Civil War Battles of Georgia

Siege of Atlanta, 1864, by Thure de Thulstrup, 1888

Atlanta (July 22, 1864) – Following the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Confederate General John Bell Hood determined to attack Major General James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee. He withdrew his main army at night from Atlanta’ s outer line to the inner line, enticing Union Major General William T. Sherman to follow. In the meantime, he sent William J. Hardee with his corps on a 15-mile march to hit the unprotected Union left and rear, east of the city. Wheeler’s cavalry was to operate farther out on Sherman’s supply line, and General Frank Cheatham’s corps were to attack the Union front. Hood, however, miscalculated the time necessary to make the march, and Hardee was unable to attack until afternoon. Although General Hood had outmaneuvered Sherman for the time being, McPherson was concerned about his left flank and sent his reserves — Grenville Dodge’s XVI Army Corps — to that location.

Two of Hood’s divisions ran into this reserve force and were repulsed. The Rebel attack stalled on the Union rear but, began to roll up the left flank. Around the same time, a Confederate soldier shot and killed Union General James McPherson when he rode out to observe the fighting. Determined attacks continued, but, the Union forces held. About 4:00 pm, Cheatham’s corps broke through the Union front at the Hurt House, but, Sherman massed twenty artillery pieces on a knoll near his headquarters to shell these Confederates and halt their drive. Major General John A. Logan’ s XV Army Corps then led a counterattack that restored the Union line. The Union troops held, and Hood suffered high casualties. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 3,641 Union and 8,499 Confederate.

Ezra Church (July 28, 1864) – Also called the Battle of the Poor House, this large battle took place in Fulton County on July 28, 1864. Earlier, Union  Major General William T. Sherman’s forces had approached Atlanta from the east and north. Confederate General John B. Hood had not defeated them, but, he had kept them away from the Atlanta. Sherman now decided to attack from the west. He ordered the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Major General Oliver O. Howard, to move from the left wing to the right and cut Hood’s last railroad supply line between East Point and Atlanta. Hood foresaw such a maneuver and determined to send the two corps of Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee and Lieutenant General Alexander P. Stewart to intercept and destroy the Union force. Thus, on the afternoon of July 28, 1864, the Rebels assaulted Howard at Ezra Church. Howard had anticipated such a thrust, entrenched one of his corps in the Confederates’ path, and repulsed the determined attack, inflicting numerous casualties. Howard, however, failed to cut the railroad. The Union victory resulted in 562 Union casualties and 3,000 Confederate.

Utoy Creek (August 5-7, 1864) – This battle took place in Fulton County as part of the Atlanta Campaign. After failing to envelop General John B. Hood’s left flank at Ezra Church, Major General William T. Sherman still wanted to extend his right flank to hit the railroad between East Point and Atlanta. He transferred John M. Schofield’ s Army of the Ohio from his left to his right flank and sent him to the north bank of Utoy Creek. Although Schofield’s troops were at Utoy Creek on August 2, 1864, they, along with the XIV Corps, Army of the Cumberland, did not cross until the August 4th. Schofield’s force began its movement to exploit this situation on the morning of the August 5th, which was initially successful. Schofield then had to regroup his forces, which took the rest of the day. The delay allowed the Rebels to strengthen their defenses with abatis, which slowed the Union attack when it restarted on the morning of August 6th. The Federals were repulsed with heavy losses by Bate’s Division and failed in an attempt to break the railroad. On August 7th, the Union troops moved toward the Confederate main line and entrenched. Here they remained until late August. The number of casualties in the inconclusive battle are unknown.

Dalton II (August 14-15, 1864) – Part of the Atlanta Campaign, this conflict occurred in Whitfield County on August 14-15, 1864 when Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler and his cavalry raided into North Georgia to destroy railroad tracks and supplies. They approached Dalton in the late afternoon of August 14, 1864, and demanded the surrender of the garrison. The Union commander, Colonel Bernard Laibolt, refused to surrender and fighting ensued. Greatly outnumbered, the Union garrison retired to fortifications on a hill outside the town where they successfully held out, although the attack continued until after midnight. Skirmishing continued throughout the night. Around 5:00 am, on August 15th, Wheeler retired and became engaged with relieving infantry and cavalry under Union Major General James B. Steedman’s command. Eventually, Wheeler withdrew. The contending forces’ reports vary greatly in describing the fighting, the casualties, and the amount of track and supplies captured and destroyed. This engagement was inconclusive, but since the Confederates withdrew, it may be termed a Union victory. The number of casualties is unknown.

Lovejoy’s Station (August 20, 1864) – Another battle of the Atlanta Campaign, this skirmish took place in Clayton County. While Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler was absent raiding Union supply lines from North Georgia to East Tennessee, Union Major General William Sherman, unconcerned, sent Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick to raid Rebel supply lines. Leaving on August 18th , Kilpatrick hit the Atlanta & West Point Railroad that evening, tearing up a small area of tracks. Next, Kilpatrick headed for Lovejoy’s Station on the Macon & Western Railroad. In transit, on August 19th, Kilpatrick’s men hit the Jonesborough supply depot on the Macon & Western Railroad, burning great amounts of supplies. On the 20th, they reached Lovejoy’s Station and began their destruction. The Rebel infantry (Cleburne’s Division) appeared and the raiders were forced to fight into the night, finally fleeing to prevent encirclement. Although Kilpatrick had destroyed supplies and track at Lovejoy’s Station, the railroad line was back in operation in two days. The number of casualties in the Confederate victory are unknown.

Jonesborough (August 31-September 1, 1864) – Another battle of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, this conflict occurred in Clayton County. Union General William T. Sherman had successfully cut Confederate Lieutenant General John B. Hood’s supply lines in the past by sending out detachments, but, the Confederates quickly repaired the damage. In late August, Sherman determined that if he could cut Hood’s supply lines — the Macon & Western and the Atlanta & West Point Railroads — the Rebels would have to evacuate Atlanta. Sherman, therefore, decided to move six of his seven infantry corps against the supply lines. The army began pulling out of its positions on August 25 to hit the Macon & Western Railroad between Rough and Ready and Jonesborough. To counter the move, Hood sent Lieutenant General William J. Hardee with two corps to halt and possibly rout the Union troops, not realizing Sherman’s army was there in force. On August 31st, Hardee attacked two Union corps west of Jonesborough but, was easily repulsed. Fearing an attack on Atlanta, Hood withdrew one corps from Hardee’s force that night. The next day, a Union corps broke through Hardee’ s troops which retreated to Lovejoy’s Station, and on the night of September 1st, Hood evacuated Atlanta. Sherman did cut Hood’s supply line but, failed to destroy Hardee’s command. The Union victory resulted in 1,149 Union casualties and 2,000 Confederate.

Altoona Pass, Georgia about 1863

Altoona Pass, Georgia about 1863

Allatoona (October 5, 1864) – This battle took place in Bartow County as part of the 1864 Franklin-Nashville Campaign. After the fall of Atlanta, Confederate General John Bell Hood moved northward to threaten the Western & Atlantic Railroad, Major General William T. Sherman’s supply line. He attacked a number of minor garrisons and damaged tracks on October 2-4, 1864. Sherman sent reinforcements —  Brigadier General John M. Corse’s brigade — to Allatoona just before the Rebels attacked there. Major General Samuel G. French’s Confederate division arrived near Allatoona at sunrise on the 5th. After demanding a surrender and receiving a negative reply, French attacked. The Union outer line survived a sustained two and a half hour attack, but, then fell back and regrouped in an earthen “Star” fort of Allatoona Pass. French repeatedly attacked, but the fort held. The Rebels began to run out of ammunition, and reports of arriving Union reinforcements influenced them to move off and rejoin Hood’s force. The Union victory resulted in 706 Union casulaties and 799 Confederate.

Griswoldville (November 22, 1864) – Part of the Savannah Campaign of 1864, this battle took place in Jones and Twiggs Counties. Union Brigadier General Charles Walcutt was ordered to make a demonstration, with the six infantry regiments and one battery that comprised his brigade, toward Macon, Georgia to ascertain the disposition of enemy troops in that direction. He set out on the morning of November 22nd, and after a short march he ran into some of Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry and drove them beyond Griswoldville. Having accomplished his mission, Walcutt retired to a position at Duncan’s Farm and fortified it with logs and rails to meet an expected Rebel attack force composed of three brigades of Georgia State Militia. The Georgia Militia had been ordered from Macon to Augusta, thinking the latter was Union General William T. Sherman’s next objective, and accidentally collided with Walcutt’s force. The Union force withstood three determined charges before receiving reinforcements of one regiment of infantry and two regiments of cavalry. The Rebels did not attack again and soon retired. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 62 Union and 650 Confederate.

Buck Head Creek (November 28, 1864) – Taking place in Jenkins County on November 28, 1864, this skirmish was part of the Savannah Campaign. As Union General William T. Sherman’s infantry marched southeast through Georgia, his cavalry, under Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick moved northeastward, on November 24, 1864, to destroy the railroad midway between Augusta and Millen, burn the trestle near Briar Creek and, if possible, release Union prisoners confined at Camp Lawton, near Millen, while feigning a drive towards Augusta. Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler was fooled and concentrated his cavalry forces around Augusta. When Kilpatrick did not show, Wheeler realized his mistake and rode off in an attempt to catch his Union counterpart. On November 26th, Wheeler caught up with two lagging Union regiments, attacked their camp, chased them to the larger force and prevented Kilpatrick from destroying the Briar Creek trestle. Kilpatrick instead destroyed a mile of track in the area and moved southwest to join up with Sherman. Kilpatrick also discovered that the Union prisoners at Camp Lawton had been taken to other unknown sites. He encamped near Buck Head Creek on the night of November 27th. Wheeler came along the next morning, almost captured Kilpatrick, and pursued him and his men to Buck Head Creek. As Kilpatrick’s main force crossed the creek, one regiment, supported by artillery, fought a rearguard action severely punishing Wheeler and then burned the bridge behind them. Wheeler soon crossed and followed, but a Union brigade behind barricades at Reynolds’s Plantation halted the Rebels’ drive, eventually forcing them to retire. The Union victory resulted in 46 Union casualties and 600 Confederate.

Waynesborough (December 4, 1864) – Part of the 1864 Savannah Campaign, this battle took place in Burke County. As Union Major General William T. Sherman’s infantry marched southeast through Georgia, his cavalry under Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick rode northeastward. He set out on the morning of December 4, 1864 to attack Waynesborough and destroy Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry command. That morning, Kilpatrick’s men advanced, driving the Rebel skirmishers in front of them. The Union force then came up against a defensive line of barricades which they eventually overran. As the Union advance continued, they met more barricades which required time to overcome. Finally, the Confederates fell back to a final line of barricades within the town. After furious fighting, the Union troops broke through and Wheeler’s force fled. The Union victory resulted in estimated casualties of 190 Union and 250 Confederate.

Fort McAllister II (December 13, 1864) – This skirmish occurred in Bryan County as part of the As Union General William T. Sherman’s troops approached Savannah they sorely required supplies. Sherman determined that if he could take Fort McAllister, supply ships could reach him. Thus, he ordered Major General Oliver O. Howard, commander of his right wing, to take the fort. Howard chose Brigadier General William B. Hazen to accomplish the task. Hazen, in the afternoon of December 13, 1864 had his men in line for the attack. Upon giving the order to attack, his men rushed forward through the various obstacles prepared for them, entered the fort, and captured it. With his supply line open, Sherman could now prepare for the siege and capture of Savannah. The Union victory resulted in an estimated 134 Union casualties and 71 Confederate.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated January 2019.

Also See:

Western Theater of the Civil War

The Civil War

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Sherman’s Famous March to the Sea


National Park Service

New Georgia Encyclopedia