IN THE FIELD, June 18, 1864.
[General U. S. GRANT:]
DEAR GENERAL: I have the doubt you want me to write your occasionally letters not purely official, but which will admit of a little more latitude than such documents possess. I have daily sent to Halleck telegraphs which I asked him to report to you, and which he says he has done. You, therefore, know where we are and what we have done. If our movement has been slower than you calculated I can explain the reason, though I know you believe me too earnest and impatient to be behind time. My first movement against Johnston was really fine, and now I believe I would have disposed of him at one blow if McPherson had crushed Resaca, as he might have done, for then it was garrisoned only by a small brigade, but Mc. was a little over cautious left Johnston, still at Dalton, might move against him alone; but the truth was I got all of McPherson’s army, 23,000, eighteen miles to Johnston’s rear before he knew they had left Huntsville. With that single exception McPherson has done very well. Schofield also does as well as I could ask with his small force. Our cavalry is dwindling away. We cannot get full forage and have to graze, so that the cavalry is always unable to attempt anything. Garrard is over-cautious and I think Stoneman is lazy. The former has 4,500 and the latter about 2,500. Each has had fine chances of cutting in but were easily checked by the appearance of an enemy. My chief source of trouble is with the Army of the Cumberland, which is dreadfully slow. A fresh furrow in a plowed field will stop the whole column, and all begin to intrench. I have again and again tried to impress on Thomas that we must assail and not defend; we are the offensive, and yet it seems the whole Army of the Cumberland is so habituated to be on the defensive that, from its commander down to the lowest private, I cannot get it out of their heads. I came out without tents and ordered all to do likewise, yet Thomas has a headquarters camp on the style of Halleck at Corinth; every aide and orderly with a wall-tent, and a baggage train big enough for a division. He promised to send it all back, but the truth is everybody there is allowed to do as he pleases, and they still think and act as though the railroad and all its facilities were theirs. This slowness has cost me the loss of two spending opportunities which never recur in war. At Dallas there was a delay of our hours to get ready to advance, when we first met Johnston’s head of column, and that four hours enabled him to throw up works to cover the head of his column, and he extended the works about as fast as we deployed. Also here I broke one of his lines, and had we followed it up as I ordered at daylight, there was nothing between us and the railroad back of Marietta. I ordered Thomas to move at daylight, and when I got to the point at 9.30, I found Stanley and Wood quarreling which should not lead. I’s afraid I swore, and said what I should not, but I got them started, but instead of reaching the Atlanta road back of Marietta, which is Johnston’s center, we only got to a creek to the south of it by night, and now a heavy rain stops us and gives time to fortify a new line. Still I have all the high and commanding ground, but the one peak near Marietta, which I can turn. We have had an immense quantity of rain, from June 2 to 14, and now it is raining as though it had no intention ever to stop. The enemy’s cavalry sweeps all round us, and is now to my rear somewhere. The wires are broken very often, but I have strong guards along the road which make prompt repairs. Thus far our supplies of food have been good, and forage moderate, and we have found growing wheat, rye, oats, &c. You may go on with the full assurance that I will continue to press Johnston as fast as I can overcome the natural obstacles and inspire motion into a large, ponderous, and slow (by habit) army. Of course it cannot keep up with my thoughts and wishes, but no impulse can be given it that I will not guide.
As ever, your friend,