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 learning of the flanking movement being conducted by Howard’s Army of the Tennessee, Hood ordered S.D. Lee’s Corps and A. P. Stewart’s Corps to move out the Lickskillet Road in an effort to check the Federal advance and try to roll up their right flank.
Howard began deploying his units on the 27th in an effort to reach the railroad at East Point. He started his line of battle somewhere along what is now Chappell Road south of North Ave. His line followed the high ground along Chappell Road to the south. On the morning of the 28th, Howard began deploying the remainder of his army along the ridge and continuing south down Chappell Road. The Federal line then began to curve to the right (southwest) near the intersection of Ezra Church Drive and Chappell. The line continued its curve through what is now Mozley Park. Ezra Church was located in the park on a grassy hill between MLK Blvd. and the ball fields of the park. Federal units used Church Pews and wood from the church to construct barricades to fire from. The line continued to curve southwest until it reached the point of Laural Ave. and Archer St. This was the salient in the Federal line. From this point it turned in a northwesterly direction. It would have crossed West Lake Ave, passing over part of Anderson and Verbena and ending on the hill where the current Sadie G. Mays Rehab Center (Nursing Home) is located. This would have been the extreme right of the Federal line that surrounded Atlanta as well as Howard’s right. This hill was called Battle Hill.
Lee’s Corps formed up for battle in the area along the front portion of the current Westview Cemetery. Brown’s Division formed up on the left with Brantley’s Brigade forming on the far left. Clayton’s Division formed on the right with Holtzclaw’s Brigade at the right. Stewart’s Corps formed to the rear of Lee along the Lickskillet Road (formerly Gordon Road and now called Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.). An artillery battery was located in what is now the Westview Cemetery on a hill behind the Alms House (poor house). The Alms House was located in the area just south of Westview’s original entry gate.
In the early afternoon the Confederate attack began. Their movement was screened by thick woods in the area and in some locations they were within 50 yards of the Federal line before they were seen. Brantley’s Brigade on the Confederate left attacked Lightburn’s Brigade on the Federal right in the area of Battle Hill. They were successful at first and were able to take the hill for a short time, but were forced to retreat when several regiments from the reserves of the XV and XVI Corps arrived. Sharp’s Brigade, who held the center of Brown’s Division, advanced on the Federal line through the area of what is now the West Lake Marta Station.
Clayton’s Division of Lee’s Corps was advancing on the Federal line just east of the salient and in the area of Ezra Church. Their repeated assaults were constantly repulsed by the Federals who had the high ground and in some locations had begun to dig in and build barricades. Around 2pm, part of Stewart’s Corps began to advance in support of Lee’s Corps. They concentrated their force in the same area of Clayton’s Brigade, but Stewart was also unsuccessful in his attack. Stewart was wounded in the fighting on a hill on the south side of MLK Blvd between Federal Drive and Gordon Terrace. Stewart was about to send additional units into the fight when he was wounded and carried from the field. Walthall, one of Stewart’s Divisional commanders assumed command and instead of sending in more soldiers, he began to withdraw from the area.
After being repulsed by the Federals multiple times and the coming nightfall, the Confederates pulled back to their jumping off point and began to dig in. Some of the works are still visible in a section of Westview Cemetery. This was the third defeat for Hood in his short time as the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. While they did not defeat the Federals, they did prevent their move on East Point, at least for the time being and as fast as the Federals tried to go around the Confederate flank, the Confederates were just a little faster in building earthworks and extending their line.
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.
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 21, 1864: Parts of the Right Wing of Sherman’s army pass through Gordon and move on east to Irwinton. Their column stretches out for miles as they choke the roads. The Left Wing continues to move closer to Milledgeville. Sherman remarks in his memoirs that they on made 8 miles on this day in a hard, cold, windy day. That night an uncommon early season snow storm blanketed the army with snow. The southern civilians accuse the yankees of bringing the cold weather with them. General Hardee, in command of the Confederate forces in Georgia, is in Macon where he has been preparing to defend the city. His scouts have reported that the Federal columns have turned away from Macon and have started on a move eastward. Hardee now realizes that the Federal objective is most likely Augusta or Savannah. General Hardee begins to shift his troops as well as Wheelers cavalry to the east in an effort to slow down the Federal Advance.