offensive as possible; I only ask as much time as you think proper to enable me to get up McPherson's two divisions from Cairo. Their furlough as expire about this time, and some of them should now be in motion for Clifton, whence they march to Decatur and join on to Dodge.
McPherson is ordered to assemble the Fifteenth Corps near Larkin's and to get Dodge and Blair at Decatur at the earliest possible moment, and from those two points he will direct his forces on Rome if he gives up Dalton and falls behind the Oostenaula or Etowah. I see there is some risk in dividing our forces, but Thomas Etowah. I see there is some risk in dividing our forces, but Thomas and Schofield will have forces enough to cover all the valley as far as Dalton, and should Johnston turn his whole force against McPherson, the latter will have his bridge at Larkin's and the route to Chattanooga via Will's Valley and the Chattanooga, and if Johnston attempts to leave Dalton, Thomas will have force enough to push on through Dalton to Kindston, which would checkmate him.
My own opinion is Johnston will be compelled to hang to his railroad, the only possible avenue of supply to his army, estimated from 45,000 to 60,000 men.
At La Fayette all our armies will be together, and if Johnston stands at Dalton we must attack him in position. Thomas feels certain that he has no material increase of force, and that he has not sent away Hardee or any part of his army.
Supplies are the great question. I have materially increased the number of cars daily. When I got here they ran from 65 to 80 per day. Yesterday the report was 193, to-day 134 and my estimate is 145 per day will give us daily a days' accumulation.
McPherson is ordered to carry in wagons twenty days' supplies, and rely on the depot at Ringgold for the renewal of his bread ration. Beeves are now being driven to the front, and my commissary, Colonel Beckwith, seems fully alive to the importance of the whole matter.
Our weakest point will be from the direction of Decatur, and I will be forced to risk something from that quarter, depending on the fact that the enemy has no force available with which to threaten our communications from that direction.
Colonel Comstock will explain much that I cannot commit to paper.
I am, with great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Nashville, Tenn., April 24, 1864.
REPORT OF EFFECTIVE STRENGTH AND STATIONS.
Department of the Cumberland.
Chattanooga and headquarters Department of the Cumberland.... 4,992
Fourth Army Corps (Major-General Howard commanding)..........17,619
Fourteenth Army Corps (Major-General Palmer commanding)......21,330
Twentieth Army Corps (Major-General Hooker commanding).......27,038