Battle of Peachtree Creek (July 20, 1864)

Updated: December 30, 2010

The Battle of Peachtree Creek was a military engagement between Union forces commanded by Major General George H. Thomas and Confederate forces commanded by General John B. Hood during the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. The encounter took place in Fulton County, on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia on July 20, 1864.

In late November 1863, Union forces commanded by Major General Ulysses S. Grant successfully lifted Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Union victories at Lookout Mountain (November 24) and Missionary Ridge (November 25) forced Johnston to withdraw thirty miles south to near Dalton, Georgia. 

After the Federal breakout from Chattanooga, Grant was promoted to the special rank of Lieutenant General and placed in command of all Union armies. Grant moved his headquarters to Washington, DC, leaving his trusted subordinate, Major General William T. Sherman, in command of Federal operations in the Western Theater. Grant's primary military strategy was a coordinated effort to attack and defeat the two main Confederate armies in the field, Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the east, and Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee in the west. On May 5, 1864, Grant launched his Overland Campaign against Lee in Virginia. Two days later, Sherman led three armies, the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Major General James B. McPherson; the Army of the Ohio, commanded by Major General John M. Schofield; and the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major General George H. Thomas, out of Tennessee in pursuit of Johnston's army in northern Georgia.

Throughout the summer of 1864, the Confederate and Union armies engaged in a series of battles between Dalton and Atlanta in northern Georgia. Most of the fighting occurred at places on or near the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which connected Chattanooga and Atlanta. Both sides depended on the railway for supplies throughout the campaign. In a pattern that was often repeated, Sherman employed flanking movements that threatened the railway to Johnston's rear, forcing the Confederate commander to retreat south in order to protect his supply lines. 

By mid-July, Sherman had driven Johnston's army to the outskirts of Atlanta. Southerners, in general, and Jefferson Davis, in particular, had grown weary of Johnston's strategy of retreat. On July 17, 1864, the Confederate President relieved Johnston of his command, replacing him with General John Bell Hood. Known as an aggressive fighter, Hood was a veteran officer with a reputation for personal bravery who had been severely wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) and the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863). General Hood wasted little time in responding to Southerners' calls for action. 

When Sherman began his final push toward Atlanta, he divided his forces, sending Thomas's Army of the Cumberland directly toward the city and ordering Schofield's Army of the Ohio and McPherson's Army of the Tennessee around Atlanta to the east. Hood viewed this as an opportunity to strike a blow for the Confederacy. In order to approach Atlanta, Thomas's army had to cross Peachtree Creek in several places. Johnston had been aware of that while still in command and had devised a plan to attack Thomas's soldiers at the time of the crossing. When the crossing took place on July 20, Hood implemented Johnston's plan. Unfortunately for the Southerners, Thomas's army had already crossed the creek when the attack began at about 4:00 p.m., instead of the planned time of 1 p.m. The assault initially showed some promise, but the Federals were able to hold their ground, eventually punishing the Rebels with high casualties. The Battle of Peachtree Creek cost the Confederacy nearly 5,000 men killed, wounded, and captured or missing, compared to about 1,700 for the Union.

Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Peachtree Creek included:

Infantry units:

  • 2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 5th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 29th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 33rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 40th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 49th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 51st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 52nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 61st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 64th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 66th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 74th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 79th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 82nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 90th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 94th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 97th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 98th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 101st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 108th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 113th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 121st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 124th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 125th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Artillery units:

  • Battery A, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • Battery C, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • 6th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

 

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Battle of Peachtree Creek," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 21 Nov 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=151>

APA Style

"Battle of Peachtree Creek." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved November 21, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=151

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