Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 1864: The First Battle of Dalton begins

Major General George H. Thomas, U.S. Army
On this day 150 years ago, fighting broke out near Dalton, Georgia as forces from the Union Army commanded by Major General George H. Thomas probed the Confederate defenses of General Joseph Johnston's Army of Tennessee. "Battle" is a very strong for what was really a series of small skirmishes over a number of days. In this exchange of telegrams, Thomas updates U.S. Grant on the progress of the Union advance.
CHATTANOOGA, February 24, 1864-4 a.m.

Major General U. S. GRANT:

Reports from the front just received. Our skirmishers engaged the enemy for some 4 miles, and drove them through Tunnel Hill on double-quick. A mile beyond town they formed, and brought up a battery of artillery. Colonel Long went within 3 1/2 miles of Dalton, and drove a regiment of infantry out of winter quarters. Our main force encamped within 3 miles of Tunnel Hill last night, and will be on the road to Dalton to-morrow night.

GEO. H. THOMAS,

Major-General.

NASHVILLE, February 24, 1864-10.30 a.m.

Major General G. H. THOMAS:

Your dispatch received. Push the enemy as far as possible. If unable to carry Dalton, keep, at any rate, a heavy force threatening it so, as to hold all the enemy there. Sherman's safety may be dependent upon your efforts. Should you drive the enemy out of Dalton, follow him as far as possible. If you have sufficiently recovered your health, I would like to have you go out to the front in person, if only to see the situation of affairs and return.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

CHATTANOOGA, February 24, 1864-9 p.m.

Major General U. S. GRANT,

Dispatch from Tunnel Hill, 4 p.m., says we have just gained possession of Tunnel Hill pass; small loss. Dispatch from Colonel McCook of Elliott's cavalry, reports having captured near Murphy, N. C., 5 commissioned officers, 65 men, and burned five wagons. Fifteen of Thomas' North Carolina Indians came in and surrendered themselves to Colonel McCook on the 22nd. Your dispatch of 10.30 a.m. was not received until 5.30 p.m. I have ordered the enemy to be pushed as you directed, and shall start for the front in the morning.

GEO. H. THOMAS.

General.

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