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[475]

General Hood assumed command on July 18th. In his report of the operations of the army while under his command, he states that the effective strength of his force on that day was forty-eight thousand seven hundred fifty men of all arms.

Feeling that the only chance of holding Atlanta consisted in assuming the offensive by forcing the enemy to accept battle, General Hood determined, on July 20th, to attack the corps of Generals Thomas and Schofield, who were in the act of crossing Peachtree Creek, hoping to defeat Thomas before he could fortify himself, then to fall on Schofield, and finally to attack McPherson's corps, which had reached Decatur, on the Georgia Railroad, driving the enemy back to the creek and into the narrow space included between that stream and the Chattahoochee River. Owing to an unfortunate misapprehension of the order of battle and the consequent delay in making the attack, the movement failed. On the 21st, finding that McPherson's corps was threatening his communications, General Hood resolved to attack him at or near Decatur, in front and on flank, turn his left, and then, following up the movement from the right to the left with his whole army, force the enemy down Peachtree Creek. This engagement was the hottest of the campaign, but it failed to accomplish any other favorable result than to check General McPherson's movement upon the communications of our army, while it cost heavily in the loss of many officers and men, foremost among whom was that preux chevalier and accomplished soldier, Major General W. H. T. Walker of Georgia.

Beyond expeditions by the enemy, for the most part by cavalry, to destroy the lines of railroad by which supplies and reenforcements could reach Atlanta, and successful efforts on our part to frustrate their movements, resulting in the defeat and capture of General Stoneman and his command near Macon, the utter destruction of the enemy's cavalry force engaged by General Wheeler at Newnan, and the defeat of Sherman's design to unite his cavalry at the Macon and Western Railroad and effectually to destroy that essential avenue for the conveyance of stores and ammunition for our army, no movement of special importance took place between July 22d and August 26th, at which latter date it was discovered that Sherman had abandoned his works upon our right, and, leaving a considerable force to hold his entrenched position at the railroad bridge over the Chattahoochee, was marching his main body to the south and southwest of Atlanta, to use it, as he himself has expressed it, ‘against the communications of Atlanta, instead of against its entrenchments.’ On the 30th, it being known that he was moving

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