Atlanta Campaign
(1864)
   A late and critical campaign in the western theater of the American Civil War. The campaign for Atlanta began on Rocky Face Ridge at Dalton, Georgia, on May 5, 1864 and ended with the fall of Atlanta on September 1, 1864. General William Tecumseh Sherman commanded the Union Army, a total force of 110,000 soldiers and 250 guns. Defending Dalton was the Army of Tennessee commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston. Confederate total strength was 73,000 men. In May, Sherman moved south from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to near Dalton, Georgia, where the Confederates had fortified the north and south sections of Rocky Face Ridge cut by Mill Creek at Buzzards’ Roost Gap. Mill Creek had been damned to form a lake in the floor of the gap to protect Dalton. Blocked by the defenses Sherman moved through the mountains to flank Johnston. The outnumbered Confederates were flanked time after time. New battles of varying intensity were fought at Dug Gap, Resaca, Rome Crossroads, Cassville, New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, Dallas, Kolb’s Farm, Lost Mountain Line, Kennesaw Mountain, Smyrna Line, and Chattahoochee River Line, as Johnston was forced southward.
   On July 17, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston with General John Bell Hood. His attacks at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church, Utoy Creek, and Jonesboro failed to stop the Union advance. Atlanta’s capture ensured President Abraham Lincoln ’s reelection. General Sherman’s use of the railways and his scorched earth policy were noted by Helmuth von Moltke and others. On November 15, after burning Atlanta, Sherman’s army began a 300-mile “March to the Sea.” A 50-mile wide swath across Georgia was deliberately ravaged to crush civilian morale. Savannah was captured on Christmas Day 1864.
   FURTHER READING:
    Cox, Jacob D. Sherman’s Battle for Atlanta. New York: Da Capo Press, [1882] 1994;
    Scaife, William R. The Campaign for Atlanta. Atlanta: William Scaife, 1993.
   ANDREW JACKSON WASKEY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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