MACON, GA., August 6, 1864.
GENERAL: In regard to the operations of my command from the time I left the army up to the time I turned back from near this place, I will only say now that I feel assured, when you know what was done and why it was done, you will be satisfied with reasons and results. All I wish to say now, through the medium of flag of truce, is solely in regard to how I and a small portion of my command became prisoners of war. Before I had completed what I desired to accomplish I learned that a force of the enemy's cavalry was close upon my rear, and the only course for me to pursue to get out was to turn upon and, if possible, whip this force. This I think we might have done had my command fought as it ought to and as I hoped it would have done. Without entering now into particulars, we were whipped, and this principally on account of the bad conduct of the Kentucky brigade in the attack during the morning, and in fact throughout the day. In the afternoon the enemy attacked us, when Capron's brigade gave way at once and was followed by Adams' (Kentucky) brigade, leaving me with Biddle's (Indiana) brigade and the section of artillery to contend against the whole force of the enemy from getting between me and the main force, pack train, &c. This also gave way and followed the rest, so that near the end of the day I found myself with about 200 of the Fifth Indiana Cavalry and the section of artillery. This regiment had been engaged nearly the whole of the day previous. I insisted on continuing the contest and, if taken prisoners at all, upon being without ammunition and surrounded, our escape was nest to impossible; that there was no use in fighting longer; that we had accomplished our object in covering the retreat of the rest of the command until it was well under way, and that in justice to all concerned we should surrender. To extricate the section of artillery and the men with it was impossible. My own horse had been shot under me and I was scarcely able to mount the worn down one and the only one I could find to replace the one I had lost, and our chances of escape were so small that I consented to be taken prisoners of war, and as such our treatment has been everything that could have been expected. Our loss in killed and wounded was quite large.
I understand from captured fugitives that they were informed that I had surrendered the whole command, and that the order was given for every one to save himself. I have not heard from the Kentucky brigade since it left. Capron's brigade I learn was considerably cut up, and several hundred of it captured. I feel better satisfied with myself to be a prisoner of war, much as I hate it, than to be amongst those who owe their escape to considerations of self-preservation.
I am, general, very respectfully, &c.,
Major General, U. S. Army, Prisoner of War.
OCTOBER 25, 1864.
Received and respectfully forwarded to the Adjutant-General of the Army, as General Stoneman's explanation of the result of his movement on Macon.
W. T. SHERMAN,