HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF THE MISS., In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., July 25, Numbers 42.
I. The several armies and bodies of cavalry will watch the enemy closely to their respective fronts, and in case the enemy retreats toward the southeast General Schofield will follow directly through Atlanta, General Thomas by roads on his right, and General Logan on his left. Generals Stoneman’s and Garrard’s cavalry will move by a circle to the left toward McDonough, break the railroad, and strike the enemy in front or flank, and General McCook’s and Colonel Harrison’s cavalry will move on Fayetteville and the railroad beyond, breaking it if possible, in advance of the enemy, and striking the enemy in flank.
II. Should the enemy remain as now, on the defensive, inside of the fortifications of Atlanta, the Macon road must be attacked by cavalry beyond Fayetteville and McDonough, and the infantry must cover the line from the Howard house, General Schofield’s present center, to General Davis’ position on the right, and the line extended east and south so as to reach or threaten the railroad toward East Point. To this end Generals Stoneman and Garrard will call in all detachments and sent to-morrow to Roswell or in rear of the infantry all crippled stock and incumbrances, prepared to move at daylight the next morning by a circuit to the left, so as to reach the railroad below McDonough. General Stoneman will command this cavalry force, but will spare General Garrard’s fatigued horses as much as possible, using that command as reserve, and his own as the force with which to reach and break the railroad. In like manner General McCook will command the joint cavalry command, his own, and of Colonel Harrison’s, but will use Colonel Harrison’s fatigued command as a reserve, and his own to reach the road and break it. The railroad when reached must be substantially destroyed for a space of from two to five miles, telegraph wires pulled down as far as possible and hid in water or carried away.
III. Major-General Schofield will prepare to draw back his left division to the old rebel line, extending back from the Howard house toward the road by which General Stanley advanced, and be prepared on the withdrawal of the Army of the Tennessee to hold that line as the left flank of the grand army.
IV. Major-General Logan will to-morrow send all his trains, and sick, and impediments to the rear of General Thomas to any point near the mouth of Peach Tree Creek, and during the early morning by moonlight of the next day, viz, Wednesday, July 27, withdraw his army, corps by corps, and moved it to the right, forming on General Palmer, and advancing the right as much as possible.
V. Major-General Thomas having strongly fortified his front will hold it by an adequate force, and hold the reserves at points most convenient to move to the right, from which point he will strike and destroy the railroad, or so occupy the attention of the enemy that the cavalry may do its work completely and effectually.
VI. The cavalry will, unless otherwise orders, move out at daylight of Wednesday, 27th instant, and aim to reach and break the railroad during the day or night of the 28th, and having accomplished this work will return to their proper flanks of the army, unless the enemy should be discovered in retreat, when each force described will hang on the flanks of the retreating enemy and obstruct his retreat by all the energy in their power.
II. All commanders will arrange that their trains be moved behind the Chattahoochee, or behind the center of the army during the time the cavalry is absent in the execution of this duty.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman: