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On August 31 and September 1, 1864, Union forces under the command of Sherman engaged Confederate forces led by Lieutenant General William J. Hardee and under the overall command of Confederate General Hood. Fighting occurred near Confederate supply lines by Jonesboro, Georgia. Hardee's men attacked Union forces but were easily repulsed as they had not expected the Union Army to be in such force at that location. The following day, September 1, Sherman's men broke through Hardee's defensive line forcing them to retreat to Lovejoy's Station and forcing Confederate General Hood to withdraw his men and abandon Atlanta as this loss meant his supply lines had been cutoff.

  • Newspaper Heading with Cartoon Depicting the Battle.
  • Historical Marker Signifying the Battle of Jonesboro
After receiving the overall command of Union forces in 1864, Ulysses S. Grant sent Sherman to march on Atlanta and conduct a total war as he went to ultimately destroy the Confederate ability to make war. During this campaign, Sherman burned and destroyed many cities and lands, greatly demoralizing Confederate soldiers. After months of fighting, he finally surrounded Atlanta and began to siege it but found its defenses impenetrable. Consequently, Sherman sent his men in force to take control of the the Macon & Western and the Atlanta & West Point Railroads because cutting rebel supply lines would force the rebels to retreat from Atlanta. 

However, Confederated General Hood quickly realized what Sherman was up to and dispatched two corps under Lieutenant General William J. Hardee to secure the supply lines. Thus, Confederate and Union forces engaged near Jonesboro when Confederates attacked on September 31. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Hood had not expected for the Union to send such great numbers to take the supply lines, so Hardee's attack was easily repulsed. That night, Sherman withdrew one corps from Hardee's forces because he feared Union attack on Atlanta.

On the next day, September 1, Union forces engaged Hardee's men and broke through their lines, which led to Hardee's retreat to Lovejoy Station and Union control of the Confederate supply lines for Atlanta. As a result, Hood withdrew his men from Atlanta leaving Sherman in control of Atlanta, one of the South's most important cities. This victory also allowed Sherman to begin his move toward Savannah and then on to Richmond, continuing his total war strategy as he went.