This statement of the previous conduct of the campaign is necessary, so as to show what means I had to retrieve the disasters of the past, and if the results are not such as to bring joy to the country, it is not the first time that the most faithful efforts of duty were unable to repair the injury done by others. If, as is untruly charged, the Army of Tennessee ceased to exist under my command, it is also true that it received its mortal wound when it turned it turned its back in retreat in the mountains of Georgia, and under different management it lingered much longer than it would have done with the same daily loss occurring when it was placed under my direction.
The army was turned over to me, by order of the President, at Atlanta, on the 18th of July, 1864. Its effective strength was: Infantry, 33,750; artillery, 3,500; cavalry, 10,000, with 1,500 Georgia militia, commanded by Major General G. W. Smith, making a total effective of 48,750 men. The enemy was in bivouac south of the Chattahoochee River, between Atlanta and that river, and was advancing, the right near Pace's Ferry and the left near Roswell. On the evening of the 18th our cavalry was principally driven across Peach Tree Creek. I caused line of battle to be formed, the left resting near the Pace's Ferry road and the right covering Atlanta. On the morning of the 19th the dispositions of the enemy were substantially as follows: The Army of the Cumberland, under Thomas, was in the act of crossing Peach Tree Creek. This creek, forming a considerable obstacle to the passage of an army, runs in a northwesterly direction, emptying into the Chattahoochee River near the railroad crossing. The Army of the Ohio, under Schofield, was also about to cross east of the Buck Head road. The Army of the Tennessee, under McPherson, was moving on the Georgia Railroad at Decatur. Feeling it impossible to hold Atlanta without giving battle, I determined to strike the enemy while attempting to cross this stream. My troops were disposed as follows: Stewart's corps on the left, Hardee's in the center, and Cheatham's on the right, intrenched. My object was to crush Thomas' army before he could fortify himself, and then turn upon Schofield and McPherson. To do this Cheatham was ordered to hold his left on the creek, in order to separate Thomas's army from the forces on his (Thomas') left. Thus I should be able to throw two corps (Stewart's and Hardee's) against Thomas. Specific orders were carefully given these generals in the presence of each other, as follows: The attack was to begin at 1 p. m., the movement to be by division in echelon from the right, at the distance of about 150 yards, the effort to be to drive the enemy back to the creek, and then toward the river into the narrow space formed by the river and creek, everything on our side of the creek to be taken at all hazards, and to follow up as our success might permit. Each of these generals was to hold a division in reserve. Owing to the demonstrations of the enemy on the right, it became necessary to extend Cheatham a division front to the right. To do this Hardee and Stewart were each ordered to extend a half division front to close the interval. Foreseeing that some confusion and delay might result, I was careful to call General Hardee's attention to the importance of having a staff officer on his left to see that the left did not take more than half a division front. This unfortunately was not attended to, and the line closed to the right, causing Stewart to move two or three times the proper distance. In consequence of this the attack was delayed until nearly 4 p. m. At this hour the attack began as ordered, Stewart's corps carrying the temporary