This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, July 20: Fighting near Atlanta.
Union forces led by Maj. Gen William T. Sherman continued pressing toward Atlanta, bidding to capture the key Southern city 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Union forces fought it out with Confederate rivals on the outskirts of Atlanta July 22, 1864. At the time, Confederates led by Gen. John Bell Hood sought to attack a Union column east of the city. But the Southern attack quickly lost momentum as fighting escalated. Sherman, in the end, positioned artillery on a hilltop, halting Confederate advances and inflicting high casualties on the Confederates at the gates to Atlanta.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, July 27: Battle of the Crater, Petersburg, Va.
Union forces capped weeks of stealthy underground excavation by exploding an underground mine beneath Confederate defenses near Petersburg, Virginia, on July 30, 1864. The Union aim: to overrun Confederate defenses and seize the city less than 25 miles south of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Confederate troops, weapons and debris were tossed in the air by the thundering blast. Despite the shock to the Confederate defenders, a planned Union attack after the blast went askew quickly. Federal forces charging into the huge crater created by the explosion became disoriented and confused. Their planned assault on the Confederate fortifications fell apart as the Confederates regrouped and fought back fiercely. Soon the Confederates had sealed off the gaping hole in their defenses and inflicted heavy casualties on Union forces. This day 150 years ago in the Civil War would mark a clear Confederate victory, though months of siege warfare would follow in the trenches before the Union would eventually prevail.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Aug. 3: War rumors.
Amid an intensifying conflict 150 years ago, calls arose in the summer of 1864 in the North for newspapers to refrain from publishing rumors of troop movements, whether by Confederate or Union soldiers. As The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., noted on its front page July 27, 1864: "There are many wild reports to-day and to-night" and most were believed to be "unfounded." An accompanying dispatch by The Associated Press reported on the hardships of obtaining verified war details. "It is extremely difficult to obtain any authentic information relative to affairs on the Upper Potomac, and rebel movements in the (Shenandoah) Valley" of Virginia, AP noted. "By far the greater part of the rumors and even positive statements hourly put in circulation here are evidently false, and therefore not worth repeating," the dispatch added. But big news still got through that week as AP reported that Sherman's Union force was pressing in a "grand movement upon Atlanta," a major Union objective in the Deep South.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Aug. 10: