Final Attack at Jonesboro

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September 1, 1864

Stephen Davis

At 6:00 p.m. on August 31st, even before he knew the outcome of Lt. Gen. William Hardee's attack, Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood sent a message by courier down to Hardee ordering the return of S.D. Lee's corps back toward the city. Confederate cavalry had reported enemy movement near East Point; Hood reminded Hardee that sizable enemy forces were either hovering there or near Rough and Ready. Hardee, on the other hand, expected more enemy troops to arrive in his front and that they would attack him the next day. Still, at 1 a.m. on September 1, he sent Lee's corps marching back toward Atlanta. 

Confederate Prisoners (700x)
Confederate prisoners from Jonesboro marching under guard
Harpers Pictorial History of the Civil War

Union Gen. William T. Sherman indeed wanted an attack launched on Hardee, whose line on the 1st ran roughly north-south then refused to the southeast across the railroad. Jefferson Davis's Fourteenth Corps launched its attack around 4 p.m., aiming for the bend in the Rebel line. Even entrenched and with artillery the Confederates could not hold them back for long. Federals broke Cleburne's line, capturing hundreds of prisoners, including Brig. Gen. Daniel Govan. But Hardee and Cleburne rushed reinforcements and by nightfall had stabilized their line. Hardee had barely held back the Federals, but in doing so the Confederates lost at least 1,400 killed, wounded, and missing. Davis's corps incurred 222 killed, 945 wounded, and 105 missing, a total of 1,272 men. Around midnight, Hardee began withdrawing his troops, heading south toward Lovejoy's Station. Hood's army was dangerously divided, but Sherman made no effort to try to pursue or attack it further.