break the two important bridges across the Yellow and Ulcofauhachee Rives, tributaries of the Ocmulgee, and General McPherson had also left his wagon train at Decatur, under a guard of three regiments, commanded by Colonel (now General) Sprague. Soon after General McPherson had left me at the Howard house, as before described, I heard the sound of musketry to our left rear, at first mere pattering shots, but soon they grew in volume, accompanied with artillery, and about the same time the sound of guns was heard in the direction of Decatur. No doubt could longer be entertained of the enemy's plan of action, which was to throw a superior force on our left flank while he held us with his forts in front, the only question being as to the amount of force he could employ at that point. I hastily transmitted orders to all points of our center and right to press forward and give full employment to all the enemy in his lines, and for General Schofield to hold as large a force in reserve as possible, awaiting developments.
Not more than half an hour after General McPherson had left me, viz, about 12.30 of the 22d, his adjutant- general, Lieutenant- Colonel Clark, rode up and reported that General McPherson was either dead or a prisoner; that he had ridden from me to General Dodge's column, moving as heretofore described, and had sent off nearly all his staff and orderlies on various errands and himself had passed into a narrow path or road that led to the left and rear of General Giles A. Smith's division, which was General Blair's extreme left; that a few minutes after he had entered the woods a sharp volley was heard in that direction, and his horse had come out riderless, having two wounds. The suddenness of this terrible calamity would have overwhelmed me with grief, but the living demanded my whole thoughts. I instantly dispatched a staff officer to General John A. Logan, commanding the Fifteenth Corps, to tell him what had happened; that he must assume command of the Army of the Tennessee, and hold stubbornly the ground already chosen, more especially the hill gained by General Leggett the night before. Already the whole line was engaged in battle. Hardee's corps had sallied from Atlanta, and by a wide circuit to the east had struck General Blair's left flank, enveloped it, and his left had swung around until it hit General Dodge in motion. General Blair's line was substantially along the old line of rebel trench, but it was fashioned to fight outward. A space of wooded ground of near half a mile intervened between the head of General Dodge's column and General Blair's line, through which the enemy had poured, but the last order ever given by General McPherson was to hurry a brigade (Colonel Wasngelin's) of the Fifteenth Corps across from the railroad to occupy this gap. It came across on the double- quick and checked the enemy. While Hardee attacked in flank, Stewarts corps was to attack in front directly our from the main works, but fortunately their attacks were not simultaneous. The enemy swept across the hill which our men were then fortifying, and captured the pioneer company, its tools, and almost the entire working party, and bore down on our left until he encountered General Giles A. Smith's division, of the Seventeenth Corps, who was somewhat in "air" and forced to fight first from one side of the old rifle parapets and then from the other, gradually withdrawing regiment by regiment so as to form a flank to General Leggett's division, which held the apex of the hill, which was the only point deemed essential to our future plans. General Dodge had caught and held well