The Battle of Peachtree Creek

July 20th, 1864:

As Hood prepares for his first tactical engagement since taking command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, he is hoping that General Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland has been unable to prepare any earthworks since crossing Peachtree Creek.  Hood is also having to keep an eye on McPherson and Schofield as they advance from Decatur toward Atlanta.  The attack is planned for 1:00pm, but for various reasons it does not commence until 4:00pm.

Hood has deployed Stewart’s Corps (formerly commanded by the late Lt. Gen. L. Polk) to his left.  Stewart’s Corps consist of French’s Division on the far left connecting to the Western and Atlantic Railroad near Casey’s Hill in the current Crestlawn Cemetery and extending east and connecting to Walthall’s Division, which sits astride Howell Mill Road.  Walthall’s right extends toward the east and connects with Loring’s Division between Howell Mill and Northside Drive.  Hood had deployed Hardee’s Corps to the center.  Hardee had placed Maney’s Division to the left of his line followed by Walker’s Division in the center and Bate’s Division to the right.  Hardee held Cleburne’s Division in reserve.  Hood, fearing an attack by McPherson on the east side of Atlanta, placed Cheatham on the far right of the Confederate line.  Cheatham is commanding Hood’s former Corps.  Hood’s plan is to attack “en echelon”.  Starting with Bate’s Division on the right attacking first and then each subsequent Division attacking one after the other.  This was done in an effort to turn the enemy flank and push them back to Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River.

Thomas had most of his army across the creek by noon.  Palmer’s XIV Corps had been placed on the right and had been able to entrench as they had been across the creek earlier.  Hooker’s XX Corps was forming up in the center and Howard’s IV Corps was forming on the left.  Newton’s Division of Howard’s Corps held the far left.

Late in the morning Hood received word from Wheeler, who commanded the cavalry attempting to hold the east side of Atlanta, that he was out numbered by McPherson and Schofiled who were moving toward the Atlanta from Decatur.  Hood decided to shift his entire army to the east by a mile in order to support Wheeler should he need it.  The orders were given and the movements were made, but through miscommunication and human error the shift to the right (east) was nearly two miles.  This cost the Confederates time and delayed their attack until 4pm.

When the attack finally began, Bate’s Division was the first to move forward and should have been the first to make contact, but the terrain in their front had not been reconnoitered prior to the assault.  Because of this they did not know where they were going and did not know where the enemy was.  They ran into a heavy thicket and swampy area that greatly hindered their progress as they were attempting to find Newton’s Division.

By 4:30pm the “en echelon” advance had made its way down the line to Loring’s Division.  In the area between present day Northside Drive and Walthall Street, Scott’s Brigade of Loring’s Division made one of the most successful assaults of the day.  They captured the colors of the 33rd New Jersey as well as part of the regiment.  They continued pressing their assault and nearly turn Geary’s flank, but the lack of support on either of Scott’s flanks, forced him to fall back.

The day was filled with heavy, fierce fighting on both sides.  By late afternoon, Loring believed he could exploit a gap in the Federal lines between Newton and Geary.  He asked Hardee for reinforcements and as Hardee was about to send Cleburne’s Division to assist Loring, he received an order from Hood to send a Division to the east of the city to support Wheeler.  Hardee sent Cleburne’s Division to Wheeler, thus preventing another push forward to the Federal lines.  The day ended with many dead, dying and wounded still on the battlefield.  The high priced neighborhoods of the area now stand in stark contrast to the harsh reality of the battle that took place there 152 years ago today.

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Knipe’s and Robinson’s Brigades of William’s Division of Hooker’s 20th Corps, were positioned along the high ground to the right of this image taken along Norfleet Rd.  To the left of the image is a deep ravine that had to be traversed by the attacking Confederates.  This area was the western most portion of the Federal line that came under direct assault during the Battle of Peachtree Creek.
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This deep ravine now sits between Norfleet Rd. to the right, where the Federals were positioned on high ground, and Springlake Dr.  Reynold’s Brigade of Walthall’s Division of Stewart’s Corp(CS) attacked through this deep ravine and pushed forward attempting to push Knipe’s and Robinson’s Brigades back.  After a failed second attempt under enfilading artillery fire and with only the support part of Selden’s Alabama Battery, Reynold’s was forced to withdraw from the assault.
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Near the intersection of Collier Road and Howell Mill, at the south western end of the ravine, the Selden’s Alabama Battery was placed in support of Reynold’s assault.  While directing the placement of the battery Major William C. Preston was killed in action by Federal fire. Major Preston is the “Willie” Preston featured in Mary Chestnut’s “A Diary From Dixie”
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Bobby Jones Golf Course at the Bittsy Grant Tennis Center.  The right of Geary’s Division of Hooker’s 20th Corps was positioned along the high ground of this ridge on the golf course.  O’Neal’s Brigade of Wathall’s Division(CS) was on the right of Reynold’s Brigade and pushed through at shallower portion of the ravine and attempted to exploit a gap between Williams and Geary.  Geary’s line was pushed back until his right met Williams left forming a re-entrant angle in the Federal line.  O’Neal split the Brigade with half swinging left to attack Williams and the other half swinging right to turn Geary’s right flank.  Fierce fighting ensued and with lack of numbers and artillery support, O’Neal eventually withdrew.
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Bittsy Grant Tennis Center.  Looking toward the Confederate lines.  O’Neal’s Brigade would have crossed this area in their assault on Geary’s and Williams lines.
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Tanyard Creek Park, a historian and reenactor gives a lecture to a tour group on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Peachtree Creek.  General Loring’s Division of Stewarts Corps(CS), came across this ground moving from the background toward the camera position to attack elements of Geary’s and Ward’s Divisions (US), which were positioned behind the camera on the high ground near present day Collier Rd.
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Tanyard Branch in Tanyard Branch Park.  Heavy fighting ensued here as Loring’s Division(CS) pushed hard in their attack on elements of Geary’s and Ward’s Division’s(US).
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Eastern portion of Tanyard Creek Park.  Portions of Featherston’s Brigade, Loring’s Division (CS), advanced through this area, crossing the creek (camera right),under heavy fire from Geary’s (US) artillery and moving towards the high ground along present day Collier Road. 
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Ardmore Road looking toward Collier Road.  The right of Featherston’s Brigade advanced down the slope for their trenches nearly a mile behind the camera position, to attack Coburn’s and Wood’s Brigades of Ward’s Divison  (US).  Featherston’s Brigade drove back the Federal skirmishers and pushed passed the barricades the skirmishers used to assault the main line.  They gained some ground but were forced back to the abandoned barricades as they were counter attacked along their front and flank.
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28th St. at Wycliff Rd. looking toward’s Peachtree Street.  28th St. dead ends into Ardmore where the previous image was made.  The Old Montgomery Ferry Road crossed through this spot and intersected Peachtree Road slightly south of Palisades Rd.  Brig. General Clement H. Stevens (CS) was killed in action here as he ordered the withdraw of his Brigade.  Steven’s Brigade was part of Walker’s Division of Hardee’s Corps.
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Battle of Peachtree Creek memorial.  This memorial, shaded by Oaks and Magnolias, rest on a small knoll between Peachtree Road and Piedmont Hospital.  Kimball’s Brigade of Newton’s Division, Howard’s 4th Corps (US) was positioned here on this high ground astride Peachtree Road.  They were assaulted by Walker’s Divisions of Hardee’s Corps (CS).
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Dale Way Park now sits on the battlefield once crossed by Bate’s Division of Hardee’s Corps (CS).  Bate’s Division was the far right of the Confederate assault on the Federal lines at Peachtree Creek.  Bate’s was the first to move from his works to begin the assault with each successive Division move forward one after the other.  Bate’s assault was delayed as the whole Confederate line had been shifted to the right by nearly two miles.  Initially, the line was supposed to move only a mile to the right in order to be in position to reinforce Wheeler’s Cavalry east of Atlanta should McPherson and Schofield attack.  Miscommunication lead to shift of two miles and as such, when Bate’s made his advance on two Brigades of Newton’s Division (US), he did so across terrain that had not been reconnoitered.  Bate’s advance was slow due to heavy thickets and swampy areas in the Clear Creek Valley.
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WSB TV, West Peachtree St. near Inwood Cir.  The Confederates outer defensive line of Atlanta was placed on the high ground here and extended westward along various hills and ridges to present day Crest Lawn Cemetery where it terminated at Casey’s Hill along the Western Atlantic Railroad.  Walker and Bate’s Divisions both started their assault on the Federals from this defensive line.  This view is looking south toward the Confederate line.
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West Peachtree at Inwood Cir.  WSB TV.  Looking north toward Federal Positions from the Confederates outer defensive line of Atlanta.  Walker’s and Bate’s Divisions(CS) would have advanced down this slope crossing the area that is now Buford Hwy and I-85 and then moving up through what is now the Brookwood Hills neighborhood, to assault part of Newton’s Division (US) that were positioned along the high ground in the area of present day Brighton Road.

150 Years Ago Today: July 27th, 1864

July 27th, 1864:
     After the death of General McPherson during the Battle of Atlanta, General Logan assumed command during the battle and retained it for several days while General Sherman decided who should replace McPherson.  Sherman, being a graduate of Westpoint, had a certain disdain for political Generals like Logan, and did not trust them to follow orders properly and promptly as they were on the field of battle for political gain.  With these thoughts in mind and after consulting with General Thomas of the Army of the Cumberland, Sherman chose General O.O. Howard to command the Army of the Tennessee as McPherson’s successor.  General Hooker is so offended and outraged that he was not given command of the Army of the Tennessee, the he resigns his commission and leaves the Army.  Howard assumed command on the 27th of July and his order of the day was to shift the Army of the Tennessee from the east side of Atlanta near Decatur, to the west side of Atlanta by moving to the north and around the top of the city.  His ultimate objective is to move on Eastpoint and destroy the railroad.
     Sherman has Cavalry units dismount and fill the lines of Howard’s army as they began to pull out.  He also ordered infantry units along the line to skirmish heavily with the Confederates in the cities defensive lines in hopes of screening Howard’s move.  Sherman was attempting to flank Hood out of the city and draw him into a fight or cut off Hood’s supply line from the railroad to Macon and the railroad to Westpoint.
     Stoneman’s and McCook’s Cavalry were sent on a raid to destroy the railroads while the Army of the Tennessee was moving into place.  Stoneman went south out of Decatur and McCook moved southwest  from Turner’s Ferry.  McCook and Stoneman were scheduled to meet at Love Joy’s Station on the 28th to destroy the railroad.  McCook went southwest along the west bank of the Chattahoochee and crossing on pontoon bridges at Smiths Ferry, about 6 miles south of Campbellton.  He moves on toward the east and in Palmetto he destroys several miles of track, burns the depot and then moves towards the east again in the direction of Fayetteville.  Along the Fayetteville road the come across a Confederate wagon train.  They take about 300 prisoners and burn nearly 500 wagons.  They also kill almost 1000 mules with their sabers to keep the sound of gunfire from giving away their location.  
     By mid to late morning, Hood is aware of the Federals movements.  He sends Wheelers Cavalry to intercept and destroy the Union Cavalry.  Wheeler surrounds Garrard’s Cavalry at Flat Rock where they skirmish and Garrard falls back towards Lithonia.  Hood then learns of McCook’s raid and Wheeler is sent to intercept him.  Having detected the movements of Howard’s Army of the Tennesse, Hood sends General Stephen D. Lee’s Corps and A.P. Stewart’s Corps to extend the Confederate left flank out of Atlanta in an attempt to block the Federal move toward East Point.  S.D. Lee is now the commander of Hood’s former Corps.

150 Years Ago Today: July 20th, 1864, The Battle of Peachtree Creek

July 20th, 1864:
     As Hood prepares for his first tactical engagement since taking command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, he is hoping that General Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland has been unable to prepare any earthworks since crossing Peachtree Creek.  Hood is also having to keep an eye on McPherson and Schofield as they advance from Decatur toward Atlanta.  The attack is planned for 1:00pm, but for various reasons it does not commence until 4:00pm. 
     Hood has deployed Stewart’s Corps (formerly commanded by the late Lt. Gen. L. Polk) to his left.  Stewart’s Corps consist of French’s Division on the far left connecting to the Western and Atlantic Railroad near Casey’s Hill in the current Crestlawn Cemetery and extending east and connecting to Walthall’s Division, which sits astride Howell Mill Road.  Walthall’s right extends toward the east and connects with Loring’s Division between Howell Mill and Northside Drive.  Hood had deployed Hardee’s Corps to the center.  Hardee had placed Maney’s Division to the left of his line followed by Walker’s Division in the center and Bate’s Division to the right.  Hardee held Cleburne’s Division in reserve.  Hood, fearing an attack by McPherson on the east side of Atlanta, placed Cheatham on the far right of the Confederate line.  Cheatham is commanding Hood’s former Corps.  Hood’s plan is to attack “en echelon”.  Starting with Bate’s Division on the right attacking first and then each subsequent Division attacking one after the other.  This was done in an effort to turn the enemy flank and push them back to Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River.
     Thomas had most of his army across the creek by noon.  Palmer’s XIV Corps had been placed on the right and had been able to entrench as they had been across the creek earlier.  Hooker’s XX Corps was forming up in the center and Howard’s IV Corps was forming on the left.  Newton’s Division of Howard’s Corps held the far left. 
     Late in the morning Hood received word from Wheeler, who commanded the cavalry attempting to hold the east side of Atlanta, that he was out numbered by McPherson and Schofiled who were moving toward the city from Decatur.  Hood decided to shift his entire army to the east by a mile in order to support Wheeler should he need it.  The orders were given and the movements were made, but through miscommunication and human error the shift to the right (east) was nearly two miles.  This cost the Confederates time and delayed their attack until 4pm. 
     When the attack finally began, Bate’s Division was the first to move forward and should have been the first to make contact, but the terrain in their front had not been reconnoitered prior to the assault.  Because of this they did not know where they were going and did not know where the enemy was.  They ran into a heavy thicket and swampy area the greatly hindered their progress as they were attempting to find Newton’s Division. 
     By 4:30pm the “en echelon” advance had made its way down the line to Loring’s Division.  In the area between present day Northside Drive and Walthall Street, Scott’s Brigade of Loring’s Division made one of the most successful assaults of the day.  They captured the colors of the 33rd New Jersey as well as part of the regiment.  They continued pressing their assault and nearly turn Geary’s flank, but the lack of support on either of Scott’s flanks, forced him to fall back. 
  The day was filled with heavy, fierce fighting on both sides.  By late afternoon, Loring believed he could exploit a gap in the Federal lines between Newton and Geary.  He asked Hardee for reinforcements and as Hardee was about to send Cleburne’s Division to assist Loring, he received an order from Hood to send a Division to the east of the city to support Wheeler.  Hardee sent Cleburne’s Division to Wheeler, thus preventing another push forward to the Federal lines.  The day ended with many dead, dying and wounded still on the battlefield.  The high priced neighborhoods of the area now stand in stark contrast to the harsh reality of the battle that took place there 150 years ago today.

150 Years Ago Today: The Battle of New Hope Church

     May 25, 1864:  General Hood had successfully moved his Corps from Allatoona Pass to the area of the crossroads at New Hope Church.  New Hope Church is located several miles Northeast of Dallas.  General Hood had his men deploy along a ridge line looking north in the direction of the Union advance.  Hood deployed Stevenson’s Division on his right, Hindman’s Division on the left, and Stewart’s Division held the center.  When Stewart deployed to the center he placed Stovall’s Georgia Brigade on his left abutting Hindman’s right.  Stovall’s Brigade was deployed in the area that is now the cemetery.  It was a cemetery then, but has grown in size over the years.   My relatives in the 42nd Ga. were positioned some where along Stovall’s line.  Stovall’s Brigade decided against entrenching in the cemetery and formed an open line of battle.  The remainder of the units on the line entrenched.  Multiple artillery units were also deployed along the line. 
     General Hooker’s XX Corps was moving south from Burnt Hickory where they had stopped for the previous night.  Geary’s 2nd Division was leading the Union column as it approached New Hope crossroads.  Geary was met with stiff resistance from Stewart’s skirmishers, but was able to drive them back and then came under heavy fire.  He realized he had met a large Confederate force and began the process of digging in and sent word for the rest of the Army to move up quickly.  Sherman scoffed at the idea of there being a large Confederate force near the area, but he was soon proven wrong.  As more Federal troops moved up, Geary formed his Brigades to take the Union Center, Williams’ 1st Division moved to the Union Right and Butterfield’s 3rd Division took up the Union Left.  As the Union soldiers advanced toward the Confederate line, the skies opened up and poured down a heavy rain with thunder and lightning. Williams’ 1st Division was the first to reach the Confederate lines and suffered heavy losses.  Losing approximately 800 men in the opening few minutes.  The remaining Divisions suffered a similar fate with a total loss of approximately 1600. Many were pinned down under such heavy fire that they sought shelter in a deep ravine on the battlefield and were unable to retreat until darkness fell.  They later nick named the ravine the “Hell Hole”.  That term has also been used to describe the general area and conditions all along the Dallas, New Hope, Pickett’s Mill line.  Howard’s IV Corps was called up to support Hooker’s Corp, but arrived to late to be able to have any influence on the battle.  The Union Army then began the process of entrenching. 
     During the battle, Confederate General Johnston sent a courier to Stewart asking if he needed any support.  Stewart replied with confidence, “My own men will hold the position”, and they did.  He is reported to have been riding back and forth along the line during the heat of the battle, to rally his men. Confederate losses were around 300 to 400.  Skirmishing continued throughout the next day.