the summer of 1864 things did not look good for Abraham Lincoln. On
August 28th, he wrote, "This morning, as for some days
it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be
reelected." Lt. General U. S. Grant was stalled in front of
Petersburg, after several months of horrific fighting with Gen.
E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. And Confederate Gen. Joseph E.
Johnston had managed to delay Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's
aspirations for the conquest of Atlanta by the western Federal armies.
It looked as if the Democratic candidate, Gen. George B. McClellan,
would replace Lincoln and sue for peace, and the Confederacy would
actually achieve its long sought for independence from the United
States of America. But just a week later, on September 3rd, Sherman
wired Washington, "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won." The end of the
war was in sight and the Northern people took heart. Lincoln was
reelected and Grant and Sherman worked together to bring the war to a
close seven months later.
But none of this was clear to anyone in late November of 1863
when Grant's forces in Chattanooga beat back Confederate Gen.
Bragg's besiegers from Lookout Mountain and
Missionary Ridge. Bragg's
army, defeated but still powerful, retreated to previously prepared
fortifications near Dalton, Georgia, where he was soon replaced in
command by Gen. Joseph Johnston, one of the Confederacy's most
respected military leaders. Grant was called to Washington to take
command of the combined Federal armies, leaving Sherman in command of
the Western armies at Chattanooga. Now Grant, Meade and Sherman began
to think about ways the efforts of the eastern and western armies
could be coordinated so that Lee could not lend resources to Johnston
as he had done with devastating effect prior to the battle of
Chickamauga. Grant instructed Sherman to make Johnston's army his
objective, while Grant and Meade launched an aggressive campaign to
engage the Army of Northern Virginia in the Wilderness.
In May of 1864, Sherman's massive 110,000 man force, comprised
of the Army of the Cumberland, under Gen. George "Pap" Thomas, the
Army of the Tennessee, under Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, and the
Army of the Ohio, under Gen. John McAllister Schofield, began its
march south from Chattanooga into Georgia. Its objective was
Johnston's Army of the Tennessee, dug in on Rocky Face Ridge, west of
Enter The Atlanta Campaign, a