Creek at this point is impracticable, with very considerable force on the other side. At 8 a. m. reported to General Thomas General Wood's position, &c., and General Wood is now halting, waiting further instructions from General Thomas to General Howard. 8.40 a. m., General Corse, of General Sherman's staff, reported to General Howard with instructions from General Sherman to push toward Schofield (who has crossed north fork of Peach Tree Creek) if heavy firing is heard in that direction, by crossing the north fork of Peach Tree Creek. 8.50, General Newton reports that the regiment which he sent out on reconnaissance this morning came up with the enemy fortified-supposed to be a brigade of infantry-at the north fork of Peach Tree Creek. After some skirmishing the regiment started back, supposing the reconnaissance completed, but he sent it back with an additional regiment to the cross-roads about one mile from his picket-line, to remain there until further orders. 9 a. m., General Stanley reported that the regiment which he sent out had arrived at 8 a. m. at the crossing of the north fork of Peach Tree Creek, that the bridge had been burned, and the small force of the enemy that had been posted there was driven away. At once directed him to secure the bridge, if possible, by throwing a force over the creek, and to strengthen his force there if necessary by a brigade. General Stanely sent Grose's brigade for this purpose. 9 a. m., received Special Field Orders, Numbers 37, headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, dated near Cross Keyes, Ga., July 18, 1864, as follows:*
Accompanying this order was a letter from Major-General Sherman to Major-General Thomas, of which the following is a copy, dated headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, July 18, 1864:*
9.30 a. m., reported our situation and position of forces and results of reconnaissances to General Thomas. 11.20 a. m., received dispatch from General Thomas, directing General Howard to push forward as fast as possible in the direction of Atlanta at once, and sent word to General Wood to push over the Peach Tree Creek, to bring forward Hazen's brigade, and if his other two brigades succeed in getting over to relieve them there by Hazen's brigade and let them come back to camp for their camp and garrison equipage, then to move forward and join Hazen. Also instructed Generals Stanely and Newton to follow up the movement. 2.50 p. m., received a note from Major-General Sherman, addressed to General Howard, and dated 12 m. to-day, stating that he wished this corps to cross Peach Tree Creek in the direction of Decatur or Pea Vine Creek; that General Schofield had been sent to communicate with this corps, but his mean had been fired on, he supposed by Stanely's men, and they went back; this was at the second crossing from the mouth of the south fork. He further states:
You will have no trouble in crossing the two forks of Peach Tree anywhere above the fork. General Schofield now holds the forks of the Atlanta and Decatur roads, and is skirmishing on both, but soon thinks that he will have the head of his column at Decatur. McPherson is approaching the same objective point from the east, having torn up the railroad good. I will write to General Thomas by a courier, and give him such orders as will enable him to put your corps across both forks of Peach Tree between Schofield and your present position.
3 p. m., in accordance with General Sherman's instructions, at once sent word to General Stanley to push his whole division over
*For full text of orders and letter (here omitted) see Part V.