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After Atlanta
September-November, 1864
About North Georgia

Hood is forced to destroy his eighty car munitions train. All that remains are the wheels.
On September_1, 1864, General John Bell Hood left Atlanta with a bang. Surrounded, with all rail lines cut, Hood blew up his munitions and the Atlanta depot. The explosion was so loud that William Tecumseh Sherman comments on it to staff members in his quarters near Rough and Ready, a railroad depot south of the city. The explosion is the final scene in the battle for Atlanta and the beginning of the end game of the War for Southern Independence.

Atlanta mayor James Calhoun

Mayor James Calhoun formally surrendered Atlanta at the corner of Northside Drive and Marietta Street.
Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to Henry Slocum on September 2nd. Sherman arrived five days later and ordered all civilians to leave. On September_11, 1864 Calhoun appealed Sherman's decision on humanitarian grounds and the following day the Union commander responded, "The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families, There will be no manufactures, commerce or agriculture here..." Over
a ten-day period the remaining civilians were given a choice...move north or
south.

General Sherman ordered the people of Atlanta to leave
The civilians remaining in Atlanta after its capture are forced to leave.
As each day passes Sherman becomes more confident of his position. His lifeline, the Western and Atlantic Railroad, is garrisoned from Atlanta (History of Atlanta) to Chattanooga, Tennessee while Hood defended the Macon Road. With a strong position at Kennesaw Mountain and the citizenry of Atlanta gone, Sherman took his time, waiting to see the next move of the Army of Tennessee. The Union commander wanted Atlanta in part for its political significance, in part for the morale significance, yet his goal had never been the railway hub on the Chattahoochee River but the army that defended it.

President Jefferson Davis traveled to the city of Macon where, on September_23, 1864 he gave one of the most bizarre speeches of any American president. Among other things, President Davis called Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown a "scoundrel," announced his plans for the defeated Army of Tennessee, and predicted that Sherman will retreat from Georgia as Napoleon had retreated from Russia.

Five days earlier, Hood began his move. After wrecking havoc on railroads in the center of the state to make it more difficult for Sherman to advance, Hood moved west, crossing the Chattahoochee in the area of West Point taking his decimated army north into the rolling, forested countryside to the west of Atlanta. It was here that Joe Johnston successfully defended Georgia soil at the battles of New Hope Church, Dallas, and Pickett's Mill.

Further north Nathan Bedford Forrest was traipsing across Tennessee trying to distract the entire Union Army with limited success. Sherman remained prepared for an "attack at any point", but realized there was little Hood could do in the thick underbrush of West Cobb County and East Paulding County. General George Henry Thomas moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, forming a northern border through which Hood should not be able to move. Sherman then sent John Corse to Rome with a division to defend the city. Sherman felt that city must be Hood's objective because of the fortifications and manpower at Kennesaw Mountain. Sherman was wrong, and caught completely off-guard. A. P. Stewart moved out of the forest in the vicinity of Lost Mountain, attacking and destroying the Union garrison near the depot in Big Shanty (Kennesaw), then moving up the Western and Atlantic Railroad to Acworth.

Stewart's goal was Allatoona Pass, {Allatoona Pass trail information) which Sherman had left lightly defended. It was being used as a staging area for provisions on the way to the Union strongholds at Atlanta and Kennesaw Mountain, so the attraction to Hood is twofold. First, the pass is an easily defended strategic stronghold, and second, it can supply much-needed rations for the hungry troops. Sherman realizes his mistake and orders Corse to move from Rome to the pass on October_3, 1864. Thirty-six hours later Rebels struck the now-entrenched Corse, failing to dislodge the Union General from Allatoona Pass. By the end of the day, nearly out of ammunition, the Confederate Army retreated.

It was time for Sherman to move. Mobilizing a significant amount of his men and material at Kennesaw Mountain, Sherman began chasing the Rebels. At Allatoona he is three days behind the retreating Hood. Even separated, either of Sherman's armies outnumbered the Army of Tennessee by a significant margin.

On October_10, 1864 Hood's men skirmished with the federal troops in the vicinity of Rome. Upon finding the Rebels near Rome, the Union Army moved west towards the city. Resaca is Hood's next destination, where he demanded surrender of the garrison protecting the railroad. The garrison commander bluntly refuses the offer. With General Sherman on his heels, Hood opts to move further north, to Dalton, where he successfully takes the Union garrison and, for a short time, controls a section of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Hood's tactical advance ends a short time later at Buzzard's Roost (Mill Creek Gap), just west of Dalton. 35-year old Captain Samuel Hymer holds off a significant portion of the Confederate Army with 41 men on October_13, 1864. This Indiana native, leading Company D of the 115th Illinois Infantry, held the blockhouse in Mill Creek Gap for more than 10 hours during repeated attacks. A sharp skirmish at Ship's Gap marked the last battle of Hood's army in Georgia.


P. T. G. Beauregard

For a week the Confederate Army drifted around northwest Georgia. For a brief time it appears as though a battle may occur in LaFayette, Georgia, where Hood established a defensive perimeter, but the Rebels retreat as Sherman approaches. General P. G. T. Beauregard, who assumed command of the Western Theater on October 3, 1864, meets with Hood on the 17th. The Army of Tennessee escapes the vise created by the two Union Armies, crossing the Georgia-Alabama border near Cave Springs. With the Rebel army heading west Sherman moves east to Kingston to reiterate a bold plan he proposed earlier. George Thomas, John Schofield and 70,000 Union soldiers would control the railroad between Louisville, Kentucky and Dalton (city history), Georgia from a command post in Nashville, Tennessee while two wings totaling 60,000 Union soldiers took a "March to the Sea."

Long distance discussion with Lieutenant-General Grant continued for two weeks.

At 9:00 a.m, November_2, 1864, Sherman made his case one more time:
If I turn back, the whole effect of my campaign will be lost. By my movements I have thrown P. G. T. Beauregard well to the west...We have now ample supplies at Chattanooga and Atlanta, and can stand a month's interruption to our communications. I do not believe the Confederate army can reach our railroad-lines except by cavalry-raids... I am clearly of opinion that the best results will follow my contemplated movement through Georgia.

Two and a half hours later Ulysses S. Grant replied to the red-haired commander from Ohio with agreement:
I do not see that you can withdraw from where you are to follow Hood without giving up all we have gained in territory. I say, then, go on as you propose.

Preparation had been the hallmark of the Atlanta Campaign and now Sherman prepared for the "March to the Sea." He moved the stores in Atlanta north to Thomas. The sick and wounded are taken to Chattanooga and further north. Men enroute are directed to their units while others, just now returning from furlough, are halted in Tennessee.

According to Sherman, movement on his grand scheme began on Thursday, November_10, 1864, two days after President Lincoln's re-election. General Corse, in Rome, is ordered to destroy anything that could be useful to the enemy, then join Sherman. Railroad tracks from Dalton south to Allatoona Pass are raised and transported to Dalton. South of Allatoona Pass the the tracks are torn up and burned while the rails are turned into "Sherman's neckties." The Union commander moves from Kingston to Cartersville on the morning of November_12, 1864 where the final message north is sent before the line goes dead. The March to the Sea had begun.


Georgia History
Articles about North Georgia history and the state in general. This section is currently being developed. For more information on Georgia History, please see The Civil War in Georgia
The Civil War in Georgia
Beginning with the Great Locomotive Chase and the battle of Chickamauga, to the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea

Article Links
Allatoona Pass
Army of Tennessee
Atlanta Campaign
Chattahoochee River
Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Cobb County
George Henry Thomas
Jefferson Davis
Joe Johnston
John Bell Hood
Joseph E. Brown
Kennesaw Mountain
March to the Sea
Nathan Bedford Forrest
P. G. T. Beauregard
Paulding County
Pickett's Mill
Ulysses S. Grant
Western and Atlantic Railroad
William Tecumseh Sherman

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