On the morning of the 4th, Kilpatrick’s Cavalry supported by two Brigades of Infantry marched on Waynesboro. Their objective was to capture the town and burn all the bridges over Brier Creek. As they approached the town they encountered General Wheeler’s skirmishers and drove them in toward the main line of works. Being out numbered by the Federals who were advancing rapidly on their position and were about to over run them, the Confederates fell back to another line of prepared work in the streets of Waynesboro. As Wheeler was again about to be overrun by a larger force, he ordered his Texans and Tennesseans to charge, thus delaying the Federals long enough for Wheeler to move his forces to block the Augusta road should Kilpatrick turn that way. After quickly taking control of the town, the Federals burned the bridges over Brier Creek and set fire to the town. The towns people were able to suppress many of the fires saving a great deal of the town.
The Left Wing passes through the area of Buckhead Church where on the 28th the Federal Cavalry under Kilpatrick clashed with Wheeler’s Confederate Cavalry. The Left Wing then marches into Millen. Parts of the Right wing have started moving out of Millen and are moving past Scarboro.
The Left Wing has reached the Ogeechee River and begins to cross at Fenn’s Bridge. A series of sharp cavalry battles ensue in the area of Waynesboro when Sherman feints toward Augusta. The Left Wing also provides support for Kilpatrick as he operates and clashes with Wheeler between Millen and Waynesboro.
The Right Wing occupies Oconee and have taken the abandoned lines of the Confederates at Ball’s Ferry. The Left Wing enters Sandersville where they clash with cavalry as the enter town and fight a running skirmish through the town square. Elements of the Left Wing move out from Sandersville and move toward Tennille and Davisboro.
On the 29th, McCook’s Cavalry made it to Love Joy’s Station where they were supposed to meet General Stoneman and destroy as much of the railroad as possible. When McCook arrived, Stoneman was not there, so McCook began to destroy the tracks. Stoneman had been given permission by Sherman to head south towards Macon and Andersonville after destroying the tracks, in an effort to free the Union Prisoners. Stoneman, who was looking to pull off some heroic venture to improve his reputation, decided that McCook could handle the detail at Love Joy’s Station and went straight for Macon.
McCook ended up fighting a fairly heated skirmish at Love Joy’s Station and the began to retreat back towards the west in an attempt to cross the Chattahoochee and return to the safety of the Federal lines. General Wheeler and his Confederate Cavalry were hot on his trail and were engaged in a running skirmish with McCook’s rear guard.
On the morning of the 30th, the front of McCook’s column came into Newnan along what is now E. Broad St. near the train depot. Their path was blocked by a train load of Confederate soldiers that were waiting for the tracks in Palmetto to be repaired. The same tracks that McCook had destroyed a couple of days before. Both sides were surprised by the appearance of the other and a small firefight ensued. Being blocked in the front by the train and having Wheeler coming up on his rear, McCook began moving south of town looking for a clear path to the river where he could avoid a fight. Wheeler’s forces entered town and split up in an effort to hit McCook from the front and rear.
The two forces finally met about three miles south of Newnan near Brown’s Mill along the Millard Farm Road and what is now Old Corinth Road. McCook’s troopers were driven from the road and into the woods where they dismounted and fought on foot. There was a fair amount of back and forth with Wheeler’s troopers pushing the Federal back and then McCook’s troopers counter attacking and pushing the Confederates back. At one point the 8th Iowa even captured the lead elements of Ross’s Texans(CS) as they had just dismounted to assault the Federal line. The 3rd Texas was able to cut their way through the 8th Iowa and rescue General Ross and the others that had been captured. The fighting was intense and Wheeler soon received about 1400 reinforcements that had marched out of Newnan. McCook, thinking he was surrounded, shouted “Every man for himself!” McCook suffered heavy casualties and lost several officers and Brigade Commanders. He decided to split his forces and they cut their way out of Wheelers trap and made off for the river in different directions. A large number of his troopers were captured over the next few days as the Confederate Cavalry continued their pursuit. McCook, lost about 100 troopers to the fight and another 1300 were captured and sent to prison camps. Wheeler lost about 50 troopers.
73 College St. Know as College Temple, was originally part of school that was started in 1853. The school was comprised of seven buildings and as the raged on, it was pressed into service as a hospital for thousand of soldiers both Union and Confederate, that found their way to Newnan.
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”.
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.