Thursday, August 25, 2016

First Battle of Dalton: Official Records, Volume 32 (various parts)

First Battle of Dalton, Late February 1864

Various Bits of Correspondence from O.R., Series 1, Volume 32 (Parts 1-3)

Chapter 44, "Demonstration on Dalton, Ga." 

About February 20, the Federals started down toward Dalton, Georgia, in force. There were three columns of Federal troops, moving from Ringgold, Georgia; Red Clay, Georgia; and Charleston, Tennessee. This was after the Chattanooga Campaign, around the beginning of The Atlanta Campaign (with some correspondence, just before the "official" beginning of the Atlanta Campaign).

This is a quick post of my file, without page links. Find links to O.R. volume at bottom of this post!

Correspondence about two weeks before the movement shows that Grant hoped to take Dalton:

[General Ulysses S. Grant to General George H. Thomas]: 
Should you not be required to go into East Tennessee, could you not make a formidable reconnaissance toward Dalton, and, if successful in driving the enemy out, occupy that place and complete the railroad up to it this winter?
O.R., Series 1,  Vol. 32, Pt. 2 (Corresp.), 373.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891.
Chapter 44, "Demonstration on Dalton, Ga."

[Next, on the same page, is this correspondence from Schofield, as to the possibility of pushing Longstreet out of East Tennessee. He advises waiting until spring.]

Knoxville, Feb. 12, 1864--1:30 p.m.
Major-General Thomas, Chattanooga:
   It is not practicable to move this army with artillery and wagon transportation before spring, and then the railroad will have to be relied on chiefly. The infantry might be supplied by a train of pack-mules from this place if forage for the mules can be brought here by rail until the railroad can be opened to any new position we may obtain.
   With 10,000 additional infantry I believe I would be strong enough without artillery to drive Longstreet out of East Tennessee. I can have the pack train here by the 1st of March. If you can give me 10,000 infantry, and supply me here with provisions and forage, I am willing to undertake the rest.
   My opinion is, however, that it would be wiser to wait until spring, but am willing to leave by the 1st of March, if time is deemed of sufficient importance.
   I have telegraphed substantially the above to Major-General Grant.
J. M. Schofield,
   Major-General, Commanding.

 [Thomas to Grant, Chattanooga, February 12, 1864]. 
"I think an advance on Dalton would be successful, if you will let me have the division of Logan during the movement." (pg. 373)
 [Grant to Thomas, Nashville, February 12, 1864--3.20 p.m.]:
 "Logan's troops started yesterday morning. If I decide not to make the move at present into East Tennessee, I will send them back, unless you require them to aid in advance on Dalton." (pg. 373)
Above is from: O.R., Series 1,  Vol. 32, Pt. 2 (Corresp.), 373.


On page 374, Schofield writes to Grant explaining what would be needed to move against Longstreet. Grant replies (Feb. 12):
"No movement will be made against Longstreet at present. Give your men and animals all the rest you can preparatory for early operations in the spring. Furlough all the veterans you deem it prudent to let go." (p.374)
  from: O.R., Series 1,  Vol. 32, Pt. 2 (Corresp.), 374.

After the fact, Sherman (and probably Grant, as well), hem-hawed around and rewrote the story to say, Well, shucks, it was just a little old demonstration, never meant to try to take Dalton; and besides (they say), it was Thomas's idea... ;-)


O.R., Series 1, Vol. 32, Pt. 1 (Reports).
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891.
Chapter 44, "Demonstration on Dalton, Ga."

(p.449, on 22 Feb. 1864):
Gen. Thos. says, "Cruft occupies Red Clay, and has pushed a reconn. twd. Varnell's Station.

(p.449, 23 Feb. 1864, Tunnel Hill, Ga.) Whipple reports to Thomas: "Reconn. to Tunnel Hill completed. Enemy retreating before our skirmishers. About 400 cavalry, no infantry; on battery of artillery. Main position of our force between Ringgold Gap and ridge 3 miles this side of Tunnel Hill.
   Loss 1 sgt, killed, & 4 or 5 wounded. "Rebel works and quarters at Tunnel Hill abandoned."

Chapter 44, "Demonstration on Dalton, Ga."

Col. Thomas E. Champion, 96th Illinois Infantry, cmdg. Second Brigade, writes from "In the Field, near Stone Church, February 27, 1864. Reports that on Mond. 22nd, he left camp @ Blue Springs, Tenn., & (w/3rd Brig.) went on reconn. to Red Clay. Stayed till 23rd. Marched to Tiger Creek, on the rd. to Catoosa Platform, arrived that night. On Wed. 24th: returned to Lee's house. Proceeded to Tunnel Hill on a reconn., returned to Lee's. ON THURS., LEFT CAMP, together w/Col. Dickerson's brigade, 15th Army Corps, 3 a.m., > Dalton. "Arriving within about 2 1/2 miles of Buzzard Roost Gap, we found the cavalry under Colonel Long skirmishing with the enemy in the direction of the gap." [I formed brigade into 2 lines, w/Grose's brig. on rt. & Dickerson's in rsv. Advanced, driving enemy 1 1/2 mi., dislodging him from a densely wooded ridge. (Problems/delays w/right forming--is 14th corps, so we halted on hill to avoid being flanked). Lay entire day, surrounded by heavy force. Lost 36. Took 10 pris. Enemy loss d.k. Thinks "greater than ours." Left 11 pm > Lee's, stayed till 26th. Proceeded to Tunnel Hill, remained till 9 pm, returned to Stone Church near Catoosa Platform.
Remained till 1 pm on 27th, then mched to Blue Springs @ 12m. [Thos. E. Champion, Col., cmdg Brigade] (pp. 430-431).
(p.450, on 23 Feb. 1864, Tunnel Hill, Ga.) Whipple informs Thos. that "Colonel Long reports on Spring Place road, 3 1/2 miles from Dalton; drove one infantry regiment out of their quarters; captured 12 prisoners. He thinks the enemy is leaving Dalton."(p.450) (3-1/2 has "1/2" as superscript, no space or hyphen)

(p.450, 24 Feb. 1864, Thomas to Palmer: "If you succeed in driving the enemy from Dalton, send back all the wagons you can spare at once..."

(p.450)[24 Feb. Whipple to Thos.]: "Some fighting this evening on the Cleveland road, where Grose is."

24 Feb. 1864

Long's cavalry, as an advance force, met rebels 3 1/2 miles W of Dalton (infantry & cavalry).  Wm. Grose, 36th Indiana Infantry, w/small force, was in support.

Long drove enemy cavalry 2 miles, then met (what citizens called) "Stewart's division of infantry in sight of and at the railroad." Grose advanced his infantry, checked & held back enemy at 1 mile from RR till night, then drew back to Widow Burke's Farm, 3 miles from the HQ of the Third Brigade, First Div., 4th Army Corps (loc. unstated), leaving Col. Long & 1 regt. of infantry "2 miles to our front." Don't believe it's a lg. force of rebels, "but too much for our small force." Double our force could have gained the RR & held it. "The enemy used no artillery. We fired 5 rounds. ... (p.431-432, from Col. Wm. Grose, 36th Indiana Infantry, cmdg. Third Brigade, to ___)

[In another report, Grose thinks they could have taken Dalton w/another 10,000 men on our left.](p.434)

"Many of the men were almost without shoes, and yet without a murmur of complaint they marched four nights and every day of the seven while on this trip." (O.H.P. Carey, Lt. Col., Comdg., Thirty-sixth Indiana Volunteers)(p.441, "Report of Lieut. Col. Oliver H. P. Carey, Thirty-sixth Indiana Infantry."
   --Blue Springs, March 1, 1864. (p.440-441)

D.W. Norton, Major & Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, wrote from Chattanooga, by order of Maj. Gen. J. M. Palmer, on 1 March 1864. He congratulated them on their offensive reconn twd. Tunnel Hill & Dalton, but complained that some stragglers and skirkers had caused some "wanton destruction of property" among peaceable citizens near the action.


(p.470, 23 Feb. 1864, "At Cross-Roads of Benton and Dalton Road and Varnell's Station and King's Lower Bridge Road, 6 Miles Southeast of Varnell's Station and 9-1/2 Miles from Dalton, February 23, 1864--1.25 p.m."

Long, at 11.30 this a.m., "attacked and drove out of their camp at least a regiment of rebel infantry, 3-1/2 miles this side of Dalton. They had winter quarters (log-huts), and as they were completely surprised they had not time to move any plunder out of their huts, and from their appearance and the small amount of plunder in them I believe they were preparing to leave. The cars were whistling furiously while the skirmish was going on. I have not force enough to cope single-handed with all of their cavalry, but I think you may advance with safety if you can still keep your supports, Palmer's troops, &c., within supporting distance. I believe they are leaving the place, and they should not be allowed to do "[so]" undisturbed. I shall be compelled to go somewhere to get some forage. Please let me hear.... I shall either wait here or move up on the road to Varnell's Station until I hear from you."
... Eli Long, Colonel, Commanding. (p.470)

"Hdqrs. Second Brigade, Second Cavalry Division,
Varnell's Station, February 24, 1864--8 a. m.
"Sir: I have just arrived here. Will push down the dirt road that runs alongside of the railroad as far toward Dalton as practicable. I believe there are some rebel cavalry on the main Cleveland and Dalton road. I will be compelled to go back to the Connesauga or somewhere else to-morrow unless I have better luck in foraging to-day than I did yesterday. Please to forward a copy of this to General Palmer. A brigade of infantry was encamped where we had the skirmish yesterday. I have met nothing this morning. Let me know your location by the bearer.
"Very respectfully....
"Eli Long, Colonel, Commmanding Brigade." [to Maj. W. H. Sinclair, Assistant Adjutant-General."] [They all seem to be reporting to Sinclair]

NEXT, p.471, he writes "On Road from Dalton to Varnell's Station, Just East of Tunnel Mountain, Feb. 24, 1864--2 p.m.
He has driven in w/1 squadr. of infantry pickets on the dirt and rail roads 3 miles from Dalton, & am now in line w/pickets skirm.g. in front. [Rebs have infantry on all roads]. I am now 5 miles from Dalton & [won't] go further until I hear further from you & result of your reconn." (Eli Long) He sends a company to remain on picket at Varnell's Stat. to watch the Cleveland and Dalton road that goes down on the other side of the RR.

He runs into lg. infantry cantoment 3 miles +/- from Dalton; runs out again. (Left Dalton).

(p.471) 25 Feb. (Ammo nearly exhausted): I have my command near a gap road wh. runs thru the ridge on your left, w/pickets down the RR some qtr. of a mile. "Nothing can come through the gap without my knowing, and I think this is the only road between here and Dalton through which a force can get on your flank or rear, and as my ammunition is nearly exhausted I will reman here until further orders.
"Eli Long, Colonel, Commanding Cavalry.
[to Gen. Cruft]

(p.471) 25 Feb. 1864--4.15 o'clock.

"General: The fire has just driven me out of the woods on the ridge that I was occupying. I still have a picket on the road in the gap, however. A few minutes since about 40 infantry skirmishers moved up on our right, advancing toward your lines. The rebel lines, I think, extend farther east than yours. At any rate, they came to the foot of the ridge I have been occupying, and I think there may be some danger of their lapping you on your left unless your lines extend completely across the valley in which your left rested this morning. Please let me know for my guidance where your left now is. Cannot your quartermaster send me some forage? Your commissary would not deliver me any rations on Captain Kniffin's order, which please find inclosed with note of commissary.
"Respe... Eli Long, Colonel, Comdg. Second Brig., Second Cav. Div.
"Brigadier-General Cruft,
   Commanding Division.
  "P.S.--The rebel cavalry pickets are in sight in our front. Please indorse Captain Kniffin's order, so that I can get the rations." "E.L."
----------[next, on p.472, is the report about having left Calhoun w/600 men...camped at Mr. Waterhouse, on Connesauga River, about 30 miles south of Calhoun. (Feb. 27, 1864, reporting from near Lee's House, Ga.)


Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 2 (Corresp., etc.), 729.


Full citation by Google:

Title: The War of the Rebellion: v.1-53 [serial no. 1-111] Formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the southern states, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, orders and returns relating specially thereto. 1880-1898. 111v.
Contributors: United States. War Records Office, United States. Record and Pension Office

Publ.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1891
Digitized: 6 Jul. 2011.

[From Cover Page]: 
Series 1, Vol. 32, Pt. 1--Reports."
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Links to Official Records, Volume 32
I don't have specific page links at moment, but here are links to the volume:

Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 1 (Reports).

Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 2 (Correspondence, etc.).

Official Records, Series 1, Volume 32, Part 3 (Correspondence, etc.).

Courtesy of Texas University

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