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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

October 28, 1864

Detailed, Mistaken Report from Georgia Printed

The Richmond Times Dispatch printed the following, more detailed report on military actions in Georgia. But they were badly mistaken on where the “new field of operations” would be.

The position in Georgia–the New field of operations. The whereabouts of General Hood is as uncertain to the Confederates as it is to Sherman. It appears that Sherman has left seven thousand men in Atlanta, and that force is strong enough to forage on the surrounding country, with heavy guards to the wagon trains. A force of Confederates is on the suburbs of the city, and last week threw a number of shell into it, causing a good deal of drum-beating and bugle-sounding by the Yankees within. Our cavalry–one brigade, Armistead’s,–had a fight with a body of Sherman’s cavalry, near Rome, a few days ago, and lost three pieces of artillery, which they did not have time to run across the river.–Sherman was certainly at Rome on the 16th instant, which is as far as he can go without giving up railroad transportation. When he leaves there he must take to wagoning his provisions; and he has not the animals to do that with. Lieutenant-General Dick Taylor has assumed command of Lieutenant-General S. D. Lee’s corps, of Hood’s army, and General Lee goes to the Department of the Mississippi. The theatre of war in the Georgia Department is henceforth to be on new lines. Our move, already made, transfers it from about Atlanta to the country between Blue mountain and the Atlanta and Chattanooga railroad. Atlanta will never again be the scene of conflict. Over the mountain country of North Alabama, or upon another line further west, the war for the possession of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama will be fought out. It is of much interest, then, to know the localities, distances and topography of the region which is to become historical by this struggle. The distance from Atlanta to Rome is about sixty miles; to Dalton, one hundred; to Chattanooga, one hundred and forty. The distance from Blue mountain to Rome is fifty-three miles; to Kingston, seventy; to Dalton, seventy-five; to Chattanooga, one hundred; to Bridgeport, eighty-five; to Huntsville, ninety-five. The topography of the country is rugged and mountainous, with many streams and bad roads. This region contains four rivers - the Chattahoochee, the Etowah, the Costanula and the Tennessee. The first flows in seven miles of Atlanta, and thence to West Point. The two latter unite at Rome and make the Coosa, which flows southward to Montgomery. The Coosa is navigable for steamboats from Greensport to Rome. The Tennessee flows by Chattanooga and Bridgeport and near to Huntsville. It is necessary to understand the topography in order to know what can be done by our generals in future operations in that region. There are three lines by which we can assail the Yankees if they remain in Georgia, but the most practicable line is that by Blue mountain. It is far from the enemy’s lines, and is protected from assault by rivers and mountains. It is, therefore, secure and reliable. Still it has some disadvantages. Its terminus is too far from the enemy’s line to serve as a convenient base for us. The distance from Blue mountain to the Yankee line of communication in Georgia, the Chattanooga and Atlanta railroad, is about seventy miles. This is five days march, and is only practicable in tolerable weather and roads.–Our army cannot remain nearer the enemy’s line than Blue mountain. Our operations then, must, for the present, be limited to frequent raids upon his railroad. In five days, we can destroy it for thirty miles; and in five days, return. Thus, we can make the raid in fifteen days. We can do damage enough to employ the Yankees thirty days in rebuilding the road.–When nearly completed, we can make another raid, and destroy it again, repeating the operation as often as he rebuilds. He cannot keep an army in Atalanta, or near it under such conditions. How then is he to prevent our destruction of his road? He can do it only by attacking and destroying our army. He cannot defend the road between Kingston and Chattanooga without leaving Atlanta and putting his army between Kingston and Rome. This involves the abandonment of Atlanta. But this is not all. If he puts his army between Kingston and Chattanooga, we can then strike it in Wills’ Valley, near Bridgeport, and destroy it there. He cannot defend all points at once. Even on the road from Kingston to Chattanooga he cannot defend all points. If he divides his army between several points, thus divided it cannot resist. If he masses it at Kingston, we can strike the road near Dalton. If he masses his army at Dalton, we can strike the road near Kingston, and so on. Neither dispersion nor concentration will avail him. Our line is perpendicular to his, and opposite to the centre of his line from Bridgeport to Atlanta.–We can strike any part of his line for one hundred and seventy miles. There is but a small difference in the distance from our base to any part of his line. Our line being perpendicular to his, only one point of it, the terminus, is exposed, and our army covers that. He cannot reach it without encountering our army. If he had Blue mountain he could not hold it twenty days for want of supplies.