Page images
PDF
EPUB

thusiasm the relation gave rise to took epigram-pation of Atlanta, thousands of the lower matic form in many cases, in the suggestion classes, who proposed to remain, fell to plunthat it was bad news for the Chicago Conven- dering the abandoned houses and stores as soon tion. Sure enough, there was our flag placidly as their owners disappeared. Staff officers waving in the twilight. To our loving eyes dashed from point to point with gloomy faces, there seemed something effulgent about it, and while drunken soldiers brawled along the banas night fell its colors came out, to our excited quettes, and cursed alike the citizens they envision, more and more plainly. A few weeks countered and the patrols that dragged them to ago I clambered up a look-out at a signal-station their commands. What pen can do justice to on our left, and gazed upon the bristling the scene of rapine, of anguish, of terror, of trenches of the enemy, their frowning guns, and stealthy riot and brutality, which had risen defiant flags, and wondered as I gazed, how through the thin crust, barely hiding the hideand when I should enter there. Little did I ous elements that go to make up Southern dream that it would be from the south, and society in the fourth year of Jefferson Davis. threading the road through the forts from With railroads cut on all sides, the trains in whose embrasures deserted guns would look Atlanta, consisting of eighty-three cars and us a lonely, stern, but meaning welcome. Lit- seven locomotives, could not be saved. The tle did I think that the mesh of yawning ditches, cars were loaded with the ammunition in towering parapets, tangled abatis, and imprac- Atlanta, and divided into four trains. They ticable chevaux de frise would be silently car- were taken out on the Augusta railroad, about ried by a battle whose thunder should be a mile from the city, where the engines were inaudible in the streets of the city for the mas-detached and dashed into each other at the tery of which it was fulminated-by a subtle idea, matured in the wonderful brain of the Commanding General, and by the integrity, and courage, and morale of the immense army he has marshalled to a victory which must affect the destinies of the country and of the human race itself.

Hood, no doubt, was quickly apprised of the unfavorable issue of Hardee's assault on the thirty-first of August on the Army of the Tennessee. With his rail communications severed, all supplies cut off, and more than half of his army defeated in attack, and impotent for defence against the hosts pushing upon it, it is plain that he was compelled to abandon the town, and endeavor to unite his army once more, now most critically divided and menaced. On the morning of the first orders were issued in Atlanta for an evacuation that night, and though confided at first to the army commanders alone, and to those citizens whose welfare they had especially at heart, it was blown over the city by the afternoon, and fell like a thunder-clap upon the unsuspecting inhabitants, who but a day or two ago had been hilarious over the withdrawal of Sherman. They thought him foiled, and put to a last trump of building railroads and, possibly, digging canals. Every vehicle in the city was brought into requisition by fugacious families. Negroes, free and bond alike, were arrested and started south on foot. Shopkeepers packed up their scanty wares, or found places where they concealed them. The confusion intensified as night came on, and I am told that the scene beggared description. The faces of most of the citizens wore a look of despair as they turned their backs upon their homes, from which they were driven so unexpectedly. The streets were cluttered with wagons, tottering under hasty, ill-adjusted loads; the sidewalks swarmed with two classes -the fugitives and the wreckers. For be it known that in the last hours of the rebel occu

highest speed. The cars were fired, and for about an hour the most appalling explosions ensued, making the very earth tremble. The wreck of these cars has been visited by thousands since our occupation. Fragments of wood and iron were hurled to an immense distance, while the ground in the vicinity is torn up, blackened and scarred for hundreds of yards. Over one thousand bales of cotton, piled up in the southern suburbs of the city, were also given to the torch.

During the afternoon, Hood ordered what army provisions remained after filling his trains to be given to citizens, and considerable quantities were thus distributed. There were but six days' supplies for the army in Atlanta, and we found the report that Hood was subsisting his troops from hand to mouth, so long prevalent in our army, to be true. During the afternoon, specific orders for the withdrawal of Stewart's corps and the militia were issued, and about sunset the latter were withdrawn from the trenches. When they were fairly on the road, Stewart's corps followed, all being en route by midnight, except the cavalry, a brigade or two of infantry, and the pickets. These latter remained until the advance of the Twentieth corps neared the city on the morning of the second.

The explosion of ammunition was, of course, heard at the position of the Twentieth corps, but seven miles distant; and though General Slocum had received no intelligence of Sherman's great success, he was not unprepared to find Hood gone any morning, and the explosions convinced him that the withdrawal was taking place. He instantly issued orders to his division commanders, Generals Ward, Williams and Geary, to send out each a heavy reconnoissance at daybreak the morning of the second.

About one thousand men were detailed from each division, and at five A. M. pushed forward on neighboring roads leading into Atlanta, on the north and north-west. Encountering no

opposition, they pushed rapidly forward, and at eight o'clock came in sight of the rebel intrenchments, so lately peopled with enemies, but now silent and deserted.

Advancing rapidly, Colonel Coburn, commanding General Ward's reconnoissance, entered the enemy's works, encountering in the suburbs Mayor Calhoun, of Atlanta, and a deputation of the City Council. The former nervously presented a paper, surrendering the city and asking protection. Colonel Coburn refused to receive the paper for informality, and directed that another should be drawn up. Mayor Calhoun invited several of General Ward's staff to accompany him to the Court-house, where the document should be made en regle, promising at the same time to expel the drunken rebel stragglers, who were lingering in the streets, and were disposed to skirmish with our advance. He immediately took measures to effect the last, and accompanied by the officers whose names are offered in attest, he returned to the Court-house, and the following document was drawn up:

ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 2, 1864.

Brigadier-General Ward, commanding Third Division, Twentieth Corps: SIR: The fortunes of war have placed the city of Atlanta in your hands, and as Mayor of the city, I ask protection to non-combatants and private property.

JAS. M. CALHOUN, Mayor of Atlanta. Attest--H. W. Scott, Captain and A. A. G.; A. W. Tibbetts, Captain and A. D. C.; J. P. Thompson, Lieutenant and Provost-Marshal.

The preliminary formalities thus disposed of, our troops entered the city with music and flags, marching proudly erect. The inhabitants looked on sullenly for the most part, though there were an over-proportion of females who held their smiles, like other favors, at a cheap rate. Some peered timidly from behind blinds; others ate their humble pie morosely and unflinchingly on the street corners; and, no doubt, some innocent old ladies were duly concealed in impracticable places, to avoid a fate which they flattered themselves was imminent. A fine flagstaff was found on the Franklin Printing House where the Memphis Appeal has been printed; the Stripes and Stars were soon flung to the calm, sunny air, amid the cheers of the brave men who had fought for so many weary, consuming days to place it there.

General Slocum established his headquarters at the Trout House, the leading hotel of the city, overlooking the public square.

In the forts around Atlanta eleven heavy guns, mainly sixty-four-pounders, were left by the enemy. They were too heavy for speedy removal, and fell into our hands, still mounted in position and without serious injury. About three thousand muskets, in good order, stored in various parts of the city, were found; also

three locomotives in running order, which seem to have been overlooked. Large quantities of manufactured tobacco (which now forms part of the rebel soldier's ration), were discovered, and will, no doubt, be appropriated for the use of the army. Between one and two hundred stragglers, the majority of them very drunk, were fished from their hiding-places and placed under guard at the Court-house. Some of our convalescent wounded, disguised as rebel privates, fell into our hands. The uniforms were furnished by humble Union people in the city, of whom, if we may believe the masqueraders, there are several hundred, whose faith has been well-attested by constant attentions to our wounded prisoners-so constant, in fact, that the authorities grew jealous, and finally denied citizens access to the hospitals.

From first impressions I should say that not more than one eighth of the inhabitants remain, and those almost exclusively of the humbler class. There are a goodly number, however, who have cut the Confederate cause, and who have been long awaiting the opportunity. Nearly all of the local railway employes remain. They are already snuffing the chances of employment under the new regime. One thing has struck me in conversation with the citizens. They evidently have not the slightest idea that reputation for tenacity is at the highest among we shall ever relax our hold upon Atlanta. Our these newly-acquired inhabitants of Lincolndom.

The city is larger than I anticipated, its extent indicating that it contained, before the siege, a population of twenty thousand. It has a look of newness indigenous to railway centres; but it is well built, and has more solidity than nine tenths of cities that owe their rise to the reflec tive habits of the man who thought turned wheels would produce locomotion. Many of the residences, especially as you leave the centre of the city, have the florid ornamentation of the Gothic and Italian villa, and are very fresh and pretty in their uniform white paint and shrubbery surroundings. In the business quarter the buildings are of brick, compact and lofty, and of modern architecture.

The depot is, as it has a right to be, in the centre of the city. It is commodious, and though needing paint, is in good repair, save the ticket offices, which need glazing and refitting. Adjoining the depot is a public square, containing about three acres of ground. It is now encumbered with estray hospital bunks, broken boxes, miscellaneous débris, flanked (which is reversing the usual order) by little patches of sward. Several young poplars shoot up slenderly, but their aspiring trunks are so begnawn that I fear the wandering animals around them will complete the work of chewing them down. The "square" is surrounded by an open board fence, strangely intact.

There are several good-looking churches, the most handsome of them being near neigh bors in a cluster, a square from the depot. The

[ocr errors]

explodent purposes to fly. One must look, however, for the ravages of the shells, as the damage done by them is insignificant. They certainly made the town uncomfortable, but not sufficiently so to induce even partial evacuation by the inhabitants. Our makers of ammunition seem to improve, as report has it that nearly every one of our shells exploded.

The fortifications of Atlanta run just on the verge of the city, excluding in one or two places what might be termed the extreme suburbs. The parapets are heavy, and strengthened at frequent commanding points by regularly-bastioned forts, the ditches of which are from eight to ten feet deep. In front of the parapet are

Court-house is a fair specimen of the American public building. It has one green block, all to itself, and a handsome cupola. The streets are not regularly laid out, shooting out occasionally at acute angles, and only the leading ones are paved. The others are firm and hard, but I fancy, from the texture of the soil, that mud must be abundant in the rainy season. Save the three or four blocks in the centre of the city, the houses are straggling, with spacious yards and gardens; not straggling enough to render the distances magnificent, but yet not unpretending. Altogether, Atlanta has an exceedingly brisk and "citified" air. Its business has been large, as one can tell by studying the sign-boards, than which, perhaps, no better method exists of gaug-successive lines of abatis and chevaux de frise, ing the spirit and enterprise of a town. The stores are well fitted up, and several of the larger ones look distinguished, even in their emptiness. The hotels, three or four in number, are spacious, but decidedly the worse for wear. With the exception of the Trout House, they are nearly empty; and the latter is by no means in thorough running order.

The ruins of several large buildings, by fire, are observable on the principal streets. Some of them are of ancient date, and but one, citizens say, resulted from our firing. The extensive car-shops have not been destroyed, but their machinery was sent, two months ago, to Macon and other points. None of the buildings in the city were fired at the evacuation.

As a point of recuperation to the army sick and wounded, of repair of material, and as a depot of supplies, Atlanta will be of inestimable value in the future military operations in the South.

Hardly a house in Atlanta has escaped damage from the shells which, for over a month, have been hurled at it. I have known a single battery to throw nine hundred shells into the city, between dark and daylight. This was largely in excess of the average; but the shelling has been very heavy throughout. The majority of the roofs in the city are torn, and the walls scarred. About half a dozen fires resulted from the firing. In the room where I slept last evening, the wall was garnished with a ragged orifice, made by a fragment of shell, and in the adjoining apartment was a chair, partially demolished by the same irate messenger. My hostess tells me that she didn't mind the shell a bit; but as she forgot, as she admitted, a moment after, that she had of late cooked breakfast in the cellar, we must perforce take the first assertion cum grano salis. The damage to life and limb was confined to women and children-if we may believe report.

The railroads from the east enter the city through a deep cut, which is bridged over at the junction of streets. In the sides of this cut numerous caves are excavated, which bear marks of constant use. Some of them have traverses to protect the entrance, for, in the words of the cockney: "You cawn't most always tell in this blarsted country" in which direction the savage

from three to seven in number. The works on the west run down to East Point, and are built not over fifty yards from the railroad they are designed to cover. Two of the forts on this side are models, and splendidly finished. Near East Point new works were in course of erection. The enemy had evidently been working on them two or three days before the evacuation, showing that Sherman was expected to strike there. It is enough to say that the entire chain of defences to Atlanta is impregnable to any assault less deliberately prearranged than that which carried Sebastopol. The carnage of a determined assault must have been awful, and the result by no means certain.

I noticed on entering the city, some females walking leisurely homeward with armfuls of boxes, containing, doubtless, what might be ungallantly termed plunder. A citizen, on opening his store this morning, discovered eight empty barrels which had, the previous night, contained salt. Many of our soldiers, wandering along the streets, are certainly a little inquisitive as to the débris of deserted stores, but I don't believe our men are much given to pilfering the chloride of sodium, of which, under the most unfavorable circumstances they get more than they want, in various guises. One shopkeeper says the confounded women have taken his salt, and his acquaintance with the fair sex of Atlanta not being of recent growth, his opinion is entitled to weight.

The Twentieth corps and its commanders deserve the highest praise for quiet, orderly, and soldierlike conduct since the occupation. The Second Massachusetts has been detailed for provost duty in the city, and its Colonel, Cogswell, is the Provost-Marshal. I observed a lot of soldiers this morning, endeavoring to force an entrance into a store for tobacco, which is the only instance of misbehavior that came under my observation.

I have diligently inquired, since entering Atlanta, in quarters likely to be well informed, as to the past and present strength of the rebel army opposing Sherman. Johnston had at Dalton, last spring, just before Polk's reinforcement of thirty thousand, fifty-eight thousand of all arms. During the campaign, this aggregate, seventy-eight thousand, has been reduced nearly

one half, leaving Hood not over forty-eight thousand regular troops of all arms. Of militia, six thousand were collected at Atlanta, and about four thousand at Macon. Militia included, Hood probably could not muster over sixty thousand men previous to the late movement. I am pretty certain this will not vary five thousand from the morning reports of Hood's force.

Their rations for many weeks have been confined to corn-meal, bacon, and occasional issues of fresh beef. The grumbling in their army on account of the scanty supply-table has been both loud and deep.

About a mile of track was found destroyed near the city. Our indefatigable construction corps relaid it in a few hours, and at ten o'clock this morning two trains arrived, emptying their fiery lungs, as they thundered through the city to the depot, of one fierce, long-protracted, salutatory shriek, Captain John Blair's anaconda of bread and bacon, which follows up our conquests so closely that it has, figuratively speaking, been repeatedly ordered off the skirmish line, is ready to lard the lean depots of Atlanta with the riches of the United States supply-table. Just think of the aroma of coffee floating around the starveling atmosphere of the military store-houses of the Gate City, which are redolent now of musty corn-meal, rusty bacon, mingled with a vile, indefinable odor of general decay, which should be recognized as the national smell of the Confederacy.

of Georgia in the latter part of April, for the summer campaign into this state. The division which I have the honor to command, being the Third division, of the Fourth Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, constituted a part of the troops so assembled; and it is the object of this report to present a faithful history of the part it bore in the great campaign, which, extending over the long term of four mouths of continued effort and struggle, finally resulted most gloriously to our arms in the capture of Atlanta.

At twelve M. on the third of May ult., the division broke up its encampment at McDonald's station, near Cleveland, on the East Tennessee railroad, and marched southward toward Catoosa Springs.

On the fourth of May the divisions of the Fourth corps were concentrated at the Springs. As the troops approached the Springs a light party of hostile cavalry was encountered, but it fled immediately before the onward movement.

May the fifth and sixth, the divisions, with the other troops, remained in camp. May seventh the onward movement was resumed, the First division of the corps leading. A few hours' march led to Tunnel Hill. This is a strong position, and it had been supposed the enemy might attempt a serious opposition to our further progress; but it was found to be occupied only by cavalry, which was quickly driven

by the light troops of the First division. The Hill was soon occupied by the First and Third divisions, the former on the right, the latter on the left.

Captain Van Duzer, Superintendent of Mili-off tary Telegraphs, as soon as he became convinced of the fall of Atlanta, ran through his lines to the city, and instructed an operator to transmit the glad intelligence to Washington, via Cumberland Gap-Wheeler having destroyed the wires between Nashville and Chattanooga. At one of the repeating stations the operator interrupted the message by asking "Is this another Furay?" The query was, in an electrical way, warmly resented. The despatch passed on, and an answer was received from the War Department four hours after our forces entered the city.

We know of no more modest way, or one more likely to prove convincing to those who claim to think that the fall of Atlanta involves Sherman in fresh difficulties, than to permit the rebels themselves to express their opinion of the matter.

GENERAL T. J. WOOD'S REPORT. HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION AND ARMY CORPS, ATLANTA, GA., Sept. 10, 1864. SIR: The opening of the grand campaigns in the spring of 1864 witnessed a new phase in our military combinations. Previously dispersions of our troops, and of course of our efforts, had been the order of the day; for the campaign of the spring and summer of 1864 consolidation of our troops had been wisely resolved on. In conformity with this principle of concentration, large masses of troops were collected in and near the north-western angle

During the evening of the seventh, an order was received directing the First and Third divisions of the Fourth corps to make a demonstration at six o'clock the following morning against Rocky-Face Ridge, to cover and facilitate the operations of other troops against Buzzard'sRoost Pass. Rocky-Face is a bold ridge rising some five hundred feet above the general level of the country, and running from a little east of north to west of south. The crest of the ridge is a sheer precipice of solid rock, rising in height from twenty to sixty feet.

To carry the crest by a direct movement, when occupied by the enemy, was an impossible undertaking. Hence the demonstration was ordered to be made with a skirmish line, supported by solid lines. Buzzard's-Roost Pass is a gap in Rocky-Face Ridge through which the Atlantic and Western railway passes. It is a very formidable position from its topographical features, and these had been strengthened by heavy intrenchments. The enemy held the northern entrance of the Pass in force, and had the remainder of his troops disposed thence through the pass to Dalton, on the crest of the ridge, and on the roads passing east of the ridge to Dalton. The entire position, with its strong natural advantages strengthened by defensive works, was impregnable against a direct attack.

The demonstration, commenced by the division on the eighth, was continued throughout the day, and almost continuously on the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and to noon of the twelfth, and although it was intended simply as a diversion, and was made with the skirmish line, a considerable number of casualties attest the vigor with which the demonstration against the rugged height was made.

The impregnability of the enemy's position against a direct attack having become thoroughly patent during the afternoon and night of the eleventh, a movement was commenced by all the forces in front of the enemy, less the Fourth corps, to unite with the Army of the Tennessee, and pass to the south and rear of the enemy.

Having discovered the withdrawal of our forces, the enemy, on the afternoon of the twelfth, commenced a counter-movement, the object of which was to turn our extreme left, then held by the cavalry under General Stoneman, and the Second division of the Fourth corps (General Newton's). The movement was early discovered by the signal-officers on the north-eastern point of the crest of Rocky-Face Ridge. General Newton reported his position as perilous, and asked for assistance. I immediately moved the First and Third brigades of the division to his support; but the reinforcement was not, in the end, needed, as the enemy after a bold display of force, and apparently initiating a movement which, if boldly pushed, might have seriously interfered with our plans, drew off without bringing matters to an issue. During the night of the twelfth, the enemy evacuated Buzzard's-Roost Pass, the crest of Rocky-Face, his defensive works on the roads east of the ridge, and at Dalton. Early on the morning of the thirteenth, I moved with the First and Third brigades, following the Second division into Dalton, by the roads east of RockyFace Ridge. The Second brigade followed the First division through Buzzard's-Roost Pass. Thus was the enemy forced from the first of the series of strong defensive positions which he had occupied to resist the progress of our arms into Georgia.

Halting a brief time in Dalton to unite all its parts, the Fourth corps soon continued its march Bouthward, and camped for the night several miles south of that place.

The march of the day was made without any serious opposition. A few of the enemy's stragglers were picked up, and some light parties covering his retreat encountered.

The forward movement was resumed early the morning of the fourteenth. A march of a few miles effected a junction between the Fourth corps and the remainder of our forces. It had been discovered that the enemy had occupied a strongly-intrenched position in the vicinity of, and north-west of Resaca. Dispositions were at once made to attack. The First and Second brigades of my division were deployed in order of battle in two lines, the former on the right, the latter on the left. The Third brigade

was placed in reserve. Thus arranged, at the order, the line gradually advanced. By the contraction of our entire front, as it closed on the enemy's position, the First brigade of my division was forced out of line, and took position, immediately in rear, but following up the movement.

In the advance, the Second brigade soon encountered the enemy's front line, which was rudely barricaded with logs and rails. This was handsomely carried, and the brigade pushed boldly on until it confronted, at not more than two hundred and fifty yards' distance, the enemy's second and far more strongly-intrenched line. It was problematical whether this line could be carried by even the most determined assault, such was its natural and artificial strength. The assaulting force would have been compelled to pass for two hundred and fifty yards over an open field, without the slightest cover, exposed to the most deadly and galling direct and cross-fire of artillery and musketry.

To hold out the least hope of a successful assault, it was necessary that it should be made simultaneously throughout the lines.

With a view to making necessary dispositions, the Second brigade was halted; and to guard it against the dangerous consequence of a counterattack in force (such as fell the same afternoon on a brigade of another division of the corps), its front was at once strongly but rudely barricaded. About four P. M., I received an order from Major-General Thomas, commanding the Army of the Cumberland, to relieve the brigade of Colonel Reilly, of General Cox's division of the Twenty-third Army Corps. This was promptly executed by the First brigade, General Willich's, of my division.

This disposition brought the First brigade into line, immediately on the right of the Second brigade, and in like proximity to the stronglyintrenched positions of the enemy. The brigade immediately barricaded its front securely. The Third brigade remained in reserve in an intrenched position, whence it could afford support to the front, as well as check-mate any movement of the enemy to swing into our rear by turning our extreme left. This position was maintained during the remainder of the afternoon; good roads were cut to the ammunition train in rear, and a fresh supply of ammunition brought to the front. Early in the morning of the fifteenth, an order was received for a grand advance of the whole line at eight A. M. The two brigades in line were at once instructed to be fully prepared for the movement, but the order for it never came.

Late in the forenoon, intimation was received from Major-General Howard, commanding the Fourth corps, that an attack was to be made on the extreme right of the enemy's position, by the Twentieth corps, accompanied by an order to observe closely its effect on the enemy's centre, nearly opposite to which the First and Second brigades were posted, and if any weakening or shaking of his lines was observed, to at

« PreviousContinue »