HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, July 7, 1864-8 a.m.
DEAR GENERAL: I send McCoy down to see you. I did intend to ride the lines to-day but have my mind so intent on a crossing-place that I want to be near. The cars now run into Marietta and down as far as a break that will be repaired to-day about four miles back of the bridge. The enemy hold as a tete-de-pont the hills from the Nickajack to a point about two miles above the bridge. I rather prefer this should be so, as he will have less on the other side. I wish you to display as much anxiety to cross as possible and as low down, but keep your masses ready to move to the real quarter when required. I wish you to use artillery pretty freely, and if, as I understand, you have a plunging fire on the extreme point of that range near Nickajack get plenty of guns, say thirty, to bear and give it thunder. I send you copy of an important dispatch from Canby,* in addition to which Rousseau will start from Decatur for Opelika. If you see Stoneman feel him and see how he would like to work down the river, say thirty miles, and also make a dash for Opelika, swinging back to us or to Rome for safety. A break of twenty miles from Opelika westward is perfectly practicable and would be a good blow. In the mean time we can improve our communications and get a sure crossing at some point above.
W. T. SHERMAN,
IN THE FIELD, GA., July 7, 1864-12 m.
Major General G. M. DODGE,
Commanding Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps:
Inclosed I send you copy of dispatch+ just received from Major-General Sherman. From it you will see that he wants us to keep our troops well in hand for any movement, but at the same time make demonstrations as though we were trying to find a crossing on the Chattahoochee. The enemy have batteries of from one to four guns opposite all the ferries as near as I can learn, and are strengthening their defenses, and the banks on the opposite side from us are lined with sharpshooters. I wish you to take or cause a regiment of infantry and a section of artillery to go to each of the ferries (Howell's and Sandtown). Let a portion of each regiment be deployed as sharpshooters to disturb the enemy, and open on his batteries with your artillery or on any train or column of troops you may see moving. Major-General Stoneman reports that the enemy have been moving troops and trains down the river for the last twenty-four hours. I send Captain Reese down with this order, who will accompany the regiments and artillery as he is familiar with the roads, &c.
JAS. B. McPHERSON,
*Of June 27 and relating to operations on the Mississippi, &c. See Vol. XLI.
+See next preceding.