Atlanta Campaign

Saturday, May 7, 1864 to Friday, September 2, 1864

Thure de Thulstrup painting of the Siege of Atlanta. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Following the Union victory in the Chattanooga Campaign the previous fall, the Union uses the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee (the "Gateway to the South") as a jumping-off point for two major invasions of the South. While General Grant leads his forces toward Richmond and Petersburg in the Overland Campaign, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman invades Georgia in May 1864 and faces the Army of Tennessee, commanded by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston. In more than a dozen battles, Sherman continues to grind down the Confederate forces. The campaign is marked by the replacement of General Johnston with the more aggressive General John Bell Hood, who in turn fails to achieve a strategic victory against Sherman, despite a number of reckless attacks against the Union forces. Hood's Army of the Tennessee escapes intact, but on September 2, 1864, the city of Atlanta surrenders. This turn of events makes it clearer to the Northern public that the war has turned in their favor and comes in time to salvage President Abraham Lincoln's campaign for reelection in the upcoming November election. By securing Lincoln's reelection, the Atlanta Campaign also ensures that the North will have the resolve to continue the war until the reunification of the nation. Soon after the fall of Atlanta, Union Major General George H. Thomas pursues Hood, while Sherman prepares his army for a bold march to Savannah, Georgia, deep in Confederate territory. 

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