The Battle of Peachtree Creek, 1864

July 20, 1864 — Fulton County, near Atlanta, Georgia

The Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought between the United States of America and Confederate States of America on July 20, 1864. Union forces won the battle, setting the stage for the Battle of Atlanta.

John Bell Hood, Civil War General

The Union victory at the Battle of Peachtree Creek cost Confederate General John B. Hood nearly 5,000 men (killed, wounded, and captured or missing) during the Atlanta Campaign. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Battle of Peachtree Creek Summary

The Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought on July 20, 1864. Confederate forces under the command of General John Bell Hood attacked Union forces under the command of General William T. Sherman outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The Union lines held up against the attack and Hood was forced to withdraw.

Battle of Peachtree Creek Facts

  • Date Started: The Battle of Peachtree Creek started on July 20, 1864.
  • Date Ended: The battle ended on July 20, 1864.
  • Location: The Battle of Peachtree Creek took place in Fulton County, near Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Campaign: The battle was part of the Atlanta Campaign of 1864.
  • Who Won: The United States of America won the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

Battle of Peachtree Creek History and Overview

Siege of Chattanooga

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.

Grant’s Umbrella Strategy

After the Federal breakout from Chattanooga, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Grant to the special rank of Lieutenant General and placed him in command of all Union armies. Grant moved his headquarters to Washington, 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 and the Army of Northern Virginia in the east, and Joseph E. Johnston and the 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.

Fighting Along the Western and Atlantic Railroad

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 he often repeated, Sherman used flanking movements that threatened the railway to Johnston’s rear, forcing the Confederate commander to retreat south to protect his supply lines.

Hood Replaces Johnston

By mid-July, Sherman had driven Johnston’s army to the outskirts of Atlanta. Many Southerners, including President Jefferson Davis, had grown weary of Johnston’s strategy of retreat. On July 17, 1864, Davis 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 suffered severe wounds at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) and the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863). General Hood wasted little time responding to Southerners’ calls for action.

Sherman Divides His Forces

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.

The Peachtree Creek Battle

To approach Atlanta, Thomas’s army had to cross Peachtree Creek in several places. Johnston had known that while still in command and had devised a plan to attack Thomas’ 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’ 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 held their ground, eventually punishing the Rebels with high casualties.

Battle of Peachtree Creek Significance

The Battle of Peachtree Creek was important because Union forces won, setting up the Battle of Atlanta, which took place two days later.

Battle of Peachtree Creek Casualties, Generals, and Participants

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Cumberland

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Army of Tennessee

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 21,655

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 20,250

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 1,700 (killed, wounded, captured/missing)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 5,000 (killed, wounded, captured/missing)

Battle of Peachtree Creek Timeline

This timeline shows how the Battle of Peachtree Creek fits into the events of the Atlanta Campaign.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title The Battle of Peachtree Creek, 1864
  • Date July 20, 1864
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta Campaign
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 22, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 17, 2024

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