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Battle/Siege of Atlanta, GA
in the American Civil War

Union Battle Summary

Atlanta, Ga., Siege of, (includes Battle of Peach Tree Creek and Battle/Siege of Atlanta) July 20 to Sept. 2, 1864. Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Tennessee, and Army of the Ohio. The objective points for the year 1864 were Richmond and Atlanta - the head and heart of the Confederacy. Early in March Gen. U.S. Grant was made lieutenant-general and transferred to the immediate command of the Army of the Potomac, Maj.-Gen. W.T. Sherman being at the same time placed in command of the forces in the West. Sherman's new command consisted of four departments: the Army of the Cumberland, at Chattanooga, commanded by Maj.-Gen. George H. Thomas; the Army of the Tennessee, at Huntsville, Ala., commanded by Maj.-Gen. James B. McPherson; the Army of the Ohio, in East Tennessee, commanded by Maj.-Gen. John M. Schofield; and the Army of Arkansas, under the command of Maj.-Gen. Frederick Steele. The last named was subsequently transferred to Canby's trans-Mississippi division, and took no part in the Atlanta campaign. The Army of the Cumberland was composed of the 4th, 14th and 20th army corps, respectively commanded by Maj.-Gens. O.O. Howard, John M. Palmer and Joseph Hooker; the cavalry corps of Brig.-Gen. Washington L. Elliott, and some unattached troops. The 4th corps was made up of three divisions, commanded by Maj.-Gen. David S. Stanley, Brig.-Gen. John Newton and Brig.-Gen. Thomas J. Wood, and later in the campaign an artillery brigade was organized and placed under the command of Maj. Thomas W. Osborn. In the 14th corps were three divisions, the 1st commanded by Brig.-Gen. R.W. Johnson, the 2nd by Brig.-Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, and the 3rd by Brig.-Gen. Absalom Baird. In this corps was also an artillery brigade, commanded by Maj. Charles Houghtaling. The 20th corps comprised three divisions, the 1st commanded by Brig.-Gen. Alpheus S. Williams, the 2nd by Brig.-Gen. John W. Geary, and the 3rd by Maj.-Gen. Daniel Butterfield. Maj. John A. Reynolds commanded the artillery brigade of the 20th corps after it was organized in July. The cavalry corps included the three divisions commanded by Brig.-Gens. Edward McCook, Kenner Garrard and Judson Kilpatrick. The Army of the Tennessee embraced the 15th, 16th and 17th army corps, commanded by Maj.-Gens. John A. Logan, Grenville M. Dodge and Frank P. Blair. Logan's corps included the divisions of Brig.-Gens. Peter J. Osterhaus, Morgan L. Smith and William Harrow. In Dodge's corps were the divisions of Brig.-Gens. Thomas W. Sweeny and James C. Veatch. The 17th corps was made up of the two divisions commanded by Brig.-Gen. Mortimer D. Leggett and Brig.-Gen. Walter Q. Gresham. The Army of the Ohio consisted of the 23rd corps, which was composed of the three divisions of infantry commanded by Brig.-Gens. Alvin P. Hovey, Henry M. Judah and Jacob D. Cox, and the cavalry division of Maj.-Gen. George Stoneman. The effective strength of the army on May 1, 1864, was 98,797 men, with 254 pieces of artillery. At that time the 17th corps was not with the main body. After it joined on June 8 the effective strength was 112,819 men.

Opposed to this force was the Confederate army under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. It was made up of Hardee's corps, consisting of Cheatham's, Cleburne's and Walker's divisions and the artillery under col. Melancthon Smith; Hood's (or Lee's) corps, consisting of the divisions of Hindman, Stevenson and Stewart and the artillery under Col. R.F. Beckham; Wheeler's cavalry corps, embracing Martin's, Kelly's and Hume's divisions and Roddey's command, with the artillery under Col. F.H. Robertson; Polk's corps, which included Loring's, French's and Cantey's (or Walthall's) divisions; the cavalry division of Brig.-Gen. W.H. Jackson, and the 1st division of the Georgia state militia. In his article in "Battles and Leaders" Johnston states his effective forces as being 42,856 men, with 112 guns, but Maj. E.C. Dawes, of the 53rd Ohio, who made an extended investigation into the subject, estimates the Confederate strength at Resaca as being at least 67,000 men with 168 cannon, and figures that Johnston had under his command something over 84,000 men later in the campaign.

With a view of preventing Johnston from sending reinforcements to Longstreet in East Tennessee, and also to assist Sherman's expedition to Meridian, Miss., Thomas made a demonstration against Dalton, Ga., in the latter part of February, but the campaign against Atlanta really began with the occupation of Tunnel Hill by the Union forces on the 7th of May. Then followed engagements at Rocky Face Ridge, Mill Creek Gap, Dug Gap, Dalton, Resaca, Lay's Ferry, Adairsville, Cassville, New Hope Church, Pickett's Mills, Big Shanty, Brush Mountain, Kolb's Farm, Kennesaw Mountain, Ruff's Station, Smyrna and the Chattahoochee river, with almost constant skirmishing as Johnston retired toward Atlanta. On July 17th Sherman's entire army crossed the Chattahoochee, his advance being within 8 miles of the city. Up to this time Johnston had acted on the defensive and so well had he conducted his campaign that it had taken Sherman nearly two and a half months to advance a distance of 100 miles. During the winter of 1863-64 Gen. Gilmer, Confederate chief engineer, had strengthened Atlanta as a base for Johnston's army by intrenching the city. About the middle of June Capt. Grant of the engineers was instructed to strengthen these fortifications, especially on the northern side, toward Peachtree creek. Johnston had been promised by Gen. Maury at Mobile a number of rifled guns for this portion of the works, and Gov. Brown had promised 10,000 state troops to aid in the defense of the city. Johnston's plan was to engage the Union army while it was divided in crossing Peachtree creek. If he failed there he would fall back to the line of works constructed by Grant, where he could sally out and attack either flank of the Federal forces as opportunity offered. But he was not permitted to carry out his plans. His defensive campaign had not found favor with the Confederate authorities, and on the very day the Union forces crossed the Chattahoochee he received the following telegram from Adjt.-Gen. Cooper at Richmond: "I am directed by the Secretary of War to inform you that, as you have failed to arrest the advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, and express no confidence that you can defeat or repel him, you are hereby relieved from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you will immediately turn over to General Hood."

The news of the change soon reached the Federal lines, where it was received with general satisfaction. Knowing the feeling of the Confederate government toward Johnston's course, the new commander determined upon an aggressive policy. His opportunity soon came. Schofield had crossed the Chattahoochee at Phillips' ferry, near the mouth of Soap creek, and moved against the Georgia rail-road in the vicinity of Decatur. McPherson had effected a crossing at Roswell and move to Schofield's left, striking the railroad between Decatur and Stone Mountain, where Garrard's cavalry and M. L. Smith's division destroyed several miles of track. He then effected a junction with Schofield and moved toward the city. On the 19th Sherman ordered Thomas to hold his right near Howell's mill on Peachtree creek and swing his left across the stream to connect with Schofield. Davis' division made an attempt to cross at the mill, but finding the enemy too strong on the opposite bank moved farther down the stream, where he crossed without serious resistance, though Dilworth's brigade had a sharp skirmish with and repulsed a Confederate detachment. Geary succeeded in crossing about half a mile above the mill. Wood moved forward on the Buckhead road, but found the bridge destroyed and a force strongly intrenched on the high bank opposite. By resorting to a flank movement he succeeded, after a stubborn fight, in gaining a footing on the south side of the creek below the road. At dark that evening Thomas had the heads of three columns on the south side of the Peachtree and the remainder of his army in position to follow early on the 20th. There was still a considerable gap between Thomas and Schofield, and to remedy this Sherman ordered Howard to extend his line to the left to connect with Schofield. Stanley's division crossed the north fork of the Peachtree above the Buckhead road, and went into camp for the night between the forks of the creek, ready to move toward Schofield's line early on the following morning. Baird's division of Palmer's corps crossed during the night and took position on the left of Davis, who occupied the extreme right of the line, and early the next morning Johnson crossed and moved into position on the left of Baird. Hooker sent over Williams' division to form on Geary's right, and Ward's (formerly Butterfield's) was ordered to Geary's left. Wood's division made a detour to join Stanley and Newton moved up on the Buckhead road into the position vacated by Wood. The general course of Peachtree creek is westwardly. Howell's mill stood at the point where the Marietta road crossed the creek and from there to Buckhead bridge the distance was about a mile and a half up the stream. About half-way between the two roads a small stream called Shoal creek flowed into the Peachtree from the south, and a short distance east of the Buckhead road was another stream known as Clear creek. On the back of Shoal creek, about a quarter of a mile from the mouth, stood Collier's mill. Newton, after relieving Wood, moved forward to a position about half a mile south of the Peachtree, his left thrown out toward Clear creek, with his line commanding the cross road running to Collier's mill, and threw up a barricade of rails and logs. In a hollow to his right and rear lay Ward's division, while still farther to the right beyond Shoal creek was Geary.

Hood was aware of the gap in the Federal line and planned an assault on Thomas before Schofield and McPherson could come to his support. The attack was ordered for 1 p.m. on the 20th, with Stewart's corps on the left, Hardee's in the center and Cheatham's on the right. Wheeler's cavalry was sent to hold Schofield and McPherson in check, Cheatham was instructed to hold his left on the creek in order to keep between Thomas and Schofield, and the other two corps were to be hurled against Thomas. The advance was to be made by divisions in echelon, beginning on Hardee's right, and when the Union lines were forced back to the creek the Confederates were to turn to the left and press down the creek toward the west, sweeping everything before them. At the last minute it became necessary to change the plan of battle to meet certain contingencies. Schofield and McPherson had moved faster than Hood had expected, notwithstanding Wheeler's efforts to hold them back. On the night of the 19th Schofield crossed the south fork of the Peachtree and took up a position along Peavine creek, almost parallel to Cheatham's line of intrenchments. To prevent Schofield from forming a junction with Thomas, Cheatham was directed to withdraw a division from his left to meet Schofield, and Hardee and Stewart were ordered to move to the right to close the space thus vacated. This movement caused a delay, so that it was about 4 o'clock before the attack was begun. The movement of the Confederates to the right brought Hardee in front of Newton, who bore the brunt of the first assault. Without skirmishers Hardee advanced with Bate on the right, Walker in the center, Maney on the left and Cleburne in reserve. His first division passed Newton's left flank near Clear creek and for a little while it looked as though Newton would be swept from his position. But Bradley's brigade, which was in reserve, quickly formed and with the assistance of a well manned battery repulsed the attack. Kimball's brigade, on the right of the road, was forced to change front to meet a force that was outflanking it. The movement was successfully executed and just at this juncture the brigades of Wood, Harrison and Coburn, of Ward's division, came up on Kimball's right. The sudden appearance of these fresh troops threw the enemy into confusion and he beat a precipitate retreat. In the meantime the attack had been extended beyond Shoal creek toward the Union right. Near Collier's mill was an angle between Ward and Geary. When the enemy had advanced into this angle Geary's batteries opened with canister at short range and at the same time a fierce infantry fire was maintained both in front and on the flank. The slaughter here was terrific. After the fight Geary's fatigue parties buried over 400 of the Confederate dead. Stewart sent in the divisions of Loring and Walthall, holding French within easy supporting distance. This part of the Confederate line was subjected to a heavy enfilading fire and forced to retire with heavy losses. Loring lost 1,062 men in a few minutes. Again and again the Confederates rallied and advanced to the assault. But Thomas - "The Rock of Chickamauga" - was there in person, directing the movements of his men, all of whom had the utmost confidence in their general and presented a front that was invincible. Ward's batteries were placed in a position to sweep the Clear creek valley, driving back Bate's column that was trying to gain Newton's rear. The enemy's losses in the subsequent attacks were not so great as in the first charge, but their repulse was none the less decisive. The efforts to reform the lines for another assault were continued until sunset, when the attempt was abandoned and the enemy retired within his works. The Federal loss at the battle of Peachtree creek in killed, wounded and missing was 1,707. No official report of the Confederate casualties was made. General Hooker's estimate of the losses in front of the 20th corps was 4,400 in killed and wounded, and the total loss in killed, wounded and missing was not far from 6,000. While the battle of Peachtree creek was in progress Gresham's division forced Wheeler's cavalry back across the Augusta road toward Bald Hill. In this movement Gresham was severely wounded and Brig.-Gen. Giles A. Smith was assigned to the command of the division.

The 21st was spent by Thomas and Schofield in the readjustment of their lines. Skirmish lines were advanced and intrenched within a short distance of the enemy's works, and the space between Howard and Logan was filled by Schofield's troops. On the Union left McPherson was more aggressive. Seeing that Bald Hill was the key point to the situation on that part of the line he determined to possess it. The hill was held by Cleburne's division, which had occupied and intrenched it the night before. McPherson sent Force's brigade of Leggett's division, supported by Giles A. Smith, against Cleburne. Force advanced under cover of the hill itself until within a short distance of the enemy's lines and then made a dashing charge across the intervening open space against the slight intrenchment before him. Cleburne's men were veterans and met the charge with that bravery which had distinguished them on other fields, but after a sharp combat they were forced to yield. The hill, afterward known as Leggett's hill, was promptly manned by artillery, well supported by infantry, and a few shells were thrown into the city.

Having failed in his attempt against Thomas, Hood now turned his attention to McPherson. In his report he says: "The position and demonstration of McPherson's army on the right threatening my communications made it necessary to abandon Atlanta or check his movements. Unwilling to abandon, the following instructions were given on the morning of the 21st: The chief engineer was instructed to select a line of defense immediately about Atlanta, the works already constructed for the defense of the place being wholly useless from their positions; Stewart's and Cheatham's corps to take position and construct works to defend the city, the former on the left, the latter on the right. The artillery, under the command of Brig.-Gen. Shoup, was massed on the extreme right. Hardee was ordered to move with his corps during the night of the 21st south on the McDonough road, crossing Intrenchment creek at Cobb's mills, and to completely turn the left of McPherson's army. This he was to do, even should it be necessary to go to or beyond Decatur. Wheeler, with his cavalry, was ordered to move on Hardee's right, both to attack at daylight, or as soon thereafter as possible. As soon as Hardee succeeded in forcing back the enemy's left, Cheatham was to take up the movement from his right and continue to force the whole from right to left down Peachtree creek, Stewart in like manner to engage the enemy as soon as the movement became general."

Such were Hood's plans for his sortie of the 22nd, but again the unforeseen interposed to prevent its success. Blair's corps, its right at Bald Hill, had a line of intrenchments along the McDonough road, which made it necessary for Hardee to take a different route from the one laid down by Hood, so that he was not in position to begin his attack until about noon. At daybreak that morning the Confederate works in front of Thomas and Schofield were found abandoned. Of this situation Sherman says in his report: "I confess I thought the enemy had resolved to give us Atlanta without further contest, but General Johnston had been relieved of his command and General Hood substituted. A new policy seemed resolved on, of which the bold attack on our right was the index. Our advancing ranks swept across the strong and well finished parapets of the enemy and closed in upon Atlanta until we occupied a line in the form of a general circle of about 2 miles radius, when we again found him occupying in force a line of finished redoubts which had been prepared for more than a year, covering all the roads leading into Atlanta, and we found him also busy in connecting those redoubts with curtains, strengthened by rifle-trench, abatis and chevaux-de-frise."

In contracting the lines about the city Dodge's corps (the 16th) was thrown somewhat to the rear by the 15th corps connecting with Schofield's right near the Howard house where Sherman had his headquarters. Dodge was therefore ordered to move to McPherson's left flank to strengthen and extend the line in that direction. About noon the two divisions of Dodge's corps were marching by fours in a long column to the new position. Their line of march was nearly parallel to Hardee's line of battle consisting of Bate's and Walker's divisions, concealed in the timber on the left. The first intimation Dodge had of the presence of an enemy came with a few straggling shots from the Confederate skirmishers. All Dodge had to do was to face his veterans to the left and they were in good line of battle on ground well calculated for defense. Thus the engagement was begun on different ground and with a different body of troops from what Hood intended or Hardee expected. When the corps halted and faced to the left Fuller's (formerly Veatch's) division was on the right and Sweeny's on the left. In front was an open field over which the enemy must advance. Fuller received the brunt of the first attack, but it was handsomely repulsed. Walker's and the 14th Ohio batteries were wheeled into position and these, with the unerring infantry fire, checked every attempt to cross the field, each time driving back the enemy with heavy losses. Some idea of the carnage at this part of the field may be gained from the statement that 13 of Walker's men were found dead in one corner of a rail fence behind which the line was formed. In one of these charges Gen. Walker rode out of the woods, swinging his hat to cheer forward his men, and a moment later was shot from his horse, dying almost instantly. While the line was in some confusion Fuller made a headlong charge and captured a number of prisoners, including the colonel and adjutant of the 66th Ga.

McPherson was in consultation with Blair and Logan near the railroad when the sound of the firing was heard, and hurried to the scene of action. Noticing that a considerable gap existed between Dodge's right and Blair's left, he sent orders to Logan to push forward a brigade to close up the line. A short time served to satisfy McPherson that Dodge could hold his position and he started back to Blair. Just at this juncture Cleburne's skirmishers were advancing into the gap above mentioned. They called to McPherson to surrender, but instead of obeying the summons he lifted his hat, as if in salute, and wheeled his horse to gallop away. His action drew forth a volley and he fell mortally wounded. As soon as the news reached Sherman he assigned Logan to the temporary command of the Army of the Tennessee. The sound of the volley that killed McPherson told Fuller that the enemy was advancing on his right, and he threw forward the 64th Ill., armed with the Henry repeating rifles, to protect his flank. This regiment met Cleburne's skirmishers with such a galling fire that they fell back with a loss of several in killed and wounded and some 40 prisoners. Upon one of the prisoners was found McPherson's effects, including an important despatch to Sherman, and the body of the dead general was soon afterward recovered.

Almost immediately after the fall of McPherson the divisions of Cleburne and Maney emerged from the timber on the right of Dodge and under the protection of a heavy artillery fire from the ridge in their rear advanced in three columns against the left and rear of the 17th corps. They struck Blair's left flank, fronting west, then swung through the gap and seized the works constructed by Leggett and Smith in their advance on Bald Hill the day before. In this movement the 16th Iowa, 245 men, on Blair's extreme left was cut off and captured. On moved the confederate advance until it reached the foot of the hill and even began the ascent to attack Leggett's works on the summit. Here the tide of battle was turned. Smith's division leaped over their works and began to pour in a deadly fire from the other side. Wangelin's brigade, which Logan had sent in response to McPherson's last order to occupy the gap, arrived and opened fire on the enemy's flank. This gave Blair an opportunity to change front and form a new line, by which arrangement the confederates were forced back. Hood watched the movement from a salient in the city's fortifications, and about 3 p.m., when he saw Hardee's attack had driven Blair's left back far enough to attack the hill from the south, ordered Cheatham's corps and the state troops under G.W. Smith to move against the Union position from the Atlanta side. Here Col. Jones, of the 53rd Ohio, with two regiments of M.L. Smith's division and two guns of Battery A, 1st Ill. artillery, occupied a position on a hill about half a mile in advance of the main line. Near his position the railroad ran through a deep cut and close by stood a large house of which the enemy could take advantage to cover his advance along the railroad. Jones wanted to burn the house, but failed to get permission to do so. Cheatham sent forward Manigault's brigade to occupy it, while the main body of the corps poured through the cut and struck Jones on the flank, throwing his line into disorder. The two guns were spiked, however, before they fell into the hands of the enemy.

About 800 yards in advance of the 15th corps was Battery H (De Gress'), 1st Ill. light artillery, composed of 20-pounder Parrott guns and occupying the works evacuated by the enemy on the night of the 21st. The battery, practically unsupported, was charged about 4 o'clock. The attack in front was repulsed, but the enemy gained the rear, and De Gress, seeing that capture was imminent, spiked the guns and withdrew his men. The guns were soon afterward recaptured, unspiked and fired a few rounds after the retreating enemy. This part of the engagement was witnessed by Sherman from his position near the Howard house and he ordered Schofield to mass his artillery there and open a cross fire on Cheatham as he advanced toward the hill. At the same time the 1st division of the 15th corps, commanded by Brig.-Gen. C.R. Woods, and Mersey's brigade of Sweeny's division moved forward and attacked Cheatham on flank and rear, checking his advance. The whole 15th corps now rallied and by a counter charge drove Cheatham in confusion from the field, recapturing De Gress' guns. This virtually ended the battle. Though several subsequent attacks were made they only served to increase the Confederate losses without giving them any advantage. Hardee and Cheatham were operating on lines nearly at a right angle and several miles apart. Had they attacked with vigor at the same moment the result might have been different. Fortunately for Blair, who occupied the hill for which the enemy was contending, the assaults were so disconnected that he always had time to change front to meet each one when it came.

One thing that made it comparatively easy for Hardee to gain Blair's flank and rear was the fact that Sherman had sent Garrard's cavalry on the 21st to Covington to destroy the Georgia railroad. Had the cavalry been with the left wing it is quite probable that some scouting party would have discovered the movement in time to check it, or at least to have given a different turn to the battle.

At Decatur was Sprague's brigade of Fuller's division guarding a train. About the time that Hardee began his attack two divisions of Wheeler's cavalry made a descent upon Sprague in an endeavor to capture the train. Sprague disposed his force in such a way as to cover the withdrawal of the train and put up a gallant resistance to a vastly superior force. Reilly's brigade of Sweeny's divisions came to his assistance and Wheeler was repulsed with a loss estimated at from 500 to 600. Sprague lost 242 men, most of whom were evidently captured, as Wheeler reported about 225 prisoners.

Gen. J.D. Cox reports the Union losses in the battle of the 22nd at 3,521 in killed, wounded and missing. Full returns of the Confederate casualties are not available, but Logan estimated them at 10,000. His command captured 5,000 stand of small arms, 18 stand of colors and 1,017 prisoners. The total number of prisoners taken by the Union army was about 2,000. Walker's division lost so heavily that the remnants of its brigades were assigned to other commands.

Hood made another sortie on July 28, at Ezra church (q.v.). After that Sherman settled down to a siege, with occasional cavalry raids against the railroad communications south of the city. (See McCook's, Stoneman's and Kilpatrick's Raids.) These expeditions having failed to destroy the railroads, Sherman decided to intrench the 20th corps, now commanded by Maj.-Gen. H.W. Slocum, at the railroad bridge over the Chattahoochee and at Pace's and Turner's ferries, and move the rest of his army to the south of Atlanta. This movement began on Aug. 25. The 4th corps was relieved by Garrard's cavalry, dismounted, and covered the withdrawal of the 20th corps to the river. The next day the 4th and 14th corps were massed on Utoy creek, and by the evening of the 27th the entire army except Slocum's corps was between Atlanta and Sandtown. Hood had unconsciously played into Sherman's hands by sending Wheeler with about 10,000 cavalry to cut the Western & Atlantic railroad in the rear of the Union army, thus weakening the Confederate forces in the field where Sherman was now operating. On the night of the 28th Thomas was at Red Oak, a station on the West Point railroad, Howard, with the Army of the Tennessee, was at Fairburn, and Schofield was near Mt. Gilead church, about 4 miles east of Thomas. Hood sent out Hardee's and S.D. Lee's corps on the 30th to check Sherman's movements and save the railroads if possible. During the next few days skirmishes occurred at Red Oak, Rough and Ready, Morrow's mill, Mud creek and some other places; the battle of Jonesboro was fought on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, and the fighting continued around Lovejoy's Station until Sept. 5. In the end the enemy was eaten at every point, for on the night of the 31st the Federals were in full possession of the railroads. Upon learning this Hood realized that further resistance was useless, and at 5 p.m. on Sept. 1 the evacuation of the city was begun. During the night heavy explosions were heard by Sherman's army, 20 miles south, caused by blowing up their stores and magazines, and the next morning it was discovered that the confederate force at Jonesboro had been withdrawn during the night.

In the meantime Slocum's command had been engaged in constructing works at the railroad bridge and ferries, the 1st division being at the bridge, the 2nd at Pace's ferry and the 3rd at Turner's. On Aug. 27 French's division, with 4 pieces of artillery, came out and made a spirited attack on Slocum's position, but it was handsomely repulsed with considerable loss to the enemy and very slight loss to the Union forces. The explosions on the night of Sept. 1 were heard in Slocum's camp, and early the next morning he sent out a detachment of the 2nd brigade, Ward's division, under col. John Coburn, to make a reconnaissance in the direction of the city and learn the cause of the explosions. Coburn reached the old line of the Confederate works and found it abandoned. In the suburbs of the city he was met by Mayor Calhoun, with a committee of citizens bearing a flag of truce. The mayor formally surrendered the city and about 10 a.m. Ward's division marched in and took possession, the remainder of Slocum's corps following later. The Army of the Cumberland reached the city on the 8th and took position in the works around it to guard against any attempt to retake it. Sherman ordered all families of Confederate soldiers to move southward within five days, and all citizens of the north, not connected with the army, to move northward, as the city was required purely for military purposes. When the march to the sea was commenced the torch was applied to all buildings except churches and dwellings, but as the work was somewhat indiscriminately done many buildings of the exempted classes were consumed.

Source: The Union Army, Volume 6, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


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