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was streaming toward me : gun after gun poured its


concentric shot on us, from every hill and spur that
gave a view of any part of the ground held by us.
An occasional shot from Fort Wood and Orchard
Knoll, and some musketry-fire and artillery over
about Lookout Mountain, was all that I could detect
on our side ; but about 3 p. M. I noticed the white
line of musketry-fire in front of Orchard Knoll, ex
tending farther and farther right and left and on.
We could only hear a faint echo of sound, but
enough was seen to satisfy me that General Thomas
was at last moving on the centre. I knew that our
attack had drawn vast masses of the enemy to our
flank, and felt sure of the result. Some guns which
had been firing on us all day were silent, or were
turned in a different direction. The advancing line
of musketry-fire from Orchard Knoll disappeared to
us behind a spur of the hill, and could no longer be
seen ; and it was not until night closed in that I
knew that the troops in Chattanooga had swept
across Missionary Ridge, and broken the enemy s
centre. Of course the victory was won."

Sherman found that he had indeed borne a
victor s share in the great three-sided battle which
caused the retreat of Bragg and the raising of the
siege of Chattanooga. Grant s strategy had pre
vailed. On the 24th of November Thomas, making
a forcible movement in Chattanooga Valley, had
advanced his line, while General Hooker had fought
the " Battle above the Clouds," on Lookout Moun
tain. On the following day Hooker operated to
ward Bossville, on Bragg s left, while the Army of


the Cumberland, under Thomas, made a magnificent
onslaught on the enemy s works at the foot of Mis
sionary Eidge. These works were captured in a
bayonet struggle full of grim determination and en
thusiasm. Then the troops t press gallantly on up
the ridge in full view of both armies, with deafen
ing cheers, heedless of the deadly fire belched into
their very faces, and overrun the works at the sum
mit like a torrent, capturing thirty-five guns, and
prisoners wholesale."

Sherman was delighted at the outcome of the bat
tle, and none the less so because Grant was entitled
to the credit of its management. ll It was magnifi
cent," he afterward said, " in its conception, in its
execution, and in its glorious results ; hastened
somewhat by the supposed danger of Burnside, at
Knoxville, yet so completely successful, that noth
ing is left for cavil or fault-finding."

It should be noted that General " Phil " Sheridan,
whom Sherman always admired, played a con
spicuous part in the battle of Missionary Eidge.
These two soldiers, however, were destined not to see
much more of each other during the war. Sheridan
was soon to be assigned to cavalry work in Virginia.

Sherman had little time for exultation. On the
evening of the battle General Grant wrote him :
1 1 No doubt you witnessed the handsome manner in
which Thomas s troops carried Missionary Eidge this
afternoon, and can feel a just pride, too, in the part
taken by the forces under your command in taking
first so much of the same range of hills, and then in


attracting the attention of so many of the enemy as
to make Thomas s part certain of success. The next
thing now will be to relieve Burnside. I have heard
from him to the evening of the 23d. At that time he
had from ten to twelve days supplies, and spoke
hopefully of holding out that length of time."

Without detailing the movement of troops neces
sitated by the retreat of Bragg s army, or the
besieging of Burnside at Knoxville by Longstreet, we
can simply chronicle that when Sherman, in response
to urgent orders, rode into that city on the morning
of December 6th, he found that General Longstreet
had raised the siege, and started in retreat up the
valley, toward Virginia. He was rather pleasantly
surprised by the comfortable appearance of things
within the place, and particularly by the elaborate
dinner, including roast turkey, to which Burnside
treated him and the members of his staff. l Why ,
I thought you were starving," he remarked, inter

Burnside explained that at no time had Knoxville
been u completely invested," and that he had been
able to keep open his communications with the
country on the south side of the Eiver Holston (on
which Knoxville is situated), "more especially
with the French Broad settlements, from whose
Union inhabitants he had received a good supply
of beef, bacon and corn meal.

"Had I known of this," observes Sherman in his
" Memoirs," " I should not have hurried my men so
fast ; but until I reached Kuoxville I thought our


troops there were actually in danger of starvation.
Having now supplied Burnside with such troops as
he needed (the corps of General Granger) Sherman,
with his other forces, began a leisurely return to
Chattanooga. After reaching there on December
16th, and making certain dispositions and changes
in his command, the Department of the Tennessee,
lie took a hasty trip to Lancaster, O., where he
had the unusual experience of spending Christmas
at home with his family.

To his brother John, who was then in Washing
ton, Sherman wrote an interesting note, show
ing that he was by no means puffed up over the
increased fame which his exploits at the battle of
Chattanooga had given him, and that he knew a
general s reputation is never safe until a war is
actually ended. "I have been importuned from
many quarters for my likeness, autographs, and bi
ographies. I have managed to fend off all parties,
and hope to do so till the end of the war. I don t
want to rise or be notorious, for the reason that a
mere slip or accident may let me fall, and I don t
care about falling so far as most of the temporary
heroes of the war. The real men of the war will be
determined by the closing scenes, and then the army
will determine the questions. Newspaper puffs and
self- written biographies will then be ridiculous cari

But Sherman, whether he would or not, was now
a full-fledged war hero, nor is it likely that the odor
of incense was altogether ungrateful to him. One


must indeed be a stoic to turn away altogether from
the delights of sincere praise. And then how com
pletely did all this dissipate that once exasperating
rumor of "insanity 77 and "nervous breakdown 77 !

One tribute greatly pleased Sherman. That was
a joint resolution of Congress, passed a little later
(February 19, 1864), tendering the thanks of that
body which was not always so complimentary con
cerning war matters to the general and the officers
and men who served under him, " for their gallant
and arduous services in marching to the relief of the
Army of the Cumberland, and for their gallantry
and heroism in the battle of Chattanooga, which
contributed in a great degree to the success of our
arms in that glorious victory. 77

Sherman, little as he knew it, had only begun to
taste the rewards of fame. Greater work than ever
was in store for him. In the meantime he returned
south from Ohio, about New Year 7 s of 1864, and
achieved an incidental tour de force by capturing
Meridian, in eastern Mississippi, destroying the rail
roads which centred there, and doing as much mis
chief as possible, in view of such Union campaigning
as was to follow. This movement, or raid, was ac
complished in February, and was a forerunner of
mighty military events in the more southern depart
ment of the conflict.

Before closing the chapter, and proceeding to a
discussion of the Atlanta campaign, let us recall two
letters which now form part of history, but which,
when written, were quite spontaneous, and marked


4 confidential. One was a letter from Grant (dated
March 4, 1864), announcing that he had been nomi
nated to fill the revived grade of lieutenant-general
of the army, and generously thanking Sherman for
previous assistance and co-operation. u What I
want," says Grant, " is to express my thanks to you
and McPherson, as the men to whom, above all oth
ers, I feel indebted for whatever I have had of

In view of future events, and because of its char
acteristic vein of frankness, Sherman s reply is
worth quoting in part :

"Dear General: I have your more than kind
and characteristic letter of the 4th, and will send a
copy of it to General McPherson at once. You do
yourself injustice and us too much honor in assign
ing to us so large a share of the merits which have
led to your high advancement. . . .

u You are now Washington s legitimate successor,
and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation ;
but if you can continue, as heretofore, to be your
self, simple, honest, and unpretending, you will en
joy through life the respect and love of friends, and
the homage of millions of human beings w r ho will
award to you a large share for securing to them and
their descendants a government of law and stability. 1

" My only points of doubt were as to your knowl
edge of grand strategy, and of books of science and

1 In this sentence one may easily fancy a warning to Grant
not to yield, when the war was over, to the blandishments
of political office. But in this respect Grant was destined to
lack the wisdom of his groat colleague.


history ; but I confess your common sense seems to
have supplied all this.

u Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washing
ton. Halleck is better qualified than you are to
stand the buffets of intrigue and policy. Oome out
west ; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Val
ley ; let us make it dead -sure, and I tell you the At
lantic slope and Pacific shores will follow its destiny
as sure as the limbs of a tree live or die with the
main trunk ! We have done much ; still much re
mains to be done. Time and time s influences are
all with us ; we could almost afford to sit still and
let these influences work. Even in the seceded
states your word now would go further than a Presi
dent s proclamation, or an act of Congress.

"For God s sake, and for your country s sake,
come out of Washington ! I foretold to General
Halleck, before he left Corinth, the inevitable result
to him, and I now exhort you to come out west.
Here lies the seat of the coming empire ; and from
the west, when our task is done, we will make short
work of Charleston and Richmond, and the impov
erished coast of the Atlantic.

" Your sincere friend,


Fortunately for himself and his country Grant had
the good sense to " come out of Washington " and,
with the aid of Sherman, now set about the mighty
task of ending the war.



" Bring the good old bugle, boys ! we ll sing another song,
Sing it with a spirit that will move the world along
Sing it as we used to sing it, fifty thousand strong,
While we were marching through Georgia !

" Hurrah ! Hurrah ! We bring the jubilee !

Hurrah ! Hurrah ! the flag that makes you free !
So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea,
While we were marching through Georgia.

" How the darkies shouted when they heard the joyful

sound !

How the turkeys gobbled which our commissary found !
How the sweet potatoes even started from the ground,
When we were marching through Georgia !

THIS war classic, wherein cheap doggerel was
joined to one of the most inspiring military tunes
ever written, and which once thrilled the hearts of
thousands and thousands of people, is now but an
echo of Sherman s greatest movement, the begin
ning of which is to be found in what is known as
the Atlanta Campaign.

To explain the object of this campaign let us be
gin with the fact that on the 12th of March, 1864,
Lieutenant-General Grant was placed in command
of all the armies of the United States. A few days


later, at Nashville, Sherman assumed command of
the Military Division of the Mississippi, in place of
Grant ; General McPherson succeeded to the com
mand of the Army of the Tennessee ; and John A.
Logan was placed at the head of McPherson s corps.
The Military Division of the Mississippi had em
braced the Armies of the Cumberland, Tennessee,
Ohio and Arkansas. Subsequently the Army of the
Arkansas was transferred to the Military Division
of the Gulf, under General Canby, and after that
transfer Sherman got his own Division of the Mis
sissippi organized about as follows :


Army of the Cumberland (General Thomas) .... 60,700
Army of the Tennessee (General McPherson) . . . 24,400
Army of the Ohio (General Schofield) 13,500

Total 98,600

When Grant took command of all the armies,
wisely resolving to keep the field, and not to stay
among the politicians in Washington, he thus
summed up the military situation : The United
States held the Mississippi Eiver all the way to its
mouth, and the line of the Arkansas, thus possess
ing all of the northwest above the latter river.
The Union also controlled several points in Louis
iana ; the mouth of the Rio Grande j that part of
the country east of the Mississippi which was north
of the Memphis and Charleston Eailroad, as far east
as Chattanooga ; thence along the line of the rivers
Tennessee and Holston, comprising most of the


state of Tennessee; also West Virginia and old
Virginia north of the Eapidan and east of the Blue
Eidge ; together with various points on the Atlantic
seaboard, including Fortress Monroe, Norfolk, Beau
fort, New Berne, Port Eoyal, Saint Augustine, Key
West and Pensacola. "The balance of the South
ern territory, an empire in extent, was still in the
hands of the enemy. 7

In the east, as Grant relates in his "Memoirs," the
opposing forces " stood in substantially the same re
lations toward each other as three years before, or
when the war began j they were both between the
Federal and Confederate capitals. It is true, foot
holds had been secured by us on the seacoast, in
Virginia and North Carolina, but beyond that, no
substantial advantage had been gained by either
side." That portion of the Army of the Potomac
not guarding lines of communication was on the
north bank of the Eapidan ; on the opposite bank,
strongly entrenched, was the obstinate Lee, with his
faithful Army of Northern Virginia acting as a
watchdog against all who would invade the sacred
precincts of Eichmond where Jefferson Davis still
hoped that he would save the Confederacy by virtue
of his "military genius."

The Union armies at this time were divided into
nineteen departments while the Army of the Po
tomac was an entirely separate command, without
limit as to operating territory. Heretofore these
various armies had acted independently of one an
other, not always with the best results. "I deter-


mined to stop this," says General Grant. " To this
end I regarded the Army of the Potomac as the
centre, and all west of Memphis along the line de
scribed as our position at the time, and north of it,
the right wing j the Army of the James, under Gen
eral Butler, as the left wing, and all the troops
south, as a force in the rear of the enemy. 1 . . .
My general plan now was to concentrate all the force
possible against the Confederate armies in the field.
There were two such, east of the Mississippi River,
and facing north Lee s Army of Northern Vir
ginia, on the south bank of the Eapidan, and the
army under Joseph E. Johnston, at Dalton, Georgia,
opposed to Sherman, who by this time was remov
ing his headquarters to Chattanooga.

Furthermore, the Confederates were obliged to
guard the Shenandoah Valley, "a great storehouse
from which to feed their armies," and also their lines
of communication from their capital, Eichmond, to
Tennessee. Forrest, the dashing cavalry general, was
also operating in the west, making things unpleas
ant for the Union forces in the Tennessee district.

11 Accordingly I arranged for a simultaneous move
ment all along the line," Grant continues. "Sher
man was to move from Chattanooga, Johnston s
army and Atlanta being his objective points."
Then follows an outline of the proposed movement

1 Toward the close of the year, 1863, General Butler was placed
in command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina,
and his force was afterward designated as the Army of the


of the other armies, with the explanation : " They
were acting as a unit so far as such a thing was pos
sible over such a vast field. Lee, with the capital
of the Confederacy, was the main end to which all
were working. Johnston, with Atlanta, was an
important obstacle in the way of our accomplish
ing the result aimed at, and was therefore almost
an independent objective." And Grant had writ
ten to Sherman, apropos of this grand campaign :
11 You I propose to move against Johnston s army,
to break it up, and to get into the interior of the
enemy s country as far as you can, inflicting all the
damage you can against their war resources." To
Sherman himself the lieutenant-general left the
actual plan of the Atlanta campaign, and on Sher
man, therefore, in the end, devolved all the greater
honor. In brief, Grant s comprehensive scheme
was to make a general advance of all the armies
during the first week in May. He was to move on
Richmond, via Lee, while Sherman would attend
to Johnston and Atlanta.

We will leave Grant, with his sending off of sup
porting expeditions, his preliminary set-back in the
campaign, when he tried the " hammering" proc
ess, the failure of the Banks expedition on the
Bed Eiver, the retreat of Sigel, the slaughter in
the Wilderness, and other discouragements, and
turn to the movement against Atlanta. The picture
is a less sombre one, although full of battle atmos

Twelve hours after Grant had crossed the Bapidan


(May 4th) Sherman began the movement of his
three armies, the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the
Tennessee, toward the intended goal. He had with
him nearly a hundred thousand men (exclusive of
some uncompleted divisions of cavalry) and 254
guns. His personal escort comprised his staff, half
a dozen wagons, a company of sharpshooters and a
small band of irregular cavalry. The general s
camp equipment, although hardly placed upon the
famous u nightshirt and toothbrush 77 basis of
simplicity, was made as unluxurious as possible.
"I wanted, 7 says Sherman, " to set the example,
and gradually to convert all parts of that army into
a mobile machine, willing and able to start at a
minute s notice, and to subsist on the scantiest
food. To reap absolute success might involve the
necessity even of dropping all wagons, and to sub
sist on the chance food which the country was
known to contain."

Sherman had accumulated an abundance of
supplies, sufficient to warrant a movement south
before leaving Chattanooga ; but he was deter
mined to take no chances, and to be ready for the
worst. The wagons allotted to each brigade were
restricted to the carrying of food, ammunition and
absolutely necessary clothing. Wall-tents were for
bidden, save for the sick and wounded, but " tent-
flies," without poles, were allowed. Thomas, un
like the other generals, had a conventional "head
quarters- camp " over which Sherman frequently
joked him, as well as a big wagon that could


be converted into an office, which the men used
to call " Thomas s Circus." Sherman tells us that
several times during the campaign he found
quartermasters hid away in some comfortable nook
at the rear, with tents and mess-fixtures, which
1 i were the envy of the passing soldiers ; and he
frequently broke them up, and sent the tents to the
surgeons of brigades. " I doubt," he says, " if any
army ever went forth to battle with fewer impedi
menta, and, where the regular and necessary sup
plies of food, ammunition, and clothing were
issued, as called for, so regularly and so

Nor must we forget that one of the great features
of the march proved to be the fact that Sherman,
advancing through a hostile country, was able to
keep open his line of railroad communication to
the north. It was a difficult undertaking ; tracks
must often be relaid, and bridges rebuilt, not to
mention the dangers of a purely military kind.
The problem of securing a sufficient number of cars
had already given him much trouble, but he had
been equal to the situation.

Against Sherman, General Johnston had at first
some 43,000 effectives, and this number was shortly
to be increased during May, by the addition of
22,000 men. The Southern army, being upon the
defensive and operating on interior lines was, by
all rules of war, equal to its assailant. " This ratio
was substantially maintained during the campaign
ending with the fall of Atlanta ; hence it will be


seen that the Federals had no material advantage
over the enemy."

Johnston, who was well entrenched in front of
Dalton, about forty miles southeast of Chattanooga,
had been strongly urged by Jefferson Davis since
the preceding December to assume an aggressive
winter campaign. This plan, favored by Lee, had
provided, among other things, for the turning of
Thomas s position at Chattanooga by a move to the
eastward of it and a junction with Longstreet for a
dash into middle Tennessee. Johnston, who was
undoubtedly stronger in defensive than offensive
tactics, did not approve of the plan, and after con
siderable correspondence (which did not serve to
decrease the strained relations known to exist be
tween Davis and himself) the matter ended in his
being at Dalton when Sherman began his advance.
The Confederate general, however, sent an officer to
Eichmond for the purpose of explaining to Mr.
Davis that he had not declined to assume the of
fensive, as was charged, but, on the contrary, was
eager to move forward whenever the relative forces
of the opposing armies should justify him in such
a measure. This emissary was to illustrate (so
Johnston himself tells us) the difference between his
plan of operations and that advocated by the Con
federate government; "and in that connection to
explain that I had been actively engaged in prepar
ations to take the field those over which I had con-

141 Marching Through Georgia," p. 85. Hedley estimates
that Johnston s army finally aggregated 70,000 effectives.


trol being in a satisfactory state of forwardness.
But that in the important element of field transporta
tion . . . which I had neither means nor
authority to collect, nothing had been done, while
steps to collect the large number of artillery horses
necessary had just been taken ; and that the surest
means of enabling us to go forward was to send the
proposed reinforcements to Dal ton at once ; then,
hould the enemy take the initiative, as was al
most certain, we might defeat him on this side of
the Tennessee, where the consequences of defeat
would be so much more disastrous to the enemy
and less so to us, than if the battle were fought
north of that river."

There is no need to enter into the rights and
wrongs of this controversy, although the first im
pulse always is to side with Johnston, rather than
with Davis, who was not the Napoleon that he was
prone to consider himself. "On several occasions
during the war," wrote General Grant, satirically,
"Mr. Davis came to the relief of the Union army
by means of his superior military genius. " It is
sufficient for our purpose to know that General
Johnston was still at Daltou early in May.

Sherman began to push forward for that place.
The direct route there was impracticable, and lay

1 See Johnston s "Narrative of Military Operations. Directed
During the Late War Between the States. " In his " Rise and
Fall of the Confederate Government," Jefferson Davis writes :
"To enable General Johnston to repulse the hostile advance
and assume the offensive, no effort was spared on the part of
the government " (Vol. II, p. 551).


through the pass of Buzzard s Boost, issuing
through Eocky Face, a spur of the AJleghany
Mountains. The Army of the Cumberland, under
Thomas, occupied the northern end of this pass,
aided by the Twenty-third Corps under Schofield ;
while McPherson, with the Army of the Tennessee,
entered upon a series of flanking movements.
These movements brought him in front of Eesaca
(fifteen miles to the south of Dalton), then
occupied by a small brigade of Johnston s forces

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Online LibraryEdward RobinsWilliam T. Sherman → online text (page 10 of 22)