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Hood Takes Command
About North Georgia

Louis Trezevant Wigfall was an icon of an independent South. While a member of the U. S. Senate in December, 1860 he said, "I would save this Union if I could; but it is my deliberate impression that it cannot now be done..." Later he would lead his home state of Texas to secession. Wigfall's wife Louise used her wedding dress to make the flag used by the First Texas Volunteers at Gettysburg. The senator, a longtime friend of Johnston, openly displayed his dislike for President Davis by remaining seated when Davis entered a room.
Prior to the start of the Atlanta Campaign Senator Louis Wigfall visited Joseph E. Johnston in Dalton. At this time Johnston expressed satisfaction that General John Bell Hood would be joining the Army of Tennessee as a division commander. Hood, who lost use of his arm at Gettysburg and had his leg amputated at Chickamauga, was returning to Dalton after recovery in Richmond where he had access to both Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

Wigfall had more than a passing interest in the developments in the west. His son, Captain Francis Halsey Wigfall, and his daughter, Louise, were both intimately involved in the Atlanta Campaign. Francis was on Hood's staff and Louise was a resident of the Gateway City. Over the next 2 1/2 months Wigfall would watch his friend retreat to the outskirts of Atlanta.

After the Confederate victory at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain Wigfall returned to pay a visit to his old friend, now in Marietta and the news was not good. Richmond was awash with rumors that Johnston would be relieved of command. After a substantial discussion on matters at hand the talk turned to the future. Wigfall inquired about future plans and asked about a potential battle with the advancing invaders. Johnston indicated that Peach Tree Creek offered an opportunity to hand the Yankees a major defeat.

Georgian Benjamin Hill was next to pay a visit on Joe Johnston. The silver-tongued orator who had served his state both as senator and representative and addressed the Secession Convention as a pro-union voice, Hill proposed to travel to Richmond and back Johnston's proposal for additional cavalry to strike at Sherman's rear. It did no good. Hill returned and personally delivered President Davis' message to the beleaguered Johnston. He had received all the help Richmond could afford to send.

In an attempt to drum up support Davis advised General Robert E. Lee of his plans on July_12, 1864.

General Johnston has failed, and there are strong indications that he will abandon Atlanta. He urges that prisoners should be removed immediately from Andersonville. It seems necessary to relieve him at once. Who should succeed him? What think you of Hood for the position?

In spite of Lee's "friendship" with General Hood, when the President inquires about Hood, Lee suggests,
I regret the fact stated... It is a bad time to release the commander of an army situated as that of Tennessee. We may lose Atlanta and the army too. Hood is a bold fighter. I am doubtful as to the other qualities necessary.

Braxton Bragg arrived in Atlanta on a hot July evening, but reception at the Johnston headquarters was decidedly cool. Earlier in the day Bragg paid a visit to Hood, which probably helped to chill the meeting with Johnston. The former commander of the Army of Tennessee had come on a "fact-finding mission" and was to report back to Davis whether Johnston had plans to defend Atlanta. Bragg returned to Richmond without a commitment or a plan of defense.

On July 16 Davis sent a urgent telegram to Atlanta, demanding to know the plans for the enemy. Johnston's famous reply sealed his fate.

As the enemy has double our number, we must be on the defense. My plan of operations must, therefore, depend upon that of the enemy. It is mainly to watch for an opportunity to fight to advantage.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on July 17, 1864 a telegram arrived at Johnston's headquarters, three miles north and west of Atlanta on the Marietta Road (map), ordering him to turn command of the Army of Tennessee over to John Bell Hood. The following morning Johnston officially gave command to Hood. General Jacob Cox tells the Union view:


...the change of Confederate commanders was learned with satisfaction by every officer and man in the National Army. The patient skill and watchful intelligence and courage with which Johnston had always confronted them with impregnable fortifications had been exasperating.

Both Hood and Johnston agreed on what was said at the meeting. Johnston described a general plan that had the Rebel Army attacking Union forces as they crossed Peachtree Creek, then moving to the south and flanking the other elements of the Union Army as they approached from Decatur.


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

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Atlanta Campaign
Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
Braxton Bragg
Chickamauga
Jefferson Davis
John Bell Hood
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Peach Tree Creek
Robert E. Lee
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