War of the Rebellion: Serial 074 Page 0618 Chapter L. THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

The character of Peach Tree Creek and the numerous fords on the Chattahoochee above its month prevented my attempting to defend that part of the river. The broad and muddy channel of the creek would have separated the two parts of the army. It and the river below its month were therefore taken as our line. A position on the high ground south of the creek was selected for the army from which to attack the enemy while crossing. The engineer officers, with a large force of negroes, were set to work to strengthen the fortifications of Atlanta, and mount on them seven heavy rifles borrowed from Major-General Maury. The chief engineer was instructed to devote his attention first to the works between the Decatur and Marietta roads; to put them in such condition that they might be held by the State troops, so that the army might attack the enemy in flank when he approached the town. This in the event that we should be unsuccessful in attacking the Federal army in its passage of Peach Tree Creek. After the armies were separated by the Chattahoochee skirmishing became less severe.

On the 14th division of Federal cavalry crossed the river by Moore's Bridge, near Newnan, but was driven back by Armstrong's brigade, sent by Brigadier-General Jackson to meet it. On the 15th Governor Brown informed me orally that he hoped to re-enforce the army before the end of the month with near 10,000 State troops. On the 17th the main body of the Federal army crossed the Chattahoochee between Roswell and Powers' Ferry. At 10 p. m., while I was giving Lieutenant-Colonel Presstman, chief engineer, instructions in regard to his work of the next day on the fortifications of Atlanta, a telegram was received from General Cooper informing me, by direction of the Secretary of War, that as I had failed to arrest the advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, and expressed no confidence that I could defeat or repel him, I was relieved from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which would be immediately turned over to General Hood. This was done at once. On the morning of the 18th the enemy was reported to be advancing, and at General Hood's request I continued to give orders until afternoon, placing the troops in the position selected near Peach Tree Creek.

In transferring the command to General Hood I explained my plans to him: First, to attack the Federal army while crossing Peach Tree Creek. If we were successful great results might be hoped for, as the enemy would have both the creek and the river to intercept his retreat. Second, if unsuccessful, to keep back the enemy by intrenching, to give time for the assembling of the State troops promised by Governor Brown; to garrison Atlanta with those troops, and when the Federal army approached the town attack it on its most exposed flank with all the Confederate troops. These troops, who had been for seventy-four days in the immediate presence of the enemy-laboring and fighting daily, enduring toil, exposure, and danger with equal cheerfulness, more confident and high spirited than when the Federal army presented itself near Dalton-were then inferior to none who ever served the Confederacy.

Under the excellent administration of Brigadier-General Mackall, chief of staff, the troops were well equipped and abundantly supplied. The draft animals of the artillery and quartermaster's department were in better condition on the 18th of July than on the 5th of May. We lost no material in the retreat except the four field pieces mentioned in the accompanying report of General Hood.