In the Battle of Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864, Confederat forces attempted to destroy the Union's Army of the Cumberland with a ferocious assault. If successful, the attack would have been the biggest Confederate military victory and destroyed the Union's Atlanta Campaign; however, Union lines barely managed to hold out leading to a Union victory.
After being put in charge as the commander of the
overall Union forces in 1864, Ulysses S. Grant took the initiative and decided
to attack the South and employ total war tactics. These tactics called for
burning farms, buildings, and more in an attempt to both destroy the
Confederacy’s ability to make war and demoralize the Confederate troops. As
part of this plan, Grant launched the Atlanta Campaign and put William Tecumseh
Sherman in charge of it. The goal of this campaign was to seize Atlanta, one of
the Confederacy’s most important cities in the war.
While Grant pushed against Lee’s forces in Virginia,
Sherman and his men marched toward Atlanta and wreaked havoc as they went.
After Confederate forces withdrew to just south of Peachtree Creek in Georgia,
the head of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, General Joseph Johnston, was
replace by General John B. Hood. Under the new command of General Hood, the
Army of Tennessee launched a strike against the Army of the Cumberland under
the command of Union Major General George H. Thomas after Thomas’s men had just
crossed Peactree Creek, and the Battle of Peachtree Creek ensued.
The reason Hood launched this attack was because a
large gap existed between the Union forces under Generals McPherson and
Schofield and the Union force under General Thomas. The plan was for one group
of Hood’s men under the command of Wheeler
and Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham would prevent Schofield and
McPherson from advancing while Confederate forces under Confederate Generals Hardee
and Stewart trapped Thomas’s men along Peachtree Creek and destroyed them. If
this plan worked, it would subsequently annihilate the Union’s Atlanta Campaign
and be the biggest victory of the war for the Confederacy. Unfortunately for
the Rebels, McPherson and Schofield were much closer to Atlanta than Hood
thought, which delayed the attack for hours but did put them in a much better
strategic position in thend.
With that said,
Confederate chances fell apart when Hardee’s forces barely engaged Union
forces, so Stewart was held up just long enough to receive word from Hood that
they need reinforcements elsewhere. As a result, Stewart and Hardee moved east
to reinforce Wheeler, and the Battle of Peachtree Creek came to the end. In conclusion,
the battle was a Union victory as Union forces just barely managed to hold off
Stewart’s ferocious assault.