To the Gates of Atlanta – Robert D. Jenkins, Sr.

From Kennesaw Mountain to Peach tree Creek 1-19 July 1864

This book is something of a prequel to his other work on the Battle of Peach Tree Creek.  Unlike that other volume, though, this period of the campaign is short on battles.  It does cover the controversial removal of Joe Johnston and his replacement by John Bell Hood.

The book covers the actions and marches well.  It tries to be fair to the generals, giving Joe Johnston’s difficult task its full due while noting Hood’s difficult position being dropped into command at a critical time.

It does seem that he soft-petals Hood’s deceptive back-channel bashing of other commanders and Johnston to the president.  Hood repeatedly lied about his own wishing for retreats and about the support for other generals for retreats. Clearly, he was aiming to replace Johnston by hook or crook – so it is hard to feel sympathy when he got it at the worst possible time.

There is also some defense on Hood’s failure at defending Atlanta.  Again, his chickens came home to roost after claiming for months how weak the US forces were to have to attack them continually as a policy.  In 1864, even against an army of equal numbers the days of driving them off with a single battle were long over.  Against a superior force, the chances of making a determined army retire due to offensive action was nil.  A sharp attack here or there or a flanking move might delay them, but driving them off was not going to happen.

Johnston might well have been too passive, but also he had Hood sabotaging any offensive or defensive risk he might have taken.  Time and time again, the name that keep coming up thwarting an offensive here, an attack there, a defense of a river line there is Hood failing to attack, Hood falling back.  And then he would write Davis saying how he was the only one who wanted to attack.  Johnston might not have been the man to stop Sherman cold. but with Hood betraying him the rebels had no chance to thwart the drive to Atlanta.

 

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