[Jonathan Beacher’s notes: In Confederate Major-General Joseph Wheeler’s report on the Atlanta campaign of October 9, 1864, Wheeler describes why his cavalry did not pursue Garrard’s July 22nd raid on the railroad in Covington, as it would disrupt the Confederate plans to attack near Decatur the Federal left which ultimately led to the death of General McPherson on July 22nd.]
Wheeler reports:
On the night of the 21st, pursuant to orders from General Hood, I moved around to the enemy’s rear to attack him in conjunction with Lieutenant-General Hardee, who also moved upon their flank for the same purpose. My orders from General Hardee were to attack Decatur at 1 p. m., which was the enemy’s extreme left, and, owing to the curvature of his line, was far in his rear. General Hardee supposed the place to be occupied only by cavalry, but on reconnoitering the position in person about 12 o’clock I found that a division of infantry, strongly intrenched, occupied the town. Having communicated this fact to General Hardee, I dismounted my command and moved upon the enemy at the appointed hour. Just as I was moving my line the enemy commenced to throw out two regiments of infantry to meet my approach. These were overthrown, a number of prisoners captured, and the remainder driven in confusion into the enemy’s works, from which we received a most galling fire from both infantry and artillery. Seeing the strength of the position in front, I threw a force upon his right flank and rear and formed my main line so as to bear obliquely upon the enemy’s right with the right of my line covering and engaging the enemy’s front. From these positions simultaneous charges were made upon the enemy, the troops bearing upon the enemy’s right being somewhat the most advanced. At first the galling fire made the most exposed portion of my line waver, but, quickly rallying, the onset as renewed, and with a triumphant shout the entire line of works was carried. Some 225 prisoners, a large number of small-arms, 1 12-pounder gun, 1 forge, 1 battery wagon, 1 caisson, and 6 wagons and teams, together with the captain of the battery and most of his men, were captured and brought off. We also captured his camp equipage, stores, and hospitals. Just as I was pursuing the enemy beyond the town three of General Hardee’s staff officers came to me in rapid succession, directing that I should re-enforce General Hardee as quickly as possible. The pursuit was stopped and all my available troops moved at a gallop to General Hardee’s position. The forces under my command fought warmly until the pressure upon him had ceased, and night coming on we 3480u for the night. Just before the troops were formed for the attack I reported to General Hardee that a large raiding force of the enemy had moved toward Covington, but he directed that it should not be followed, as he thought the attack about to be made would cause the raiders to return.
The following day at 12 m. I was relieved from my position with a portion of my troops and ordered to pursue the enemy. My troops were in motion in ten minutes after I received the order, and by midnight I had traveled forty miles, only to find that the enemy’s cavalry had returned to his main army before I had received orders to pursue.