Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 08.djvu/366

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

22d of July, 1864.

With respect to the plan of operations for this day General Hood says:

"General Hardee was directed to put his corps in motion soon after dark; to move south on the McDonough road, across Entrenchment creek at Cobb's mill, and to completely turn the left of McPherson's army and attack at daylight, or as soon thereafter as possible. He was furnished guides from Wheeler's cavalry, who were familiar with the various roads in that direction  .   .   .  ; was given clear and positive orders to detach his corps; to swing away from the main body of the army, and to march entirely around and to the rear of McPherson's left flank, even if he was forced to go to or beyond Decatur, which is only about six miles from Atlanta (177).  .   .   .  Hardee had not only failed to turn McPherson's left, according to positive orders, but had thrown his men against the enemy's breastworks, thereby occasioning unnecessary loss to us" (179).

Singularly enough, General Hardee is accused of warning and cautioning his troops against the breastworks they were about to assault on the 20th of July, and of now needlessly hurling the same troops against breastworks on the 22d.

It is not to be presumed that the liability to encounter entrenchments had weight in determining the plan of attack. Sherman's soldiers during this campaign, it may be said, marched with a musket in one hand and a spade in the other, and could construct substantial works, protected, if in a wooded country like this, by formidable abatis in a very short time. General Hood cites Federal and Confederate authorities to prove that the enemy habitually entrenched at every stage in such movements as he was now making, and could never be caught without works; and all experience had shown, what was now again confirmed, that the enemy in such movements left a network of entrenchments in his wake and on his flanks.[1]

In reference to the detour to and through Decatur, referred to by General Hood, General Hardee says that movement was considered and discussed; but in consideration of the night march, and the fagged condition of the troops, it was deemed impracticable to make so long a march in time to attack next day, and that "this plan was therefore abandoned, and General Hood decided to strike the enemy in flank."

  1. Wheeler's cavalry even encountered works in the attack on the extreme easterly force near Decatur.