Over the last several days and continuing into the next several days, General Sherman is resting his troops and changing their positions in preparation for an assault on Atlanta. He is trying to deceive General Johnston into believing the attack will come from the west. To do this, he has sent Stoneman’s Cavalry on a raid towards Newnan to destroy the Railroad that connects Atlanta with Alabama. Stoneman’s Cavalry cross the Chattahoochee near Campbelton and skirmish with Confederates along the way. They are unsuccessful and fall back to Villa Rica before returning to the Federal lines along the Chattahoochee. During this time, Sherman is shifting several Corps from his right flank to the left flank at the river crossing in Roswell. The Federal soldiers crossing at Roswell will be shifted to the east of Atlanta. While both armies rest from the rigors of the campaign, there is a great deal of fraternization between the soldiers stationed along the Chattahoochee. There are many documented accounts of trading, usually the Confederates trading tobacco for coffee, as well as other goods and small items. There are accounts of Regimental bands on both sides having competitions and serenading the troops on the opposite side of the river. For some soldiers, this is the first time the have been able to have a bath in weeks. Even General Sherman himself, takes a bath in the river.
For General Johnston, this is a time of uncertainty, President Davis has sent Braxton Bragg, former Commander of The Army of Tennessee, to ascertain the tactical situation in Atlanta and to find out what Johnston plans to do. Davis is considering replacing Johnston and is relying on advice from Bragg as to who the replacement of Johnston should be. This decision would have great bearing on the outcome of the campaign. They met at Johnston’s Headquarters which was established at the Dexter Niles house along the Atlanta road between the Chattahoochee river and the city.
After the first Federal crossing of the Chattahoochee at Sope Creek on the afternoon of the 8th, Garrard’s Cavalry crosses at Roswell. At dawn on the 9th, a Federal Battery provides covering fire as several companies of dismounted cavalry begin wading across the Chattahoochee at what is called the “Shallow Ford”. It was the ford used by the Hightower Trail which was a prehistoric trading route. They engage a small Confederate force across the river. The Confederates are out numbered and out gunned and they quickly retreat and some surrender. The Federals are armed with Spencer repeating rifles and are able to move and shoot quickly without stopping while they cross the river. The battery that is providing cover fire is the Chicago Board of Trade Battery. When Sherman learns of Garrard’s crossing of the river, he immediately dispatches Newton’s Division from its camp near Rottenwood Creek, to Roswell “double time”, to reenforce Garrard. He also sends Dodge’s Corps to reenforce Garrard and establish a strong bridgehead for subsequent crossings. A detachment of General McCook’s Cavalry, the 1st Tennesse Regiment (US), under the command of Colonel Brownlow, dismounted and crossed the river enforce wearing only their hats and carrying their rifle and cartridge box.
After receiving information about these crossings and size of the forces at each crossing, General Johnston orders the fall back from the River Line. The Confederate army begins to retreat from the River Line at dusk and in the early morning hours of the 10th, they are across the river and begin to burn the Railroad bridge and the wagon bridge next to it. They also take up their pontoon bridges and at Pace’s Ferry they cut the pontoon bridge loose hoping it will swing across the river or down stream where they can recover it. It becomes stuck and is recovered by the Federals, but not put into use.
General Johnston establishes his Headquarters 3 miles from Atlanta, at the abandoned Dexter Niles house. He orders that the river crossings at Pace’s Ferry and Turner’s Ferry, be heavily guarded.
Rottenwood Creek: When General Sherman learned of Garrard’s crossing at Roswell he dispatched Newton’s Division double time to Roswell to reinforce Garrard. Newton’s Division was camped near the area of present day Cumberland Blvd, I-75 and I 285. They crossed Rottenwood Creek on a wooden bridge just above this small cascade.
General Johnston’s Army of Tennessee now occupies the River Line and they have the Chattahoochee River to their back and the Federals to their front. General Sherman is looking for another route across the river that would allow him to turn Johnston’s Flank and force him from the River Line. The images below are from the southern half of the river line.
In the early morning hours, General Johnston and the Army of Tennessee, retreat from the Smyrna Line and fell back to the last line of previously prepared fortifications before the Chattahoochee River. Known as the River Line, it was conceived and constructed by Brigadier General Francis Asbury Shoup, Chief of Artillery for the Army of Tennessee. The River Line had a new style of fortification in the line, they were called a Shoupade. They were diamond shaped forts built with two of the angles sticking out ahead of the line. The Shoupades were placed anywhere from 60 to 175 yards apart depending on the terrain and were connected by earthworks that intersected the Shoupade roughly in the center. The angled section in front of the line from two adjoining Shoupades, allowed for a crossfire on an advancing enemy. Each Shoupade could hold 80 soldiers shoulder to shoulder. They were also constructed to withstand an extended artillery barrage. The Confederates occupied this line until the night of July the 9th, when the retreated across the river.
These images are from the northern half of the river line. Tomorrow I will post images from the southern half of the river line.