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[125]

Peach-tree creek, where Hood hit hard Counting these closely clustered Federal graves gives one an idea of the overwhelming onset with Hood become the aggressor on July 20th. Beyond the graves are some of the trenches from which the Federals were at first irresistibly driven. In the background flows Peach-Tree Creek, the little stream that gives its name to the battlefield. Hood, impatient to signalize his new responsibility by a stroke that would at once dispel the gloom at Richmond, had posted his troops behind strongly fortified works on a ridge commanding the valley of Peach-Tree Creek about five miles to the north of Atlanta. Here he awaited the approach of Sherman. As the Federals were disposing their lines and entrenching before this position, Hood's eager eyes detected a gap in their formation and at four o'clock in the afternoon hurled a heavy force against it. Thus he proved his reputation for courage, but the outcome showed the mistake. For a brief interval Sherman's forces were in great peril. But the Federals under Newton and Geary rallied and held their ground, till Ward's division in a brave counter-charge drove the Confederates back. This first effort cost Hood dear. He abandoned his entrenchments that night, leaving on the field five hundred dead, one thousand wounded, and many prisoners. Sherman estimated the total Confederate loss at no less than five thousand. That of the Federals was fifteen hundred.

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