War of the Rebellion: Serial 076 Page 0548 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

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HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

In the Field, near Atlanta, August 17, 1864.

General THOMAS:

I have a message from General Kilpatrick, inclosing a copy of his report to General Elliott.* He thinks it not only possible but comparatively easy to break the railroad to Macon effectually. I do not want to move this vast army and its paraphernalia round Atlanta unless forced to do so, and it does seem the enemy has offered us the very opportunity we seek. We know positively that Wheeler is above Dalton, and that he must have taken the very flower of his cavalry. He has, and may do us harm, but that we cannot help. I do not think he can carry any point of our road that he can maintain, and his own necessities will force him back soon with jaded and worn- out horses. Now, ours can be quickly moved to Sandtown ant a walk, and according to General Kilpatrick can reach Red Oak or any point below the enemy's infantry, and by a single dash can beat the remaining cavalry of the enemy ad break up many miles of the at railroad. General Garrard with one brigade could amuse those on the east, and General Kilpatrick with his own and the two brigades of General Garrard, under Colonel Long, could make in a single move a break that would disturb Hood seriously. The risk will be comparatively small, as General Schofield can act in support with his whole command. I am perfectly alive t the fact that the loss of our cavalry would be most serious, but i do think such an opportunity if neglected will never again appear. In this combination I would merely suspend the final execution of the movement of the whole army till the result of this move is reached. I think we could give General Kilpatrick such orders that he would not be rash, and General Schofield could move to his right a couple of to interpose to the return of our cavalry. Don't make any orders till you and I have perfectly agreed on this plan. In the mean time anything done toward the movement of the whole army will not be lost, as it simply amounts to sending to the bridge all the loose ends. I have sent for General Kilpatrick to come up.

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major- General, Commanding.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

August 17, 1864

General THOMAS:

I wish you to notify General Garrard to have one of his brigades ready to make a demonstration, without risking battle, on our left, and have the effective pat of two brigades,under Long if possible, ready to move this night by moonlight by Pace's Ferry and Sandtown bridges, to operate under Kilpatrick,on our right. They will not move till I see Kilpatrick in person and have a clear understanding. Stanley's line should be most persistent in annoying the enemy, and making feints as though looking for a place to assault. Though you may continue to make preparations to move the infantry as heretofore ordered, do not actually move till further orders.

W. T. SHERMAN,

Major- General.

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*:See p. 531.

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