able to obtain Wheller's cavalry is on my left and rear and has patrols on the Fayetteville road and the other adjacent roads. If this is so, trains moving out of Decatur to either corps of this army are exposed to attacks, as my force is not large enough to protect the flank.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANK P. BLAIR, Jr.,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, July 20, 1864-midnight.
Commanding Cavalry Division:
GENERAL: After destroying the bridge at McAfee's, which I suppose is already done, you will send to General McPherson's guard at the bridge at Roswell your wagons, led horses, and baggage, and proceed rapidly to Covington, on the main wagon and rail road east, distance about thirty miles from Decatur. Take the road by Latimar's touching the railroad at or beyond Lithuania, and thence substantially along the railroad, destroying it effectually all the way, especially the Yellow River bridge this side of Covington, as well as the road bridge over Yellow River, after you have passed. From Covington send detachments to destroy the rail and road bridges east of Covington over the Ulcofauhachee. Try and capture and destroy some locomotives and cars, and the depots and stores at Covington, but of private properly only take what is necessary for your own use, except horses and mules, of which you will take all that are fit for service, exercising, of course, some judgment as to the animals belonging to the poor and needy. On your return select your own route, but I would suggest that by way of Sheffield, Rock Bridge, and Stone Mountain, or even farther north if you prefer. I want you to put your whole strength at this, and to do it quick and well. I know it can be done. By passing Yellow River by the road bridge, and then pushing for the railroad bridges right and left, the guard will run or even burn their own bridges. You ought to catch some trains about Covington, as there is no telegraph to give them timely warning. I believe that the cavalry is mostly withdrawn from that flank of the enemy, and that you can ride roughshod over any force there; at all events, it is a matter of vital importance and must be attempted with great vigor. The importance of it will justify the loss of quarter of your command. Be prepared with axes, hatches, and bars to tear up sections of track and make bonfires. When the rails are red hot they must be twisted. Burning will do for bridges and culverts, but no for ordinary track. Let the work be well done. The whole thing should be done in two days, including to-morrow. I will notify General McPherson that the may look out for his rear and trains.
I am, with respects, yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN,
If the McAfee Bridge is not already burned you can send messenger to the guard already there to do it and move to Roswell. This need not delay your departure for Covington at once.
14 R R-VOL XXXVIII, PT V