Late September 1864

Late September 1864:

Sherman has fortified Atlanta extensively and has started to build up supplies and rest his troops.  The Confederates are not sitting idle, and Hood has ordered all the Federal prisoners kept at Andersonville to be moved to different prisons out of the reach of Sherman’s forces.  Hood then shifts his Army from Love Joy’s Station to Palmetto, which lies along the railroad to West Point and further into Alabama.  Hood is resting his troops, building up supplies and making plans for a move to the north to attack Sherman’s supply line.

Confederate President Davis arrives in Palmetto on September 25th.  The next morning he begins a review of the troops and is greeted with silence, not cheers for their President.  A few soldiers yell out to the President asking for General Johnston to be place back in command, but these remarks fall upon deaf ears.  Bringing Johnston back would be like admitting that he made a mistake in removing him.

On the 27th, Davis meets will Hood and all his Corps Commanders and some of the Divisional Commanders.  A great deal is discussed including a plan to strike Sherman’s supply and communications lines north of Atlanta, there by cutting him off and forcing him to retreat back to Tennessee, all the while being engaged by Hood.  Hood then thinks he can move on the Federals in Tennessee and turn the tide of the war in the western theater and possibly as a whole.  Hood also complains to Davis about General Hardee and blames the loss at Jonesboro on him.  He ask Davis to remove him.  Davis agrees and Hardee readily accepts the offer to command the coastal defenses of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.  Hardee is relieved to be out from under Hood’s command.  On the 28th, Hood receives word from Davis that he may move forward with his plans to on North.

On September 29th and 30th, the Confederate Army of Tennessee begins their next march and crosses the Chattahoochee River near Palmetto and Campbellton with about 40,000 troops.  By late in the evening of October 1st, Hoods army has moved about 8 miles from the river crossing in the direction of Marietta.  Sherman, who had anticipated this move to the north by Hood a week earlier, had already sent troops to Rome and Chattanooga to help protect those areas from the threat of Hood and from the threat of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who cavalry that has started operating in the northern part of Alabama and into Tennessee.

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President Davis arrived by train along these tracks after having to take a route that went well south of Atlanta and then back north a short distance to Palmetto. Looking sout along the railroad tracks in Palmetto with the post war train depot in view.
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Once the Palmetto Stage Coach House, this building now serves as Barfield’s Law Office. It was here that President Davis meet with General Hood and his Corps Commanders as they made plans to disrupt Sherman’s Supply chain in an effort to force him out of Atlanta.
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The Weaver House (also called the Wilson House), located on Hearn Rd. west of Palmetto, was a plantation where the Confederate Army purchased 44 bushels of corn.  This home was built in the mid 1850’s and is still occupied today.  The original two story front porch has been removed and replaced by the full height porch roof.
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On their way to cross the Chattahoochee River, the Confederates passed by the Redwine Plantation that was built in 1840.  Located west of Palmetto at Hutchesons Ferry Rd. and Hwy. 70.  This home served as a significant landmark in the area.
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Confederate troops marched down this road to Phillips Ferry (later operated as Hutcheson Ferry).  They crossed the Chattahoochee River here on their way to disrupt the Federal supply lines between Atlanta and Chattanooga. 
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The Phillips House, built around 1840, was home to the Phillips Family who operated the Ferry at the crossing of the Chattahoochee.  Like many antebellum homes, this one has had additions and updates, but the majority of the home is original.

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.

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The Bullard Henley House, located west of the Chattahoochee River on Hwy. 92 near Hwy 166, was built in the late 1830’s.  As McCook moved his column south toward Campbelton, he engaged in a short firefight on the Bullard Plantation.  One of the Federal soldiers died and is buried behind the house.  General McCook established his headquarters here for the night.  McCook, along with his officers, enjoyed a meal prepared by Mrs. Bullard.  In the evening, the daughter of Mrs. Bullard, played the family piano to entertain the officers.  The officers made multiple request for Yankee Doodle, but she refused to play it and would play Dixie instead.  After several rounds of this, the General made a deal that he would sing Dixie while she played as long as she would play Yankee Doodle after.
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Smith’s Ferry road.  After meeting resistance at the river crossing in Campbellton, McCook moved six miles south to Smith’s Ferry.  This dirt road is an original portion of the period road that McCooks cavalry traveled upon.  At the end of the road is the original Ferry Masters house and is still occupied as a private residence. 
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On the east side of the Chattahoochee at Cedar Grove Rd. and River Lake Dr.  After Crossing the river at Smith’s Ferry, McCook east along this road that was once the other half of Smith’s Ferry Rd.  They then turned to the south, camera left, and rode through Rico to Palmetto.
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The Railroad in Palmetto.  Here, McCook destroyed six miles of track and burned the depot along with supplies and they cut the telegraph lines as well.