War of the Rebellion: Serial 074 Page 0698 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

Search Civil War Official Records

On the contrary, by frequent and exclusive consultation of my opinions, by the selection of my corps for important operations, and by assigning me on several occasions to the command of two-thirds of his army, he gave every proof of implicit confidence in me. The publication of his official report with its astonishing statements and insinuations was the first intimation of his dissatisfaction with my official conduct. Referring to the attack of the 20th of July at Peach Tree Creek, he says:

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 his 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 works on its front. Hardee failed to push the attack as ordered, and thus the enemy, remaining in possession of his works on Stewart's right, compelled Stewart by an enfilade fire to abandon the position he had carried. I have every reason to believe that our attack would have been successful had my orders been executed.

I was ordered, as above stated, to move half a division length to the right, but was directed at the same time to connect with the left of Cheatham's corps. The delay referred to by General Hood was not caused by my failure to post a staff officer to prevent my command from moving more than half a division length to the right, for Major Black, of my staff, was sent to the proper point for that purpose; but it arose from the fact that Cheatham's corps, with which I was to connect, was nearly two miles to my right instead of a division length. Had General Hood been on the field the alternative of delaying the attack or leaving an interval between Cheatham's command and my own could have been submitted to him for decision. He was in Atlanta, and in his absence the hazard of leaving an interval of one mile and a half in a line intended to be continuous, and at a point in front of which the enemy was in force and might at any time attack, seemed to me too great to be assumed. The attack thus delayed was, therefore, made at 4 instead of 1 p.m. My troops were formed as follows: Bate's division on the right, Walker's in the center, Cheatham's (commanded by Brigadier-General Maney) on the left, and Cleburne's in reserve. The command moved to the attack in echelon of division from the right. Walker's division, in consequence of the circular formation of the enemy's fortifications, encountered them first, and was repulsed and driven back. Bate, finding no enemy in his immediate front, was directed to find, and, if practicable, to turn, their flank, but his advance through an almost impenetrable thicket was necessarily slow. Expecting but not hearing Bate's guns I ordered Maney and Cleburne, whose divisions had been substituted for Walker's beaten troops, to attack. At the moment when the troops were advancing to the assault I received information from General Hood that the enemy were passing and overlapping the extreme right of the army, accompanied by an imperative order to send him a division at once. In obedience to this order I immediately withdrew and sent to him Cleburne's division. The withdrawal of a division at the moment when but two were available compelled me