the railroad, with instructions to cross at Jackson's Ferry, two miles and a half north of railroad bridge. General Giles A. Smith, who had preceded his column with the First Alabama Cavalry, drove quite a force of enemy from two stockades and across the bridge. He found that Jackson's Ferry was an old abandoned route through the swamp, completely impracticable. I therefore directed that General Blair's corps move to Ball's Ferry. The two heads of column arrived at Ball's Ferry about the same time on the 25th instant. A detachment of the First Alabama had the day before reconnoitered the ferry. Finding a small force of the enemy, made a raft, crossed the river, and drove the enemy back, but were subsequently themselves forced to recross the river, with some loss. On our arrival at the river, we found the enemy with barricades and quite an extended line of skirmishers. Generals Osterhaus and Blair confronted them with a line which extended beyond the enemy's flanks both up and down the river. The former placed artillery in position and made a demonstration on the front along the road, while the latter, General Blair, sent a detachment some two miles up the river under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Kirby, of his staff. Captain Reese, chief engineer, assisted them with boats to cross the river. The current was too swift to get them over by rowing; they were finally swung over after the fashion a flying ferry. After working through the bayous and swamps till near morning, his men reached the road at a point that was in rear of the enemy's position, but the enemy had retreated. Colonel Kirby came in sight of his rear guard and wagons, but could not overtake them. The Oconce at this place is about as wide as the Ocmulgee at Planters' Ferry, but the correct is very swift, and there are some two miles of swampy ground on the right bank, but the immediate approach to the ferry on the left bank is very good. The bridges were laid so that the troops commenced crossing in two columns about 12 m. November 26. Generals Corse and Woods, Fifteenth Army Corps, reached this point between nine and ten miles from the ferry last night. Seventeenth Corps massed near the forks of the roads that leads to Station 14. The rear of the Fifteenth Corps is now crossing. General Blair has sent a division that is destroying the railroad from Oconee bridge to a point near Irwin's Cross-Roads; General Osterhaus has sent a force to destroy the rest to
Station 13. I directed the wagon bridges across Commissioner's Creek and the three bridges across Sandy River to be destroyed. The enemy helped me themselves by destroying the one nearest the Oconce. The country this side of the river is thus far quite open and sandy, but there is plenty of forage thus far. Wheeler with his main force passed here the day before yesterday. My headquarters will remain here to-day.
O. O. HOWARD,
Major General W. T. SHERMAN.
In accordance with instructions from the General-in-chief, dated Sandersville, November 27, 1864, I issued the following order:
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. DEPT. AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, Numbers 179.
Irwin's Cross-Roads, November 27, 1864.
V. The army will move forward substantially as follows:
First. Major-General Osterhaus will move his left column, of two divisions, by the Louisville road to the intersection of the Johnson road, and thence to Johnson this evening, being careful to clear that intersection at an early hour to-morrow morning. His right column will move by a settlement road directly to Johnson, starting at 7 a. m. to-morrow.
Second. Major-General Blair will move on the Louisville road-starting his column at 7 a. m. to-morrow, or earlier, at his option-till he reaches the nearest parallel road to the railroad on the south side, south of Williamson's Swamp Creek. He will follow this road till abreast of Station Numbers 10 (or Sebastopol), where it is probable he will cross the Ogeechee. Major-General Sherman proposes to accompany this column in person. Headquarters will be at Johnson to-morrow night, the train moving with the leading division of right column. The herds of cattle (other than those belonging to divisions) will follow the right column to Johnson, a regiment from the read division of which will remain at this point till everything is passed, and will then follow on to Johnson, carefully guarding all roads leading south.
By order of Major General O. O. Howard:
S. L. TAGGART,
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.