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This Day in Georgia History

July 20, 1864

Battle of Peachtree Creek

As the day began, Gen. John Bell Hood had less than 51,000 officers and men capable of fighting against a Union army twice as large. Hood called a council of war with his division commanders. Under pressure from Richmond to stop Sherman’s advance, Hood gave the day’s objective: no matter what the price eliminate all Union forces south of Peachtree Creek. An elaborate battle plan was outlined that calls for coordinated thrusts to begin at 1 p.m. However, confusion was the order of the day. Despite brave and fierce charges by Confederates, superior numbers of Union infantry and artillery turned them back. By evening, the Battle of Peachtree Creek was over - but at a terrible price for the South. Confederate casualties totaled 4,796 men (including Gen. Clement H. Stevens, who was fatally wounded in the battle, dying five days later). Union dead and wounded amounted to 1,710. The first of three major battles in and around Atlanta had been a costly loss for Hood. During the Battle of Peachtree Creek, fighting was also taking place to the east as Federal forces in Decatur began advancing on Atlanta. Confederate forces opened fire, slowing the Union advance. Meanwhile, artillery units in the Union’s 20th Corps began the first shelling of Atlanta. The first round struck downtown causing the death of a small child. Shelling would continue for 20 days.

Image of Battle of Peachtree Creek View large image
Source: Ed Jackson