May 5

Atlanta Campaign Begins

May 5, 1864 - Dalton, Atlanta

General William Tecumseh Sherman introduced himself to the people of Georgia on this day in 1864.

The Confederacy still had a chance to win the Civil War if Robert E. Lee could hold onto the capital at Richmond, and if Joe Johnston could keep Sherman from taking Atlanta, the South’s major railroad hub. President Lincoln might even be defeated in November.

Ulysses S. Grant gave Sherman command of all three U.S. Armies between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. By April, Sherman had gathered 110,000 men around Chattanooga and began marching south. Sherman’s army outnumbered the Confederates by two to one, morale was high, and he faced a notoriously unaggressive opponent in Joe Johnston. On the first day, Sherman set the tone for the rest of the campaign when he flanked the Confederates north of Dalton and marched south toward Atlanta.

The campaign that ensured Lincoln’s re-election, the March to the Sea, and ultimate Confederate defeat began on May 5, 1864, Today in Georgia History.