NEAR ATLANTA, Geo.,
August 2, 1864.
. . . I have for some days been occupying a good house on the Buckhead Road, about four miles north of Atlanta, but am going to move in the morning more to the right to be nearer where I expect the next battle. You have heard, doubtless, full accounts of the battles of the 20th, 22nd, and 28th, in all which the enemy attacked a part of our lines in force, but was always repulsed with heavy loss. But I fear we have sustained a reverse in some cavalry that I sent around by the rear to break the Macon road. It was commanded by McCook,1 a cousin of Dan's. They reached the railroad and broke it; also burned a large number of the baggage wagons belonging to the enemy, and were on their way back when they were beset by heavy forces of cavalry about Newnan and I fear are overpowered and a great part killed or captured. Some 500 have got in and give confused accounts, but time enough has elapsed for the party to be back, and I hear nothing further of them. Somehow or other we cannot get cavalry. The enemy takes all the horses of the country, and we have to buy and our people won't sell. Stoneman is also out with a cavalry force attempting to reach our prisoners confined at Andersonville, but since McCook's misfortune I also have fears for his safety. I am now moving so as to get possession of the railroad out of Atlanta to the south — we already have possession of those on the north and east — when it will be difficult for Hood to maintain his army in Atlanta. This army is much reduced in strength by deaths, sickness, and expiration of service. It looks hard to see regiments march away when their time is up. On the other side they have everybody, old and young, and for indefinite periods. I have to leave also along the railroad a large force to guard the supplies; so that I doubt if our army much exceeds that of Hood. No recruits are coming, for the draft is not till September, and then I suppose it will consist mostly of niggers and bought recruits that must be kept well to the rear. I sometimes think our people do not deserve to succeed in war; they are so apathetic.
McPherson was shot dead. I had his body brought up to me, and sent it back to the railroad. He was shot high up in the breast with a bullet, and must have fallen from his horse dead. Howard, who succeeds him, is a fine gentleman and a good officer. . . . I expect we will have a hard fight for the railroad about the day after to-morrow, and [it] must be more heavy on us as we must attack. I am always glad when the enemy attacks, for the advantage then is with us. Now our line is as strong as theirs, but being on the outer circle is longer. I see that Grant has sprung his mines at Petersburg, and hope he will succeed in taking that town, as it will be a constant threat to Richmond, but Richmond itself can only be taken by regular siege. Atlanta is on high ground and the woods extend up to the forts which look strong and encircle the whole town. Most of the people are gone — it is now simply a big fort. . . .
1 General E. M. McCook.
SOURCES: M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Editor, Home Letters of General Sherman, p. 304-6. A full copy of this letter can be found in the William T Sherman Family papers (SHR), University of Notre Dame Archives (UNDA), Notre Dame, IN 46556, Folder CSHR 2/17