Hood's army near Summerville, to which point, he had been followed by General Sherman with the Fourth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Seventeenth Army Corps the Twentieth Corps having been left behind at Atlanta to hold the place. In compliance with instructions from Major-General Sherman, Morgan's DIVISION of the Fourteenth Corps, and Wagner's of the Fourth, were sent from Chattanooga to rejoin their respective commands at Summerville. A force of 1,500 men was set to work, under the direction of Colonel W. W. Wright, chief engineer U. S. military railroads, to repair the railroads south of Chattanooga, there being twenty-four miles of rails and ties totally destroyed, besides several important bridges carried away by high water; yet, with characteristic energy on the part of Colonel Wright and Captain J. C. Van Duzer, superintendent of military telegraph, the repairs were rapidly carried forward.
Telegraphic communication with Atlanta was restored on the 21st, and trains commenced running regularly on the 28th. On the latter date the enemy was at Gadsden, Ala., whilst General Sherman's forces were at Gaylesville, both armies remaining inactive and watchful of the other's movements. Whilst at the latter place Special Field Orders, Numbers 105, Military DIVISION of the Mississippi, was issued by General Sherman, and the substance of it sent to me by telegraph as follows:
In the event of military movements or the accidents of war separating the general in command from his military DIVISION, Major General George H. Thomas, commanding the Department of the Cumberland, will exercise command over all the troops and garrisons not absolutely in the presence of the general-in-chief.
A written communication, received a few days previous, in which I was instructed to remain in Tennessee and defend the line of the Tennessee River, gave a detailed account of his plans for a campaign into the heart of Georgia. The Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps of my command were to go with General Sherman, the Fourth Corps remaining with me in Tennessee. My instructions were to pursue the enemy if he followed General Sherman's column, but, in any event, to hold Tennessee. On the 26th the enemy's infantry made its appearance in strong force in front of Decatur, Ala., and during the afternoon attacked the garrison but not vigorously and without effect. Re-enforcements, amounting to two full regiments, were sent from Chattanooga to General Granger at that point, and he was directed to hold his post at all hazards. On the 27th the enemy commenced intrenching his position around Decatur, working steadily throughout the day, and skirmishing continually, but no artillery was used. At night their camp-fires showed a heavy force. Under cover of the darkness, and with a strong force, the enemy drove in our pickets and established a line of rifle-pits within 500 yards of the town. On the 28th a sortie was made by a part of the garrison, which advanced under cover of the guns of the fort down the river-bank and around to the rear of the enemy's pits, clearing them of their occupants, and capturing 120 prisoners belonging to Cheatham's DIVISION, besides killing and wounding a number. The same day the Fourteenth U. S. Colored Troops, Colonel Morgan commanding, carried one of the enemy's batteries up the river, after driving off the supports; the guns were spiked and the command returned to Decatur. Our loss was 3 officers killed, and several officers and men wounded. General Granger estimated the force opposing him at once corps, and his scouts informed him there was also a corps at Warrenton, Ala., with Russell's brigade of cavalry at Guntersville, on the river; Roddey's, DIVISION of cavalry was picketing the south side of the Tennessee from Decatur to Tuscumbia, and Forrest, with the main