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This Day in Georgia History

July 19, 1864

Prelude to Peachtree Creek

Confederate forces engaged several divisions of Gen. George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland trying to cross Peachtree Creek north of Atlanta. In heavy fighting, some Union forces succeeded while others were turned back. Meanwhile, Sherman was with Gen. Schofield’s 23rd Corps at the present site of Emory University. Here, he issued Special Field Order No. 39, which stated in part:

“If fired on from the forts or buildings of Atlanta no consideration must be paid to the fact that they are occupied by families, but the place must be cannonaded without the formality of a demand… .”

As night fell, Thomas’ forces stretched along Peachtree Creek to the north, Schofield’s forces formed an arc to the northeast, and McPherson’s forces were to the east. Sherman was now ready to advance on Atlanta, while Hood was determined to turn him back. Little did either general know how many soldiers would fall in battle on the next day.