Battle of Lovejoy's Station (August 20, 1864)

Updated: September 28, 2016

The Battle of Lovejoy's Station was a military engagement between Union forces commanded by Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate forces commanded by Major General Patrick Cleburne on August 20, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.

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, captured, and 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.

Desperate to break the siege, Hood sent Major General Joseph Wheeler's cavalry to northern Georgia to destroy railroad tracks and generally disrupt Sherman's supply lines. With Wheeler's cavalry absent, Sherman set about trying to destroy Hood's supply lines. On August 18, 1864, Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry raided the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, destroying small sections of track. The next day, Kilpatrick's troopers burned a large cache of Confederate supplies at the Jonesborough supply depot on the Macon and Western Railroad. On August 20, they continued their destruction at Lovejoy's Station, when they were interrupted by Major General Patrick Cleburne's Division of the Army of Tennessee. Cleburne's infantry pressed their attack into the night, forcing Kilpatrick to withdraw.

Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Lovejoy's Station included:

Cavalry units:

10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

Casualties at the Battle of Lovejoy's Station were nearly equal. Each side lost about 240 men killed, wounded, captured, and missing. The Battle of Lovejoy's Station was a Confederate victory because Cleburne's infantry prevented further destruction to the railroad by driving off the Union cavalry. The Rebels had the railroad back in operation within two days.

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"Battle of Lovejoy's Station," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 21 Nov 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=459>

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"Battle of Lovejoy's Station." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved November 21, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=459

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