August 18th, 1864: Several days earlier, General Hood dispatched General Wheeler and his Confederate Cavalry to the north in an effort to disrupt Sherman’s supply lines coming from Chattanooga. Sherman, who has quickly become restless during the siege, has started planning the movement of his entire army to the the south of Atlanta to destroy the Confederate supply line coming up from Macon.
Sherman has also learned that Wheeler’s Cavalry has made it to Tennessee and is therefore to far to offer any support to Hood or oppose Kilpatrick and his Cavalry. Sherman decides to delay the movement of his army around Atlanta and instead he orders Kilpatrick to move on the railroad in Jonesboro with his three Brigades and two more attached to him from Garrard’s Cavalry.
On the night of the 18th, Kilpatrick and five Brigades of Federal Cavalry, begin their move towards Jonesboro. They leave from Sandtown and head towards Fairburn. They are opposed by only one Confederate Brigade. Ross’s Texas Brigade spends the night of the 18th harassing and slowing down the Federal Cavalry. These actions slow down the Federal Cavalry considerably and delay the raids time table.
Sherman has sent Kilpatrick’s Cavalry to the south of Atlanta on a reconnaissance mission. On the morning of the 16th, Kilpatrick reaches Fairburn, where he destroys three miles of railroad track and the depot. He has been operating without any real opposition from Jackson’s Cavalry. Sherman begins to think that Kilpatrick, along with a couple Brigades of Garrad’s Cavalry, could swing far south of Atlanta and destroy the railroad without needing to move the entire army. Sherman ask Kilpatrick if he thinks it is possible, to which he replies that it would be possible to damage the tracks bad enough to be out of service and not put his command in any danger.