Hood Moves North
The loss of Atlanta was obviously a significant blow to the Confederacy. But Gen. John Bell Hood managed to hold his still-dangerous army together south of Atlanta at Palmetto.
Sherman’s army, newly installed in the captured city, was far from secure. It existed at the end of a long and vulnerable supply line on the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
Rather than try to re-take Atlanta, a forlorn hope, or follow Sherman wherever he chose to go, Hood took the offensive, marching north “behind” the main Union army at Atlanta. Hood’s objective: wreck Sherman’s supply line on the railroad and march into Tennessee toward Nashville and possibly beyond.
Standing in Hood’s way were several Union strong points along the railroad including one at Allatoona Pass near Cartersville. Part of Hood’s army approached Allatoona, which was lightly defended by a Union garrison, on Oct. 5. After mounting several bloody attacks, the Confederates gained some success but soon withdrew in the direction of New Hope Church. The battle is known for an extremely high ratio of casualties to men involved — about 30 percent.
Hood continued north virtually retracing the steps of the armies earlier that year, bypassing strong Union defenses at Resaca and capturing the small garrison at Dalton.
Sherman followed at first before receiving the go-ahead for his “March to the Sea” at Kingston Nov. 12. The Union commander sent troops under Gen. George Thomas to middle Tennessee to guard against a Hood maneuver there before taking most of his army on the road to Savannah. The Confederates indeed moved west into Alabama then marched into Tennessee. All this resulted in the unusual situation of the two main warring armies in the west moving in opposite directions. Hood met his final disaster in Tennessee, destroying his army at the Battles of Franklin and Nashville while Sherman arrived in Savannah in time for Christmas.
See also Allatoona Pass
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