HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Before Atlanta, Ga., August 17, 1864.
Major General D. S. STANLEY, Commanding Fourth Army Corps:
The major-general commanding directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your report of this morning, announcing the massing of the enemy on your left. In reply the major-general commanding would caution you to be watchful at every point, and endeavor to discover if possible what the movement may really be; whether it be with the intention of an attack on your lines, or if it be only a massing of his forces preparatory to his withdrawal. That some movement is being made by him in the disposition of his forces is evident, and we should be on the qui vive to improve any advantages which present themselves, as well as to secure ourselves from any damage by his attack on us. The major-general commanding desires that you take the precaution to prevent any stampeding of your troops and be ready to repel any ordinary attack that may be made upon you, and in case an overwhelming force should be thrown against you, one over which you could not hope to be successful, that you withdraw your troops in good order and without confusion. The major-general commanding desires also that you inform General Garrard of your impression as to the designs of the enemy, but not to say that they are massing on him or yourself unless it is positively known to be so. Great caution will need to be exercised, and it is hoped all will be well. Please report any further indications that may be seen in your front of movement on the part of the enemy.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBT. H. RAMSEY,
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Near Atlanta, Ga., August 17, 1864-12.25 p. m.
GENERAL: The following is just received from General Sherman, through department headquarters:
Stanley's line should be most persistent in annoying the enemy and making feints, as though looking for a place to assault.
W. T. SHERMAN,
Division commanders will, with their pickets, keep up a persistent fire to annoy the enemy. General Kimball will repeat the maneuvers that he executed a few days ago, viz, send a regiment at a time out to the vicinity of the railroad and try and create an impression upon the enemy that he is massing troops to assault their lines. Generals Newton and Wood will cause their men to display unusual activity in their camps, and if possible march troops in the enemy's view, letting them file past in sight of the enemy, then disappear, and again, after marching behind a hill or though thick timber reappear and try and create the impression that a heavy column is massing on our left (the enemy's right). One good place for this is in rear of where the divisions of Generals Wood and Kimball join. Whenever this is practicable, have it done.
By command of Major-General Stanley:
WM. H. SINCLAIR,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
(Same to Generals Newton and Wood.)