Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 08.djvu/373
General Hardee and the Military Operations Around Atlanta. 361
Walker and Bate struck it. This corps was fresh, and had only to face to the left, and was in line of battle and ready for action (Sherman's Memoirs, volume II, page 74).
Bate and Walker attacked this strong and fresh force with troops wearied by the long march and disordered by the rough ground over which they had just advanced in line, and where at the im- mediate points of contact the advance was through an open field ; and though the attack was most gallantly made and renewed, the odds of forces and circumstances were too great, and they were repulsed.
This accidental position of the Sixteenth corps, by preventing Bate and Walker from closing in upon McPherson's rear on the extension of his line northward, as General Blair points out, "pre- vented the full force of the blow from falling where it was intended to fall." Such a contingency, however, should have been consid- ered by General Hood in maturing his plan of action; for Wheeler had kept him fully informed that these forces were loose and de- tached. General Wheeler says of this: "It is most probable that he (General Hood) supposed they would be deployed to McPher- son's right, to fill the gap which we knew separated McPherson and General Thomas. Upon that assumption alone could the movement of the night of the 21st have been considered advisable.^
As it was, with Hardee engaged with double the force antici- pated, the only hope of complete success was for General Hood, in substantial compliance with the plan of battle, to have advanced Cheatham's corps from the Atlanta side against the Fifteenth corps as soon as Hardee became hotly engaged. .General Hood, as he states, was on Cheatham's right, in eapy hearing of the roar of musketry. But reinforcements were actually withdrawn from the Fifteenth corps and hurried to the support of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth corps, and Hardee had been sharply checked, and was being heavily pressed by this concentration of forces upon him before Cheatham was ordered to advance (Sherman's Mem- oirs, volume II, page 80). General Hood fixes the hour of Cheath- am's advance at three o'clock General Sherman at four o'clock P.M.
General Hood reiterates in the text that Hardee failed to turn McPherson's left as directed. It is true that the left of Hardee's- line of battle, in the advance through dense woods on their flank, struck the works thrown back for a short distance at right angles from the extreme left of McPherson's line proper; but that the