« PreviousContinue »
overwhelming numbers, protected by breastworks. The en. emy's loss, in this last attack, was estimated at six thousand, while our own was under six hundred-a great disparity, if true. Five stand of colors were taken, and two thousand muskets.
Hood now let Sherman advance his lines without interruption. He was dashing his army to pieces against the adamantine wall closing around him; and he saw that some other course must be adopted, or his fate was sealed.
Sherman now began to shell the place, and, at one point, made an assault, in which he lost some four hundred men. But, on a careful examination of the enemy's works, he saw that the place could not be carried by storm without a loss that would leave him without an army, and he cast about for other means of reducing it. If he could once plant his army on the Macon road, he knew that Hood would have to leave, for this, now, was his only line of supplies. He at once resolved to do this, and the 18th day of August being chosen for the movement, the wagons were loaded with fifteen days' provisions.
But Hood, in the meantime, had formed a similar piot against Sherman. Finding himself unable to break through Dis iizes and defeat his army, he determined to cut his communications, and starve him into a retreat. Wheeler, with all his cavalry, was sent off toward Chattanooga, to operate on the single line of railroad by which Sherman's army was fed. When this was told the latter, instead of being alarm. ed, he said, “I could not have asked anything better, for I have provided well for such a contingency.” He knew that Wheeler would fail, while it relieved him from the annoy. ances of cavalry. He, therefore, resolved to cut the West Point railroad at Fairburn, and the Macon road at Jonesboro', by cavalry alone, and Kilpatrick, who had returned to duty, was dispatched with four thousand men and eight pie
900D'S LAST BATTLB.
337 ces of artillery to carry out his plán. Although this bold rider made a complete circuit of Atlanta, yet the expedition was only partially successful. 'Breaking the roads was comparatively a small matter; they must be held permanently, and so Sherman returned to his original plan. The surplus wag. ons were sent back to his intrenched bridge on the Chattahoochee river, whither the Twentieth Corps was also dispatched, and the various movements at once commenced for carrying it out. The separate columns moved like clockwork, and reaching without delay the points aimed at, showed the highest stragetic skill on the part of Sherman.
To a common observer, only a vast army could be seen marching by various roads over the country; but, in Sherman's plan, they were like the several wheels of a mighty machine, whose steady revolutions lift the ponderous ham mer, which by its descending blows 'grinds every-thing beneath it to powder.
The West Point railroad was reached and torn up, and then the army moved eastward to Jonesboro'. On the 31st, Howard, who was on the right, arrived, while Thomas, in the centre, was at Couch's, and Schofield commanding the left, at Rough and Ready.“ A glance at the map, will show in what a desperate position Hood was now placed. He was completely cut off south and east, by railroad, and he must de. molish this living wall, closing around him, or leave Atlanta at once. He attempted to effect the former, and S. D. Lee and Hardee, with their Corps, fell on Thomas with desperate resolution, and a fierce battle followed. The rebels fought with their accustomed gallantry, and, for a while, pressed Thomas' veterans sorely, but they were finally repulsed with a loss of some four thousand men. Davis' Corps now came up, and, at four o'clock on the 1st of September, moved majestically on the rebel position, sweeping it like an inundation, and capturing an entire brigade, with its General and eight guns.
Five thousand more were here put hors-du-combat, while our loss, in both engagements, was but little over two thousand. Hood's army was fast melting away, and the shattered remnant must now flee or be captured. He saw plainly that all was lost, and that night, hastily evacuated Atlanta, blowing up magazines and stores, and destroying seven locomotives and eighty-one cars.
The torch was applied, also, to a thousand bales of cotton, which made the midnight heavens lurid with flame. Lighted on his gloomy march by this sea of fire, Hood moved swiftly forward over the country toward Macon. The inhabitants of Atlanta, filled with consternation, streamed after him in every vehicle they could lay their hands on, making a scene of terror and confusion that baffles description. Slocum, of the Twentieth Corps, seven miles north, on the Chatahoochee, heard the explosions, caused by the blowing ap of the cars, and saw the ruddy heavens, and suspecting the cause, sent out, at day-break, a strong column to reconnoitre. Atlanta was found deserted, and he marched in and took possession of it.,
At daylight, next morning, the army started in pursuit of Hood, and kept up the chase, for thirty miles, to Lovejoy's, where he was found strongly fortified. Here it was arrested and moved back to Atlanta, for the campaign was over, and the tentless, almost shoeless, ragged soldiers needed rest Sherman wrote, "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won," and so it was--won by genius, skill, and downright hard fighting. He had given the lie to all prognostications, and stamped himself ino foremost General of the age.
Tay extraordinary campaign cannot be summed up better than in these words of Colonel Bowman. "When we reflect upon the enormous distance traversed--upon its rugged and defensible character; it being nothing less than a penetra tion of the entire series of parallel Alleghany ranges—upon
REVIEW OF THE CAMPAIGN.
the strong army and able General of the enemy, contesting our advance, inch by inch, over ground entirely known to them and unkown to us, after years of preparation in roads and fortified places—upon the fact that Sherman was obliged to rebuild bridges and railroads, as he advanced, and protect his line of supplies, all the way from Nashville to Atlanta, three hundred miles long-upon the dazzling series of victories unbroken, save at Kenesaw, which crowned our banners-upon the miraculous handling of troops, as if by mechanism, over the most wretched of roads, in the most impracticable of countries--upon the skillful and extraordinary system of supplies, of food, forage and ammunitionupon the tremendous disparity of loss inflicted on the enemy, although he fought a defensive campaign-upon the wonderful, tactical genius of the great Commander, whether on the march or in battle—this campaign must stand unsur- : passed in the annals of history.” Even the momentous events transpiring East, could not overshadow this great campaign, not only great in its actual character, but also in its results. The centre of Southern railroads was reached, the. Confederacy again bisected, and Sherman's hana was feeling its great arteries.
He now placed his camp in order and showed that he had come to stay. He commenced putting Atlanta in a state of defense, and ordered all non-combatants to be removed to Hood's lines, with their servants and effects. He asked the latter for his co-operation in effecting this. Hood acceded to his proposition, but bitterly denounced the measure as “ un precedented, studied and ungenerous crueiiy."
This was a charge so wholly contrary to Sherman's char. acter, and so repugnant to his feelings, that he replied to it. He had before shown that he wielded a trenchant pen, as well as sword. His letter to the Massachusetts agent, who asked to enter his lines to get blacks to fill up the quota of
À PLAIN LETTER.
the State, under the President's call for troops, struck a hard blow at that miserable, pseudo patriotism, that wished to keep the able-bodied whites from the war, and place its tremendous responsibilities on mercenary foreigners, or the poor, liberated blacks. His answer to Hood showed the same capacity to strike hard blows. He says:
“GENERAL, -I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, of this date, at the hands of Messrs. Ball and Crew, consenting to the arrangements I had proposed to facilitate the removal south, of the people of Atlanta, who prefer to go in that direction. I inclose you a copy of my orders, which will, I am satisfied, accomplish my purpose perfectly. You style the measures proposed unprecedented,' and appeal to the dark history of war for a parallel, as an act of studied and ungenerous cruelty.' It is not unprecedented, for General Johnstou himself very wisely and properly removed the families all the way from Dalton down, and I see no reason why Atlanta should be excepted. Nor is it necessary to appeal to the dark history of war, when recent and modern examples are so handy. You, yourself, burned dwelling-houses along your parapet, and I have seen to-day fifty houses that you have rendered uninhabitable because they stood in the way of your forts and men. * You defended Atlanta on a line so close to the town that every cannon-shot, and many musket-shots, from our line of investments, that overshot their mark, went into the habitations of women and children. General Hardee did the same at Jonesboro', and General Johnston did the same last Summer at Jackson, Mississippi
. I have not accused you of heartless cruelty, but merely instance these cases, of very recent:occurrence, and could go on and enumerate hundreds of others, and challenge any fair man to judge which of us has the heart of pity for the families of a 'brave people. I say
it is a kindness to these families of Atlanta, to remove them now at once from scenes that women and children should not be exposed to; and the brave people should scorn to commit their wives and children to the rude barbarians who thus, as you say, violate the laws of war, as illustrated in the pages of its dark history. In the name of common sense, I ask you not to appeal to a just God in such a sacrilegious manneryou, who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into
dark and cruel war;' who dared and badgered us to battle; insulted our flag; seized our arsenals and forts, that were left in the honorable custody of a peaceful ordnance sergeant; seized and made prisoners of war the very garrisons sent to protect your people against negroes and Indians, long before any overt act was committed by the (to you) hateful LincolnGovernment; tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into the rebellion in spite of themselves; falsified the vote of Louisiana; turned loose your privateers to plunder unarmed ships; expelled Union families by the thousand; burned their houses, and declared, by Act of your Congress, the confiscation of all, debts due Northern men for goods had and received. Talk thus to the marines, but not to me, who have seen these things, and who will this day make as much sacrifice for the peace and honor of the South, as the best-born Southerner among you. If we must be enemies, let us be men, and tight it