War of the Rebellion: Serial 076 Page 0498 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

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August 14, 1864.

Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch is received, and I will order Colonel Garrard to move accordingly early in the morning and report to General Kilpatrick at Sandtown.




In the Field, August 14, 1864.

Major General W. T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi:

GENERAL: In accordance with the desire expressed by you yesterday to General Thomas, General Howard, and myself, I have the honor to submit the following plan of operations, having for its object to compel the enemy to abandon his works about Atlanta and give battle on equal terms or retreat below East Point. The plan which suggests itself to me is but a modification and extension of the one followed up to this time. The proposed modification to consist of a more rapid, continuous, and systematic transfer of corps from left to right, and a temporary abandonment of our base. The transfer may be made by one corps, or, probably better, two corps at a time; the movement to be repeated daily until the object shall be gained. One corps should at all times be kept in reserve upon the right to meet an attack, this corps going into position the moment the next one arrives to take its place as reserve. Or, if the movement be made two corps at a time, the reserve corps of the preceding day and one of the newly arrived corps can go into position each day. It is my opinion that this movement can be made so rapidly as to reach and control the Macon railroad in from three to five days, after which the road can be so thoroughly destroyed as to be no longer available to the enemy. The same would, of course, be true of the West Point road. If, contrary to my belief, the enemy should prolong his lines so rapidly as to prevent our reaching the Macon road by simple extension of our line, he will at least be drawn far away from Atlanta, and his lines so rapidly constructed will often run through open fields where abatis cannot be constructed in so short a time. There will then be two alternatives left us; one to break the imperfect lines near the enemy's left flank, and the other to draw one or two corps from our left, as if to continue the movement to the right and send them rapidly by a short circuit to the left and seize Atlanta, or some more convenient point of the enemy's abandoned lines. The enemy must keep all of his small veteran force concentrated upon his left to prevent our success in the first movement, in which case the latter will be entirely practicable. My conviction of the feasibility of this plan is the result of continued observation and experience during almost the entire campaign. There has, I believe, been no time when if our movements from one flank to the other had been followed up as rapidly as the troops could have been transferred and got into position success would not have been speedy and certain.

To carry out this plan the troops along the road below Etowah should be concentrated at Marietta or other point to guard such stores as are not carried with the troops,and other points of the railroad abandoned. The movement can be commenced with supplies enough for twenty