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Atlanta campaign

Atlanta campaign, May–Sept., 1864, of the U.S. Civil War. In the spring of 1864, Gen. W. T. Sherman concentrated the Union armies of G. H. Thomas, J. B. McPherson, and J. M. Schofield around Chattanooga. On May 6 he began to move along the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta against Dalton, Ga., c.30 mi (48 km) southeast, where Gen. J. E. Johnston had a smaller Confederate force. Sherman had a twofold objective: the destruction of Johnston's army and the capture of Atlanta, c.140 mi (225 km) southeast. Since Johnston was strongly entrenched, Sherman turned his left flank, forcing him back to Resaca, c.12 mi (19 km) south. The campaign continued in this way—Sherman outflanking Johnston, who withdrew to previously fortified positions—until June 27, when Sherman tried a direct attack at Kennesaw Mt., c.25 mi (40 km) NW of Atlanta, and was repulsed. He then reverted to flank operations. By July, Johnston had withdrawn to the south bank of the Chattahoochee River, where he prepared to fight on his own terms. On July 17, the day Sherman crossed the Chattahoochee, John Bell Hood replaced Johnston. Following Johnston's plan, Hood unsuccessfully attacked Sherman's divided army (July 20) as it crossed Peach Tree Creek, a small tributary of the Chattahoochee. In the battles of Atlanta (July 22) and Ezra Church (July 28), Hood again failed to stop the Union advance; he then retired behind the strong works of Atlanta, which Sherman soon had under bombardment. The Union lines were gradually extended until the Confederate line of communications south of the city was broken on Sept. 1. Hood abandoned Atlanta that night and Sherman occupied it on Sept. 2, 1864, and burned it.

See A. A. Hoehling, Last Train from Atlanta (1958); S. Carter, The Siege of Atlanta, 1864 (1973); A. Castel, Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (1992).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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