In the run-up to Atlanta, the Confederate commander Robert E. Lee sacked Joseph E. Johnston as commander of the Army of the Tennessee for his repeated disinclination to engage numerically superior Union forces. His successor, John B. Hood, displayed the requisite aggression at Peach Tree Creek – and was defeated. Withdrawing to the outskirts of Atlanta, Hood was beset by Union armies advancing from three sides, with the city within their artillery range. The epicentre of hostilities moved east, where Hood desperately tried to dislodge Union General McPherson’s forces from Bald Hill. Hood ordered William Hardee to attack McPherson’s unprotected left flank, but he was blocked by the Union XVI Corps: General McPherson was killed in the fighting. Assaults on Bald Hill from the south, led by Hardee, and then from the north, led by Cheatham, were repulsed with heavy losses. Determined to cut off railroad supplies into Atlanta, Unionist forces moved to the west of the city. Hood anticipated this move and the armies met at Ezra Church on 28 July. The Union forces were dug in and anticipating Hood’s manoeuvre; they held off the Confederates, although they failed to reach the railroad line.
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