In the Field, near Adairsville, May 17, 1864.
Major-General THOMAS,
Commanding Army and Department of the Cumberland:
GENERAL: It is probable on reaching Adairsville in the early morning we will find the enemy has retreated via Cassville. If such be the case I want you to put your head of column after him as far as Cassville, when I will determine whether to continue the pursuit as far as Cartersville or let him go. I prefer he should divide between Rome and Cartersville, in which event you will march directly on Kingston. I will be with you in the morning, and only mention these points that you may instruct your leading division. I wish you would put one of your boldest division commanders to lead to-morrow, and explain to him that General McPherson is close on his right and General Schofield on his left, and that two heavy columns of cavalry, Garrard’s and Stoneman’s have orders to strike the road, the one between Kingston and Rome, and the other between Kingston and Cartersville. Instead of skirmishing only with the rear guard it should be attacked promptly by his whole division, deployed in whole or part, according to the ground, but it should be preceded by the usual skirmish line. A real battle to-morrow might save us much work at a later period.
Yours, &c.,
Major-General, Commanding.