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This Day in Georgia History

July 22, 1864

Battle of Atlanta

After Confederate forces failed to break Union ranks in the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Confederate Gen. John B. Hood had planned to take the battle to Union troops under Maj. Gen. James McPherson east of Atlanta on July 22. After an all-night march on the 21st, Hardee’s Corps were supposed to flank McPherson’s forces for a surprise rear assault while other Confederate forces simultaneously launched a frontal attack at dawn. However, Hardee’s march ran hours behind over unfamiliar ground. Moreover, his force split up. Gen. William H.T. Walker and Gen. William B. Bate [often incorrectly listed as “Bates”] subsequently get lost, but about noon arrived at their destination. Just as Walker lifted his binoculars to view the area ahead, a Union lookout’s musket ball killed the Georgia-born Confederate general instantly. [See Nov. 26 entry for biographical information on Walker.] By this time, McPherson’s army has repositioned itself and was ready when the Confederates finally launched the Battle of Atlanta. The afternoon of July 22 witnessed heavy fighting to the east and southeast of downtown Atlanta. During the day, the outnumbered Confederates won some encounters, but by dusk the day belonged to the Federals. On this one day, 8,500 Confederates were killed or wounded, while Union casualties numbered 3,600 - one of whom was Gen. James McPherson. Today in Atlanta can be found countless markers and memorials to the Battle of Atlanta. Two monuments - each consisting of an upright cannon barrel - recall the deaths of Confederate Gen. William Walker and Union Gen. James McPherson. The United States Army also remembered McPherson by naming the first major U.S. military base in Georgia for him - Fort McPherson, which opened in Atlanta in 1885. The most visited memorial is the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, located in Grant Park. The Cyclorama features a painting of the Battle of Atlanta that is 42 feet in height and 358 feet in circumference enhanced by painted figures and terrain in the foreground that creates a three-dimensional effect.