[Jonathan Beacher’s notes: Sherman in his final report on the Atlanta campaign discusses Garrard being sent on July 22 to raid the railroad at Covington, leaving the army’s left unprotected on the day when by chance the Confederate forces had planned an attack. The resulting Battle of Atlanta cost the Federal’s heavily and resulted in the death of General McPherson, but at the end Sherman notes that Garrard was successful on his raid.]
Sherman’s report
Atlanta, Ga., September 15, 1864.
[excerpt from July 22nd]
In the mean time Wheeler’s cavalry, unopposed (for General Garrard was absent at Covington by my order), had reached Decatur and attempted to capture the wagon trains, but Colonel (now General) Sprague covered them with great skill and success, sending them to the rear of Generals Schofield and Thomas, and not drawing back from Decatur until every wagon was safe, except three, which the teamsters had left, carrying off the mules. On our extreme left the enemy had taken a complete battery of 6 guns with its horses(Murray’s) of the regular army as it was moving along unsupported and inapprehensive of danger in a narrow wooded road in that unguarded space between the head of General Dodge’s column and the line of battle on the ridge above, but most of the men escaped to the bushes; he also got 2 other guns on the extreme let flank that were left on the ground as General Giles A. Smith drew off his men in the manner heretofore described.
About 4 p. m. there was quite a lull, during which the enemy felt forward on the railroad and main Decatur road, and suddenly assailed a regiment which, with a section of guns, had been thrown forward as a kind of picket, and captured the 2 guns. He then advanced rapidly and broke through our lines at this point, which had been materially weakened by the withdrawal of Colonel Martin’s brigade sent by General Logan’s order to the extreme left. The other brigade, General Lightburn’s, which held this part of the line, fell back in some disorder about 4300 yards to a position held by it the night before, leaving the enemy for a time in possession of two batteries, one of which, a 20- pounder Parrott battery of four guns, was most valuable to us, and separating General Woods’ and General Harrow’s divisions, of the Fifteenth Corps, that were on the right and left of the railroad. Being in person close by the spot, and appreciating the vast importance of the connection at that point, I ordered certain batteries of General Schofield’s to be moved to a position somewhat commanding it by a left- flank, fire, and ordered an incessant fire of shells on the enemy within sight and the woods beyond to prevent his re- enforcing. I also sent orders to General Logan, which he had already anticipated, to make the Fifteenth Corps regain its lost ground at any cost, and instructed General Woods, supported by General Schofield, to use his division and sweep the parapet down from where he held it until he saved the batteries and regained the lost ground. The whole was executed in superb style, at times our men and the enemy fighting across the narrow parapet; but at last the enemy gave way, and the Fifteenth Corps regained its position a d all the guns, excepting the two advanced ones, which were out of view and had been removed by the enemy within his main works.
With this terminated the battle of the 22d, which cost us 3,722 killed, wounded, and prisoners. But among the dead was Major- General McPherson, whose body was recovered and brought to me in the heat of battle, and I had sent it in charge of his personal staff back to Marietta on its way to his Northern home. He was a noble youth, of striking personal appearance, of the highest professional capacity, and with a heart abounding in kindness that drew to him the affections of all men. His sudden death devolved the command of the Army of the Tennessee on the no less brave and gallant General Logan, who nobly sustained his reputation and that of his veteran army and avenged the death of his comrade and commander.
The next day General Garrard returned from Covington, having succeeded perfectly in his mission, and destroyed the bridge at Ulcofauhachee and Yellow Rivers, besides burning a train of cars, a large quantity of cotton (2,000 bales), and the depot of stores at Covington and Conyers Station, and bringing in 200 prisoners and some good horses, losing but two men, one of whom was killed by accident.
Major-General, Commanding.