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SHERMAN'S ATLANTA CAMPAIGN, AND GRAND MARCH TO THE SEA.
SHERMAN'S ADVANCE ON ATLANTA—BISHOP POLK KILLED-Mo
PHERSON KILLED—SHERMAN TAKES ATLANTA-CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SHERMAN AND HOOD, AND SHERMAN AND THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA-Hood'S ARMY MARCHES 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.
. 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 Huntsville, 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 Chattahoochee 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 pos. session 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 Hood succeeded General Johnston, and assuming the offensive-defensive, made several severe attacks upon Sherman near Atlanta.t
* 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 described 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 Howard, 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.* He 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, Howard, Scotield and Logan, and by an army that could proudly say they were never defeated.t 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 General Sherman decided that the imperious exigencies of war, especially when considered with reference to his base of supplies, required that Atlanta should be occupied exclusively for military purposes. Therefore he issued an order on the 6th of September, directing that “all families living in Atlanta, the male representatives of which are in the service of the Confederate States, or who have gone South, will leave the city within five days. All citizens from the North, not connected with the military service, were also directed to leave within the same period.” General Hood protested against this removal, stating “ this measure transcends in
' 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.
" studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.” To this General Sherman made a reply, defending the act, as follows :
“You style the measure proposed unprecedented, and appeal to the dark history of war for a parallel as an act of studied ingenious cruelty. It is not unprecedented, for General Johnston 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 entrenchments 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 those 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 brave people. I say, it is a kindness to those families of Atlanta to remove them now at once from scenes to which women and children should not be exposed ; 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 manner-you, who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into civil war, '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 Ord nance 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 Lincoln Government,' tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into the rebellion in Epite 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 an act of Congress, the confiscation of all debts due Northern men, for goods had, and received. Talk thus to me who have seen these things, and 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 fight it out as we propose to-day, and not deal in such hypocritical appeals to God and humanity. God will judge me in good time, and He will pronounce whether it be more humane to fight with a town full of women, and the families of a 'brave people’ at our backs, or to remove them in time to places of safety among their own friends and people.”
'In reply to an appeal from the Mayor of Atlanta, asking him to revoke his order, General Sherman said:
“HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
“IN THE FIELD,
" ATLANTA, GA., Sept. 10, 1864. “ GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned by it, and yet shall not revoke my order, simply because my orders are not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions, yea hundreds of millions of good people out side of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this we must stop the war that desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war we must defeat the rebel armies that are arrayed against the laws and Constitution, which all must respect and obey. To defeat these armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, and that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter, and therefore deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for war-like purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no man.