Civil War Daily Gazette

A Day-By-Day Accounting of the Conflict, 150 Years Later

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‘I Want Him Pursued Vigorously’ – Sherman Launches Another Attack


July 21, 1864 (Thursday) “During the night,” wrote General Sherman after the war, “I had full reports from all parts of our line, most of which was partially intrenched as against a sally, and finding that McPherson was stretching out too much on his left flank, I wrote him a note early in the morning not to extend so much by his left; for we had not troops enough to completely invest the place, and I intended to destroy utterly all parts of the Augusta Railroad to the east of Atlanta, then to withdraw from the left flank and add to the right.” The Army of Tennessee, commanded by James McPherson, had advanced toward Atlanta from Decatur in the east. But in his hesitation, McPherson’s success was limited. “I was in hopes you could have made a closer approach to Atlanta,” came the letter from General Sherman, “as I was satisfied you had a less force and more inferior works than will be revealed by daylight, if, as I suppose, Hood proposes to hold Atlanta… Read More

‘I Determined to Strike the Enemy’ – Hood Attacks at Peachtree Creek


July 20, 1864 (Wednesday) It was too late. John Bell Hood’s plan was sound, but its failure was spelled out before its inception. Hood, commanding the Confederate forces north and east of Atlanta, Georgia, believed William Tecumseh Sherman had made a fatal error in dividing his forces. Of the three Federal armies, only one, the Army of the Cumberland, was pushing from the north, crossing Peachtree Creek to set upon the city. The two remaining, the Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio, were to the east, near Dalton. And though he gave their approach little caution, he was late before them as well. The attack, which called for two of his corps to fall upon the Army of the Cumberland just after they crossed Peachtree Creek, but before they could fully entrench, was to erupt at 1pm. His remaining corps was faced east, blocking the perceived slight threat from the enemy at Dalton. General Hood’s plan was indeed sound, but not only had he waited too long to enact it, he waited too long… Read More

Let a Man at Each End Twist the Bar – Sherman’s Recipe for Neckties


July 19, 1864 (Tuesday) Sherman’s armies were across the Chattahoochee River, and were now marching steadily for Atlanta. By the encampment of the night previous, the Northern forces began to box in the city from the north as well as the east. The Army of the Cumberland, commanded by George Thomas, came to rest near the banks of Peach Tree Creek, while James Shoefield’s Army of the Ohio fell in on his left. To the east and along the Georgia Railroad, James McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee began to ply their trade, ripping up track and ensuring that it would never again be of use to the Confederates. From his headquarters at Cross Keys, General Sherman laid out his plans for his 90,000. Thomas was to “press down from the north on Atlanta.” Peach Tree Creek was to be crossed, and the enemy driven back from any point upon which they held to the banks. Schofield was to leave Thomas’ side and move directly on Decatur from the north and play upon the railroad and… Read More

Federal Pursuit Halted at Cool Spring

Robert Rodes

July 18, 1864 (Monday) The day previous was one of marching. His Rebels being followed after their failed attempt to sack Washington, Jubal Early made his headquarters at Berryville, east of Winchester. Some of his number, the divisions under Stephen Ramseur and John Gordon, he placed at Castleman’s Ferry, on the main road across the Shenandoah, over the Blue Ridge and to Leesburg. Robert Rodes’ division took their place two miles north and along the river. His cavalry was sent north and south to cover the flanks. But while the Confederates readied their defenses, the Federals under the command of Horatio Wright did little more than rest. Wright had plans, however. The Federal force had been cobbled together and in reality was still cobbling. Nevertheless, George Crook’s Army of West Virginia, as well as Wright’s own Sixth Corps, now commanded by James Ricketts, were to cross the Blue Ridge, and then the Shenandoah at Castleman’s Ferry. If practicable, he was to attack. Following, a Nineteenth Corps division, was to bring up the rear. Though cavalry… Read More

‘You Have Failed’ – Davis Removes Johnston from Command

Joe "I'll tell you all about my plan later" Johnson

July 17, 1864 (Sunday) General J. E. Johnston: Lieut. Gen. J. B. Hood has been commissioned to the temporary rank of general under the late law of Congress, 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, far in the interior of Georgia, 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. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General. The message arrived in Atlanta by telegraph from Richmond. It was by courier that it found its way to Joe Johnston’s headquarters, three miles north of Atlanta. President Davis had been considering this for months. In fact, he had never wanted Johnston to take command at all. In retrospect, it’s surprising that Davis, who would usually allow personal feeling to dictate his political and military decisions, took this long to act. On July… Read More

A Meaningless Capture as Early Slips Away


July 16, 1864 (Saturday) Once again, they were moving, splashing across the Potomac onto Virginia soil, pursuing the Rebel host. For two days both sides had rested on opposite sides of the river, but on the morning of this date, 12,000 Federals under Horatio Wright renewed the chase. They crossed at White’s (Conrad’s) Ferry, while at Edward’s ferry, four miles downstream, an additional 5,000 men under General James Ricketts, crossed as well. And from Leesburg, Virginia, the retreated Confederates under Jubal Early, too set off, moving west toward Snicker’s Gap and the Shenandoah River. They were a full day’s march ahead of the Union infantry, but from the Northern cavalry, they were not so fortunately placed. From Hillsboro, northwest of Leesburg, General Alfred Napol√©on Alexander Duffi√© dispatched patrols to hunt down Early’s location. They found a band of Confederates near the town of Purcellville, and drove them south onto the main body, then marching along the turnpike from Leesburg to Snicker’s Gap. Being but a small squadron, they could not attack, but held close, watching.… Read More

‘Make All the Valley a Desert’ – Grant Proposes Some Drastic Measures


July 15, 1864 (Friday) Jubal Early’s raid on Washington had sputtered to an unceremonious end. He and his Army of the Valley slipped away from the suburbs of Washington and were back across the Potomac by July 14th. So sluggish was the Federal pursuit that only a regiment of Rebel cavalry had to be dismounted to hold back its advance elements. The 10,500 Union troops were led by Horatio Wright. As the Rebels crossed into Virginia, Wright established an encampment near Poolesville. There they would remain for two fully days, held back from the crossing by a relative handful of Confederates. Early’s main force, now at Leesburg, would also be stationary for two days, each side seemingly giving the other a respectful enough interval before continuing the war. Meanwhile, the Federals were trying to figure out how to trap Early and destroy him before he could rejoin Robert E. Lee’s main body. While Wright was at Poolesville, another column under David Hunter was now somewhere between Harpers Ferry and the enemy at Leesburg. Still another… Read More

Forrest Battles at Tupelo, Mississippi


July 14, 1864 (Thursday) “The enemy have a strong position,” argued Nathan Bedford Forrest, “have thrown up defensive works and are vastly our superior in numbers and it will not do for us to attack them under such conditions.” He was speaking to S.D. Lee, his commander, and the commander of the Confederate cavalry forces in Mississippi. Before them were 14,000 Federal troops under A.J. Smith, who had descended from Tennessee in an attempt to secure the lines of supply to William Tecumseh Sherman’s armies nearing Atlanta. Though Forrest may not have wanted to attack, he did want to hit the Yankees.”One thing is sure,” he was to have said, “they enemy cannot remain long where he is. He must come out, and when he does, all I ask or wish it to be turned loose with my command.” But S.D. Lee wanted the immediate action that waiting out the Federals would not give him. But with no more than 7,000 men, how was this possible? But on the morning of this date, the chances… Read More

I Find But Little Encouraging – Bragg Inspects Johnston’s Army

Early Bragg

July 13, 1864 (Wednesday) William Tecumseh Sherman had succeeded in turning the left flank of Joe Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee. The Rebels had been secure in the defenses of their Kennesaw line, but Sherman’s numbers allowed him to slip around the left. In response to this, Johnston retreated across the Chattahoochie River, losing track of Sherman’s forces. This was important, since now Johnston had no way of knowing which crossings Sherman might use. Taking advantage of this, Sherman sent a column of cavalry around the Confederate right to destroy the factories at Roswell, up the Chattahoochie River from Marrieta, directly in the Confederate rear. They were soon joined by infantry – James McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee. With his two other armies, the Army of the Ohio, helmed by James Schofield, and George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland, Sherman held two other crossings nearby – all three now on the Confederate right. The very next day, the 10th, Johnston abandoned yet another position, that along the river, burning his bridges behind him. Sherman’s armies… Read More

Lincoln Was No ‘Damned Fool’ Under Fire


July 12, 1864 (Tuesday) Jubal Early had planned to attack the defenses north of Washington at first light, but word from his cavalry raiding near Baltimore stayed his hand. There were, he had learned, two full corps of Federal infantry en route from Petersburg. He again looked over the ground, but it was not to be. “I had, therefore, reluctantly to give up all hopes of capturing Washington,” he wrote after the war, “after I had arrived in sight of the dome of the Capitol, and given the Federal authorities a terrible fright.” Though to Early it was over, to Washington, it might have just begun. Word coming also from Baltimore told of the ravages of Bradley Johnson’s Confederate cavalry. “The Rebels captured a train of cars on the Philadelphia and Baltimore Road,” wrote Gideon Welles in his diary, “and have burnt bridges over Gunpowder and Bush Rivers.” The governor’s house was set to burning by the 1,500 or so Rebels. “General demoralization seems to have taken place among the troops, and there is as… Read More