The second of two attacks launched by General John Hood on Sherman’s Union army approaching Atlanta (American Civil War). After an unsuccessful attack on Sherman’s right wing on 20 July (Peachtree Creek), Hood moved one of the army corps involved in that battle (Hardee’s) to the other end of the line. After a fifteen mile night march, Hardee was to attack the southern (left) flank of Sherman’s force (McPherson’s army), which Hood believed was dangerously exposed.
Unfortunately for Hardee’s men, McPherson’s army was better prepared than Hood expected. Hood had hoped that Hardee would get behind McPherson’s line, and launch an attack on the Federal rear. However, one Federal corps (Dodge’s sixteenth corps) was about one mile behind the rest of the army.
Hardee’s advance collided with this corps, triggering a day long battle. One early Federal casualty was McPherson himself, who rode straight into the Confederate lines and was killed as he attempted to escape. However, that was about the extent of Confederate success. Even with the advantage of numbers, the Confederates lost close to 8,000 men, while Union losses were only 3,722. After the battle, Sherman continued to tighten his grip on Atlanta, making moves to cut the last remaining railroad lines out of the city (see Ezra Church, 28 July).
Despite these heavy losses, and the failure of both of his battles, Hood’s strategy was much preferred in the South, where the battles of Peachtree Creek and Atlanta were both portrayed as victories. Even if they had been, Confederate losses in the two battles were far too heavy. If the Confederacy was to emerge from the crisis of 1864 it had to win its victories while also suffering lower casualties that their Union opponents. Hood was clearly not the right man to win such victories.