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.
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”.
Heavy fighting took place along the eastern approach to Atlanta. Wheeler’s Cavalry were engaged with Blair’s XVII Corps along area near Moreland Ave. Cleburne was in a desperate fight with Leggett’s 3rd Division of Blair’s XVII Corps, for control of “Bald Hill”. A prominent hill within artillery range of the city. Now located at Moreland and I-20, most of the hill, now called “Leggett’s Hill”, is gone due to the construction of I-20.
After his defeat at the Battle of Peachtree Creek on the 20th, Hood has started shifting his forces further to the east in an effort to engage McPherson and Schofield. In an attempt to attack McPerson’s left flank and his rear, he sends Hardee on a 16 mile long night march heading south and east to link up with Cleburne and assault the Federal flank east of Atlanta. Hardee begins his marches down Peachtree Street near Peachtree and Spring St. He heads south through Five Points and turn in a south easterly direction and moved to a point near the north side of the South River. Here he turned up the Fayetteville Road and the move onward to Bouldercrest Road. As he turned north on Bouldercrest he reached a fork in the road and divided his forces, with Cleburne’s and Maney’s Divisions taking Bouldercrest to Flat Shoals Road and then Walker and Bate’s Divisions moving up the Fayetteville Road.
Two divisions of Wheeler’s Cavalry, after roughly an hours rest from the days intense fighting, are sent way around the Federal left flank in an attempt to reach the Federal rear in Decatur and destroy the McPherson’s wagon trains.
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.
It is General Hood’s first full day in command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. He is working to get a grip on the tactical situation and is making plans for a fight near Atlanta. He plans to attack the Federal Army of the Cumberland, commanded by General Thomas, after it crosses Peachtree Creek and before they can entrench. Once the Army of the Cumberland is pushed back to the Chattahoochee River and has surrendered or been crushed, he plans to turn the Confederate Army toward the east and attack the Federals east of Atlanta.
At General Sherman’s urging, General Thomas has sped up his southward movement and has the majority of the army across Peachtree Creek. Sherman has also ordered him to send Howard’s Corps to the east to reinforce Schofield and McPherson should the Confederate Army turn on them.
Unbeknownst to General Hood, McPherson is already in Decatur and has begun to destroy the railroad tracks and occupy the city. Garrard’s Cavalry has been sent as far east as he deems prudent to destroy as much of the railroad towards Augusta as he can. General Schofield an his Army of the Ohio are linking up with McPherson in Decatur.
Nearly continuous skirmishing takes place all along the Federal advance.
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.
General Johnston’s Army of Tennessee now occupies the River Line and they have the Chattahoochee River to their back and the Federals to their front. General Sherman is looking for another route across the river that would allow him to turn Johnston’s Flank and force him from the River Line. The images below are from the southern half of the river line.
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 Kennesaw House saw many uses during the war. Early in the war, Andrews and a few of conspirators, stayed here the night before they stole a train attempted to destroy the railroad that was supplying the Confederate Army. It was also used as a hospital at one point as well as a Sherman’s Headquarters. Now it is a museum well worth the visit.