Battles for Atlanta july 20281864

On July 17, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, displeased with Johnston's failure to stop Sherman's advance and doubting that he would make a determined effort to defend Atlanta, removed Johnston from command and replaced him with John B. Hood, who had a well-deserved reputation as a bold, aggressive fighter. Davis believed that the loss of Atlanta would be a devastating blow to the Confederacy, whereas if it could be held as Lee was holding Richmond the war-weary North would abandon its effort to force the South back into the Union.

On July 18-19, having crossed the Chatta -hoochee with his entire army, Sherman moved on Atlanta in two columns, with one (McPherson and Schofield) approaching it from the east and the other (Thomas) from the north. Hoping to exploit this division in the enemy forces, Hood on July 20, attacked Thomas at Peach Tree Creek with the corps of Hardee and Lieutenant General A.P Stewart, now commanding in the place of Polk, killed on June 12. Although he caught the Union troops by surprise and for the most part unentrenched, Hood was repulsed with 2,500 casualties while inflicting 1,700.

Nothing daunted, Hood next sought to smash Sherman's other wing east of Atlanta by sending Hardee's corps, on the night of July 21, around the left flank of Mcpherson's Army of the Tennessee with the intent of striking it from the rear. This maneuver took Sherman unawares and only the fortuitous presence of the XVI Corps on the otherwise exposed Union left flank prevented a Federal disaster. As it was, McPherson was killed, the Army of Tennessee's left was bent back, and its center temporarily pene-

The Confederate assault at Teach Tree Creek was nullified by two factors: the delay in launching the assault which enabled the majority of the troops to cross the creek, and the unexpectedly rapid advance of McPherson from the east which necessitated Hardee's withdrawal (see detail of map right).

(jj July 20: Hardee's and Stewart's corps attack Thomas and are repulsed with heavy losses in Battle of Peach Tree Creek

(~2) July 20:"Mcfher.$on moves to within artillery range of A'tlan.ta, his advance slowed by Wheeler's cava%

• July 20: Cheatham's (formerly Hood's} ^^^ corps conducts delaying action' against , advance of Schofield and two divisions of IV Corps 1 - - if__

(Js July 21: Leggeifs division,\XVII Corps, capturesBaldHill/ '

JulylliiHafdee's corps" and Wheeler's ^^^ cavalry swing aipujid Union left flank, Cheatham's corps'deploys east of Atlanta, and Stewart's-iorps withdraws to fortifications on/Atlanta's north side f£S July 22, earfyafternoon: Hardee's corps attacks.Union left,flank; Bate's and Walker's divisions ¿re repulsed by the XVI Corps bur Cleburne's arid Maney's divisions force back the lefr of the XVII Corps

July 22, early afternoon: McPherson killed by Confederates advancing through gap in Union line; iMajor General John A. Logan is appointed acting commander of the Army of the Tennessee jO\ July 22, late afternoon: Brown's division of ' Cheatham's corps penetrates center of XV Corps via a poorly defended railroad cut but is driven back by Union counterattack

July 22, evening: Hardee makes a final attempt to drive XVII Corps from its position on Union left, but his attack fails

A contemporary woodcut of the attack on Ezra Church (below). Gen. Howard's defense of the Federal position did much to redeem his reputation which had been tarnished by the unpreparedness of his division at Chancellorsville in 1863.

(jj July 20: Hardee's and Stewart's corps attack Thomas and are repulsed with heavy losses in Battle of Peach Tree Creek

A contemporary woodcut of the attack on Ezra Church (below). Gen. Howard's defense of the Federal position did much to redeem his reputation which had been tarnished by the unpreparedness of his division at Chancellorsville in 1863.

(To) Ju]y " 28: Sherman sends Howard, now commanding the Army of the Tennessee, swinging west of Atlanta in an attempt to cut the railroad south of the city

(jj) July 27 - 28: Hood sends S.D. Lee's corps (formerly Cheatham's) and Stewart's corps to block Howard's movement, then to strike Howard's right flank and rear on July 29

(Y2) July 28: Disregarding Hood's orders, Lee and Stewart attack Howard frontally at Ezra Church; Confederates repulsed with heavy losses

Hood's plan at Ezra Church was té"surprise the Army' of the Tennessee as it moved west to cut the Macon & Western Railroad. Anticipating Hood's strategy Howard had ordered the construction of makeshift breastworks at Ezra Church from behind which Federal troops were able to repel the repeated and costly Confederate assaults (see detail of map above).

tratedUby a frontal attack by Major General B.F. Cheatham's corps (formerly Hood's). Confederate losses at Bald Hill totaled about .5,500, Federal about 3,750.

Hood's final July attempt to defeat Sherman occurred on July 28 when he sent the' corps of Lieutenant General S.D. Lee (formerly Cheatham's) and Stewart to strike the Army of the Tennessee, now headed by Major General O.O. Howard, in the flank and rear as it moved southward west of Atlanta. Instead, owing to Lee's impulsiveness, these corps attacked Howard frontally at Ezra Church, losing nearly 3,000 men while inflicting a mere 632 casualties.

Hood's attacks were well-conceived but lacked sufficient strength and skill in execution to succeed. Even so he held Sherman at bay at Atlanta, and at the end of July hi$ cavalry routed two Union mounted divisions that raided the Macon & Western Railroad and attempted to free Federal prisoners at Macon and Andersonville.

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