Battle of Atlanta.
In the Civil War the main National and Confederate armies remained quiet in
their camps after their arrival at the Chattahoochee until the middle of
July, 1864. Sherman was 8 miles from the city. On the 17th he resumed
offensive and active operations, by throwing Thomas's army across the
Chattahoochee, close to Schofield's right, with directions to move forward.
McPherson moved against the railway east of Decatur, and destroyed (July 18,
1864) 4 miles of the track. Schofield seized Decatur. At the same time
Thomas crossed Peachtree Creek, on the 19th, in the face of the Confederate intrenchments, skirmishing heavily at every step. At this juncture,
Rousseau, who had swept through Alabama and northern Georgia, joined Sherman
with 2,000 cavalry.
Battle of Atlanta Battle Map
On the 20th the National armies had all closed in, converging towards
Atlanta, and at 4 P.m. the Confederates, under
John Bell Hood, made a sortie, and struck Hooker's corps with great
strength. The Confederates were repulsed and driven back to their
intrenchments. The entire National loss in this conflict was 1,500 men:
Sherman estimated that of the Confederates at not less than 5,000 men.
Hood left on the field 500 dead, 1,000
severely wounded, and many prisoners. On the morning of the 21st the
Confederates had abandoned their position on the south side of Peachtree
Creek, and Sherman believed they were evacuating Atlanta. He pressed on
towards the town in a narrow semicircle, when, at the average distance of 2
miles from it, the Nationals were confronted by an inner line of
intrenchments much stronger than the one just abandoned. Behind these
swarmed a Confederate host. On the 22nd, McPherson moved from Decatur to
assail this strong line: Logan's corps formed his center, Dodge's his right,
and Blair's his left. The latter had driven the Confederates from a
commanding eminence the evening before, and the Nationals proceeded to plant
a battery upon it.
Hood had left a sufficient number of troops
in front of Sherman to hold them, and, by a night march to the flank and
rear of the Nationals, struck them a severe and unexpected blow. It fell
with heaviest force on the division of Gen. G. A. Smith, of Blair's corps.
McPherson had ridden from Sherman to Dodge's moving column, and had entered
a wood almost alone, for observation, in the rear of Smith's column. At that
moment Hardee charged upon the Nationals, and his men were pouring into a
gap between Blair and Dodge. McPherson had just given an order from his
place in the wood for a brigade to fill that gap, when the bullet of a
sharpshooter killed him. His body was recovered during the heat of the
battle that ensued. Logan immediately took command of the Army of the
Tennessee. At that moment the battle was general all along the line, and
raged fiercely for several hours. At 4 P.M. there was a brief lull in the
contest. Then a charge of the Confederates broke Logan's line, pushed back a
brigade in much disorder, and took possession of two important batteries.
Sherman ordered up reinforcements, and Logan soon recovered the ground lost.
Very soon the Confederates gave way and fell back to their defenses.
The losses on both sides were heavy. That of the Nationals was 3,722, of
whom about 1,000 were prisoners.
Generals Thomas and Schofield having well
closed up, Hood was firmly held behind his
inner line of intrenchments. Sherman concluded to make a flank movement, and
sent Stoneman with about 5,000 cavalry, and
McCook with another mounted
force, including Rousseau's cavalry, to destroy the railways in Hood's rear.
McCook performed his part well, but
Stoneman, departing from Sherman's
instructions, did not accomplish much. Simultaneously with these raids,
Slocum began (July 27, 1864) a flanking movement from Atlanta.
Hood had penetrated Sherman's design, knew
of changes in his army, and acted promptly. Under cover of an artillery
fire, he moved out with the larger part of his army (July 28, 1864), with
the expectation of finding Howard's forces in confusion. He was mistaken,
and disastrous consequences followed. He threw heavy masses of his troops
upon Logan's corps on
Howard's right, and was met by a fire that made
fearful havoc in their ranks. They recoiled, but returned to the attack
again and again. The battle raged fearfully from noon until about 4 P.M.,
when the Confederates retired to their intrenchments, leaving several
hundred of their dead on the field. Hood's
entire loss in this struggle was about 5,000 men; that of the Nationals did
not exceed 600. Logan captured 2,000
muskets, and took 233 prisoners.
Sherman extended his right along an entrenched line to the junction of two
railways at East Point, over which came the supplies for Atlanta and Hood's
army: and the latter, extending a parallel line of works, stood on the
defensive. Sherman's longrange guns kindled destructive fires in Atlanta. At
length Hood, who had lost half his infantry
in rash encounters, in sheer desperation sent out Wheeler with his cavalry
to break up Sherman's communications and capture supplies. Kilpatrick made a
On the 25th all of Sherman's munitions of war, supplies, and sick and
wounded men were sent to his entrenched position on the Chattahoochee, the
siege of Atlanta was raised, and the Nationals began a grand flanking
movement, which events had delayed, and which finally caused
Hood to abandon the coveted post, cross the
Chattahoochee, and make a formidable raid upon Sherman's communications. The
Nationals entered Atlanta as victors on Sept. 2, 1864, and the national flag
was unfurled over the courthouse. Two days afterwards, Sherman issued an
order for the inhabitants to leave the town within five days, that the place
might be appropriated to military purposes. He deemed the measure humane,
under the circumstances, for he expected the Confederates to attack him
there. To a remonstrance by Hood, he
replied. "God will judge me in good time, and He will pronounce whether it
be more humane to fight with a town full of women and the families of a
brave people at our backs, or to remove them in time to places of safety
among their own friends." In a few days Atlanta was thoroughly evacuated by