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The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta One of the most dramatic and important battles ever to be waged on American soil, the Battle of Atlanta changed the course of the Civil War and helped decide a presidential electionIn the North, a growing peace movement and increasing criticism of President Abraham Lincoln s conduct of the war threatened to halt US war efforts to save the Union On the morning of July Confederate forces under the command of General John Bell Hood squared off against the Army of the Tennessee led by General James B McPherson just southeast of AtlantaHaving replaced General Joseph E Johnston just four days earlier, Hood had been charged with the duty of reversing a Confederate retreat and meeting the Union army head on The resulting Battle of Atlanta was a monstrous affair fought in the stifling Georgia summer heat During it, a dreadful foreboding arose among the Northerners as the battle was undecided and dragged on for eight interminable hours Hood s men tore into US forces with unrelenting assault after assault Further, for the first and only time during the war, a US army commander was killed in battle, and in the wake of his death, the Union army staggered Dramatically, General John Black Jack Logan stepped into McPherson s command, rallied the troops, and grimly fought for the rest of the day In the end, ten thousand men one out of every six became casualties on that fateful day, but the Union lines had heldHaving survived the incessant onslaught from the men in grey, Union forces then placed the city of Atlanta under siege, and the city s inevitable fall would gain much needed, positive publicity for Lincoln s reelection campaign against the peace platform of former Union general George B McClellan For those interested in books on war, and in particular the Civil War, this is a terrific account of the Battle of Atlanta not the part that took place near where we live, which is known as the Battle of Peachtree Creek It takes a bit of concentration to read, since the battle descriptions are very detailed However, one feels the battle intensely. The Battle Of AtlantaOn September 4, 1864, General W.T Sherman sent a famous telegram to President Lincoln Atlanta is ours, and fairly won The fall of Atlanta transformed what appeared to be an upcoming defeat for Lincoln s bid for reelection into a strong victory In addition to its political impact, the Union s capture of Atlanta proved to be an integral part of the Union military victory.Apart from Sherman s telegram and Jefferson Davis decision to replace General Joseph Johnston with G The Battle Of AtlantaOn September 4, 1864, General W.T Sherman sent a famous telegram to President Lincoln Atlanta is ours, and fairly won The fall of Atlanta transformed what appeared to be an upcoming defeat for Lincoln s bid for reelection into a strong victory In addition to its political impact, the Union s capture of Atlanta proved to be an integral part of the Union military victory.Apart from Sherman s telegram and Jefferson Davis decision to replace General Joseph Johnston with General John Hood, the military actions that led to the fall of Atlanta have received little attention Hood was aggressive, perhaps reckless, where Johnston was extraordinarily cautious and defense minded Upon assuming command, Hood fought three battles within ten days at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, and Ezra Church which resulted in severe losses to the Army of Tennessee and allowed Sherman to take the city on September 1.In his book, The Day Dixie Died The Battle of Atlanta 2010 , Civil War historian Gary Ecelbarger offers a detailed account of the pivotal battle in the capture of Atlanta the hard fought Battle of Atlanta of June 22,1862 I have read detailed histories of many Civil War battles, but this book gave me my first close look at this battle.Following the progress of a battle, including the troop movements and the geographical landmarks can be confusing, even for an experienced reader A virtue of Ecelbarger s account is that it is, for the most part, easy to follow Ecelbarger offers a clear account of complex movements over, for me, unfamiliar geographical terrain I could follow the progression of events relatively well even though I hadn t studied the details of this engagement before.Ecelbarger also admirably sets the stage for the battle and for the actions of the chief protagonists His judgments appear nuanced, particularly as they involve Hood The Confederate commander is frequently portrayed as simply reckless and thoughtlessly aggressive Ecelbarger s history rehabilitates Hood, in part, by arguing for the need for aggressive countermeasures to stave off the Union advance.Hood devised a plan to get in the rear or on the flank of the Army of the Tennessee East of Atlanta commanded by General James McPherson Ecelbarger draws parallels to Stonewall Jackson s flank attack at Chancellorsville He also points out critical differences the route to the Union rear was longer than that of Chancellorsville, and Hood had little idea of the nature of the terrain his troops needed to cover The attack was delayed for several hours and, with a good deal of luck, the Union made adjustments which had the unintended effect of blunting the attack when it came.The battle was fought on several fronts and centered on the possession of an elevation called Bald Hill which changed hands several times The Confederates attacked repeatedly and bravely and achieved some success before the Union rallied under General John Logan who had become the commander after McPherson was killed Although Ecelberger does not draw the parallels, the course of the battle reminded me of Gettysburg in several ways Hancock s rushing in of reinforcements to save the day against Longstreet on the second day of the battle has strong similarities to the way the Battle of Atlanta developed I was reminded of the difficult Confederate attempts to take both Culps Hill and Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg At Gettysburg and at Atlanta, Confederate efforts to take an elevated position against a smaller defending force failed due to terrain and to the effective use of artillery In addition, as was the case at Gettysburg, the Confederate attack was poorly coordinated among its various Corps commanders This was Hood s responsibility as the coordination difficulties at Gettysburg were Lee s.Ecelbarger s account emphasizes the tragedy of the Battle of Atlanta with its with its heavy loss of life on both sides His concluding chapter describes the significance of the battle and includes a discussion of the Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta painted in the 1880 s The Cyclorama remains prominently displayed in Atlanta today.The aspect of this campaign that most fascinates me remains the replacement of Johnston by Hood Although Ecelberger makes a case for Hood s aggressiveness, I was unconvinced His battle plan against the Army of the Tennessee strikes me as hastily conceived, flawed, and rash even though it had certain positive elements and even though Ecelberger attempts to rehabilitate it in part Perhaps a better course for the Confederacy would have been a long siege defense with the aim of holding Sherman at bay until after the presidential election Although many will disagree, I tend to besympathetic to Johnston In any event, this is a well written, thoughtful Civil War history I learned a great deal as well from the many excellent online reviews of this book.Robin Friedman The Battle of Atlanta was fought on July 22, 1864 The battle lasted for eight hours and may well have been the battle that ended the Confederacy It was fought over a large area that surrounded the downtown area of Atlanta The size of the battle could not only be measured in area but in the number of dead It is estimated that over 10,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during those eight long hours.The Battle of Atlanta was significant for several reasons People on both sides of t The Battle of Atlanta was fought on July 22, 1864 The battle lasted for eight hours and may well have been the battle that ended the Confederacy It was fought over a large area that surrounded the downtown area of Atlanta The size of the battle could not only be measured in area but in the number of dead It is estimated that over 10,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during those eight long hours.The Battle of Atlanta was significant for several reasons People on both sides of the conflict were tiring of the war and a movement was afoot to replace Abraham Lincoln during the next election, and propose a truce that would reunite the States of the Confederacy and to allow slavery It was the Battle of Atlanta that proved to be the turning point of the war and allowed the North to see the war coming to an end Lincoln was nominated to run for another term for the Presidency The reelection of Lincoln as President guaranteed the preservation of the Union, the death of the Confederacy, and the end of slavey.This is an excellent read, however, it is geared towards students of history, primarily those interested in the Civil War and Atlanta It is very detailed in troop movements the maps provided will help and the officers on both sides The difficulty lies in that many of the names, both officers and armies have very similar names The author does a good job of sorting through all of this and making it easier of the reader.After reading this book, the reader will truly believe that July 22, 1864 was The Day Dixie Died In the summer of 1864, the Union war effort was at its nadir The Northern populace was bombarded with a seemingly endless array of news of battlefield disasters and bloodbaths, and the harrowing, mind numbing scenes of train loads of caskets being unloaded for burial The war, seemingly going so well following Vicksburg, Gettysburg and later Chattanooga, was now seemingly a war that could not be won The task of conquering the South seemed an insurmountable one In Louisiana, General Bank s joi In the summer of 1864, the Union war effort was at its nadir The Northern populace was bombarded with a seemingly endless array of news of battlefield disasters and bloodbaths, and the harrowing, mind numbing scenes of train loads of caskets being unloaded for burial The war, seemingly going so well following Vicksburg, Gettysburg and later Chattanooga, was now seemingly a war that could not be won The task of conquering the South seemed an insurmountable one In Louisiana, General Bank s joint Army Navy Red River Campaign ended in an inglorious rout Rebel forces went on the offensive in Louisiana and Arkansas In Virginia, Grant and Meade s enormous Army of the Potomac was soundly thrashed at the Wilderness in May, and impaled upon Confederate works at Spotsylvania, North Anna and mercilessly mowed down at Cold Harbor Further defeats on the Peninsula in front of Richmond and in the Shenandoah likewise added to Yankee misery In northern Georgia however, the news wasmysterious Sherman, commander of the combined Federal forces just south of Chattanooga had cut his forces off from media interference, and his campaign southward to Atlanta was one of guesstimates from those both at home and in Washington.General Sherman, for ten weeks, would fight and maneuver his way south, playing a lethal chess match with General Joe Johnston who managed to stay one step ahead of Sherman, if he could never truly stop him Johnston s Rebels would win nearly all of the tactical encounters in northern Georgia, sometimes spectacularly so, and inflict heavier losses However, Sherman s willingness to merely flank the Rebels and force them to backpedal to the next defensive position was inexorable Even Johnston s lopsided triumph at Kennesaw Mountain in June was made moot by Sherman s swinging around Johnston yet again.For failing to stop Sherman north of the Chattahootchie, and for failing to launch a counteroffensive to take advantage of the several tactical successes he had achieved, Johnston was relieved and replaced by John Bell Hood Thus sets the stage for Gary Ecelbarger s excellent study on a very ignored, yet decisive, battle of the War Between the States The Lincoln Administration, awash in broken hearted criticism from a war weary, and anguished Northern populace desperately needed a triumph to offset the news of tactical whippings and horrifying casualties coming from the various fronts With Grant locked in a bloody stalemate in trench warfare outside Richmond Petersburg, and with Confederate forces on the offensive in the Shenandoah, the Administrations eyes turned to Sherman and Atlanta Sherman looked to invest the city by swinging around to its right, or east, a stratagem he had used nearly flawlessly thus far in the campaign against the brilliant, yet overly cautious Joe Johnston Now with Hood replacing him, Sherman expected to have to fight hard for Atlanta.Hood proved him correct This is the tale of this book Following an initial, failed, offensive strike against the Army of the Cumberland having crossed the Chattahootchie north of Atlanta , on 20 July at Peachtree Creek, Hood looked to hit the opposite end of the Federal line and smash into the Army of the Tennessee which had, on 21 July, seized the eminence of Bald Hill from Cleburne s Division in a bloody affair Hood looked to catch the Federals in a flank attack, much like Jackson s at Chancellorsville, that would roll up and devastate the Union AotT Following this Hood would in turn roll up the flanks of both the Army of the Ohio and the AoC, pressing the routed and disorganized Yankees north of the Chattahootchie where Hood hoped to block any further Yankee advances It was a bold plan, and despite it s oft panned source, was a very good one, absent the operational and strategic flights of fancy Hood would be prone towards later in the war Ecelbarger narrates the story well, using both Federal and Rebel accounts to weave a fast paced, rousing narrative that tells the tale, in the dramatic way it deserves, of one of the wars most decisive, yet ignored battles The 22 July Battle of Atlanta Decatur most commonly just called the Battle of Atlanta saw the Rebels of Hardee s and Cheatham s Corps hurl themselves at the works held by the Union AotT Despite being poorly organized and timed not to.mention being made with ranks thinned by exhaustion and the brutal heat and humidity the Rebels under Cleburne and of Cheatham s Corps managedthan once to break the Federal lines General James McPherson, commanding the Federal AotT was killed early in the fighting, the highest ranking Union officer to fall in the war, and the Union left flank was rolled up and nearly crushed before stout Federal resistance denied the Rebels a true breakthrough Joseph Wheeler s Southern cavaliers were bested by the Federals in their attempt to seize Decatur and pounce upon the Yankee rear though they did wreak havoc on the Union logistical train , and although Cheatham s Corps did break the Federal center, and threaten to crush the entire AotT, a brilliant counterattack led by Union General John Black Jack Logan drove the Southerners from their gains and restored the lines Hood didn t realize just how close he had come to realizing his ambitions till after the battle, and he failed to act to take advantage of Cheatham s huge success late in the day A final assault on the Federal left, this time on Bald Hill, by Cleburne s Division, though ferocious and lasting through the night in a rare nocturnal battle, failed to dislodge the Yankees The battle was a resounding Union success,than making up for the pain and misery thus far felt in northern Georgia Roughly 6,000 Rebels were lost in the days fighting as opposed to roughly 4,000 Federals Rebel assaults were mostly poorly organized, mistimed, and with the exception of Cheatham s Corps, made practically piecemeal Also the Rebel artillery played nearly no role in the battle at all, a major failing that quite frankly is unforgivable considering at least the morale value of the big guns banging away in support Hood realized following this defeat that any realistic hope of saving Atlanta was lost Sherman would continue to swing to either side of the city and slowly invest in from three sides Both sides mourned the death of McPherson When news reached him in Virginia of McPherson s passing, Grant retired to his tent and wept over his dear friend Sherman was stunned and even Hood, McPherson s West Point classmate and friend in the pre war Army, wrote a heartfelt eulogy which was passed through the lines to the Federal command However, McPherson did not die in vain Despite meeting privately with Frederick Douglas, where Lincoln was convinced he was about to lose the coming election and that the Democrats might negotiate away the Emancipation Proclamation in order to bring the South to the peace table ensuring Douglas sent agents into the South to spread the word of the Proclamation and to coerce slaves to make their way north , the Battle of Atlanta was the decisive turning point of the war While the South had lost the chance to win the war militarily by 1864, they still hoped to win the war politically by whittling down Northern political will by making the conquest of the Confederate States seem like an impossibility They very nearly succeeded Northern civilian will nearly cracked under the strain of losses which were hugely in favor of the smaller, yetnimble and incredibly lethal Rebel armies And yet they persevered, and the Northern armies did not, in the end, fail them In the Shenandoah Sheridan won three smashing victories in a month, in both Louisiana and Arkansas the Rebel offensives came to naught and the great Rebel invasion of Missouri ended in disaster Yet the first major Domino to fall was the 22 July Union triumph at the Battle of Atlanta The string of late summer, and autumn Federal successes ensured Lincoln s re election, and sealed the fate of the Southern Confederacy And as Gary Ecelbarger so wonderfully shows in thia book, July 22, 1864 truly was the day Dixie died

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