The Battle of Atlanta

July 22, 1864

After an arduous night march of 16 miles, Hardee’s Corps was getting into position on the Federal left flank.  The attack that was supposed to begin at dawn, but was delayed due to the distance of the night march and then further delayed when Walker’s and Bate’s Divisions had to work around the swampy terrain at Terry’s Mill Pond.  Just after 12:00pm, Hardee ordered Walker and Bate to attack the Federal left flank.  Bate’s Division was on the Confederate right, east of Sugar Creek and Walker’s Division was on the west side of Sugar Creek.  As Walker’s Division made their way past the mill pond, Walker moved to the front of his lines to see what lay ahead of his column.  As he raised his field glasses, a round from a Federal sharpshooter killed him instantly.  After the disarray and confusion that followed, Brig. Gen. H. W. Mercer assumed command of the Division and carried out the attack.  Walker fell near the intersection of Glenwood Ave. and Wilkinson Dr.  A monument dedicated to his memory stands there today.

The Federals that Walker and Bate were attacking were elements of the 2nd and 4th Divisions of Dodge’s XVI Corps.  They were entrenched in the area of Memorial Drive and Clay Street.  With part of the line extending into what is now Alonzo Crim High School.  This was a tactically advantageous position on high ground overlooking Sugar Creek valley.  They were also supported by several artillery batteries.

Cleburne’s and Maney’s Divisions had moved up Flat Shoals Road and were heading toward the left flank of the Federals that were entrenched along Flat Shoals in the area between Glenwood and the intersection of I-20 and Moreland (Bald Hill, aka Leggett’s Hill).  They attacked the left flank of Blair’s XVII Corps that was held by Smith’s 4th Division.  Cleburne’s attack was fast and furious.  His troops drove the Federals back to the north to Bald Hill and in the process they captured eight cannons and the entire 16th Iowa Infantry Regiment.

During this time, General McPherson was riding toward Dodge’s Corps to asses the situation and was traveling on a ridge line (McPherson Ave.) trying to find a way to close the gap between Logan and Blair.  The Confederates were flooding into the gap in McPherson’s lines, and as McPherson searched for a way to close the gap, he was shot and killed by the attacking Confederates.  One of McPherson’s aides was with him, and when the shots rang out, his horse took off and slammed into a tree, thus breaking his watch at 2:02pm, the time of McPherson’s death.

Late in the afternoon, Hood, who was observing the battle from a house adjacent to what is now Oakland Cemetery, ordered his former Corps, now commanded by Cheatham, to attack the Federal front.  Cheatham’s Corps left their works and moved east toward the Federal line.  The right of Cheatham’s Corps was attacking Bald Hill from the west and Maney’s Division of Hardee’s Corps was attacking from the south west.  Even with their combined effort, they were unable to push the Federals off of Bald Hill.  On Cheatham’s left, Clayton and Brown’s divisions were more successful.  Manigault’s Brigade of Brown’s Division, used the cover of a deep railroad cut in the area of the current Inman Park Marta Station and the CSX railroad.  They came under artillery fire, but were able to out flank the battery and capture the guns.  This action broke the Federal line and Manigault wheeled to the left and began to “roll up” the Federal line.  He captured 8 cannons in the process, four of which were 20 pounder Parrott rifles.  Stovall’s Brigade, which was aligned to the left of Manigault, was attacking the Degress Battery (located off of Battery Place) from the front when Manigault hit the flank.  As the line broke, soldiers from both Brigades stormed the works and captured the battery.  The 42nd Ga. Volunteers, who were part of Stovall’s Brigade, took part in this assault.

General Sherman, who was observing the battle from the Augustus Hurt house at the present day Carter Library, witnessed the Confederate assault that broke part of the lines of Logan’s XV Corps.  He personally directed artillery fire from five concentrated batteries, toward the attacking Confederates.  He had the artillery rounds falling to their front to prevent them from moving forward and attacking, as well as toward their rear to prevent reinforcements from supporting the assault.  This artillery fire and a Federal counter attack of eight Brigades, pushed the Confederates back to their works and restored the Federal line.

Hood had also dispatched General Wheeler and his Cavalry to Decatur to attack McPherson’s wagon train.  Wheeler found several regiments of Federal infantry posted south of Decatur.  At 1:00pm, Wheeler dismounted two of his divisions and assaulted the Federals.  He pushed them north across what is now Agnes Scott College and then across the railroad tracks to the Decatur Square.  The wagon train was detoured from Decatur after Wheeler started his assault.  Wheeler pushed the Federals through the square and through the old city cemetery.  The Federals then formed a new line along what is now North Decatur Road.  Before Wheeler could attack the new Federal line, he was recalled back to Atlanta to support the attack on Bald Hill.

The battle was over by the time darkness had fallen, the Confederates had returned to their works and had suffered nearly twice the number of casualties as the Federals.  The Federals reformed their lines and will shortly begin the “Siege of Atlanta”.

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After receiving the order from General Hardee (CS) to attack, General W. Walker commanding his division of Hardee’s Corps rode to the front of his lines to observe the terrain and deploy his troops in Sugar Creek Valley.  He was shot off his horse and killed by a Federal picket.  General Mercer assumed command and continued the attack.
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Sugar Creek Valley:  Bate’s Division of Hardee’s Corps(CS) was deployed on this, the eastern side of Sugar Creek and Walker’s Division, now commanded by Mercer, was deployed to the western side of the creek.  They advanced up the low valley to assault the federal lines along present day Memorial Drive and Clay Street.  The Dekalb Memorial Park now occupies what is left of Sugar Creek Valley.
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Alanzo A. Crim High School now occupies the spot where the Blodgett’s Missouri Battery H was positioned in the Federal lines that were occupied by Federal troops from Rice’s and Mersey’s Brigades of Sweeny’s Division(US).  Rice’s Brigade was facing east and engaged with Bate’s Division as they moved up the east side of Sugar Creek and Mersey’s Brigade was facing south and bearing the brunt of the assault from Walkers Division(commanded by Mercer).
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The Federal lines of Rice’s Brigade were positioned on this high ground here at Memorial Drive near Clay street.  They were facing east, toward the camera position, and were engaged with Bate’s Division (CS)
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While Bate’s and Walker’s Division’s constituted the right flank of Hardee’s assault on the Federal lines, Maney’s and Cleburne’s Divisions were the left flank.  Maney’s Brigades advanced on the Federal lines and moved through what is now Brownwood Park, to assault the Federals on the high ground just north of Flat Shoals Rd.
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Cleburne’s Division was advancing on the west side of Flat Shoals Rd, to the right of Maney’s Division, when they encountered the far left of the Federal flank.  Cleburne’s men were able to turn the Federal left, General Smith Division, and then were able to assault the rear of the Federal lines to their west.  In the process of that assault, Cleburne’s troops were able to capture eight artillery pieces that belonged to the 2nd Illinois and 2nd U.S. Artillery.
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With an attack on two sides, General Smith(US), fell back with his Division under heavy fire.  They made a retrograde movement to form a line on the east flank of Bald Hill, also called Leggett’s Hill.  Leggett’s hill once occupied the intersection of I-20 and Moreland Ave.  The fighting here was fierce, with the Leggett’s Division and what was left of Smith Division, taking fire on their position from their front, their left flank, and their rear.
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In the late morning, just before the noon start to the Confederate attack, General McPherson, along with Generals Logan and Blair, as well as their staff officer, stopped for lunch.  They stopped in a grove of oak trees on the south side of the rail road near the location of Whitfoord Ave and La France.  After finishing their meal and sending a dispatch to General Dodge to destroy the rail road, the generals heard the first shots of the Confederate assault.  Logan and Blair rode off to command their respective corps and McPherson and his staff road towards the sound of the gun fight.  While moving along what is now McPherson Ave., General McPherson was shot and killed by Confederates of Cleburne’s Division as they exploited a gap in the Federal lines.  This image is of reenactors at a memorial service on the 150th anniversary of the Generals death.
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Several hours after the main Confederate assault by Hardee’s Corps(CS), General Hood(CS), threw Cheatham’s Corps into the attack and thus extended the Confederate line of attack further north and across the railroad.  Here in this images is Edgewood Ave. Clayton’s Brigade of Cheatham’s Corps(CS) moved east through here to attack the Federal positions at the Troup Hurt House. 
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Dekalb Ave. at the Inman Park Marta Station.  Here, Manigault’s and Sharp’s Brigades of Brown’s Division Cheatham’s Corps (CS) moved east on the north side of the rail road tracks to assault the Federal lines.  Sharp’s Brigade was able to exploit the cover provided by the deep railroad, where the Marta station now sits, and push through the small gap in the Federal lines where he wheeled to the right to attack the Federal flank south of the railroad and capture 2 artillery pieces of Battery A 1st Illinois Artillery.  Manigault wheeled to the left and captured the 4 remaining guns of the battery and continued to move north up the Federal line.  The Federal line broke and Manigault along with Stovall’s Brigade were able to continue the assault.
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This old stone church, now a private residence, sits on the site of the Troup Hurt House.  This site was a land mark on the battlefield and the site of the Federal lines as well as the four 20 pounder Parrott rifles of the Degress Battery H, 1st Illinois Artillery.  Manigault’s along with Stovall’s Brigade, were able to break the Federal lines here and capture the Degress Battery.  They were able to hold the position for some time before they too were routed out by a Federal counter attack.
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General Hood(CS) was the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee and upon ordering Cheatham’s Corps to attack the Federal lines, he took up a position on the second floor of the Williams home, to watch the battle unfold.  The Williams home once stood in this area of what is now Oakland Cemetery.
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The Carter Center now sits where the Augustus Hurt House once stood.  This was the location of General Sherman’s headquarters during the Battle of Atlanta.  Generals Howard and Schofield also made their command post here as well.  After his death, General McPherson’s body was brought here before being send back to Ohio for burial.  From here, Sherman ordered a counter attack on the Confederates and personally directed artillery fire against the Confederates in the area of the Troup Hurt House.
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As part of the Federal counter attack, Logan’s 15th Corps(US), moved west astride the railroad.  Here, just on the south side of the railroad at Moreland Ave. and Caroline st., Lightburn’s Brigade advanced west toward the area of the Troup Hurt House.
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Dekalb Ave. at Moreland Ave.  Upon establishing their lines in the area of the Troup Hurt House and the railroad cut just west of this location, the Federals set up a signal station in a large pine tree in this location.  After the Federal lines broke, the station was abandoned and when the Federal counter attack was successful, the station was put back in to use. 
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Author: Clint Brownlee

My name is Clint Brownlee and I am a Photographer in Woodstock, Georgia with over 20 years of photographic experience in many different aspects of photography. I have photographed everything from weddings, special events and portraits to published materials, but my passion has always been Fine Art and Nature Photography. I have had a several shows at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia and The Roswell Visual Arts Center in Roswell, Georgia. I now sell through my website: www.clintbrownleephotography.com

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