusta
and seemed to realize fully the danger; said that further resistance on the part of the South
was madness, that he hoped Governor Brown
, of Georgia
, would so proclaim it, and withdraw his people from the rebellion, in pursuance of what was known as the policy of “separate State action.”
I told him, if he saw Governor Brown
, to describe to him fully what he had seen, and to say that if he remained inert, I would be compelled to go ahead, devastating the State
in its whole length and breadth; that there was no adequate force to stop us, etc.; but if he would issue his proclamation withdrawing his State troops from the armies of the Confederacy
, I would spare the State
, and in our passage across it confine the troops to the main roads, and would, moreover, pay for all the corn and food we needed.
I also told Mr. I-ill that he might, in my name, invite Governor Brown
to visit Atlanta
; that I would give him a safeguard, and that if he wanted to make a speech, I would guarantee him as full and respectable an audience as any he had ever spoken to. I believe that Mr. Hill
, after reaching his home at Madison
, went to Milledgeville
, the capital of the State
, and delivered the message to Governor Brown
I had also sent similar messages by Judge Wright
of Rome, Georgia
, and by Mr. King
, of Marietta
On the 15th of September I telegraphed to General Halleck
My report is done, and will be forwarded as soon as I get in a few more of the subordinate reports.
I am awaiting a courier from General Grant.
All well; the troops are in good, healthy camps, and supplies are coming forward finely.
Governor Brown has disbanded his militia, to gather the corn and sorghum of the State.
I have reason to believe that he and Stephens want to visit me, and have sent them a hearty invitation.
I will exchange two thousand prisoners with Hood, but no more.
's action at that time is fully explained by the following letter, since made public, which was then only known to us in part by hearsay:
This militia had composed a division under command of Major-General Gustavus W. Smith
, and were thus dispersed to their homes, to gather the corn and sorghum, then ripe and ready for the harvesters.
On the 17th I received by telegraph from President Lincoln
I replied at once:
I have not the least doubt that Governor Brown
, at that time, seriously entertained the proposition; but he hardly felt ready to act, and simply gave a furlough to the militia, and called a special session of the Legislature, to meet at Milledgeville
, to take into consideration the critical condition of affairs in the State
On the 20th of September Colonel Horace Porter
arrived from General Grant
, at City Point
, bringing me the letter of September 12th, asking my general views as to what should next be done.
He staid several days at Atlanta
, and on his return careied back to Washington
my full reports of the past campaign, and my letter of September 20th to General Grant
in answer to his of the 12th.
About this time we detected signs of activity on the part of the enemy.
On the 21st