After the Battle of Jonesboro, Sherman’s Army followed the Confederates to Love Joy’s Station, where Hood rejoined Hardee with Stewart’s and Lee’s Corps. Sherman skirmished a day or so and then after learning that the XX Corps had entered Atlanta, he withdrew from Love Joy’s Station and marched back to Atlanta to claim his prize and losing what many consider to have been a prime opportunity to crush Hood and the Army of Tennessee once and for all. Having taken Atlanta, Sherman decided he had reached his objective and did not think it was worth the bloodshed to continue pressing his advantage.
Upon entering Atlanta, Sherman established his headquarters and began to restore order to the town. He decided that it was a military outpost and ordered all civilians to evacuate. A truce was negotiated with Hood, who was not happy about civilians being forced from their homes, and the civilians were given a choice of taking a train north or one to the south. The ones that choose a train south, were sent to Rough and Ready, where they had to disembark and travel to Love Joy’s Station by wagon. About half the cities population went north and the other half went south. There were some civilians that were allowed to stay as they were given jobs by the Federals.
Poe, Sherman’s Chief Engineer, immediately started to rebuild and strengthen the defensive line around the city. He built artillery forts connected with infantry trenches. With much of the city in ruin, the soldiers started to use building materials from destroyed structures to begin building small shacks as living quarters. Sherman also began to rest and resupply his armies in preparation for his next sortie into the heart of the Confederacy.
Many of the period images that exist of Atlanta come from this time of the campaign. George Barnard entered the city to document the Federal occupation. There are many iconic images of the Federals and their forts in Atlanta.
Note: All the images below are attributed to George Barnard. These images are all open source and were downloaded via wikicommons. They are all in the National Archives or the Library of Congress.
General Sherman, having followed Hardee from Jonesboro on the previous day, has formed his troops in a line of battle across from what is left of Hardee’s Corps. Skirmishing continues throughout the day, buy Sherman does not order an assault. Just before breakfast, Sherman receives a dispatch from a courier sent by Slocum in Atlanta advising him that they have entered and secured the City of Atlanta and that the remainder of Hood’s forces have evacuated toward Love Joy’s Station via the McDonough Rd. Sherman, fearing that all of Hood’s forces have reunited, holds off on attacking the Confederates and with his objective “fairly won”, he decides to hold his position a day or two longer and destroy more railroad track, before returning to Atlanta. Slocum’s entire XX Corps has entered the city and is attempting to restore some semblance of order.
On the morning of the seventh, the Federals again began to advance on the entrenched Confederates south of Utoy Creek. They encountered no resistance and found the Confederate works empty. Bate’s Division was withdrawn from the lines overnight and took their place in the line of defensive works, that stretched from the defensive perimeter around Atlanta, to the southwest in order to protect the railroads in East Point. Bate’s takes his place between Clayton’s Division on his right (north) and Clerburne’s Division to his left (south).
Sherman, who is displeased with the failure of the movement toward East Point, decides to lay siege to Atlanta and will do his best to run the Confederates out of the city. He begins to shell the city and considers the city itself as a military target even though there are still civilians within the city. Many have evacuated, but several thousand have no where to go or have decided to wait it out.
This morning, Sherman has accepted the resignation of Palmer, who will be on a train back to Chattanooga by the afternoon, and the Federals had formed up their lines and everyone was in place to attempt an advance across Utoy Creek towards the railroad in East Point. With Palmer’s resignation, Robert W. Johnson, a division commander within the XIV Corps, was appointed Commander of the XIV Corps and placed under the command of Schofield. Displeased with the performance of the XIV Corps on the previous day, Schofield had moved his XXIII Corps to the right of the XIV Corps. The XXIII Corps is now the Federal right flank and the XIV Corps is the left flank with Logan’s XV Corps in support to their left. Palmer’s Corp was fanned out in an arch following the current Beecher Road south to Benjamin E. Mays and making a slight turn to the west, just north of Cascade Road. Palmer’s right ended near Willis Mill Road. Schofield’s left was adjacent to Palmer’s right with Cox’s Division along Cascade Road and stretching out west. Hascall’s Division of Schofield’s Corps turn south making a 90 degree turn to the east and was facing the end of the Confederate line at the Confederate left flank. Just west of Cascade Springs Nature Preserve.
The battle began when Cox’s Division moved south and Hascall’s Division moved east to press the Confederate flank. The 11th Kentucky Regiment (Federal) of Cox’s Division was at the front of the advancing line and made first contact with the 4th Kentucky (CS), who were posted as skirmishers in front the famed Kentucky Orphan Brigade. This action happened in the area of the waterfall in what is now Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. Cox’s attack was repulsed and he suffered a severe loss. He reformed for another attempt, but was repulsed a second time after which he withdrew from the assault. Hascall was hindered by the South Fork of Utoy Creek and made minimal gains in his assault. He did reach the rear of an artillery battery, which withdrew to the east to another position on high ground from which they still had a commanding view.
The XIV Corps, now commanded by Johnson, has sat idle most of the day and did not make an attempt to attack until late afternoon and he only attacked with one division. He gained no headway and retired before anything larger than a skirmish developed.
The Confederate left flank was manned by Bate’s Division along a ridge line just south of Sandtown Road (Cascade Road). S. D. Lee’s Division connected to Bate’s right at the Sandtown Road east of what is now Beecher road. Bate’s left flank was open and vulnerable to attack and on the night of the 6th, Hood ordered Bate’s Division to withdraw from the area back to the Confederate main defensive line.
The Federal assault cost them approximately 800 lives and numerous wounded, while the Confederates lost only 18 soldiers while defending their heavily entrenched and fortified lines.
The conflict between General’s Sherman, Palmer and Schofield continued throughout the day. Palmer sent multiple letters arguing back and forth with Sherman. Palmer’s final letter said “I will call upon you tomorrow morning and present a formal application to be relieved.” While they bickered back and forth, Federal units were still trying to get in line for the move toward East Point. For the remainder of the day Palmer agrees to relay orders from Schofield to his XIV Corps. Baird’s Division advances south toward Utoy Creek and encounter the Confederate skirmishers. They take about 140 prisoners. They then turn towards the east and encounter an artillery barrage. They decide not to advance and assault the Confederate works as they assume they will be repulsed. Davis brings his division up along side Baird’s and comes to halt as well. Schofield is not happy about the assault coming to a halt. He orders Johnson’s Division of Palmer’s Corps to swing around the right and attack the Confederate left flank. Johnson waits until early evening to begin his movement, which he calls a “reconnaissance”. He moved a short distance and then calls it off since it is too late in the day to do much good. He falls back to the rear of Davis. Schofield and Sherman are both displeased with the performance of Palmer’s XIV Corps. Palmer will resign in the morning and for a time Johnson will command the XIV Corps.
During the night of the 5th, Hood orders the defensive lines extended further south and west to protect the railroad in East Point. The line extended about 1.25 miles from the existing defensive lines, down a ridge line the paralleled the Sandtown Road (Cascade Road), and overlooked the North Fork of Utoy Creek. The far left of the line ended in the area of the current Cascade Springs Nature Preserve.
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.
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.
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.