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Wednesday, May 11.
Wednesday broke damp and chilly, but the rain cleared off before it had deluged the roads sufficiently to retard operations. The army was now in position — that is, in its first position. It coiled round the Chattanooga or Buzzard Roost Mountains like a huge snake, and was pushed so close to the enemy's intrenchments that a few yards, more or less, became a matter of infinite importance to life and limb.

No movement is visible anywhere this afternoon. The smoke drifts off lazily and the skirmishers chaff at each other at their grim, favorite occupation. The verdant, but treacherous ridges of Buzzard Roost, are dim and gloomy through the cold and clouded atmosphere, and in the shady forests confronting us are long lines of shivering blue coats resolutely, nay, indifferently waiting for orders. I cannot but name a wish that God grant that the order for assault may not be given. My heart beats faster at the bare thought of standing near and gazing on it, convinced as I am that all the armies ever marshalled could not successfully storm the position, if occupied by thirty thousand determined men.

No movement up to dark had been made by the troops. The camp-fires shone brightly — nothing in the enemy's range of vision had been moved. The night was dark, and by the time it had fairly overspread nature, a sudden, stealthy life was infused into the hitherto recumbent troops. Hooker moves his corps to the right, and being near at hand, reports before daylight to McPherson. Schofield comes drifting in the same direction from his fruitless position east of Rocky Face. Other corps follow; perhaps, when daylight comes, the enemy will discover that he has permission, if he chooses, to mass on the division or two in his front, which being done and their lines broken, he may pass through to Chattanooga — all this if he pleases. But there is an ominous drift towards Resacca. The price of his looking at Chattanooga would be Atlanta and liberty. Sherman, at last, has indicated the point where he intends to thrust, and if Dalton is not in our possession by the day after to-morrow morning, there are no warnings in history for rebel general-ship.

The strength of Johnston's army is estimated by the best judges with whom I have conversed to be about fifty thousand, exclusive of Georgia militia, of whom probably fifteen thousand are bearing arms, and distributed at Rome and Resacca. Their journals estimate the strength of our army at sixty thousand. They will be astonished after they annihilate that number of Sherman's Yankees to find their work signally incomplete.

General Sherman has been constantly in the saddle, and has displayed himself in front of Buzzard Roost, directing operations at points where the rebels could hardly fail to identify him. In company with General Thomas he has just moved to the right — the current that way being strong enough to carry along the heads of the army.

One of McPherson's couriers has just dropped the intelligence that Kilpatrick, under orders from McPherson, cut the enemy's rear last night, a few miles south of Resacca. We are evidently moving to cut off their supplies, and so compel them to come out and attack us or beat a precipitate retreat. The army will be closed up to-night, and to-morrow will make history. If Johnston retreats he must not be long in doing it; and with the railroad in his rear severed, he must probably lose or destroy some of his heavy munitions.

General Sherman is pointedly hostile to correspondents, and the pursuit of their avocation at this time is under severe, and, to the anxious relatives and friends of his brave army, almost cruel restrictions. The General, perhaps, has adequate reason for his course; but as the news of all engagements must drift to the rear sooner or later, it seems plausible that a trustworthy correspondent can send it with less injury to the service than when borne by demoralized stragglers, or by wounded men, whose observations can hardly go beyond their brigades. Mr. Benjamin F. Taylor, whose contributions to the press from this army will fill some of the most delightful pages of its history, has gone North under the ban of the commanding General, for saying in one of his letters, “our lines now extend from Nashville to Huntsville.” It is reported that General Sherman, upon reading this item, wrote an order to his Provost Marshal-General, directing the immediate arrest of a spy, one Benjamin F. Taylor, his trial by drum-head court-martial, and execution. This order resulted in the withdrawal of Mr. [30] Taylor, and the abrupt termination of his series of delicious letters.

Our losses to date, foot up about eight hundred. The wounded have all been removed to Chattanooga, and are well cared for. We have lost a few prisoners and captured about twenty.

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W. T. Sherman (10)
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