The Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought in Georgia on July 20,1864, as part of the Atlanta Campaign in the American Civil War. It was the first major attack by Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood since taking command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, the attack was against Maj. Gen. William T. Shermans Union army which was perched on the doorstep of Atlanta. The main armies in the conflict were the Union Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas, the battle of Peachtree Creek was the first battle fought by Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee. Sherman had launched his offensive against the Army of Tennessee in early May. Gradually, the Union forces flanked the Confederates out of every position they attempted to hold. On July 8, Union forces crossed the Chattahoochee River, the last major natural barrier between Sherman and Atlanta, on July 17, he received a telegram from Confederate President Jefferson Davis relieving him from command. The political leadership of the Confederacy was unhappy with Johnstons lack of aggressiveness, in contrast to Johnstons conservative tactics and conservation of manpower, Hood had a reputation for aggressive tactics and personal bravery on the battlefield. Hood took command and launched the attempted counter-offensive, Thomas would have to cross Peachtree Creek at several locations and would be vulnerable both while crossing and immediately after, before they could construct breastworks. Hood hoped to attack Thomas while his army was still in the process of crossing Peachtree Creek, by so doing, the Southerners hoped to fight with rough numerical parity and catch the Northern forces by surprise. Hood thus hoped to drive Thomas west, further and further away from Schofield and this would force Sherman to divert his forces away from Atlanta. Throughout the morning of July 20, the Army of the Cumberland crossed Peachtree Creek, the XIV Corps, commanded by Major General John M. Palmer, took position on the right. The XX Corps, commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker took position in the center, the left was held by a single division of the IV Corps, as the rest of that corps had been sent to reinforce Schofield and McPherson on the east side of Atlanta. The Union forces began preparing defensive positions, but had only partially completed them by the time the Confederate attack began, the few hours between the Union crossing and their completion of defensive earthworks were a moment of opportunity for the Confederates. Hood committed two of his three corps to the attack, Hardee’s corps would attack on the right, while the corps of General Alexander P. Stewart would attack on the left. Meanwhile, the corps of General Benjamin Cheatham would keep an eye on the Union forces to the east of Atlanta, Hood had wanted the attack launched at one oclock, but confusion and miscommunication between Hardee and Hood prevented this from happening. Hood instructed Hardee to ensure that his right flank maintained contact with Cheathams corps, Hardee too began side-stepping to the east to maintain contact with Cheatham, while Stewart began sliding eastward as well in order to maintain contact with Hardee. It was not until three oclock that this movement ceased, the Confederate attack was finally mounted at around four o’clock in the afternoon. On the Confederate right, Hardee’s men ran into opposition and were unable to make much headway
"Few battlefields of the war have been strewn so thickly with dead and wounded as they lay that evening around Collier's Mill." (Union Major Gen. J.D. Cox)
ATLANTA CAMPAIGN: Atlanta and Vicinity (Summer 1864).
A sketch of the Battle of Peachtree Creek, July 20, 1864.