Imágenes de páginas

assumed once more the attitude of what has been popularly, though inaccurately, termed a "siege." The Tenth Corps. held its fortified position at Bermuda Hundred, on the north side of the Appomattox. The right of the Eighteenth Corps, in the position it had gained on the 15th, extended near that river. Our Navy forces commanded the mouth of that river, and the space intervening between these two corps was practically occupied. The Second Corps, as we have seen, had taken position on the immediate left of the Eighteenth, on the morning of the 16th. The Ninth Corps arrived on the left of the Second, in the evening of the same day, and made a successful charge, on the 17th, gaining a position deemed of special value, and taking two redoubts. The Fifth and Sixth Corps came into position on the 17th, still further to the left. All these forces were at once busily engaged in fortifying, with occasional skirmishes or assaults during several days following.

Thus had passed six weeks of great activity, of constant marching or fighting, of severe losses, and of apparently indecisive results. But Lee, for the first time, had thus far been kept exclusively on the defensive. The country had hoped, under the generalship of Grant, an early capture of Richmond, with the destruction of Lee's grand army. There was a feeling of uncomplaining, and mostly unexpressed, disappointment. The President, trusting the well-tested military qualities of the Lieutenant-General, confident in the valor of our soldiers, instant in providing that the necessary reënforcements and supplies should not be lacking, had less sanguine expectations, at the outset of this movement, and an unshaken faith always in the great cause, and in the strong hand to which the guidance of our armies had been specially intrusted. He felt this no less with the army at bay before Petersburg, than when it defiantly crossed the Rapidan. And, in truth, this campaign was the one which, tardily though the result may be thought to have appeared, yet actually turned the crisis of the war.


The Campaign in Georgia.-From Chattanooga to Marietta.-Early Movements of Sherman and Thomas.-Capture of Dalton.-Battle of Resacca.-Retreat of Johnston.-Slight Engagements.-Occupation of Kingston.—Destruction of Rebel Works at Rome.--Advance to Cassville.—Battle near Dallas and Powder Spring.-Occupation of Acworth and Big Shanty.--Attempts on Sherman's line of Communications.-Kenesaw Mountain.--Battle of Nickojack Creek.-Pause at Marietta.--Louisiana and Arkansas.--Another Invasion of Kentucky.-Movements of the Navy.

On the promotion of Gen. Grant to the chief command of all the armies of the United States, the direction and control of the main army of the West, at and beyond Chattanooga, devolved upon Maj.-Gen. William T. Sherman. This officer had borne a conspicuous part in most of the military movements of Grant in the West, from the field of Shiloh, on which his services were invaluable, to the movement from Port Gibson, ending in the siege and capture of Vicksburg; and, at a later period, had succeeded him as commander of the Army of the Tennessee, on the consolidation of the Western armies under Grant, after the capture of Chattanooga. The grand army now placed under command of Sherman, originally comprised the Army of the Tennessee, to the command of which Maj.Gen. James B. McPherson succeeded; the Army of the Cumberland, under Maj.-Gen. George H. Thomas; and the Army of the Ohio, under Maj.-Gen. John M. Schofield. This army was strengthened, in preparation for a campaign into Georgia, by the addition of the Twentieth Army Corps, under Maj.-Gen. Joseph Hooker, comprising the consolidated Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, transferred from the East, and attached to the Army of the Cumberland; and by troops newly raised in several Western States. A large cavalry force had also been gathered and well equipped, under Gens. Stoneman, Rousseau, Garrard, Kilpatrick, and others. In numbers, organization,

and condition, this army was hardly surpassed by any as yet brought into the field during the war.

After the capture of Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, near the close of November, giving entire security to the communications of the army, previously threatened, no material advance southward had been attempted during the winter. The close of February, 1864, found Sherman returned, with the portion of the army then under his command, to Vicksburg, after a bold movement eastward from that place to Meridian, occupying three weeks. For the want of successful cooperation on the part of the cavalry force which was to sustain him, or from other causes, his purpose, whatever it may have been, was substantially defeated, and it was now his first work to return with dispatch to the main army. This he successfully accomplished. Meanwhile, on the 21st of February, a force under Gen. Palmer had been advanced by Grant to Ringgold, eighteen miles south of Chattanooga, permanently occupying that place. Tunnel Hill having been taken on the 26th, after severe skirmishing, Thomas moved, on the 1st of March, toward Dalton, a town situated about twenty miles south-east from Ringgold, at the point where the East Tennessee railroad crosses the Georgia State road, as well as the point of junction of that branch of the railroad extending to Chattanooga with the former road. As this advance was manifestly coöperative with that of Sherman eastward from Vicksburg toward Alabama, the abandonment of the latter expedition was speedily followed by the withdrawal of Thomas from beyond Tunnel Hill to Ringgold, which was accomplished on the 7th of March. The Army of the Ohio, in the command of which Gen. Schofield had succeeded Gen. Foster, had been, during the winter, in East Tennessee, but advanced to take part in the concentrated movement into Georgia, which was now to be made by the grand army of Sherman.

The primary objective point of the campaign, in regard to which, and other military plans, Grant made a visit to Chattanooga, after assuming the duties of general-in-chief at Washington, was Atlanta. This was one of the most thriving cities in Georgia prior to the war, being a prominent point in the

railroad system of the Southern States, and a place of great use to the rebellion, no less for its manufactures than as a de pot of supplies. To capture Atlanta, and to break up the railroad communications there centering, was to strike a blow, not only at the heart of the Empire State of the South, but also at whatever of "Confederate" vitality now remained between the Savannah river and the Mississippi. The occupation of this point also looked directly toward ulterior objects still more important than the capture of a place which it seemed likely to cost as much to hold as to take.

During the month of April, the final preparations for the advance were completed. On the last few days of the month, concentrating movements were made, and the various commands were in readiness for the order to march. The First Division of the Twentieth Corps, under Gen. Williams, had been doing duty along the line of the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad; the Second (Geary's) had been stationed at Bridgeport, Alabama; and the Third (Butterfield's) at Lookout Valley. All united at the latter point, on the 3d of May, and the whole corps began its march on the same day, crossing Lookout Mountain, and encamping for the night in Chattanooga Valley, two miles south-eastward from the town of Chattanooga; while McPherson, with the Army of the Tennessee, was executing a movement still further to the right, by Snake Creek Gap, with a view to flank the enemy in his defensive line before Dalton. Hooker advanced on the 4th and 5th, by Gordon s Mills, to the foot of the north-western slope of Taylor's Ridge, at a point twelve miles south-west from Ringgold. His corps encamped here during the next day, reducing its transportation train to the minimum, and advanced across Taylor's Ridge on the 7th, at Nickojack trace, five miles south-westward from the last camping ground. On completing this movement, the enemy was found in a very strong position at Buzzard's Roost, directly in front. The corps remained here in position, three or four miles from the enemy's works, until the morning of the 10th.

Meanwhile, Thomas, in the center, from his advanced position at Ringgold, had marched to Tunnel Hill, dislodging the en

emy with no great difficulty, and occupying the place on the
6th of May. Schofield held the left, advancing by way of
Cleveland and the line of the East Tennessee and Georgia
railroad, encountering Wheeler's Rebel cavalry on the 9th, the
advance being temporarily interrupted, with the loss of a small
number of prisoners. The enemy, however, was repulsed
without any severe fighting.
railroads were put in repair.
Hill, and appeared before the enemy's position north of Dal-
ton, supported by Schofield's forces on the left, and by Hook-
er's corps on the right, May 9th; McPherson, meantime, was
executing his important movement on the extreme right. The
Rebel position on Rocky-face Ridge, and at Buzzard's Roost,
was of the most formidable character, and was apparently
thought by the enemy sufficiently impregnable to withstand a
siege, and to delay further movements into Georgia, if not alto-
gether to arrest them. Here they first seriously contested the
advance of Sherman.

As our forces advanced, both the
Thomas advanced from Tunnel

The Rebel army in Georgia was now commanded by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, who had succeeded Bragg after his fatal failure which gave our armies possession of East Tennessee, and a foothold on the border of Georgia. His leading generals were Hood, Polk and Hardee, each in command of an army corps. He had also a large cavalry force under Gens. Wheeler, Forrest, Rhoddy, and other commanders. The enemy's great advantage in position, in knowledge of the country, and in the fact that every mile's advance by Sherman added a new difficulty and hazard to his communications, was partly balanced by the superiority of numbers on the Union side. The result of this advance was regarded by President Lincoln rather with hope than with any assured expectation. The Rebel leaders, on the other hand, affected a consciousness of entire security, so utterly impracticable did they pronounce the advance of so large an army so far away from its base, with such force to encounter as that now confronting Sherman. In fact, serious difficulty had for a time been experienced in keeping up the line from Nashville to Chattanooga, without its further prolongation. The accumulation of supplies at the latter

« AnteriorContinuar »