Horace Park letter to J.S. McBeth

Horace Park letter to J.S. McBeth

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Park, Horace
Title: Horace Park letter to J.S. McBeth
Dates: 1864 August 2
Quantity: 0.1 Linear feet (1 portfolio)
Abstract:The collection consists of a letter from Horace Park, dated August 2, 1864 to J.S. McBeth in which Park describes the Battle of Atlanta, mentioning the death of General McPherson, and those killed and taken prisoner on both sides. He describes artillery shot and its effect, states that the enemy is nearly surrounded, and that the cavalry captured 600 wagons between Atlanta and Macon.
Coll. Number: ms2386

Biographical/Historical Note

Horace Park appears to be a Union soldier in Georgia during the Georgia Campaign in 1864.

The Confederates quickly constructed a fortified railway defense line to East Point (six miles southwest of downtown Atlanta) that blocked the further advance of Union troops. Sherman, however, was determined to pound Hood out of the city. On July 20 he ordered that any artillery positioned within range begin a cannonading, not just of the Confederate lines but also of the city itself, which still held about 3,000 civilians (down from 20,000 earlier in the spring). The artillery barrage reached its height on August 9, when Union guns fired approximately 5,000 shells into town. Civilian casualties during the five-week bombardment were remarkably low; the townspeople who decided to remain in the city found shelter in basements or "bombproof" dugouts. During Sherman's barrage and semisiege of Atlanta (so called because at no point could the Union army completely invest the city's eleven-mile perimeter of works), about twenty civilians were killed. The number of wounded and maimed must be judged much higher, although Southern medical records offer no precise data.

Though his own headquarters came under shellfire, Hood refused to budge. Supplies continued to arrive into the city from Macon, even after the third railroad (to Montgomery) had been cut in mid-July by a Union cavalry raid in Alabama. Sherman tried twice to cut the last railroad, the Macon and Western, with cavalry raids in late July and mid-August. After these attempts failed (with a few miles of torn track quickly repaired), Sherman concluded that only a massive infantry sweep would cut the Macon Road. On August 25, with his forces withdrawn to guard the Chattahoochee bridgehead northwest of Atlanta and his siege lines abandoned, Sherman marched most of his army (six of seven corps) south and then southeast toward Jonesboro, fifteen miles from Atlanta.

Hood found that he could not stretch his outnumbered army far enough. With a third of his infantry and state militia forced to man the city defenses, he tried to send his troops down the railroad to meet the new threat. When Howard's army approached cannon range of Jonesboro and the railroad, Hood had no choice but to order an attack, which the entrenched Union troops handily repulsed on August 31. To the north on that same day, other Union troops actually reached the railroad and began wrecking the rails. Hood's attempt to send the army's reserve ordnance train southward failed as the engine, faced by enemy interdiction, had to chug back into the city. Hood was left with no option but to order the evacuation of Atlanta on September 1. Continued fighting at Jonesboro that day proved inconsequential—the fate of Atlanta was sealed when Sherman's troops cut the Macon and Western line. Union soldiers entered the city on September 2, thus concluding the Atlanta campaign.

Telegraphing Washington, D.C., General Sherman observed, "Atlanta is ours and fairly won." Battle casualties for the four-month campaign totaled 37,000 Union and about 32,000 Confederate soldiers killed, wounded, and missing. In both armies roughly seven out of ten soldiers fell sick at some time; their incapacitation for duty probably affected both sides in equal proportion.

- The Atlanta Campaign. New Georgia Encyclopedia (http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2713)

Index Terms

Atlanta (Ga.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
McBeth, J. S.
United States. Army.

General Notes

Cataloged as part of the Georgia Archives and Manuscripts Automated Access Project: A Special Collections Gateway Program of the University Center in Georgia.

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online as part of America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Horace Park letter to J.S. McBeth. MS2386. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

1Letter, 1864 August 2 View online.