Today in History:

103 Series I Volume XXXVIII-III Serial 74 - The Atlanta Campaign Part III


news was brought me of the probable death of General McPherson, which was soon confirmed. In a few moments, I was directed by verbal orders of General Sherman, commanding the armies, to at once assume command of the army, assuring me at the same time that whatever assistance I might need would be furnished me. Acting upon these instructions, I turned over the Fifteenth Army Corps, then slightly engaged, to Brigadier General Morgan L. Smith, commander of the Second Division, and assumed command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee, as directed.

I respectfully refer you to the report of division commanders, herewith inclosed, for particulars of the engagement of the corps while I had the honor to command the department, inasmuch as I find that General Smith failed to make report of the action and subsequent operations of the corps while under his command. These reports show that the command maintained in every respect its well-earned reputation for gallantry, and nobly sustained under the guidance of General Smith and division commanders Generals Woods, Lightburn, and Harrow, commanding First, Second, and Fourth Divisions, respectively, the valor of Federal arms. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon the enemy by a most desperate assault broke our line and captured the battery of De Gress on the right of the Second Division. As soon as I learned the fact I, as department commander, ordered that it be retaken at all hazards, and General Woods, commanding First Division, at once disposed his command for that purpose. In the mean time the guns of another battery were turned on the horses of the captured battery for the purpose of preventing the enemy from removing the guns. This was effectual, and General Woods soon led the advance, which retook the guns and the position our troops were compelled to abandon. General Woods displayed in this action the greatest judgment and skill. For the particulars of the recapture of the battery, I refer you to General Woods' report, herewith inclosed. At another point of the lines, situated immediately across the rail and dirt roads the enemy made a sudden and desperate assault, compelling a portion of the Second Division to give way, and captured 2 guns of Battery A, First Illinois Light Artillery, which they succeeded in carrying away, although under the personal direction of General Smith, the line was almost immediately retaken. The reason the enemy gained an advantage over this part of my line may be explained by the fact that I was compelled to weaken that portion of the line by the withdrawal of Colonel Martin's brigade to fulfill a request to furnish General Dodge re-enforcements, who was at this time severely engaged with the enemy on the left flank and rear of the army. The division of General Harrow, during this time, was desperately engaged with the enemy. He caused some of his guns to be reversed so as to bear upon the enemy coming up in rear of the Seventeenth Corps. General Harrow's dispositions during the day entitle him to much credit. The fighting along the entire line of the corps was of the most desperate character, often being hand-to-hand. The troops could not have acted more gallantly or behaved better.

The losses of the corps were reported to be on that day, 118 killed, 414 wounded, 535 missing; aggregate, 1,067. The corps captured 481 prisoners, and buried over 400 dead bodies in front of their line.

At night-fall the Fifteenth Army Corps was in possession of all the ground, and as far advanced as it had been at any time pre-