James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  17, Sherman crossed the Chattahoochee river and began his movement directly against Atlanta. On the same day, Jefferson Davis materially assisted him by relieving Johnston from the command for the reason, in the words of the order, that “you have failed to arrest the advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta … and express no confidence that you can defeat or repel him.” 1 So masterly had been Johnston’s strategy in retreat that his displacement was thoroughly relished by Sherman and by his officers and men. J. B. Hood, the new commander, had been personally known at West Point by McPherson, Schofield and Howard, and these three, together with Sherman, accurately took his measure, deciding that “the change meant fight.” 2 The logic of Johnston’s removal was indeed that the Confederates must take the offensive, and Hood lost no time in carrying Davis’s purpose into effect. Thrice he attacked and brought on a battle; thrice he was repulsed with severe loss. The chief feature of the second battle, that of Atlanta, which was fought within two and one-half miles of the city, was a vigorous and skilful Confederate attack which struck a portion of the Union line in the rear and would have caused a panic among any but sturdy veterans; but the soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee leaped over their breastworks and fought from the reverse side. McPherson, however, their commander, was killed. He had just left Sherman to investigate the unexplained firing in the rear and to make the necessary dispositions to meet it; he had already given a number of orders, when he rode into a wood and encountered there a line of Confederate skirmishers. By these he was summoned to surrender, but he wheeled his horse and tried to ride off: there was a volley of musketry and one of the noblest soldiers of the
Note 1. Johnston, 349. [back]
Note 2. W. Sherman, II, 72. [back]