Report of Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, U.S. Army, commanding Fourth Army Corps, of operations May 1-July 27, 1864.
MAY 1-SEPTEMBER 8, 1864.--The Atlanta (Georgia) Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/1 [S# 72]
HDQRS. DEPT. AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
September 18, 1864.
Brig. Gen. W. D. WHIPPLE,
Chief of Staff, Department of the Cumberland.
GENERAL: Having been assigned by the President of the United States, I assumed command of the Fourth Army Corps April 10, 1864. One division, Major-General Stanley's, was stationed, two brigades at Blue Springs, and one at Ooltewah; the Second Division, then under command of Brigadier-General Wagner, was at Loudon, and the Third Division, General Wood's, was still in the Department of the Ohio, near Knoxville.
My first duty was to concentrate the corps near Cleveland. This was effected by the 25th of April. About one week's time was given to refit and prepare for the field· A portion of the command had just completed a trying winter campaign in East Tennessee, and was quite badly off in many respects, from shortness of transportation, clothing, and other supplies· The animals, in General Wood's division particularly, were in a wretched condition on account of want of forage and overworking. The officers made extraordinary exertions to get everything in readiness, and when the order was given to march to Catoosa Springs the entire corps was prepared to move with the required number of rations, but it was soon found that the limited transportation, taken in connection with its condition, was a source of constant embarrassment. I speak of these things in order to place in a clear light the difficulties that the officers and men of this corps met in the outset of the campaign and nobly overcame, for when other portions of the army had full rations they were at times obliged to subsist on a diminished allowance.
The march commenced the 3d of May, upon the arrival of Major-General Schofield at Cleveland with the left wing of the army. My command, in two columns, having pursued two distinct routes, one via Salem Church and the other via Red Clay, arrived at Catoosa Springs on the morning of the 4th of May. Major-General Thomas having already reached Ringgold with the rest of the Army of the Cumberland, a junction was thus substantially formed with it. A very little skirmishing occurred to the east of Catoosa Springs with a detachment of General McCook's cavalry that had covered my left flank during the march from Cleveland.
Not feeling sure as to the intention or strength of the enemy, my command took up a strong position covering its own approaches and those to Ringgold. Here the corps remained until the 7th of May. The day before instructions were received to march on Tunnel Hill in such a way as to take the enemy in flank, if possible, while Major-General Palmer with the Fourteenth Corps threatened him in front. Tunnel Hill is a portion of a ridge separated from Rocky Face by a narrow valley, and situated to the west of it. The tunnel on the Chattanooga railroad is through this hill. From Catoosa Spring my command marched on the Alabama road due east to the vicinity known as Lee's house. General Newton's division here formed facing in the direction of the movement as a cover, while General Stanley, followed by General Wood, turned into a cross-road which led directly south toward Tunnel Hill. Stanley skirmished with the enemy's cavalry all of the way, and removed obstructions that had been placed in the road. He came in sight of Tunnel Hill Station at about 9 a.m. Here the enemy appeared in considerable force on the most prominent part of the ridge, and was firing with artillery upon our advance, and also upon that of General Palmer in his direct front. We soon ascertained that this artillery was supported by cavalry, and General Stanley moved a force along the northern slope, and carried the hill by 11 a.m., driving the enemy before him. The command was then posted in such a way as to hold Tunnel Hill in conjunction with Palmer's corps on my right.
The enemy occupied a strong position between us and Dalton, with the barrier Rocky Face intervening. This barrier is a continuous ridge some 500 feet high, exceedingly narrow at the top, except where an occasional spur juts out to the east or west. In many places six men could not march abreast along the crest. The western face is generally, within sixty feet of the summit, an almost perpendicular steep, that cannot be climbed. The eastern slope is, for the most part, more gradual. Buzzard Roost Gap is a pass through Rocky Face a little southeast of Tunnel Hill. The railroad and a wagon road lead through this opening toward Dalton, besides a small creek runs in the same direction, which the rebel general had dammed up to complete his defenses. These defenses consisted of several batteries situated on the right and left of the gap, bearing upon the approaches to his position, and a well constructed line of intrenchments at right angles to the railroad, also enabling the enemy holding them to bring a strong musketry fire upon any column moving toward his position.
General Thomas was directed to threaten the enemy in front on the 8th of May, while General McPherson was moving through Villanow in order to seize and occupy Snake Creek Gap. My part of this movement was to endeavor to put a force on Rocky Face Ridge, and make a demonstration toward Buzzard Roost Gap in conjunction with the Fourteenth Corps. General Newton's division on the morning of the 8th of May moved to the north end of Rocky Face, some two miles above Buzzard Roost Gap, where he pushed up a small force at first, driving the enemy along the crest. He succeeded in taking about one-third of the height from the enemy, and establishing a signal station upon a prominent point. He had attempted to get possession of-a rebel station, but owing to the rugged nature of the heights, and the ability of the enemy to defend so narrow a path, he could not reach it. In the mean time Generals Stanley and Wood pushed strong skirmish lines, well supported, as far up the western slope as possible. During the night following. General Newton succeeded in getting two pieces of artillery upon the ridge. The next morning, May 9, he attempted to make farther progress and succeeded in driving the enemy from 50 to 100 yards. General Stanley during the afternoon of the 9th made a reconnaissance into the pass of Buzzard Roost, developing a strong musketry and artillery fire, while General Wood's division continued the same operations as the day before. The casualties in my command resulting from these operations were between 200 and 300 killed and wounded.
In accordance with instructions from General Thomas, the Fourth Corps made preparations to remain near Buzzard Roost Gap for the purpose of holding the enemy at Dalton, if possible, while the rest of the army, excepting Stoneman's cavalry, was moving through Snake Creek Gap to turn the enemy's flank. May 11 the troops of the corps were disposed as follows: General Stanley to hold the gap, General Newton to hold Rocky Face and the roads leading around the north end of it, with General Stoneman's cavalry covering his left flank, and General Wood in reserve on Tunnel Hill. During the evening of this day and on the morning of the 12th the general movement was progressing and the Fourth Corps found itself alone, confronted by the entire rebel army. From the signal station on Rocky Face the enemy's movements could be distinctly seen. About 10 a.m. he moved out a strong force as if to turn my left flank and give battle, but after pressing in the skirmishers the column returned within his works. The threat, however: was so strong that General Wood's division was moved to the support of General Newton. During the night following the enemy evacuated Dalton. May 13 at 6 a.m. I received the report of the enemy having left, and immediately ordered pursuit. The corps moved at once to Dalton and came upon the enemy's rear guard of cavalry there. We pushed forward toward Resaca, General Stoneman with his cavalry pursuing the direct route, McCook's cavalry on a road near the base of Rocky Face, and my corps marching by an intermediate road. We skirmished with the enemy during the day, and encamped at dark about eight miles south of Dalton. Soon after we opened communication with the rest of the army before Resaca, happily finding that we were only one mile from General Schofield's left flank.
Instructions were received from Major-General Thomas, at 5.15 on the morning of May 14, to wit:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
In the Field, May 14, 1864.
Commanding Fourth Army Corps:
GENERAL: You will move your troops down the main roads toward Resaca until you form a junction with the rest of the army, when further orders will be given you. Report your approach when you get within sight of the troops in your front.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
GEO. H. THOMAS,
These instructions were substantially the same as those I had already issued to my command during the night.
The general formation of General Sherman's army at this time was as follows: The Army of the Tennessee, General McPherson on the right, with his right resting on the Oostenaula; center, General Thomas' command, excepting the Fourth Corps; and the left, General Schofield, on the Sugar Valley road. The whole line faced easterly.
In obedience to the above order, General Newton, followed by General Wood, marched to the left of General Schofield, and General Stanley moved down the Tilton and Resaca road toward the enemy's extreme right. On reaching General Schofield we found him pushing his command toward the right and front. General Newton formed on his left. General Wood then changed direction so as to move on a Resaca road intermediate between Stanley and Newton. The three columns were not at first connected, but very adroitly made their concentration in immediate contact with the enemy's line, having skirmished heavily in their respective fronts. By the advance movement the general line was shortened, so that a great part of Newton's division was reserved. Schofield's left carried a line of the enemy's works by assault, and immediately a portion of General Newton's division was pushed up, relieving more or less of Schofield's left center and holding every advantage gained. Meanwhile a part of General Wood's division came up abreast of Newton's, driving the enemy from his rifle-pits, and secured the position, while General Stanley formed a junction on the extreme left, protecting his left flank by a brigade posted on the left of the Tilton and Resaca road. The movements above described were necessarily slowly executed from the nature of the country, which was exceedingly rough and covered for the most part with thick woods, besides the enemy disputed every inch of progress by his force already in position, meeting our advance with strong skirmish lines. The musketry firing during the day was quite heavy. After our troops had been satisfactorily formed word came from General Stanley that the enemy was making a movement to turn his left flank. I saw General Thomas personally, representing the exact condition of things to him. He directed Major-General Hooker to send a division to my extreme left. This was promptly done. The division was guided by Colonel Morgan, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Troops, temporarily attached to my staff, by the most direct route. This division (General Williams') arrived just in time. Stanley's left had been turned, and was being forced back. All of his reserves had been previously exhausted in extending his line. A battery (Simon-son's), however, was doing splendid execution, staying the enemy's progress, when a brigade of Williams' was deployed in its support. The advance of the enemy was then immediately and effectually checked, and my thanks are tendered for the generous and opportune assistance rendered. The casualties of the day were 400 killed and wounded in the corps. During the night good intrenchments were made along my entire front.
General Hooker and myself were ordered to make an attack in conjunction on the 15th, everything to be in readiness by daylight. General Hooker was obliged to march about two-thirds of his command from the center of the army to the extreme left, which movement took longer than was anticipated. His troops were massed and commenced the advance about noon. As he was the ranking officer I visited him early, learning his intentions as to the points and manner of attack, and prepared to support him in the way he asked. By artillery and musketry firing, by strong demonstrations opposite my center and right, and by one real assault, I succeeded in keeping heavy forces of the enemy from leaving my front or passing to the left, but did not succeed in holding any point of the enemy's works My command being on the right and the pivot, necessarily conformed in moving to General Hooker's advance. He, with a column of brigades, very handsomely drove the enemy before him, seized and held two important heights, and also captured some artillery and prisoners. The number of casualties during this day was large, among them Brigadier-General Willich, of General Wood's division, was severely wounded and obliged to leave us. Harker and Opdycke, of Newton's division, were wounded but remained on duty, and some valuable officers were killed. During the night of the 15th the enemy evacuated Resaca.
Early on the 16th my corps led the pursuit along the direct road toward Kingston. Skirmishing occurred with the enemy's rear guard so as to make our progress slow. The corps camped that night at Calhoun.
My command, General Newton leading, continued the march next day, starting at 5.30 a.m., along the wagon road, except Wood's division, which moved on the right down the railroad. We had heavy skirmishing all day. The enemy's custom is, when retreating, to form his rear guard of cavalry with a section or battery of artillery, sometimes strengthened by infantry. During this day's march the resistance was unusually great. He formed three lines, some half or three-quarters of a mile apart, and barricaded with rails, seeking the cover of woods with open fields in his front. As soon as we had succeeded in driving the first line it passed to the rear of the third, and in some new and favorable position made another line. However, as we moved in two columns, we were able to make considerable progress. The resistance increased as we approached Adairsville. General Newton continued to deploy regiments as skirmishers till he had a large brigade engaged. General Wood, abreast of him, also skirmished heavily. About 4 p.m. it was found that we had come upon the enemy's infantry in considerable force. Preparations were immediately made to assault and carry this position if possible, but it required time to bring up the troops and get them in readiness. General Thomas deeming it best, on account of the nearness of night, to make no formal attack, the movement already set on foot was postponed. Yet a real engagement was going on, since both parties continued to re-enforce the skirmish lines until they were tantamount to lines of battle. The enemy opened upon our column with artillery, to which our batteries replied with spirit. During the night the enemy withdrew. We found that he had taken up a strong position and had partially intrenched it, and that his whole army was present while the heavy skirmishing of the evening before was progressing. The casualties in my command at Adairsville were about 200 killed and wounded.
May 18, the corps moved as ordered six miles farther and encamped on Comasaua [Connasene?] Creek.
May 19, at 5 a.m., marched, General Stanley's division leading; reached Kingston at 8 a.m. The head of column turned toward Cassville. The enemy was discovered on high ground just beyond the Two-Run Creek, and as soon as our troops came in view he opened fire upon us from a 6-gun battery. General Stanley promptly brought up his artillery, supported by a brigade of infantry, and replied to the enemy's guns. He silenced them and drove them off. At this point I was directed by General Sherman in person to move forward four miles to an old mill near the railroad, and there to go into camp. As soon as General Stanley had dislodged the enemy from the high ground east of the creek he moved forward. On reaching a point about a half mile from this mill, severe resistance was made to our advance by the enemy's infantry skirmishers, and from a prominent height the enemy's infantry was discovered drawn up in two lines and advancing. General Stanley formed his lines, his left resting on the railroad. General Wood's division was moved to his right and General Newton's moved to cover the left. As soon as our lines were formed the enemy halted and began to cover his front with rail barricades nearly a mile in our front, but in plain sight. Our artillery opened from different points, whereupon the enemy's first line gave way and passed to the rear in considerable confusion. Having been directed by General Thomas to push on, I moved forward to the enemy's position, which he had in the mean time abandoned. The command here went into position, having formed a junction with a portion of General Hooker's corps that had been moving in a column to the east of us and parallel. The corps had hardly halted, when an order was received to move at once straight on Cassville. Stanley's advance had hardly progressed a mile, when a sharp fire was opened upon his head of column. He promptly deployed a portion of his command and several batteries of artillery were placed in position to open the way. The enemy's resistance was so determined that General Wood's division was ordered up on Stanley's right. The promptitude with which this division was deployed afforded me great satisfaction. Newton's division was directed to take post on Stanley's left, but all but one or two regiments of it were crowded out by our forming a junction with General Hooker's corps. In this position, with General Hooker on the left and General Palmer on the right, continuous skirmishing and artillery firing was kept up until after dark. Before morning Johnston had abandoned another strongly intrenched position about Cassville and fled across the Etowah River, destroying the railroad bridge.
May 20, 21, and 22, the army rested in position near Cassville, renewed its supplies, sent back everything surplus, and made other preparations for a movement on Dallas.
May 23, crossed the Etowah River at Gillem's Bridge and went into position at Euharlee Creek.
May 24, crossed Euharlee Creek at Barrett's Mill and marched to Burnt Hickory, where we encamped for the night.
May 25, command marched by a settlement road, making a detour to the right of Burnt Hickory, and expecting to come into Dallas by a Van Wert and Dallas road. This route was taken to avoid collision with the numerous wagons of the corps in front of us that were obliged to move on one road. About 2 p.m. Lieutenant-Colonel Mendenhall, department inspector-general, met me at a point six or seven miles from Dallas, bringing an order from General Thomas for me to move by the first left-hand road across to the direct Burnt Hickory and Dallas road, as the enemy had been met by General Hooker s advance in considerable force. This corps was marched as rapidly as possible, its head of column reaching Pumpkin Vine Creek just as General Williams' division, of the Twentieth Corps, was passing. At 5.15 p.m. General Newton's head of column arrived and his troops were placed in position in rear of General Hooker's troops that were already forming, or formed for an advance. The rest of the corps was marched up as rapidly as possible and moved on the right and left of the road. At 5.30 p.m. General Hooker's command moved forward, as I understood, with instructions to carry the cross-roads at New Hope Church, supposed to be not more than a mile distant. I was directed to hold my command ready to move forward. At 6.20 p.m. General Hooker sent me word by a staff officer that he had driven the enemy behind his breastworks; that he was holding his ground but was hard pressed, and requested me to send up a column of brigades on the right-hand side of the road. I commenced the march instantly with that formation, but, finding that I was losing time, owing to the obstructions and difficulties of the ground, I directed the troops to march by the flank along the road as quickly as possible until they approached General Hooker's position. Here I saw General Hooker himself, who requested me to form on the left of the road. Newton deployed his command as fast as he could, but by the time this was effected it was completely dark. The other divisions, following General Newton's, were encamped for the night on the right and left of the road, it being too late to locate them otherwise in the thick woods.
I have been thus particular on this point because criticisms have been offered like this, "that had the Fourth Corps come up on General Hooker's left the enemy would have been completely driven from his strong position at New Hope Church, and thus saved the army the long and fatiguing operations which succeeded General Hooker's assault." I do not doubt the truth of the allegation, but the facts are, first, that my head of column only had arrived at General Hooker's first position when his attacking movement commenced; second, that I was directed to hold myself in readiness to move forward if ordered; third, that I did so move forward as promptly as possible the moment I received word I was needed, but arrived too late to partake in the engagement.
May 26, General Newton's line was relocated so as to form a better connection with General Hooker. General Stanley filled a gap on Newton's right with two or three regiments, the rest of his division in reserve. General Wood gradually developed his line on Newton's left, driving in the enemy's skirmishers, crossing Brown's Mill creek with his main force, and securing an important hill, then apparently opposite the enemy's right flank. These lines were found subsequently at different points to be within 100 yards of the enemy's intrenchments, hence the firing of skirmishers, or from main line to main line, was constant and cost us many men. Our lines were thoroughly intrenched as soon as possible, and every battery that could be brought to bear upon the enemy was placed in position and covered by good works.
May 27, General Stanley moved to the left of General Newton and relieved General Wood's division preparatory to the latter making an assault on the enemy's line at a point which Major-General Sherman had designated. On a careful reconnaissance made by General Thomas and myself it was ascertained that the enemy were then prepared to bring a cross-fire of artillery and musketry upon the approaches to that position. Therefore I was directed to move General Wood farther to the left and beyond all troops and endeavor to strike the enemy's flank. Johnson's division of the Fourteenth Corps was sent to me as a support. I have omitted to say that the Twenty-third Corps, Major-General Schofield commanding, was already in position on the left of the Fourth. Therefore I selected a field on the extreme left and rear of the Twenty-third Corps, which was pretty well concealed from the enemy by intervening woods, and in this massed the troops, Wood's division on the right, formed in a column of six lines deep, and General Johnson's on the left, with a brigade front.
The advance from this position commenced at 11 a.m. and in an easterly direction. The columns moved forward with very little interruption for nearly a mile. I thought we must have reached the enemy's flank, whereupon General Wood wheeled his command toward the right till he was faced nearly south. A brigade of the Twenty-third Corps, General McLean's, deployed so as to form a junction with General Wood on his right. The latter pressed forward his skirmishers till a large open field was reached. Here it was discovered that the enemy's works were still in our front. Immediately the skirmishers were withdrawn and the column moved rapidly by the left flank at least another mile to the eastward. The ground was carefully reconnoitered by General Wood and myself. We still found a line of works to our right, but they did not seem to cover General Wood's front, and they were new, the enemy still working hard upon them. I gave a little time for the troops of Wood's division to rest, and for Johnson's to form a little retired on his (Wood's) left. From the position now occupied by the troops woods more or less open extended up to the enemy's apparent flank. A road skirted the woods opposite our right, running perpendicular to the enemy's lines. Another road ran obliquely toward the left and in rear of Johnson's position. McLean's brigade was sent to a place in full view of the enemy's works, a little to the right of the point of attack, with a view to attract the enemy's attention and draw his fire. As soon as everything was in readiness, at about 5 p.m., General Wood commenced his advance, Hazen's brigade leading. The entire column marched briskly forward, driving in the enemy's skirmishers and vigorously assaulting his main line. Complaint came immediately that the supporting column under General Johnson was not far enough advanced. General Johnson was directed to push forward a brigade to Hazen's left. He answered that he was doing so, and that it would soon be in position. General Wood became very heavily engaged, so as to necessitate moving forward his supporting lines, and he found strong works in his front, except, perhaps, opposite his two left regiments. Colonel Scribner, who commanded General Johnson's advance brigade, finding his own left fired into from across Pickett's Mills creek, halted and threw some troops across it for his own protection. This delay occurring at precisely the same time with Wood's assault was unfortunate, for it enabled the enemy with his reserves to force back' the left of General Wood's line and bring an enfilading and reverse fire upon his troops. Again by some mistake of orders, McLean's troops did not show themselves to the enemy, nor open any fire to attract his attention on General Wood's right, so that the enemy was able to pour a cross-fire of artillery and musketry into his right flank. Under these circumstances it soon became evident that the assault had failed, and that the troops must be withdrawn with care in order to bring off our wounded, and to prevent a successful sally of the enemy from his works. General Johnson formed his troops in rear of and to the left of the entire position, while General Wood carefully withdrew his division and formed on a ridge farther to the right. General McLean having been requested to push farther to the right in order to make connection with the rest of the army, disregarded the request and moved off at once by the road, leaving these two divisions isolated. He (McLean) alleged in excuse that his men were entirely without rations. Our losses were very heavy, being upward of 1,400 killed, wounded, and missing in General Wood's division alone. Though the assault was repulsed, yet a position was secured near Pickett's Mills of the greatest importance to the subsequent movements of the army, and it has been subsequently ascertained that the enemy suffered immensely in the action, and regarded it as the severest attack made during this eventful campaign. Johnson and Wood made strong intrenchments during the night. General Johnson received quite a severe wound from a shell and was obliged to leave his command the next morning. During this movement and fighting on the left, Stanley and Newton made strong demonstrations in their respective fronts. At 4 p.m. the enemy tried their lines, from which he was driven back with loss.
May 28, very little occurred on my front of interest except the readjusting lines. Stanley placed a brigade in reserve on the Ac-worth road opposite the interval between General Wood and Major-General Schofield. At 4.30 p.m. the enemy made a slight demonstration in front of Generals Stanley and Newton, while he was making a regular assault upon General McPherson's lines near Dallas. The enemy was repulsed at every point.
May 29, very little of interest occurred during the day. An assault was made by the enemy upon General Newton's line at 11 p.m., which his troops handsomely repulsed. Heavy firing was heard in the direction of Dallas a little later, whereupon a strong demonstration by artillery and musketry firing was made by Stanley and Newton.
May 30 and 31, skirmishing and some slight reconnaissances by ourselves and the enemy, but no material change occurred.
June 1, the movement of the army to the left commenced, General McPherson and General Davis having withdrawn from the extreme right position.
On the 2d the movement was continued; the Twentieth and Twenty-third Corps and part of the Fourteenth passed beyond our extreme left.
June 3 and 4, nothing of consequence, excepting that I thinned and extended my lines so as to cover the ground occupied by the Twenty-third Corps, and afterward by Davis' division, of the Fourteenth Corps, relieving those troops in order to prolong our lines to the left. The result of these movements was to cause the enemy to abandon his lines on the night of June 4.
June 5, the command rested.
June 6, marched toward Acworth, crossing Allatoona Creek, and massed the command near Dr. Peters' house, on the Acworth and Sandtown road, about two miles from Acworth, which was already in possession of our troops.
June 7, 8, and 9, all that was done by the entire army was establishing the depots at Allatoona, rebuilding the bridge across the Etowah, and bringing up supplies.
June 10, movements were resumed. The Fourth Corps was directed to follow the Fourteenth along the direct Marietta road. The Fourteenth Corps having passed to the left this road was open to my command. I pushed forward General Stanley's division in the advance until within view of Pine Top, which is an isolated hill just to the south of the Burnt Hickory and Marietta road. Here we encountered the enemy's skirmishers. Pressing them back we discovered that Pine Top was occupied by the enemy in force. At this point the command was halted to wait for the appearance of the Fourteenth Corps, which was to have the front in the order of march for the day. When it appeared General Palmer formed his line facing southward toward Pine Top. The two corps formed in conjunction and pushed up to within cannon range of the enemy's line. During the night batteries were put in position and good works were constructed.
June 11, General Palmer's corps gained a little ground to his left and front. The interval left was filled by my command.
June 12 and 13, heavy rains occurred and no change took place. June 14, my lines were extended about 300 paces, and advanced some three-quarters of a mile on the left toward the east of Pine Top and in conjunction with the Fourteenth Corps. During the last three days much artillery firing occurred. We opened all of our batteries whenever the enemy showed any force. During the night of the 14th the enemy abandoned his advanced lines at Pine Top and withdrew within his works, already prepared, running from Kenesaw to Lost Mountain.
My troops occupied Pine Top as early as 3 a.m. June 15. At 11 a.m. I received an order from Major-General Thomas to form a column of attack and to move southward to the left of Pine Top promptly at 2 p.m. Newton's division was selected to take the lead, followed by the divisions of Generals Stanley and Wood. General Newton was required to move forward briskly, with a strong skirmish line, and develop, if possible, a practicable point for attack, choosing his own formation. It took General Newton until 3 p.m. to get his column organized, when he pushed forward a strong line of skirmishers, which in a few moments encountered an intrenched skirmish line of the enemy. This line was carried with very little delay, whereupon General Newton moved up his main lines to the position gained. The skirmish line was advanced still farther, but encountered so heavy a musketry fire that it was deemed prudent to deploy a portion of the advanced line. I moved up General Stanley to cover General Newton's right flank. In the meanwhile General Newton had driven the enemy's skirmishers within his main works and reported them so thoroughly constructed and so well manned that I deemed it improper to risk an assault without a further reconnaissance, besides, the day was already nearly spent. General Thomas approved of my action and directed me to fortify where I then was. The next day, June 16, two batteries were constructed on our skirmish line. In the one on Stanley's front a valuable officer, Captain Simonson, General Stanley's chief of artillery, was killed. During the night these two batteries were connected by main lines of intrenchments and our troops moved into them. The position of a part of these lines was such that the enemy's skirmishers had to be pushed back to gain it. The whole line was then in close proximity to the enemy's works.
Doubtless believing that we could carry several points in our front by assault, the enemy determined to withdraw during the night. At any rate my troops entered his abandoned works by daylight on the morning of the 17th. Our skirmish line found that of the enemy about a mile beyond these works, and in such a position as to indicate that he had simply withdrawn his left, without moving his right flank. My lines were formed facing eastward, General Wood on the right, General Newton on the left, General Stanley in reserve, and advanced well covered with skirmishers. The difficulties of the ground were such that the enemy was enabled to resist our progress more than usual. It took until night to drive the enemy's skirmishers across Mud Creek. After dark our skirmishers, having secured a favorable position, thoroughly intrenched it. Twice before daylight the enemy attempted to drive them back, but failed.
June 18, at 6.45 a.m. it was reported to me by one of General Wood's staff officers that the enemy appeared to be leaving, whereupon I directed Generals Newton and Wood to advance a strong line of skirmishers to ascertain whether this report was true. This movement was commenced at once; on Newton's front the enemy seemed taken partially by surprise and was driven from a main line of works. General Harker, perceiving the advantage gained, without waiting for orders, deployed two of his regiments to secure and hold this advanced position. I directed General Newton to move up his entire division in support. General Baird's division, of the Fourteenth Corps, came up very promptly on his left. General Wood having gained the ridge east of Mud Creek, intrenched the position, making a continuous work. General Newton's troops were in such close contact with the enemy that three men were detailed from each company in the front line to keep up a continuous fire to prevent him from opening his artillery or musketry, which, however, in spite of this precaution, was occasionally done. As soon as it was dark Newton's division intrenched strongly within less than 100 yards of the enemy's works. The advantage gained by these movements was great. The line seized was that portion of the old line that jutted out from the new, which was necessary for the enemy to hold in order to prevent a successful assault upon his new position. It had rained hard during the whole day, and Mud Creek was swollen so that horses had to swim it, yet the troops managed to bridge it and cross with infantry and artillery, and secure the important ground before described. General Thomas, as soon as he was apprized of the position of things, directed an assault for the next day, but the enemy again withdrew before morning.
June 19, as soon as I discovered that the enemy had gone, I directed General Stanley, at 6 a.m., to push forward toward Marietta, which he did, followed by the other two divisions., He encountered the enemy's skirmishers near Wallace's house, on the Marietta road, about three-quarters of a mile from Noyes' Creek, beyond which he drove the enemy with his infantry and artillery. General Newton came up and did the same on his left. The command then took position on the western bank of this creek. The enemy's position was in plain sight and within musketry range. His lines seemed to extend along the crest of Little Kenesaw and the southern spur, refusing to his left after reaching the base of it. This line was apparently unassailable, being as strong as possible by nature, and having plenty of felled trees in its front. General Hooker, who had moved in a parallel column, had crossed Noyes' Creek farther south, and moved northward, until his left division was near my right flank.
The next morning, June 20, General Hooker's left division (Williams') was relieved by General Wood's division and one brigade of General Stanley's division. During the forenoon Stanley crossed the creek in his front and constructed a line of works. During the afternoon he carried a wooded hill in front of Whitaker's brigade, also another called Bald Knob in front of his right brigade (Colonel Kirby's). Whitaker rapidly barricaded his new front. He had hardly got his works constructed when they were fiercely assaulted by the enemy, who was repulsed with heavy loss. The attempt was renewed several times, but with no better success. On Kirby's front, however, it was attempted to hold the knob by skirmishers, while the pioneers intrenched. These skirmishers with the pioneers were forced back by the assault on Whitaker's brigade, which extended to them, and this position was lost for the day.
June 21, General Newton's division, having been relieved by General Palmer, was moved to the right of General Wood's, relieving a part of General Hooker's troops. At 11.30 a.m. I ordered that Colonel Kirby and Colonel Nodine, commanding General Wood's left brigade, move in conjunction, and seize and hold the Bald Knob that Kirby had lost the evening before. The enemy had then intrenched it pretty strongly, and it was under the hottest kind of a fire from his guns. I directed a concentrated artillery fire of a half hour's duration upon this point, and ordered the advance, which was promptly made. The enemy was driven off, a number of prisoners were taken, the knob was secured, and the crest was intrenched while the enemy was firing upon it from two batteries of artillery. General Wood pushed two of his regiments still farther to the front and right, and took possession of a height, which made the enemy abandon a long intrenched skirmish line, and enabled us to move forward our right across an open field, 400 or 500 yards.
June 22, General Hooker advanced his corps in an easterly direction on my right, and my right division was wheeled up in connection with the movement, occasioning heavy skirmishing in its front. About 5 p.m. the enemy made an assault on General Hooker's right division (General Williams'), and I was soon requested to relieve his left division (General Butterfield's)for a re-enforcement with my troops. I sent every regiment that I had out of line at once. General Thomas had already directed that General Stanley's should be relieved by General King's, but this could not be effected till after dark, owing to King's close proximity to the enemy. As soon as relieved, during the night, Stanley pushed his entire command to my right.
June 23, in accordance with request of General Thomas, I tried an intrenched height in front of Generals Newton's and Stanley's position, it being doubted whether or not this was a portion of the enemy's main line. I opened upon it a concentrated artillery fire from as many guns as I could bring to bear, and immediately afterward advanced a strong skirmish line, which drove the enemy within his works, and developed a heavy artillery and musketry fire. By this operation I advanced our lines, particularly on the extreme right, to very close proximity to the rebel works. These proved to be his main lines, covered by troublesome abatis and other entanglements. June 24, 25, and 26, the corps remained in the same position. June 27, in General Thomas' special field orders, of June 26, I was required to assault the enemy's works at some point near the left of General Stanley's division. General Palmer, with his column on my right, was directed to carry the enemy's works in his front. The whole movement was to take place at 8 a.m. After a careful examination of the ground, I found only two points where the troops could have a reasonable cover in Stanley's front, and decided to make two columns of attack. Brigadier-General Harker led one column and General Wagner another, while General Kimball moved in support in echelon with Wagner's brigade. These columns had each a regimental division front, and were separated by about 100 yards interval. The whole front was covered by a strong line of skirmishers. Such troops of Stanley's and Wood's as were free to move were massed in support. The artillery of the corps was so placed as to bring a heavy fire on the points of attack. General Palmer's arrangements were made simultaneous with mine. The artillery opened from all points and continued firing for about fifteen minutes. At a preconcerted signal the columns pushed rapidly forward, driving in the enemy's skirmishers, and were not checked until they reached the entanglements in front of the enemy's works. At this place the artillery and infantry fire became so galling that the advance was stopped. General Harker is reported to have made a second advance, when he received the wound which caused his death. Some of his men succeeded in reaching the enemy's works, but failed to secure a lodgment. As soon as it became evident that the enemy's intrenchments could not be carried by assault the command was directed to resume its former position. Our losses were very heavy, particularly in valuable officers. I call special attention to the report of Brigadier-General Newton of this attack, and to his opinion as to the causes of its being unsuccessful. My experience is that a line of works thoroughly constructed, with the front well covered with abatis and other entanglements, well manned with infantry, whether with our own or that of the enemy, cannot be carried by direct assault. The exceptions are where some one of the above conditions is wanting or where the defenders are taken by surprise. The strength of such a line is, of course, increased by well-arranged batteries. Notwithstanding the probabilities against success, it is sometimes necessary to assault strong works, as has occurred in several instances during the present campaign.
From June 28 to July 2, inclusive, preparations were made and partially executed for resting the left of the entire army opposite the southern extremity of Little Kenesaw, so as to extend the right and turn the enemy's left flank. The enemy, doubtless perceiving these movements, evacuated his position in our front on the night of the 2d. July 3, the corps marched from camp in pursuit of the enemy at 5 a.m., Stanley's division leading. After passing through Marietta the corps followed a route to the left of the railroad and came upon the enemy's skirmishers near Neal Dow Station, between three and four miles south of Marietta. Stanley's division was deployed confronting the enemy, the right resting on the railroad, and the other two divisions were massed in reserve. A little south of this point, at a place known as Smyrna Camp-Ground, the enemy had constructed another good system of works, behind a wide, open field, almost covering his entire front. Having come upon the enemy's intrenched skirmish line, and it being late in the day when the troops had arrived, no farther advance was ordered.
July 4, General Newton's and General Wood's divisions were moved up into line, on the left of General Stanley's. At 9 a.m. General Stanley was ordered to strengthen his skirmish line and assault and carry the skirmish line of the enemy, which was unusually-strong. It had intrenched pits, with from ten to twenty men in each, and these in many places were not more than twenty yards apart. Generals Newton and Wood were ordered to move their skirmish lines in conjunction with General Stanley's. The movement commenced at about 11 a.m. The lines were handsomely carried in Stanley's front under a trying artillery fire in addition to the musketry fire from the rifle-pits. Immediately General Stanley moved up his main line and intrenched the position gained. This was within short musketry range of the enemy's continuous works. General Newton took a part of the same line, as also did General Wood at a later hour. During the night the enemy again retreated.
July 5, pursuit was continued by my corps along the railroad, General Wood leading. Very little skirmishing until the head of column reached Vining's Station. From this point a road led to the east toward Atlanta, crossing the Chattahoochee River at Pace's Ferry, where the enemy had a pontoon bridge. Wood's skirmishers encountered a brigade of dismounted cavalry, which had its front covered by rail barricades along a ridge at right angles to the above-named road, and one-quarter of a mile from the station. He quickly drove the enemy from his barricades and pushed on to the river, where he arrived in time to save a greater part of the enemy's bridge. The dismounted cavalry seemed to have retreated by a river road, that we did not then know, toward the railroad bridge, and therefore escaped capture. This accomplished, the command went into camp on the high ground near to and facing the river.
July 6, 7, and 8, remained in position, making an occasional demonstration and feint as if to throw a bridge, with a view to keep as large a force of the enemy on the opposite bank as possible.
July 9, in accordance with instructions from department headquarters, General Newton's division was sent to Roswell Factory to support General Garrard's cavalry in effecting a crossing of the Chattahoochee at that point. He crossed and made a bridge-head.
July 10, Stanley's and Wood's divisions moved to near the mouth of Soap Creek, in support of General Schofield, who had crossed the river at that point.
July 11, at 5 p.m. received orders to secure the heights opposite Powers' Ferry, on the south side of the Chattahoochee, to protect the laying of a bridge at that point. Stanley's division fulfilled these instructions the next morning at daylight, passing the river at Schofield's bridge.
July 12, at 3 a.m. received the order from General Thomas to move my entire corps to the south side of the river, crossing a pontoon bridge at Powers' Ferry that Colonel Buell was directed to lay. Wood's division moved over as soon as the bridge was completed, while General Newton's division returned from Roswell Factory and crossed the next morning. The two latter divisions formed a strong line on Stanley's left and front.
July 13, 14, 15, and 16, my command remained in position.
July 17, General Wood's division moved down the south side of the river three miles, to clear the way for laying a bridge at Pace's Ferry and cover the crossing of the Fourteenth Corps. As soon as this was accomplished the division returned. Owing to the rugged nature of the country, the want of roads, and the proximity of the enemy's masses to Pace's Ferry, Wood's movement was an important and delicate one. It was satisfactorily executed, and without an engagement.
July 18, an intimation was given by signal dispatch, about midnight, that orders would be received to march at daylight. Upon this dispatch the corps was directed to move. The order of instructions was not received till 5 a.m., just as the corps was moving. As far as concerned this command, it was to march directly on Buck Head and go into position on the left of the place, along the Turner's Ferry and Buck Head road. Newton's head of column left camp at 4.30 a.m. Very little opposition was encountered till near Nancy's Creek, on the opposite side of which the enemy's cavalry was disposed, supporting a section of artillery. The bridge across the creek was partially burned. The enemy opened his artillery on Newton's advance. Batteries, however, were placed in position and fired, driving off the enemy's guns. After some little delay the creek was crossed, the enemy driven away, and the bridge rebuilt. The column progressed, skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry; reached Buck Head about noon and took up the position above indicated.
July 19, in accordance with instructions from General Thomas, General Wood's division made a reconnaissance down the Buck Head and Atlanta road, reaching Peach Tree Creek at 6.30 a.m. The enemy's outposts, driven in by General Wood, burned the bridge after crossing. Having accompanied this reconnaissance, I discovered a well-constructed bridge-head on the high ground beyond the creek. The enemy had artillery and infantry, and was in considerable force. Stanley meanwhile reconnoitered on the Decatur road. Driving the enemy's skirmishers, he seized the bridge, just burning, across the north fork of Peach Tree Creek and saved the most of it. Newton pushed a reconnaissance on an intermediate road to Peach Tree Creek, but found the bridge already destroyed and the enemy intrenched in force on the opposite bank. All of these facts were immediately reported to General Thomas. At 11.20 a.m. instructions were received from General Thomas to cross Peach Tree Creek, whereupon General Wood was required to effect a crossing near his position. He succeeded in crossing the creek beyond the enemy's left flank, turned his position, forced him from the bridge-head, and moved over two brigades of his division to hold the points gained. He immediately commenced to rebuild the bridge. Stanley also, on the Decatur road, repaired the old bridge and constructed a new one. Newton's division was moved to Peach Tree Creek in support of General Wood. Stanley moved across the north fork and encamped for the night.
July 20, there being a slight conflict of orders received, I visited department headquarters at daylight, and was instructed to push one division on the direct Atlanta road, and to move the other two as directly as possible to the support of General Schofield. General Newton was instructed to relieve the troops of General Wood in his vicinity, and General Wood to close up on General Stanley on the Decatur road. General Stanley commenced the march at? a.m., and proceeded to the crossing of the south fork of Peach Tree Creek, followed by General Wood. Here the bridge was found to have been burned. Having pushed over a strong skirmish line, a new bridge was built. At 10 a.m. General Stanley began to cross his column. His skirmishers were already engaged. Communication was had with General Schofield, who was moving on a road about a mile to our left. This road and mine gradually converged toward Atlanta. Soon the enemy fired with shells and canister upon Stanley's advance, and the resistance became obstinate, thus indicating that we were in the presence of a large force. General Stanley drove in the enemy's outposts, and came up in sight of intrenchments, well made and well located, in front of which the usual line of skirmishers was formed. Little was done until near night, except to deploy our lines and make works in close proximity to the enemy's position, General Wood forming to the right of General Stanley. During the afternoon and evening General Stanley had a severe skirmish, driving in portions of the enemy's picket-line and capturing the rest in his front. Newton's division, in accordance with instructions from department headquarters, endeavored to push on toward Atlanta on the direct road. As General Newton was separated from the other two divisions of the corps by an interval of nearly two miles, and as it was difficult, if not impossible, to communicate with him, I directed that he should report for orders to General Thomas. The latter instructed him to wait till the Twentieth Corps had formed a junction with him, and then advance. About 1 p.m. he ordered forward his skirmishers, driving in those of the enemy, securing for himself important ground, and ascertaining that the enemy was near by in strong force, whereupon he located two brigades in line nearly perpendicular to the road, on the right and left, and moved the other up in column for support. Between the two deployed brigades a battery of four guns was placed. General Newton covered his front as rapidly as possible with rough rail barricades. Soon he was severely attacked in front by a division of the enemy. Another division had already pushed back his skirmishers and passed his left flank, thrusting itself between the Pea Vine and Peach Tree Creeks. Immediately after the front attack a third rebel division attacked his right. The general seems to have given his attention first to his left. His artillery not in position in front was located in the rear, and together with some musketry fire from detached regiments, checked and drove back this flanking force into the woods. Next the front attack, which enveloped the left, was handsomely met and the enemy was driven back with loss. The attack upon his right was repulsed by his right brigade, which was obliged to protect its flank by forming a line at right angles to its position. This flank was, however, soon covered by the advance of the Twentieth Corps. A second attempt was made on Newton's left and rear. This time Major-General Thomas had sent him an additional battery from the Twentieth Corps, which, in conjunction with the guns already in position and another 4-gun battery belonging to Newton, opened fire upon the enemy's columns. He was then easily repulsed, after the first attack. Several subsequent assaults were made upon Newton's lines, the action lasting till after dark. The brigade commanders, Brigadier-General Kimball, Colonels Bradley and Blake, are highly complimented for gallantry: also other officers, in General Newton's report. The position held was vital, securing, as it did, the Buck Head and Atlanta road, and constituting the left of our right wing, while the army was divided. The loss of the division was small compared with that of the Twentieth Corps engaged on its immediate right. This resulted from the peculiar disposition of the troops, and that they had time to cover their front with slight barricades. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded in front of this division amounted to upward of 1,500, while the casualties of the division itself were about 100. General Newton's division held possession of the field, and buried the enemy's dead. In the night the enemy withdrew from the angle between Newton's left and the north fork of Peach Tree Creek, enabling General Wood in the morning to swing up a mile and a half upon his extreme right.
July 21, Generals Stanley and Wood again pressed up close to the enemy's new lines and skirmished sharply with him during the entire day. Batteries were placed in position and fired continuously at every point where they could produce any effect. During the night the enemy evacuated his works and moved into Atlanta.
July 22, at daylight General Stanley and General Wood moved on different roads toward Atlanta. Stanley came upon the enemy's skirmishers about two miles from the city, and immediately deployed his lines. General Wood formed upon his right, pushing well to the front and taking possession of an important ridge. General Newton moved up on the Buck Head road and formed a junction with Wood's division. In this general position my lines were established and fortified, and the batteries of the corps, for the most part, placed in such a position as to bring a fire upon the enemy's works or the city beyond. During the day a terrific battle occurred between the enemy and the Army of the Tennessee on the extreme left. Meanwhile, in accordance with instructions received, I held my command in momentary readiness to move.
July 23, 24, 25, and 26, my corps remained substantially in the same position, having completed a system of works strong enough to be held by a thin single line.
July 27, in obedience to orders from Major-General Sherman, I took leave of the Fourth Army Corps and assumed command of the Army of the Tennessee.
In conclusion I wish to say that it pains me not to be able to give a substantial reward to officers who have so faithfully, so energetically, and unselfishly co-operated with me during our prolonged and arduous campaign. I leave the gallant officers and soldiers in the hands of division, brigade, and regimental commanders for honorable mention, wishing it understood that I am the earnest friend of every one who is true and patriotic.
Major-General Stanley, Brigadier-General Newton, and Brigadier-General Wood, commanding divisions, have served the country for the last hundred days with ability and constancy, and to them I tender my warmest thanks. All under their command I must leave without special notice, from the fact that otherwise the list would be too extended.
For gallantry, efficiency, unflinching activity, and gentlemanly deportment I commend the different members of my staff, viz: Col. F. T. Sherman, chief of staff (captured while reconnoitering, July 7); Lieut. Col. J. S. Fullerton, assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. Col. C. H. Howard, assistant inspector-general; Lieut. Col. H. Hayes, chief quartermaster; Lieut. Col. D. Remick, chief commissary of subsistence; Surg. J. Theo. Heard, medical director; Capt. E. P. Pearson, Seventeenth U.S. Infantry, commissary of musters; Capt. Henry Kaldenbaugh, provost-marshal; Capt. Joseph A. Schoeninger, staff quartermaster; Capt. H.. M. Stinson, aide-de-camp (seriously wounded through the lungs, May 27); Capt. F. W. Gilbreth, aide-de-camp; Capt. E. H. Kirlin, volunteer aide-de-camp; Capt. Lyman Bridges, chief of artillery.
Maj. Francis Mohrhardt is highly recommended for his carefulness in mapping the country passed over by the troops.
It may not be inappropriate, now that I am separated from your army, to express my appreciation of the uniform confidence reposed in me by the commanding general, and to acknowledge that I owe any success or reputation I may have gained while in command of the Fourth Corps, in a great measure to himself.
Herewith please find a list of casualties, also of recommendations for promotion.
Report of casualties in Fourth Army Corps from May 3, 1864, to and including 26, 1864.
Aggregate Headquarters 4th Army Corps ---- ---- 2 3 ---- ---- 2 3 5 First Division 15 217 66 1,149 3 78 84 1,444 1,528 Second Division 32 375 114 1,864 ---- 73 146 2,312 2,458 Third Division 27 370 89 1,822 4 267 120 2,459 2,579 TOTAL 74 962 271 4,838 7 418 352 6,218 6,560
[Actual total--Ed.] 6,570
Aggregate strength on leaving Cleveland, excluding the regiments left back as guards at that place and Ooltewah, 20,000 (very nearly).
Promotions for efficient service and gallantry in action have been recommended from time to time apart from this report.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. HOWARD,
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