After leaving from Fairburn on the 19th, Kilpatrick moved his column towards Jonesboro. He once again met resistance from Ross’s Texas Brigade, first to his rear and then after Ross moved south below Kilpatrick and made it across the Flint River before Kilpatrick, he was then in Kilpatrick’s front. Ross’s Brigade removed the planks on the bridge over the Flint River and formed a line of battle on the high ground on the east side of the river. Kilpatrick had his artillery open open up on the Confederates and then had his Cavalry dismount and cross the bridge on its stringers. They were able to force Ross’s Brigade, which was a smaller force, back towards and eventually through Jonesboro. Kilpatrick reached Jonesboro around 5:00pm on the 19th and began to destroy the tracks and was able to burn the Railroad Station and other structures. Heavy rain prevented the Federals from making fires to heat the railroad tracks for bending so they removed it from the railroad bed and tossed it to the side.
On the 20th, after learning that a Confederate force of unknown strength was approaching, Kilpatrick decided to abandon his efforts in Jonesboro and move towards Love Joy’s Station. As he approached Love Joy’s Station he did not know the strength of the Confederate forces there. They Rebels had hidden themselves in a railroad cut and waited. When the Federal Cavalry dismounted and approached the railroad, the Confederates waited until they were within about 50 yards before making themselves known and opening fire on the Federals. The Federals were quickly repulsed and soon they were attacked from the rear by Ross’s Texans. Kilpatrick had limited options. He quickly decided to fight his way out and formed his units into several tight and compact columns and made a counter attack on the Confederate forces to his rear. Minty’s Brigade lead Kilpatricks column and as they approached the Rebels across an open field, they drew their sabers and charged. They were able to cut their way through and Kilpatrick’s column was able to escape and make for the Federal lines east of Atlanta. They moved north east from Love Joy’s Station toward McDonough and from there they made for the South River, which they crossed and the went through Lithonia and form there to Decatur.
Over the last several days and continuing into the next several days, General Sherman is resting his troops and changing their positions in preparation for an assault on Atlanta. He is trying to deceive General Johnston into believing the attack will come from the west. To do this, he has sent Stoneman’s Cavalry on a raid towards Newnan to destroy the Railroad that connects Atlanta with Alabama. Stoneman’s Cavalry cross the Chattahoochee near Campbelton and skirmish with Confederates along the way. They are unsuccessful and fall back to Villa Rica before returning to the Federal lines along the Chattahoochee. During this time, Sherman is shifting several Corps from his right flank to the left flank at the river crossing in Roswell. The Federal soldiers crossing at Roswell will be shifted to the east of Atlanta. While both armies rest from the rigors of the campaign, there is a great deal of fraternization between the soldiers stationed along the Chattahoochee. There are many documented accounts of trading, usually the Confederates trading tobacco for coffee, as well as other goods and small items. There are accounts of Regimental bands on both sides having competitions and serenading the troops on the opposite side of the river. For some soldiers, this is the first time the have been able to have a bath in weeks. Even General Sherman himself, takes a bath in the river.
For General Johnston, this is a time of uncertainty, President Davis has sent Braxton Bragg, former Commander of The Army of Tennessee, to ascertain the tactical situation in Atlanta and to find out what Johnston plans to do. Davis is considering replacing Johnston and is relying on advice from Bragg as to who the replacement of Johnston should be. This decision would have great bearing on the outcome of the campaign. They met at Johnston’s Headquarters which was established at the Dexter Niles house along the Atlanta road between the Chattahoochee river and the city.
After the first Federal crossing of the Chattahoochee at Sope Creek on the afternoon of the 8th, Garrard’s Cavalry crosses at Roswell. At dawn on the 9th, a Federal Battery provides covering fire as several companies of dismounted cavalry begin wading across the Chattahoochee at what is called the “Shallow Ford”. It was the ford used by the Hightower Trail which was a prehistoric trading route. They engage a small Confederate force across the river. The Confederates are out numbered and out gunned and they quickly retreat and some surrender. The Federals are armed with Spencer repeating rifles and are able to move and shoot quickly without stopping while they cross the river. The battery that is providing cover fire is the Chicago Board of Trade Battery. When Sherman learns of Garrard’s crossing of the river, he immediately dispatches Newton’s Division from its camp near Rottenwood Creek, to Roswell “double time”, to reenforce Garrard. He also sends Dodge’s Corps to reenforce Garrard and establish a strong bridgehead for subsequent crossings. A detachment of General McCook’s Cavalry, the 1st Tennesse Regiment (US), under the command of Colonel Brownlow, dismounted and crossed the river enforce wearing only their hats and carrying their rifle and cartridge box.
After receiving information about these crossings and size of the forces at each crossing, General Johnston orders the fall back from the River Line. The Confederate army begins to retreat from the River Line at dusk and in the early morning hours of the 10th, they are across the river and begin to burn the Railroad bridge and the wagon bridge next to it. They also take up their pontoon bridges and at Pace’s Ferry they cut the pontoon bridge loose hoping it will swing across the river or down stream where they can recover it. It becomes stuck and is recovered by the Federals, but not put into use.
General Johnston establishes his Headquarters 3 miles from Atlanta, at the abandoned Dexter Niles house. He orders that the river crossings at Pace’s Ferry and Turner’s Ferry, be heavily guarded.
Rottenwood Creek: When General Sherman learned of Garrard’s crossing at Roswell he dispatched Newton’s Division double time to Roswell to reinforce Garrard. Newton’s Division was camped near the area of present day Cumberland Blvd, I-75 and I 285. They crossed Rottenwood Creek on a wooden bridge just above this small cascade.