Hood takes command in the West

As Davis received reports detailing Sherman's advance on Atlanta, he became convinced that Johnston's reluctance to attack the invading Northern army would eventually result in the loss of the city. Hood contributed to Davis's mounting anxiety by sending a series of letters that were highly critical of Johnston's defensive strategy. The Confederate president thus decided to replace Johnston with Hood, even though General Lee thought that appointing Hood was a bad idea. "Hood is a bold fighter," stated Lee. "I am doubtful as to [whether he possesses] other qualities necessary [to lead the army effectively]."

Hood assumed his new position as commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee on July 17, 1864. One day later he was made a full general with temporary rank. Hood understood that he had been promoted because of his aggressiveness and willingness to fight. With this in mind, he immediately made plans to attack Sherman's forces. He ignored the advice of many other officers, engaging Sherman's larger force in a series of battles around the outskirts of Atlanta. Delighted with the dramatic change in the South's strategy, Sherman battered Hood in each of these engagements.

By August, Hood's tired army was trapped in the city of Atlanta, and Sherman had seized control of most of the surrounding countryside. Rather than order a bloody assault on the city's defenses, though, Sherman placed the city under siege (a military blockade designed to prevent the city from receiving food and other supplies from outside). Hood's defense of Atlanta ended on September 1, when his forces lost control of the last railway lines providing supplies to Atlanta at the Battle of Jonesboro. Aware that he could no longer keep Atlanta out of Union hands, Hood hurriedly withdrew his army out of the city. Sherman's Army of the Mississippi moved in to take possession of the town one day later, on September 2.

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