Today in History:

37 Series I Volume XXXVIII-III Serial 74 - The Atlanta Campaign Part III


It will be seen by reference to General Sherman's Special Field Orders, Numbers 31, July 1, that preparations were being made to deprive the enemy of the advantage of Kenesaw, as it was a barrier that he could hold with few troops, using it to extend his lines and prevent our turning his flank. The movement ordered was for General Thomas to rest his left at the suth end of Kenesaw, and push Gneeral McPherson past the Army of the Ohio to the extreme right, where he was to threaten the Chattahoochee River, and also the railroad. About daybreak on the morning of the 1st General McPherson commenced the movement, sending one division of the Fifteenth Corps down the Sndtown road. The 2d, the movement was continued by General Blair following the division (M. L. Smith's) of the Fifteenth Corps. It having been discovered that the enemy had evacuated his works, General McPherson sent the rest of the Fifteenth Corps directly to Marietta. Several prisoners were captured en route. The Sixteenth Corps was moved to the extreme right on the 3d. After reaching Marietta, General Logan also marched to the right, and joined the rest of the Army of the Tennessee. The 4th of July the enemy took up a position behind strong intrenchments in the vicinity of Ruf's Station, or Smyrna Camp- Ground. This was probably a temporary line to facilitate the crossing of his trains over the Chattahoochee. While General Thomas was pressing hard in front, the Army of the Tennessee was turning the enemy's left, going into position near Nickjack Criik- Sixteenth Corps center, Seventeenth on the right, and Fifteenth on the left.

General McPherson writes to General Sheman July 4, 8 a. m.:

Lightburn's brigade, of M. L. SMith's divison, secured a position across Nickajack Creek at Ruff's Mill yesterday afternoon. * * * Dodge is pushing his command forward east of Nickajack Creek, at Ruff's Mill. Blair is near Widow Mitchell's, and has sent two regiments of infantry and a section of artillery, in connection with a brigade of Stoneman's cavalry, on the road to Turner's Ferry, with orders to secure, if possible, a crossing of Nickajack Creek.

At 8.45 p. m. he writes:

* * * Dodge moved across and ran against Stevenson's division, and as he developed his lines captured a few prisoners from each divsion of Hood's corps.

* * * As soon as the troops were over and in position, I directed Dodge to strengthen his skirmish line, so as to make it almost equivalent to a line of battle, especially on rough ground, and to assault the enemy's rifle- pits. The order was gallantly executed, the works taken, and some 50 prisoners captured; our loss not very heavy; Colonel Noyes, Thirty- ninth Ohio, severely wounded. This gives Dodge a position about one mile and a quarter east of Nickajack Creek. He has one brigade of Schofield on his left, and General M. L. Smith's division on his right and rear. The cavalry and infantry demonstration on t eTurner's Ferry road reached a point, as they think, one mile and a half* from Nickajack, and found it tolerably well fortified, with four guns in position. This brought the infantry to a halt, and they have not advanced since. They will, however, hold all the ground they have gained, alnd be ready to try the strength of the enemy's works, if it is deemed desirable.

By this it will be seen that the enemy's left flank was not only threatened, but hard pressed, on the 3rd and 4th of July, enough to render it unsafe for him to retain his position at Smyrna Camp- Ground. He abandoned this line during the night and fell back near the railroad bridge. July 5:

Early this morning Gresham's division, of General Baler's command, charged and carried a line of rebel rifle- pits on the Turner's Ferry foad, and then pushed forward until about 6 p. m. they gained a position on Nickajack Creek, within


*Reads a half mile in McPherson's report; see p. 19.