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1864 July 30: The Battle of Atlanta, the Battle of Bloody Bridge, Rousseau’s Raid, and Other News

July 30, 2014

Following is the weekly summary of war news from The Polk County Press of July 30, 1864.  Much of it is about the Battle of Atlanta, which we have heard some about in Edwin Levings’ letters.

The small two-sentence third item is about the Battle of Bloody Bridge, also known as the Battle for Burden’s Causeway, which took place July 6-9, 1864, on Johns Island off the South Carolina coast near Charleston. Union General John P. Hatch’s troops landed on Johns Island hoping to lay siege to James Island. Around 2,000 South Carolina soldiers held off a Union force of roughly 8,000 men. After three days of fighting, Hatch’s troops left the island.

The last item concerns Rousseau’s Raid, a series of attacks by Union forces, led by General Lovell H. Rousseau, on sites important to the Confederate war effort in Alabama between July 10 and 22, 1864. For greater details, see the Encyclopedia of Alabama’s article on the Raid.

The News.

— Accounts from Missouri of the guerilla [sic] warfare show that they are in considerable force and good organization.  All the intelligence, public and private, from this state, exhibits a terrible condition of affairs.

—  There has been a “Peace Conference” between HORACE GREELEY and Messrs. CLAY, THOMPSON and HOLCOMB of Dixie.  Because “Old ABE” couldn’t “see it” as they did, the “unauthorized Peace commissioners” blowed [sic] him up, much to the disgust of the Peace Democracy, and the dismay (?) of the President and his Cabinet.

— An engagement recently took place on Johnson’s Island, Charleston Harbor, between the forces of Gen. HATCH, and the rebels.  Our forces cleaned them out, killing and capturing upwards of 400.  Our loss is officially given as eighty-two.

— The Louisiana Constitutional Convention having completed its labor, the new constitution will be submitted to the vote of the people of that State on the first Monday in September.  It provides for popular education, such as was never known in the Southern States, and by it this State will be delivered of slavery.—Its adoption is predicted, with a large vote in its favor.  The Convention appears to have exercised also legislative power, and to have authorized the expenditure of considerable amounts of money for the purpose of civil government.  This has not been usual in similar bodies in Northern States.

— A severe battle occurred about four miles north of Atlanta on the 20th inst.  The rebels made the attack on HOOKER [Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker], commanding our right, in great force, but were completely defeated, and retired in disorder, leaving most of their dead and wounded on the field.  On the succeeding day (the 21st), the enemy were driven to their works immediately around the city, and on the 22d, one account says a portion of our forces entered the city.  Another report, which seems the most probably, says our forces obtained possession of elevated ground which commands the town.  It is scarcely necessary to enlarge on the importance of the capture of Atlanta.  Being in the heart of the Gulf States, it was supposed to be peculiarly safe, and therefore well adapted for armories, arsenals and supply depots.  It was moreover the centre of the railway system of that section, whence men and material could be advantageously distributed to all points.  Three main railroads diverged from it ;  the road to Chattanooga on the north ;  the Georgia road, running east to Charleston ;—and the road on the south, which forks into that leading to Montgomery and Pensacola on the southwest, and into that running through Macon to Savannah, on the Southeast.  The city is laid out in a circle, two miles in diameter.  It forms, says a recent refugee, one vast Government storehouse.  Here are located the machine ships of the principal railroads ;  the most extensive rolling mill in the South, foundries, pistol and tent factories, &c., &c.  In addition, the Government have works for casting shot and shell, making gun-carriages, cartridges, caps, shoes, clothing, &c.  Although the rebels have probably removed much of their stores and machinery, yet their loss in these must be considerable.

Battle of Atlanta

“Battle of Atlanta,” by Kurz and Allison¹

— The whole country will mourn the loss of Major General JAMES B. McPHERSON, who fell in this battle.  He was a graduate of West Point, from Ohio, was appointed Second Lieutenant of the Engineer corps July 1, 1853.  He received the appointment of Major General of Volunteers Oct. 8, 1862.  He was one of the ablest and bravest Generals in the service.

— Our losses are set down at 3,000, and the loss of the rebels is stated to be 7,000.

— According to official accounts received since HOOD [John Bell Hood] assumed command of the rebel army he has lost over 12,000 men, while SHERMAN’s [William T. Sherman] losses will not exceed 3,500.

— Dispatches have been received announcing the successful result of Gen. ROSSEAU’s [sic: Rousseau] force left Decatur a few days ago.  Recrossing the Chattahoochee his column proceeded down the railroad toward Montgomery, Ala., burning all the railroad bridges.  Arriving at Montgomery the column diverged and destroyed the railroad at different points for twenty miles south.  A column under Gen. GARRARD² which left Decatur at the same time destroyed the railroad between that place and Covington.  A large railroad crossing the Ulcofauhachy and Yellow rivers burned.  Both columns arrived safely at Marietta.  Loss trifling.

— The quota of the State of New York under the late call for 500,000 men is 89,318.

— The quota of Minnesota under the recent call is 5,561.

LATER.

— Our latest news via. St. Paul, is to the effect that our forces under HUNTER [David Hunter], in the Shennandoah Valley, have been defeated with considerable loss, and obliged to fall back to Harper’s Ferry.  There is no reliable statements of situation.  It is reported that the rebels have again invaded Maryland.

— SHERMAN has not yet occupied Atlanta, but the report says he has done better than that in keeping HOOD’s army there !  We are gravely informed that “HOOD is much chagrined about the fight of the 22d.”—ROSSEAU’s [sic] raid was very successful.  He destroyed a vast amount of railroad and other property, besides capturing 2,000 rebels.

1.  “Battle of Atlanta—Death of Gen. James B. McPherson, July 22nd 1864, Army of the Tennessee Engaged.” This digital image is from an original 1888 Kurz & Allison print, available at the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. The UWRF University Archives & Area Research Center has in its Special Collections a copy of Battles of the Civil War: The Complete Kurz & Allison Prints, 1861-1865, Birmingham, Ala.: Oxmoor House, 1976 (Oversized E 468.7 .B3 1976), which includes a copy of this print.
2.  Kenner Garrard (1827-1879) graduated from West Point in 1851 and was a career military officer. In August 1862 he was appointed colonel of the 146th New York Infantry and took part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. In December 1863 he was promoted to brigadier general of Volunteers and was made chief of the Cavalry Bureau in Washington, D.C. A month later he took command of the 2nd Cavalry Division in the Army of the Cumberland. Garrard took part in Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign as a cavalry division commander, but failed to impress his superiors. Returning to the infantry, he participated in the Battle of Nashville and was cited for gallant conduct and was brevetted a major general of Volunteers. He was instrumental in the capture of Montgomery, Alabama. Garrard remained in the regular army after the war ended as commander of the District of Mobile, but resigned on November 9, 1866. He returned to Cincinnati and devoted the rest of his life to civic affairs and historical studies.

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