The Battle of Atlanta
Chapter 54 (July 17, 1864 – July 22, 1864)
The move towards the city was now on in earnest. The entire army was now over the river, and “On to Atlanta” was the cry. On July 17 the Confederate Army changed commanders, General Hood taking the place of General Joseph E. Johnson. He had now reached Peach Tree Creek. Our regiment was placed upon a knoll and two batteries of our guns each were distributed in the regiment, owing to the higher ground which we occupied. The Rebel general, Hood, had said upon taking command that he would drive Sherman and his army back to Chattanooga, Tenn., and his first trial of it was again Fighting Joe Hooker’s Corps, the 20th, at Peach Tree Creek, where Hood utterly failed in his purpose.
General Geary with the 33rd New Jersey regiment of our White Star Division had gone out from the breastworks to reconnoitre, when about noon they were unexpectedly fired into by Hood’s advancing columns. The General in falling back lost his hat. He was given a hat by one of his orderlies, which was much too small for him, and the boys made all manner of fun about it, and had not the battle already begun I think some of the men would have heard from the General.
But the fight was on in all its fury. On our right our line was not quite connected with our first division, there being a small gap between us. Here the Rebels charged thru, driving part or our division some distance to the rear. This brought the Rebels directly in our rear. Our artillery now did noble work, although the Rebels came in such heavy columns that the right of the 147th Regiment lost two pieces of artillery, which were turned upon the regiment. Then just in the nick of time Companies A and F, under command of Captain Krider, of Company F, charged the Rebels, recapturing the cannon and driving the foe away.
The firing was severe all along our front. Our regiment was the only one in our brigade to hold its position during the battle, which lasted several hours. Colonel Pardee dismounted, sent his horse back with an orderly and with drawn sword was right up to the firing line, urging the men to stand to their posts. Some from another regiment ran in rear of us, when the Colonel cried out: “If you want to run do it in rear of your own regiment. The 147th doesn’t run.”
The Colonel in his official report says: “The unwavering front presented by this regiment, with the aid of the artillery posted in its line, repelling with great slaughter the most desperate charges of the foe, undoubtedly saved the corps from disaster, and won for its commander the commission of a Brevet Brigadier General.” The loss in this battle, Peach Tree Creek, in Hooker’s Corps, was 1,500 men. Four hundred Rebel dead were left on the field, and 4,000 wounded. Owing to the peculiar position of our regiment and the protection afforded by our barricade, the loss was but slight, only two killed and five wounded. It was said at the time that the two companies, B and G, did not have a man killed or wounded, a most remarkable thing. And we had a piece of artillery at each end of Company G, yet we all escaped.
At night the Confederates removed some of their wounded. It was amusing after the battle to listen to the boys conversing with each other. The concussion of the artillery, placed in the line of the regiment, was so great that the hearing of each one was affected, and whenever they would speak to each other they had to yell like Commanchee Indians. This deafness, however passed away in a day or two.
July 22nd, the Rebels attacked the left Wing of the army. This is usually called the battle of Atlanta. It was here General McPherson lost his life. While arranging his troops and passing from one column to another, he being some distance ahead of staff and orderlies, rode upon an ambuscade and was killed instantly. General Logan was directed by Sherman to take command of McPherson’s troops. The enemy having been defeated on the 20th, at Peach Tree Creek by Hooker’s Corps, and now again on the left by McPherson’s troops, fell back into the entrenchments surrounding the city of Atlanta. These were in a general circle of about one and a half miles from the city proper.