Hood assumes command in the West

Johnston's strategy of evasion frustrated Sherman, who knew that a big Union victory would help reassure unhappy Northerners that a Confederate collapse was near. But while Johnston's retreats enabled him to avoid a showdown, they also angered Confederate president Jefferson Davis (1808-1889). Davis had long disliked Johnston, and he believed that battlefield victories were the best way to increase Northern dissatisfaction with the war and improve Southern morale. President Davis thus decided to replace Johnston with Lieutenant General John B. Hood (1831-1879), a battle-hardened officer with a reputation as a bold and aggressive leader.

Hood took over on July 17 and immediately went on the offensive. In the last two weeks of July, he ordered three different assaults on Union forces threatening Atlanta. All three attacks failed though, and Hood suffered thousands of casualties in the process. By August, Hood's tired army was trapped in the city of Atlanta, and Sherman had gained control of most of the surrounding countryside. Unwilling to order a full-scale assault on the city's defenses, Sherman decided instead to try to bomb and starve the city into submission.

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