July 22

This Day in History

Civil War

Jul 22, 1864:

Battle of Atlanta continues

Confederate General John Bell Hood continues to try to drive General William T. Sherman from the outskirts of Atlanta when he attacks the Yankees on Bald Hill. The attack failed, and Sherman tightened his hold on Atlanta.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis had appointed Hood commander of the Army of Tennessee just four days before the engagement at Atlanta. Davis had been frustrated with the defensive campaign of the previous commander, Joseph Johnston, so he appointed Hood to drive Sherman back North. Hood attacked Peachtree Creek on July 20, but he could not break the Federals.

Two days later, Hood tried again at Bald Hill. The Union force under Sherman consisted of three armies: James McPherson's Army of the Tennessee, John Schofield's Army of the Ohio, and George Thomas' Army of the Cumberland. Thomas' force pressed on Atlanta from the north, at Peachtree Creek, while McPherson swung to Atlanta's eastern fringe to cut the Georgia Railroad, which ran to Decatur. Hood struck at McPherson on July 22, but several problems blunted the Confederate attack. The broken, rugged terrain made coordination difficult, and the attack, which had been planned for dawn, did not begin until after noon. Most important, and unbeknownst to Hood, McPherson extended his line east. The Confederates had assembled along a line–which they thought was behind the Union flank–but was now directly in front of fortified Federal soldiers. Hood's men briefly breached the Union line, but could not hold the position. The day ended without a significant change in the position of the two armies.

For the second time in three days, Hood failed to break the Union hold on Atlanta. His already-outnumbered army fared poorly. He lost more than 5,000 men, while the Union suffered 3,700 casualties. Among them was General McPherson, who had been killed while scouting the lines during the battle. He was one of the most respected and promising commanders in the Union army.

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