On this day in 1864, at the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, General William T. Sherman launches the attack that finally secures Atlanta, Georgia, for the Union, and seals the fate of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s army, which is forced to evacuate the area.
The Battle of Jonesboro was the culmination of a four-month campaign by Sherman to capture Atlanta. He had spent the summer driving his army down the 100-mile corridor from Chattanooga, Tennessee, against a Confederate force led by General Joseph Johnston. General Hood, who replaced Johnston in July on the outskirts of Atlanta, proceeded to attack Sherman in an attempt to drive him northward. However, these attacks failed, and by August 1 the armies had settled into a siege.
In late August, Sherman swung his army south of Atlanta to cut the main rail line supplying the Rebel army. Confederate General William Hardee’s corps moved to block Sherman at Jonesboro, and attacked the Union troops on August 31, but the Rebels were thrown back with staggering losses. The entrenched Yankees lost just 178 men, while the Confederates lost nearly 2,000.
On September 1, Sherman attacked Hardee. Though the Confederates held, Sherman successfully cut the rail line and effectively trapped the Rebels. Hardee had to abandon his position, and Hood had no choice but to withdraw from Atlanta. The fall of Atlanta was instrumental in securing the reelection of Abraham Lincoln in the fall.