The morning of Wednesday, July 20th, 1864, broke warm, promising another sultry summer day. It would spawn the first offensive action for the new Southern Commander, John Bell Hood and his gray forces as he took over the defense of Atlanta for the Confederate States of America in the fourth summer of the war. What began as a golden opportunity to repel Northern General William Tecumseh Sherman and his blue legions from the gates of the Gate City, as Atlanta has been called, became a day of missed chances, broken dreams, and for a number of the Rebel leaders’ soldiers, a grave. The Battle of Peach Tree Creek marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy, for it turned the page from the patient defense displayed by General Joseph E. Johnston to the bold offense called upon by his replacement, General John Bell Hood. Until this point in The Georgia Campaign, the Southern Army had fought primarily in the defensive, from behind earthworks, forcing Sherman to either assault fortified lines, or go around them in flanking moves. At Peach Tree Creek, the roles would be reversed for the first time, as Confederates charged Union lines. On March 9th, author Bob Jenkins was note that Peach Tree Creek marked the beginning of the end for the Deep South and the Confederacy. Peach Tree Creek would be the first in a series of defeats and set-backs from which the South would not recover. Before Peach Tree Creek, there remained some semblance of hope for victory and Southern Independence. After Peach Tree Creek and the defeats at Decatur and Ezra Church which quickly followed, there could be no more hope of a military win by the Confederacy. After Peach Tree Creek, and its companion battles for Atlanta, the clear-hearing Southerner could hear the death throws of the Confederacy. Robert D. (Bob) Jenkins is an attorney, practicing in Dalton, Georgia. A life-long Civil War enthusiast, Bob has given numerous battlefield tours and lectures on the Atlanta Campaign. His first book, The Battle of Peach Tree Creek, Hood’s First Sortie, was published in 2013 by Mercer University Press. His second book, To the Gates of Atlanta, covered the 1864 Atlanta Campaign from Kennesaw Mountain to Peach Tree Creek.
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