…there’s a lot of hoopla in Atlanta right now about the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Today’s big do is The Battle Of Peachtree Creek.
Lt. General John B. Hood (CSA) had just taken command of the Army of Tennessee and decided to attack Maj. General William T. Sherman (USA). It was Hood’s first major battle after taking command.
Sherman’s army was banging on the door of Atlanta, and Hood knew something had to be done if the city was to be saved.
Battle after battle, Sherman’s army had outflanked General Joseph Johnson’s (CSA) army, and had finally crossed the Chattahoochee River, the last natural barrier to the city.
Just as Johnson was making plans for an offensive at Peachtree Creek, he received a telegram from Confederate President Jefferson Davis relieving him of his command.
Hood took over.
Hood, known for his aggressiveness in warfare learned that Sherman had split his army; half was advancing on Atlanta, and half was headed to Peachtree Creek to cut the confederate supply lines.
Knowing the Union Army would be vulnerable crossing the creek and just after, he planned his attack there.
During the morning of July 20, 1864, the Union Army of the Cumberland crossed Peachtree Creek and started building defensive works. They were not half way done when the Rebels attacked.
But, victory was lost to the Confederates, and Hood’s army retreated.
1,900 Union soldiers died that day along with 2,500 Confederates. Though not the heaviest casualties of the War, one general put it this way…
“Few battlefields of the war have been strewn so thickly with dead and wounded as they lay that evening around Collier’s Mill.” Maj. General J D Cox (USA).
The battlefield today has all but disappeared. Urban development and the Buckhead district of Atlanta have taken over most of it.
There are a few markers here and there commemorating the bloody battle, many of them in Tanyard Creek Park, and Peachtree Battle Avenue reminds us every day that over 4,000 Americans died fighting each other. But, most of the battlefield is taken UP by the Bobby Jones Golf Course and the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center.
After the war, Hood moved to Louisiana, became a cotton broker and founded an insurance business. He married a New Orleans native, fathered 11 children in 10 years (three sets of twins) and worked in philanthropic endeavors while writing his memoirs.
His insurance business was ruined by a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans during the winter of 1878–79 and he succumbed to the disease himself, dying just days after his wife and oldest child, leaving 10 destitute orphans, who were adopted by families in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and New York.
Sherman went on a mission to eradicate the Native American Population of the West, writing to Grant “…we must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children...”
Even with all the civil war history I’ve read, and that’s a great deal, I’ll never understand how one nation under God became so divided that they went to war against each other.
Commemorate – yes, honor – yes, study – yes,
forget – never.