Battle of Jonesborough (August 31-September 1, 1864)

Also Known As: Battle of Jonesboro

Updated: May 17, 2011

The Battle of Jonesborough (also called the Battle of Jonesboro) was a military engagement between Union forces commanded by Major General William T. Sherman and Confederate forces commanded by General John B. Hood during the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. The encounter took place in Clayton County, near the town of Jonesborough, Georgia, from August 31-September 1, 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.

Hood launched costly attacks against Sherman's armies on July 20 (Battle of Peachtree Creek) and July 22 (Battle of Atlanta) that produced high Confederate casualties (over 13,000 men killed, wounded and captured/missing). Despite his high losses, Hood prevented Sherman from penetrating Atlanta from the north and from the east. Foiled in his efforts to capture the city by force, Sherman decided to besiege Atlanta in late July.

For the next month, Sherman tried to cut off supplies into the besieged city by using his cavalry to sever the railroads leading into Atlanta. Hood was able to drive off Sherman's cavalry, repairing any damage that the horsemen had done, and maintain his supply lines into the city. In late August, Sherman changed strategies. Rater than focus on Atlanta proper, he decided to move the bulk of his troops against the railroads leading into the city, destroying them beyond immediate repair. On August 25, Sherman ordered six of the seven divisions around Atlanta to move south of the city to attack the Macon and Western Railroad near Jonesborough, Georgia.

Not realizing the size of the Union forces accumulating near Jonesborough, Hood countered by sending out two corps, under the command of Lieutenant General William J. Hardee, to disrupt the Federals. On August 31, Hardee launched an attack on two Yankee corps, which the Federals easily repulsed. Now sensing the size of the Union forces south of Atlanta, Hood ordered one of Hardee's two corps back to the city in case the Federals attacked the city. The next day, Sherman's army overwhelmed Hardee's corps, driving them away from Atlanta toward Lovejoy's Station. With his supply lines cut and 60,000 Federal troops massed on the southern edge of Atlanta, Hood decided to abandon the city that night.

Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Jonesborough included:

Infantry units:

1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

5th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

6th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

9th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

13th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

27th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

29th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

30th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

33rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

32nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

37th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

39th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

40th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

41st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

43rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

45th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

46th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

47th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

49th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

50th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

51st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

52nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

53rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

54th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

57th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

59th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

61st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

63rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

64th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

66th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

68th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

70th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

71st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

74th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

76th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

79th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

81st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

82nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

90th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

93rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

94th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

97th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

98th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

99th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

100th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

101st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

103rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

104th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

108th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

111th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

113th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

118th 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 D, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment

Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment

3rd Ohio Artillery Battery

4th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

6th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

10th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

14th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

15th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

19th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

Cavalry units:

1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

The Battle of Jonesborough (also called the Battle of Jonesboro) was a decisive Union victory, tactically and strategically. The Confederates suffered about 3,000 casualties killed, wounded, captured, and missing, compared with about 1,600 for the Federals. Although Sherman did not destroy Hood's army, he had finally achieved his prize of occupying Atlanta. The capture of the Georgia capitol helped ensure President Lincoln's reelection in November. Sherman occupied Atlanta for the next two and one half months before starting out on his march to the sea. Before evacuating the city, Sherman ordered "the destruction in Atlanta of all depots, car-houses, shops, factories, foundries." After stripping the city of all materials that could be utilized by the South, the designated destruction began on November 12. Before the bulk of Sherman's army evacuated the city on November 15, Union soldiers engaged in unsanctioned arson, torching private residences and much of the downtown. Following Sherman's departure, Federal troops occupied Atlanta for the remainder of the war and throughout Reconstruction.

 

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Battle of Jonesborough," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 30 Mar 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=455>

APA Style

"Battle of Jonesborough." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved March 30, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=455

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