The Left Wing of Sherman’s army moves into and occupies the Georgia State Capital of Milledgeville. At one point, soldiers occupy the state house building and hold a mock session of the legislature. They have speeches and vote to repeal secession. General Sherman takes the Governor’s Mansion as his headquarters. The Governor had taken all the furnishings with him to Macon leaving the mansion empty. Sherman slept in his bedroll on the floor.
The Right Wing reaches the Oconee River north east of Macon. After passing through McIntyre and Toombsboro they are delayed at Ball’s Ferry by stiff Confederate resistance.
After learning of the impending attack on Jonesboro and the railroad by the Federals, Hood dispatched Hardee’s Corps and S.D. Lee’s Corps to Jonesboro to protect the railroad.
By mid afternoon, both Hardee’s Corps and S.D. Lee’s Corps were in place at Jonesboro. Hardee deployed with his corps to the left and as he was in overall command of the operations, Cleburne was commanding the corps. Cleburne deployed with Lowery’s Division to the left and Brown’s Division to the Right. He held Maney’s Division in reserve. S.D. Lee’s Corps was deployed to the right of the Confederate line. Stevenson’s Division was on his left adjacent to Hardee’s right and Clayton was on the far right of the Confederate line. Stovall’s and Higley’s Brigades were held in reserve and were later moved forward to the left of S.D. Lee’s lines.
Hardee’s plan was to have Cleburne advance and wheel to their right(north) and attack the Federal right flank. Once they were engaged and the Federals shifted troops to protect the flank, their center would be weakened and then S.D. Lee’s Corp’s would initiate a full frontal assault on the Federal Lines.
Howard deployed his Federals on high ground between the Flint River and Jonesboro. He placed Logan’s XV Corps on the Federal left where they were facing the railroad and the town of Jonesboro. Ransom’s XVI Corps was deployed to the Federal right in a “refuse” in the line connected with Logan’s right and turned back west toward the Flint River and across it. Blair’s XVII Corps was held in reserve.
At 3:00pm Hardee ordered the attack to begin. As the advance began, Lowery’s Division made contact with Kilpatricks Federal Cavalry and was able to push them back rapidly across the Flint River. Lowery’s Division was moving so fast that they were not able to maintain contact with Brown’s Division. Brown’s Division struggled to advance through swampy terrain and a deep ravine. As they were unsupported on their left, Brown’s Division suffered heavy losses from the entrenched Federals on the high ground above the ravine.
S.D. Lee, who had only been in command of a Corps for about a month, ordered an all out assault at the first sounds of rifle fire from Cleburne. His inexperience caused him to attack too quickly and before the Federals could shift troops to the flank that was under attack. So, when Lee’s Corp attacked, they engaged the fully fortified and full strength lines of Logan’s Corps. Lee’s Corps over ran the Federal skirmishers, but were repeatedly repulsed by the Federal main line. Lee suffered heavy losses.
While the Battle of Jonesboro ensued. Schofield’s XXIII Corps and Stanley’s IV Corps reached the Western and Atlantic railroad south of Rough and Ready. After a short skirmish with some Confederate Cavalry, they began destroying the railroad.
Hood, still not convinced that this was the main attack and thinking it was only a diversion, was anticipating an attack on Atlanta. Without knowing the status of the battle in Jonesboro. Hood orders S.D. Lee’s Corps back to Atlanta thinking he is going to be attacked. Around midnight, Lee’s Corps, beaten, crippled, and worn out begins the long march back to Atlanta.
Having left the area of Red Oak and Fairburn, the Federal army advances on Jonesboro and the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Howard’s Corps is the first one to cross the Flint River. Howard’s troops come under fire as they approach the Flint River. The Confederates are trying to delay them and as the retreat across the river toward Jonesboro, they set fire to the bridge. The men of Logan’s XV Corps dash across the burning bridge, some providing cover fire and others putting out the flames and saving a usable portion of the bridge. They purse the Confederates to the edge of the city and then fall back to high ground between the river and Jonesboro. They dig in on the eastern side of the river in an area that is now Hynds Springs Road near the intersection of 138.
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”.
General Joseph E. Johnston is officially relieved of command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. President Davis promote Lt. General John. B. Hood to be the new commander of the Army of Tennessee. Davis advised Johnston the he was relieved of command due to his inability to stop the Federals from reaching Atlanta and that he did not have confidence that he could prevent the Federals from capturing Atlanta and destroying the Army of Tennessee. Johnston was very well liked among his troops and many were in disbelief.
This change in command has come at a crucial time as the Federals have just crossed the Chattahoochee River. The Army of the Cumberland crosses at Pace’s Ferry and Power’s Ferry and are advancing toward Peachtree Creek. General McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee, has crossed the river at Roswell and has been moving south through Dunwoody toward the Augusta Railroad line near Decatur. They reach it on the 18th and destroy about four miles of it in between Stone Mountain and Decatur, in an attempt to disrupt the supplies, and possibly reinforcements, coming from the east. McPherson then turns west and moves towards Decatur.
Wheelers Cavalry had been skirmishing with the Federals approaching Peachtree Creek for several days, but today they burn the bridges over Peachtree Creek at Moore’s Mill, Howell’s Mill, and on Ridgewood Road. They then move south east to intercept McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee near Decatur.
The pieces are nearly in place for the first of two major battles to happen on the outskirts of Atlanta. Soon the two armies will clash in the Battle of Peachtree Creek and then two days later at the Battle of Atlanta.
November 14th, 1864 General Sherman and his staff moved south from Marietta, towards Atlanta. Along the way the roads were nearly impassable due to the numbers of soldiers marching south to the city. The railroad had been completely destroyed. They pulled up the rails and then made fires with the cross ties. The rails were placed onto of the fires and the rails were heated red hot and then bent or twisted into an unusable shape. Sherman and his staff crossed the Chattahoochee River on a wagon bridge near the railroad bridge that had been destroyed earlier in the day. When General Sherman reached Atlanta, he established his headquarters at the Lyons House. By the end of the day, nearly all of Sherman’s army was in or on the outskirts of Atlanta. They had been organized into two different wings. The Left Wing and the Right Wing. The Right Wing was commanded by Major General O.O. Howard and was composed of the 15th Corps, commanded by Major General P.J. Osterhaus, and the 17th Corps, commanded by Major General F. P. Blair. The left wing was under the command of Major General H. W. Slocum and was composed of the 14th Corps, commanded by Major General Jefferson C. Davis (not to be confused with Confederate President Jefferson Davis) and the 20th Corps under the command of Brigadier General A. S. Williams. Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick was in command of a Cavalry Division that was to operate as a separate unit operating independently and in support of the two wings. Having sent all the sick and injured, as well as nearly all the non combatants. Sherman fielded and army that consisted of 55,329 infantry, 5,063 Cavalry, 1,812 Artillery. A total of 62,204 soldiers. They carried all they needed with them and were to forage off the surrounding country side. This is such an impressive number of men and material to move in coordination with each other, on foot, horseback and by wagon. Many accounts exist of how well fed everyone was during most of the march due to the region being fairly untouched by the war until now. Some accounts report that by the end of the march in December, that their livestock was in better condition than when they started out from Atlanta.
July 4th, 1864: Yesterday, General Sherman entered Marietta and established his headquarters in the Kennesaw House and ordered his forces to continue the pursuit of the Confederates and attempt to engage them no matter what the cost of men and material. They must press their advantage while the Confederates are retreating. The Federal troops continued their chase and soon, as they approached Smyrna, they began to encounter resistance from Confederate Skirmishers. They were pushed back to their main lines and the Federals began to entrench. Elements of Howard’s and Palmer’s Corps of the Army of the Cumberland advanced on the portion of the Confederate Smyrna Line near Smyrna Camp Ground, roughly the center of the Confederate line. They were engaging seasoned troops of Cleburne’s Division and suffered heavy losses. The second portion of the attack was made by Dodge’s Corps of the Army of the Ohio, they attacked the Confederate Left near Ruff’s Mill. There was a salient in the Confederate line near this point that was their target. This is where Hood’s and Hardee’s Corps met. Elements of Dodge’s Corps pushed the skirmishers of Stevenson’s Division out of their rifle pits and back to their main works, but suffered heavy losses during the assault. These attacks gained no ground for the Federals and only confirmed that the Confederate army was still in the line enforce. They main Federal advantage gained this day, was Blair’s Corps being able to work its way around and behind the Confederate left flank. At that point they were closer to Atlanta than the main body of the Confederate Army. Blair’s movement seriously threatened Johnston and in the late night hours of July 4th and early morning hours of July 5th, Johnston fell back from the Smyrna Line to the last line of defense west of the Chattahoochee River, The River Line.