General Hardee and the Military Operations Around Atlanta. 365
And General Wheeler says of this :
"As before stated, McPherson's advanced line of entrenchments, "which I faced and which I fought on the 21st, were facing west or perhaps a little southwest. The road from Cobb's mill to Decatur on which we marched, and on which General Hardee formed his line on the morning of the 22d, made an angle with these entrench- ments of not more than forty-five degrees. When I left General Hardee to prepare for the attack, we knew we were in rear of Gen- eral McPherson's line, at least in rear of his left. ... At some points our line was nearly parallel to McPherson's entrenchments which faced Atlanta, and which my troops were facing and fighting the day before. And I believe the same troops which fought me on the 21st facing west or southwest were on the evening of the 22d faced about and fighting from the same works facing almost in a contrary direction."
I will not attempt a description of the operations of Hardee's corps that day. Lack of space and lack of materials alike prevent. I have access to but two official reports of Confederate officers of that action, and they were brigade commanders; and I have been obliged, at the risk of doing much less than justice to Hardee's troops, to quote from Federal writers, who can speak only from their own standpoint.
The detour from the positions which the troops occupied on the outer lines of Atlanta to the point where they struck the enemy, involved a march of some fourteen or fifteen miles. Portions of the command were depleted by the heavy skirmish lines left out to hold the positions thus vacated, and by the loss of many good men who fell in their tracks from exhaustion. The night march, always tedious, was additionally harassing from the fact that a considerable body of cavalry coming up in rear on the same road cut through the entire column, impeding and delaying the infantry and artillery ; and from the point where the turn was made the advance in line of battle and over the ground and through the undergrowth above described, was unavoidably slow.
Hardee, with four small divisions, encountered the Sixteenth and Seventeenth corps, and they were from time to time during the day reinforced from the other commands. The Seventeenth corps, as 'General Blair's letter shows, though turned and taken in reverse, fought all the time behind entrenchments. The day here and else- where, was characterized by varying fortunes brilliant and suc- cessful charges at some points and bloody repulses at others. During the day, however, as General Blair's letter and Federal