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General Grant pressed the enemy in Petersburg. He gradually extended his lines south and west, seeking to cut the railroads from that direction. On the 29th of September, Major General Ord landed north of the James, and captured Fort Harrison and fifteen pieces of artillery. During the autumn, the vast armies of Grant and Lee, lay opposite each other in their lines around Petersburg, with frequent skirmishes and often severe battles, but with no decisive results. Cavalry raids and other means for interrupting the enemy's lines of communications and such demonstrations as would prevent the rebels from detaching his forces to any other point, constituted the principal operations of the army of General Grant.
The enemy's resources were being rapidly exhausted. The loyal States were filling up a call made by the President on the 18th of July, for 500,000 men. General Grant, on the 13th of September, 1864, telegraphed to the Secretary of War:
Under his spurning feet the road
Ind the steed like a bark fed with furnace ire,
The first that the General saw were the groups
Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!
with the glorious General's name,
“We ought to have the whole number of men called for by the President, in the shortest possible time. Prompt action in filling up our armies will have more effect upon the enemy than a victory over them. They profess to believe the draft cannot be enforced. Let them be undeceived."
SHERMAN'S ATLANTA CAMPAIGN, AND GRAND MARCH TO THE SEA.
SHERMAN'S ADVANCE ON ATLANTA-BISHOP POLK KILLED-MC
PHERSON KILLED- -SHERMAN TAKES ATLANTA-CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SHERMAN AND HOOD, AND SHERMAN AND THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA-Hood'S ARMY MARCIIES NORTH, AND IS DEFEATED AT NASHVILLE-SHERMAN'S GRAND MARCH TO THE SEAHE TAKES Fort MCALLISTER, AND SAVANNAH–THE ALABAMA -MOBILE CAPTURED—THE NIAGARA Falls CONFERENCE—THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
GENERAL William T. Sherman began his brilliant cam
paign against Atlanta in the middle of May 1864. To reach that objective point he was compelled to pass from the north to the centre of the great State of Georgia, forcing his difficult path “ through mountain defiles and across great rivers, overcoming or turning formidable entrenched positions defended by a veteran army, commanded by a cautious and skillful commander. The campaign opened on the 6th of May, and on the 2d of September, the Union forces, entered Atlanta.”
General Sherman, in his own nervous language, describes his campaign in his Field Order No. 68, dated Atlanta, September 8th 1864 :
« On the 1st of May our armies were lying in garrison, seemingly quiet, from Knoxville to II untsville, and our enemy lay behind his rocky-faced barrier at Dalton, proud, defiant and exulting. He had had time since Christmas, to recover from his discomfiture on the Mission Ridge, with his ranks filled, and a new Commander-in-chief, second to none in the Confederacy in reputation for skill, sagacity and extreme popularity. All at once our armies assumed life and action, and appeared before Dalton. Threatening Rocky Face, we threw ourselves upon Reseca, and the Rebel army only escaped by the rapidity of his retreat, aided by the numerous roads with which he was familiar, and which were strange to us. Again he took post in Allatoona, but we gave him no rest, and by our circuit towards Dallas, and subsequent movement to Acworth, we gained the Allatoona Pass. Then followed the eventful battles about Kenesaw and the escape of the enemy across the Chattahoochie river. The crossing of the Chattahoochee, and breaking of the Augusta road was most handsomely executed by us, and will be studied as an example in the art of war. At this stage of our game, our enemies became dissatisfied with their old and skillful commander, and selected one more rash and bold. New tactics were adopted. Hood first, boldly and rapidly on the 20th of July, fell on our right at Peach Tree Creek, and lost. Again on the 22d he struck our extreme left, and was severely punished; and finally on the 28th, he repeated the attempt on our right, and that time must have become satisfied, for since that date, he has remained on the defensive. We slowly and gradually drew our lines about Atlanta, feeling for the railroad which supplied the rebel army, and made Atlanta a place of importance.
“We must concede to our enemy that he met these efforts patiently and skillfully, but at last he made the mistake we had waited for so long, and sent his cavalry to our rear, far beyond the reach of recall. Instantly our cavalry was on his only remaining road, and we followed quietly with our principal army, and Atlanta fell into our possession as the fruit of well concerted measures, backed by a brave and confident army."*
In one of those bloody battles which were of constant occurrence between Sherman and Johnston, which took place on the 14th of May on Pine Mountain near Kenesaw Mountain, the rebel General (Bishop) Polk was killed. When the Union troops took possession of the field they found upon a stake stuck in the ground a paper attached, on which was written “Here General Polk was killed by a Yankee shell.”
General Sherman, after first unsuccessfully assaulting the enemy's position at Kenesaw, turned it, compelling Johnston to abandon it and retreat behind the Chattahoochee. Here Sherman rested until the 17th of July, when he resumed operations, and drove the enemy back to Atlanta. At this place the rebel General IIood succeeded General Johnston, and assuming the offensive-defensive, made several severe attacks upon Sherman near Atlanta.
* Report of Secretary of War, 1865. Sherman's Report, 1865.
On the 22d of July in an attack by Hood, the brave and accomplished McPherson was killed. General Sherman de scribed him as “ a noble youth of striking personal appearance, of the highest professional capacity, and with a heart abounding in kindness that drew to him the affections of all men.” General John A. Logan succeeded McPherson, and ably commanded the army of the Tennessee, through this desperate battle, and until he was superceded by Major General IIoward, on the 26th of July. In these fierce attacks the rebels were repulsed with great slaughter.
General Sherman finding it impossible entirely to invest Atlanta, moved his forces by the enemy's left flank upon the Montgomery and Macon roads, to draw the enemy from his fortifications.* Ile describes the operation as that of “raising the siege of Atlanta, taking the field with our main force, and using it against the communications of Atlanta, instead of against its entrenchments.” The movements compelled Hood to evacuate Atlanta, and on the 2d of September, Sherman entered that city. For severe fighting and brilliant and successful maneuvering, there is nothing finer in the whole war than this campaign and capture of Atlanta. Sherman was seconded by a body of able and reliable subordinates, among the most distinguished of whom were McPherson, Thomas, Hooker, IIoward, Scofield and Logan, and by an army that could proudly say they were never defeated. The aggregate loss in killed, wounded, and missing in the whole campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including cavalry, has been estimated to exceed 30,000, and the loss of the rebels considerably exceeded 40,000.
President Lincoln, in a General order of thanks to Sherman and the gallant officers and soldiers of his command, dated on the day of the capture of Atlanta, justly characterizes these marches, battles and sieges which signalized this campaign, as "famous in the annals of war.” Atlanta was a most important railroad center. It had been deemed by the Confederates perfectly secure, and here was the location of very valuable manufactories of ordnance and other material.
* Grant's Report, 1865. † Appleton's Ency pclopedia, 1861, page 87.