October 5

This Day in History

Civil War

Oct 5, 1864:

Union scores a victory at the Battle of Allatoona

After losing the city of Atlanta, Confederate General John Bell Hood attacks Union General William T. Sherman's supply line at Allatoona Pass, Georgia. Hood's men could not take the Union stronghold, and they were forced to retreat into Alabama.

Hood took charge of the Rebel army in late July 1864, replacing the defensive-minded Joseph Johnston. Confederate President Jefferson Davis had been frustrated with Johnston's constant retreating, so he appointed Hood, who was known for his aggressive style. Hood immediately attacked Sherman's larger army three times: at Atlanta, Peachtree Creek, and Ezra Church. All of the attacks were unsuccessful, and they destroyed the Confederate army's offensive capabilities.

After evacuating Atlanta in early September 1864, Hood planned to draw Sherman back northward. Hood did not have the troop strength to move against Sherman, so he swung west of Atlanta and moved against the railroad that supplied the Yankee army from Chattanooga, Tennessee. At first, this worked well. Retracing Sherman's advance on Atlanta, Hood's men began to tear up the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Starting on September 29, the Rebels destroyed eight miles of track and captured 600 prisoners. Hood sent General Alexander Stewart's corps to secure Allatoona, site of a large Federal supply depot.

Sherman realized the threat to his lines and dispatched a brigade under General John Corse to secure the area. Corse's 2,000 men arrived at Allatoona before one of Stewart's divisions, led by Samuel French, attacked on October 5. French had over 3,000 troops, but the Yankees overcame the difference with their new Henry repeating rifles. French attacked and pushed the Federals back at first, but Allatoona was easily defended. By midday, French realized that he could not take the depot. He withdrew and rejoined Hood's army. French lost 897 men, while the Union lost 706. Realizing that his army was in no shape to fight, Hood took his force west into Alabama. In November, he would invade Tennessee.

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