Ringgold, Ga., May 5, 1864.
Major-General McPHERSON,
Commanding Army of the Tennessee:
SIR: The enemy still lies about Dalton, and from all appearances is on the defensive, guarding approaches mostly from the north and west. He occupies in some force the range of hills known as the Tunnel Hill. By to-morrow night our forces will be about as follows: Schofield at Red Clay; Thomas at Ringgold – his left, Catoosa Springs, center at Ringgold, and right (Hooker) near Wood’s Station; and you at Gordon’s Mills. If you are all ready I propose on Saturday morning to move against the enemy – Thomas directly on Tunnel Hill; Schofield to Varnell’s and the gap between it and Catoosa Springs, feeling toward Thomas; Hooker will move through Nickajack Gap on Trickum and threaten the road which runs from Buzzard Roost to Snake [Creek] Gap. As these are in progress I want you to move, via Rock Spring, Tavern Road, to the head of Middle Chickamauga; then to Villanow; then to Snake [Creek] Gap, secure it and from it make a bold attack on the enemy’s flank or his railroad at any point between Tilton and Resaca. I am in hopes that Garrard’s cavalry will be at Villanow as soon as you, for, you know, I have sent General Corse to meet him at Shellmound and conduct him across the mountain to La Fayette and to you. But, in any event, his movement will cover your right rear and enable you to leave all incumbrances either at Ship’s Gap or Villanow, as you deem best. I hope the enemy will fight at Dalton, in which case he can have no force there that can interfere with you. But, should his policy be to fall back along his railroad, you will hit him in flank. Do not fail in that event to make the most of the opportunity by the most vigorous attack possible, as it may save us what we have most reason to apprehend – a slow pursuit, in which he gains strength as we lose it. In either event you may be sure the forces north of you will prevent his turning on you alone. In the event of hearing the sound of heavy battle about Dalton, the greater necessity for your rapid movement on the railroad. It once broken to an extent that would take them days to repair, you can withdraw to Snake [Creek] Gap and come to us or await the development according to your judgment or information you may receive. I want to put this plan in operation, beginning with Saturday morning if possible. The sooner the better for us.
I am, with great respect,
Major-General, Commanding.