HEADQUARTERS SECOND CAVALRY DIVISION,
June 21, 1864.
Major-General McPHERSON, Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have to report that instructions from General Sherman require me to interpose between the main rebel cavalry and the portion reported to have gone north of the Etowah to interfere with railroad communication. It seems to be the impression that large bodies have been detached. I cannot gain any reliable information to justify such an impression. That a regiment or two may be north of the Etowah from this flank is probable. From prisoners, officers and men, from citizens and negroes, I learn that the main force is in my front, about three or four miles, and near the right of their infantry. I have crossed the Noonday four times and attacked the enemy five times since I have been on this flank. I have not only found the enemy in good position, but have always found him strong. Observation of their movements also indicates that they are in force. In an open field or where I could bring my whole division into action after gaining a knowledge of the locality, I can take care of myself, but where they are in position and stronger than I am, it is quite a different matter. To carry out General Sherman’s orders, I will have to move around the enemy’s left and attack him, and at the same time act from the north so as to be between the rebel cavalry and the Etowah River. As this cannot be done from this point by moving east, I will have to abandon your left flank and move to the north and east. Unless otherwise directed I propose to move in the morning. I was prevented from doing so to-day on account of my wounded and dead who required to be cared for. My loss yesterday was 65. The enemy left in front of my line 10 dead; and a wounded man who was a prisoner in their hands last night reports seeing large numbers of their wounded and dead brought in. He says their dead was 100, but this is no doubt exaggerated, though I think from 40 to 50 killed would be in limits. Some of the heaviest fighting was out half a mile in front in supporting the pickets. As I only held my line, the rebels had that portion of the field and were most of the night occupied in getting off their wounded and dead. A lieutenant of the rebel cavalry told this man two divisions made the attack, and that they met with the heaviest loss that they ever had experienced.
I merely speak of these matters to try to show that there is a large force of cavalry here, and that they feel strong enough to attack, and attack with vigor and boldness. This attack of the enemy was of course brought on by my advance. My pickets are at Bob McAfee’s, and the fight was on the Marietta and Canton road. The camps of the enemy lie northeast and east of me.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier General Kenner Garrard,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
Out of the 65 lost all can be accounted for expect about 10, who are supposed captured in our charge.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Near Big Shanty, June 21, 1864-9.20 p. m.
Brigadier General K. GARRARD, Commanding Cavalry Division:
GENERAL: On my return from the front I found your communication of this date explaining your position and giving some of the details of your fight yesterday. I immediately went to see Major-General Sherman and read your letter to him, and he directs me to say that if you are satisfied the enemy has not detached a considerable force of cavalry from his right flank to operate on our lines of communication and supply, but that his cavalry is in front of you in strong force, you will maintain your relative position, covering the left flank of our army, and by repeated demonstrations and attacks keep the enemy’s cavalry occupied in your front and thus prevent him from making detachments. The general is of course very anxious about our railroad communications; they have been broken two or three times north of the Etowah and to-day there is some difficulty near Tilton, above Resaca, the extent and nature of which we have not learned. Whether there is a large force hovering along the railroad in that vicinity or simply the regiment which was at Calhoun the other day we have not been able to learn.
Please answer this communication by return messenger. The general is well satisfied with your operations yesterday, and what he wants and expects is that you will keep the rebel cavalry in your front occupied, and be certain that they do not send a large force to our rear.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. McPHERSON,