The Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia

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Buckeye Bill

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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 B. Hood since taking command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The attack was against Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's 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, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by Lt. Gen. John B. Hood. The Battle of Peachtree Creek was the first battle fought by Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee.

The Battle of Peachtree Creek monument near the Piedmont Hospital

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Georgia State Historical Marker just east of the Piedmont Hospital

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Georgia State Historical Marker just south of Peachtree Creek

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The Peachtree Creek (site of the Union crossing)

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Site of the Collier Mill (Heavy Fighting)

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Collier Mill Grist Millstones and Metal Gear

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Tanyard Creek Park (Peachtree Creek Battlefield)

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Overlook of the Tanyard Creek Park

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The Battle of Peachtree Creek monument

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Tanyard Branch (flows north and south of the Peachtree Creek)

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* Photos courtesy of William Bechmann (2014)
 

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Buckeye Bill

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I would highly recommend a tour of the Atlanta Battfield sites (Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church, Utoy Creek) even though the sites have been destroyed by urban development. In my opinion, the state of Georgia has done a wonderful job placing historic markers in key spots. I would have loved to have viewed Leggett's Hill (Bald Hill) before the destruction/construction to create the I-20 and Moreland Avenue interchange.
 
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ole

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Been meaning to interject this simple observation. Johnston's plan was to attack Union forces while crossing Peachtree Creek. Everyone knows that a crossing is a weak point, right? Get some across an hit them and the rest can't very well rush in to support those assailed.

That didn't happen. Hood's plan was to attack after they had crossed. How did that work out?

Just a thought thrown into the discussion.
 

Buckeye Bill

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Been meaning to interject this simple observation. Johnston's plan was to attack Union forces while crossing Peachtree Creek. Everyone knows that a crossing is a weak point, right? Get some across an hit them and the rest can't very well rush in to support those assailed.
Johnston's plan of attack was to intercept Sherman's army east of the modern-day Tanyard Creek Park and attempt to divide Thomas and Schofield's armies crossing the Peachtree Creek.

Hood's plan of attack was to intercept Sherman's army through the heavy wooded area of modern-day Tanyard Creek Park and attack after they crossed the Peachtree Creek.

Good post, ole!
 

JPWalton

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Thanks for the pictures.

In terms of the Lost Cause, this is probably the most misunderstood or mis-characterized battle of the war. I write that because it is the clearest evidence we have that either Joe Johnston would not have fought for Atlanta, or if he had, he would have done no better than Hood.

I write that because look at what happened at Peachtree Creek. The battle plan used by Hood was in the spirit of what Johnston claimed from literally the hour of his removal from command that he intended to do: pounce on George Thomas while he was isolated and before he could entrench. I don't think any frank, honest appraisal of Johnston would have him doing better in implementing that plan than Hood did.

And so it goes from there. Johnston never showed any signs of employing to the kind of counter-punching tactics that Lee used in 1864, so more than likely he would have fought Peachtree Creek, lost it just as Hood did, complained he wasn't getting enough support, fought a few small holding actions in his Johnstonian style, and then abandoned the city when his rail links were all destroyed.
 
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ole

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We're talking here of a personality. Joe bided (no, not Biden) his time waiting for an opportunity to deal a blow -- hopefully fatal. His plan for Peachtree Creek looks good from here, but he was replaced. We might now shift to "what if."
 
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Buckeye Bill

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Donna,

Our tour of the battlefields of Atlanta started out with a steady drizzle.

The rain stopped when we reached the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum (Sherman's HQ).

Great day after we toured the Battle of Peachtree Creek sites.

Bill
 

JeffBrooks

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I don't think any frank, honest appraisal of Johnston would have him doing better in implementing that plan than Hood did.
I would suggest a few factors that give credence to the idea that Johnston would have fought the battle more successfully than Hood did.

1. Johnston simply handled the army better than did Hood. During the retreat from Dalton to Atlanta, Johnston demonstrated repeatedly the effective control he had over the army. Clear orders were issued, marching timetables were generally kept, there was little confusion. Under Hood, orders were often confused, units took the wrong roads, proper reconnaissance was frequently not done. And so forth. The Confederate attack at Peachtree Creek was a fiasco of communication and army management, which was due both to Hood's style and the fact that he had only been in command for three days. With Johnston in command, the army simply would have been better handled.

2. One of the major factors in the failure of the Confederate attack at Peachtree Creek was the disappointing performance of George Maney's Tennessee division. Intended to serve as one of the main striking forces of Hardee's attack, Maney's men did little more than engage in a heavy skirmish with the Yankees opposite them and never mounted a serious attack. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that Maney had only been in command of the division for two days, since its former commander, Benjamin Cheatham, had taken command of Hood's corps upon Hood's elevation to army command. Had Cheatham been in command of his division, which he would have been had Hood not replaced Johnston, we can assume that the aggressive Tennessean would have eagerly pitched into the Yankees arrayed against them. Hardee's feeble attack would, at least, have been considerably more forceful.

3. It is quite clear that Hardee was in a horrible funk in the days after Hood's elevation from command, insulted that the Texan had been elevated above him. This frankly showed in Hardee's performance at Peachtree Creek, which was one of the low points of his Civil War career. Had Hardee's performance even come close to that of, say, Murfreesboro, the Yankees would have been in serious trouble. It's debatable how much of Hardee's poor performance can be attributed to his funk and his disdain for Hood, but it's fair to say that at least some of it was.

4. Every soldier in the Army of Tennessee, from major generals down to privates, was still processing the fact that Johnston was gone and Hood was now in command. Everybody was thinking, "Does Hood know what he's doing?" That kind of doubt infects armies and has consequences.
 
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Great pictures as always. I was not able to visit these sites on my Atlanta Campaign Tour. I chose Utoy Creek over Peachtree Creek and am still happy with my decision. As a native Georgian, I travel to Georgia almost every year so I still have plenty of opportunity to visit these sites. I want to visit the Resaca Park once it opens as well. It is funny, I use to live in Tucker which is just off of I-285 east of Atlanta. But I was a younger man then and didn't care about all of this the way I do now. I had plenty of chances to visit all of the sites during this time but wasted it. I also lived less than 5 miles from the Pickett's Mill Battlefield as well...but never once visited it but that is for this Spring :smile: I want to do a Battlefield tour of Tennessee this year but I usually fly to Savannah when I visit Georgia so I have to go north anyway....I hope to visit all of these sights on my way up.
 

Buckeye Bill

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I am also looking forward to tour the new Resaca Camp Creek Valley Battlefield.

I was disappointed the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve closed at 3:00 instead of 5:00.

Next time......
 
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I am also looking forward to tour the new Resaca Camp Creek Valley Battlefield.

I was disappointed the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve closed at 3:00 instead of 5:00.

Next time......
Yes, Cascade springs is worth it in my opinion. The Earthworks are very well preserved and very obvious as well. No matter which trail you take in the park, you should find them fairly easily. Me and my travel companion were the only people in the park when I was there...very peaceful.
 
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JPWalton

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Lots of wishful thinking and double thinking here....

First, Mr. Brooks, you are a noted and harsh critic of Hood's performance as corps commander. The day's events started unraveling when the gap between Hardee and Cheatham was discovered, and the army started sidling to plug it. All things considered, there is no reason to believe Hood would have been any better placed than Cheatham if you take a negative view of Hood's ability as a corps commander. One simply can't have it both ways there, but you do try! :devilish: You want Hood to be able when you need him to be, but not otherwise.

Second, the obvious solution for Peachtree Creek would either be to have Cheatham do the moving and let the attack go ahead as planned with no delay, or simply let the attack go ahead period. That is undoubtedly what a Lee or a Grant or a Jackson would have done, since none of them felt everything absolutely needed to be perfect before striking a blow. Johnston wasn't of that model. Finding that gap, Johnston would have done exactly what Hood did. Saying anything else breaks with Old Joe's style in the clearest way.

Third, although some historians cite Maney's performance as indecisive, most of them dwell on the difficult ground Hardee had sidled himself into. Castel, the current historian of record for this campaign, is quite clear that the two factors that did the attack in were the delay, and the shift in ground made during the delay that put Hardee's advance in a bad place.

So as I said before, if one is honest in their appraisal of the situation, you can't get to Johnston winning a victory here. If you think Johnston could -- as you do -- you invariably have a very negative opinion of Hood. That is fine, but for this to work, you either need to discard that negative opinion for Hood to do a good job, or you need Johnston to magically become Marse Robert.

As for your morale qualms, it's a good point, but ignores how well A.P. Stewart's Corps did that day.

I don't expect you to abandon your position, because you wrote a book about it. However, it's that kind of loose thinking that turned me off from the "Johnston wins at Atlanta scenario" years ago. It's like sending Stonewall Jackson to Gettysburg -- it always requires too much wishful or double thinking to make it work. Albert Sidney Johnston overwhelming Grant on the second day at Shiloh is even worse.

To make this willful and wishful point clearer, weren't you defending Hardee on another thread about Johnston's removal just a few days ago? But here he is in such a huge sulk he couldn't do his duty properly... :whistling:



I would suggest a few factors that give credence to the idea that Johnston would have fought the battle more successfully than Hood did.

1. Johnston simply handled the army better than did Hood. During the retreat from Dalton to Atlanta, Johnston demonstrated repeatedly the effective control he had over the army. Clear orders were issued, marching timetables were generally kept, there was little confusion. Under Hood, orders were often confused, units took the wrong roads, proper reconnaissance was frequently not done. And so forth. The Confederate attack at Peachtree Creek was a fiasco of communication and army management, which was due both to Hood's style and the fact that he had only been in command for three days. With Johnston in command, the army simply would have been better handled.

2. One of the major factors in the failure of the Confederate attack at Peachtree Creek was the disappointing performance of George Maney's Tennessee division. Intended to serve as one of the main striking forces of Hardee's attack, Maney's men did little more than engage in a heavy skirmish with the Yankees opposite them and never mounted a serious attack. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that Maney had only been in command of the division for two days, since its former commander, Benjamin Cheatham, had taken command of Hood's corps upon Hood's elevation to army command. Had Cheatham been in command of his division, which he would have been had Hood replaced Johnston, we can assume that the aggressive Tennessean would have eagerly pitched into the Yankees arrayed against them. Hardee's feeble attack would, at least, have been considerably more forceful.

3. It is quite clear that Hardee was in a horrible funk in the days after Hood's elevation from command, insulted that the Texan had been elevated above him. This frankly showed in Hardee's performance at Peachtree Creek, which was one of the low points of his Civil War career. Had Hardee's performance even come close to that of, say, Murfreesboro, the Yankees would have been in serious trouble. Its debatable how much of Hardee's poor performance can be attributed to his funk and his disdain for Hood, but it's fair to say that at least some of it was.

4. Every soldier in the Army of Tennessee, from major generals down to privates, was still processing the fact that Johnston was gone and Hood was now in command. Everybody was thinking, "Does Hood know what he's doing?" That kind of doubt infects armies and has consequences.
 

JeffBrooks

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To make this willful and wishful point clearer, weren't you defending Hardee on another thread about Johnston's removal just a few days ago? But here he is in such a huge sulk he couldn't do his duty properly... :whistling:
Not sure exactly what you're referring to. In any case, everybody has good and bad points.
 
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Buckeye Bill

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4 Confederate Generals (Cleburne, Carter, Gist, Strahl) which fought at the Battle of Peachtree Creek would be killed at the Battle of Franklin in November.
 
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