Sunday, September 21, 2014

The 1914 Boston Braves

The 1914 World Champion Boston Braves
The 2014 Atlanta Braves are having a disappointing season. After leading the NL East for much of the first half, the Braves went from being a struggling first-place team to an mediocre also-ran team thanks largely to losing 12 of 15 games from July 28 to August 12.  Even since then they remain an uninspiring team to watch.  Now they are struggling to just win half their ball games.  Atlanta is so far out of it that they are not longer contenders for a wild card spot in the playoffs, but, as long-time readers know, I detest the wild card to begin with so I am happy the Braves won't be something I detest as they were in, say, 2010.

This Braves team certainly looks mediocre compared with the 1914 Boston Braves team that won a world championship 100 years ago this October.  The "Miracle Braves" still have the reputation of being one of the hottest teams in baseball history.  Their "miracle" resides in the fact that they rocketed from last place on July 4, 1914 to win it all.  After July 4 the Braves posted a truly amazing 70-19 record, one of the highest winning percentages in baseball history for that number of games played.

This Braves team was mainly filled with players no one had ever heard of or thought of as exceptional talent.  Second baseman Johnny Evers and shortstop Rabbit Maranville were probably their best position players.  They represented a solid middle defense and lead the league in turning double plays that season.  Maranville also led the team with 78 RBIs and 28 stolen bases.  Remember this was still the "dead ball" era.  Home runs were scarce (outfielder Joe Connolly was the team's power hitter with a grand total of 9 homers), the hit and run was routine, and stolen bases were plentiful.  Boston was not a heavy hitting team, only Connolly batted over .300 for the season and third baseman Charlie Deal only batted .210.

The Boston Braves won the championship primarily with pitching.  This was in the era when most teams had 3-man pitching rotations, with a couple of other guys occasionally starting as a fourth pitcher.  The top three for the 1914 Braves were Dick Rudolph, Bill James, and Lefty Tyler. Tyler posted a 16-13 record with a 2.69 ERA. Rudolph was considered the ace of the staff.  He went a solid 26-10 with a 2.35 while James went an outstanding 26-7 record while allowing only 1.90 runs every nine innings.

The Braves blew past the rival New York Giants in early September, ending the season 10 1/2 games ahead of them at 94-51, an outstanding record for a 154-game season.  But, despite their momentum, over in the American League the Philadelphia Athletics under Connie Mack, probably the greatest manager in baseball history, went 99-53 (the reason some of these records don't add up to 154 games is that rain outs were often not made up unless the pennant races demanded it - national travel was too cumbersome in this era before the airplane). Philadelphia was heavily favored by baseball experts to take the upstart Braves in the 1914 World Series.  The Athletics were the reigning champions and were baseball's powerhouse team at the time, having won the Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913.

Game One was played in Philadelphia at Shibe Park before a sell-out crowd of 20,562. Randolph faced Chief Bender who had a 17-3 record in 1914.  The Braves batters hammered Bender while Randolph threw a complete game in a dominating 7-1 win. Game Two was another full house in Philadelphia. James faced Eddie Plank.  This one was a real pitcher's duel with both hurlers going a full nine innings, unheard of in today's era of pitching specialization of course.

The scoreless game was decided in the ninth inning when Deal, the batter with the lowest batting average on either team, drove a ball deep to centerfield.  The Athletics fielder lost the ball in the sun and it fell for a double. (World Series games were afternoon games until television came along.) Deal later stole third base as James, the pitcher, batted for himself and struck out. Deal scored on a base hit by the Braves right fielder, Les Mann, a player name that surely an agent would change in this day and age.  James proceeded to walk two batters in the bottom of the ninth but no relief pitcher was brought in (there might not even have been a mound visit from the manager or pitching coach) and James managed to work out of the situation for a 1-0 Braves win.

The series then switched to a wild Fenway Park in Boston. The city was crazy over the Braves turnaround and the strong momentum of their absolute dominance of play.  Few teams have ever been hotter at just the right time.  The Park was packed with 35,520 vociferous fans.  This was the best game of the series with fine plays and timely hitting by both teams. A 2-2 tie went into extra innings.  In the tenth inning the Athletics took a 4-2 lead.  But the Braves followed with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to keep the game going.  Finally, in the 12th inning the Braves scored an unearned run on a throwing error by the Athletics defense and won the game 5-4. Amazingly, the Athletics Bullet Joe Bush pitched a complete 12 innings for the loss (though credited with only 11 innings in the box score, apparently because he got no one out in the Braves 12th...and was not relieved!).  The Braves brought Bill James in after Lefty Tyler pitched 10 innings, and James ended up getting the win.

Think about this.  Bill James was a starting pitcher. In 1914 he pitched 11 innings and won two consecutive World Series games, pitching a complete game win and then relieving for two more innings for the win in the next game. That is a rare feat that would be unthinkable today.  Perhaps this has happened several times but I cannot find any other instance in baseball history as of this post, maybe back in the nineteenth-century.  To my knowledge no other starting pitcher has won back-to-back World Series games.

That left Dick Rudolph fresh to start Game Four for the Braves.  Boston was abuzz with the possibility of a world championship.  The Braves did not let them down, steamrolling to a 3-1 win and sweeping Connie Mack and the heavily favored Athletics. Rudolph fired a complete game. Boston celebrated the Braves' first world championship in their storied history.  Baseball's oldest franchise would go on to win (so far) championships in 1948, 1957 (in Milwaukee), and in 1995 (in Atlanta).  So, only four championships in the long history of the Braves.  
A rare 1914 Boston Braves Press Pin.
By comparison the American League New York Yankees have won more World Series than any organization with 27 championships.  The National League St. Louis Cardinals are second with 11. Seven current major league teams have never won a World Series while most franchises have won one or two. Among those with championships in their history the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908.  The fact is, the Braves won their first World Series six seasons after the Cubs won their last World Series.  That makes the Cubbies the team with the longest World Series victory drought.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sherman and Hood: A Battle of Letters

Generals John Bell Hood and William Tecumseh Sherman.
"Hundreds of sutlers and traders were waiting in Nashville and Chattanooga, greedy to reach Atlanta with their wares and goods, with which to drive a profitable trade with the inhabitants.  I gave positive orders that none of these traders, except three (one for each separate army), should be permitted to come nearer than Chattanooga; and, moreover, I peremptorily required that all citizens and families resident in Atlanta should go away, giving each the option to go south or north, as their interests and feelings dictated.  I was resolved to make Atlanta a purely military garrison or depot, with no civilian population to influence military matters.  I had seen Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, and New Orleans, all captured from the enemy, and each at once was garrisoned by a full division of troops, if not more; so that success was actually crippling our armies in the field by detachments to guard and protect the interests of a hostile population." (page 584)

So an interesting affair is introduced by General William T. Sherman in his memoirs.  He would later burn much of Atlanta but before that he occupied it in an aggressive military manner. Sherman cleared Atlanta of all civilians. The elderly, sick, crippled, women, and children were all without exception ordered from their homes. He saw this action as necessary and logical. His Confederate opponent, General John Bell Hood, took great exception to Sherman's handling of the civilian population and used the occasion to exchange letters with Sherman in a war of words over the merits of Sherman's action within the context of "the rules of conduct in war", which greatly aggravated Hood's southern sense of honor, though, as Sherman points out in the exchange, the southerners carry plenty of aggressive war guilt as well.  (The importance of guilt in the reconciliation of southerners to their own catastrophic defeat is well-addressed in Why The South Lost The Civil War, 1986).

Both men included the exchange of correspondence in their respective memoirs.  Sherman used the matter to routinely close the section of his memoirs detailing the campaign for Atlanta.  Hood, however, wished to emphasize the matter and devoted an entire chapter to just these letters under the title "Correspondence with Sherman - Citation on the Rules of War."  It should be noted that both men respected each other after the war and Hood was Sherman's guest on several occasions.

In their respective remembrances, both men agree that the matter began with an exchange of prisoners.  2,000 Confederates would be exchanged for 2,000 Yankees, mostly from the infamous prison at Andersonville.  Hood knew that the Yankees would not have had time to ship northward all the prisoners captured during his three disastrous attacks in late July.  Sherman knew the situation at Andersonville was likely desperate.  The prisoner exchange took place in mid-September but on its coat tails was something Sherman completely controlled.

Sherman's initial letter to Hood is dated September 7, 1864. It is brief and to the point. Without attempting to explain his reasoning to his adversary he simply states that he his clearing Atlanta of all civilians and giving each citizen a choice.  They can go north, where his armies and rails would provide for them up into Tennessee or Kentucky if they wish to travel that far.  Or they can go south.  In which case Sherman would provide rail transportation as far south as the rails were in good repair, within about 15 miles of Hood's army. From there Hood must arrange to carry the thousands of them by whatever wagons he can find to Lovejoy Station where they can be transported as they like further south or east by Confederate trains.

To Hood this is not only an ultimatum but it is an outrage as he will be forced to use his own supply wagons, needed for his own army, in order to accommodate this mass exodus. Hood can barely feed his own army yet he will be temporarily burdened with thousands more mouths to feed. And the outright ordering of women and children from their homes is an affront to Hood's sense of honor.  So, after finally realizing he has no choice in the matter, two days later, on September 9, Hood fires off a short letter of protest ending with: "And now, sir, permit me to say that the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war....In the name of God and humanity, I protest, believing that you will find you are expelling from their homes and firesides the wives and children of a brave people." (page 230)

Sherman's reply came quickly on the next day, September 10. It is much more lengthy than his first letter, which was only a few paragraphs.  This letter amounts to one and a half pages as published in his memoir.  It begins in the high style of the period recognized and used by both generals.  "I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter...consenting to the arrangements I had proposed to facilitate the removal south of the people of Atlanta, who prefer to go in that direction.  I enclosed you a copy of my orders, which will, I am satisfied, accomplish my purpose perfectly." (pp. 593-594)  Sherman the proceeds to take exception to Hood's characterization of his campaign as "unprecedented." He picks apart Hood's philosophical appraisal of his campaign and compares it as similar with the behavior of Confederate armies in recent operations.

Sherman's boldest contention is: "You defended Atlanta on a line so close to the town that every canon-shot and many musket-shots from our lone of investment, that overshot their mark, went into the habitations of women and children. General Hardee did the same at Jonesboro', and General Johnston did the same, last summer, at Jackson, Mississippi. I have not accused you of heartless cruelty, but merely instance these cases of very recent occurrence, and could go on and enumerate hundreds of others, and challenge any fair man to judge which of us has the heart of pity for families of a 'brave people.'" (page 594)

But ultimately his letter gets around to Hood's plea to God. "In the name of common sense, I ask you not to appeal to a just God in such a sacrilegious manner.  You who, in the midst of peace and prosperity, have plunged a nation into war - dark and cruel war - who dared and badgered us into battle, insulted our flag, seized our arsenals and forts that were committed by the (to you) hated Lincoln Government; tried to force Kentucky and Missouri into rebellion, in spite of themselves; falsified the vote in Louisiana; turned your privateers to plunder unarmed ships; expelled Union families by the thousands, burned their houses, and declared, by an act of your Congress, the confiscation of all debts due Northern men for goods had and received!...if we must be enemies, let us be men, and fight it out as we propose to do, and not deal in such hypocritical appeals to God and humanity.  God will judge us in due time, and he will pronounce whether it be more humane to fight with a town full of women and families of a brave people at our back, or to remove them on time to places of safety among our own friends and people.  I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant." (pp. 594-595)

Once again it takes Hood two days to respond.  His letter of September 12 is the longest of the exchange, twice the length of Sherman's previous missive, which inspired it.  Hood begins by stating that had Sherman not gone such great lengths in his letter to justify what Hood terms "an act of barbarous cruelty" he would have been contented to close the matter.  However, "you have chosen to indulge in statements which I feel compelled to notice, at least so far as to signify my dissent, and not allow silence in regard to them to be construed as acquiescence." (page 232).  Hood then proceeds, in great detail, to take exception with every point made by Sherman.

"I feel no other emotion other than pain in reading the portion of your letter which attempts to justify your shelling Atlanta, without notice, under the pretense that I defended Atlanta upon a line so close to town that every cannon shot, and many musket balls from your line of investment, that overshot their mark, went into habitations of women and children.  I made no complaint of your firing into Atlanta in any way you thought proper. I make none now, but there are a hundred thousand witnesses that you fired into the habitations of women and children for weeks, firing far above and miles beyond my line of defense.  I have too good an opinion, founded upon observation and experience, of the skills of your artillerists, to credit the insinuation that they for weeks unintentionally fired too high for my modest field works, and slaughtered women and children by accident or want of skill." (page 233)

Hood rebuts Sherman's points (what he terms "the residue of your letter") on such matters as responsibility for the war, actions taken early in the war, the status of Kentucky, Missouri, and Louisiana, naval matters, and the economic consequences of the war for northern merchants. He continues: "You order into exile the whole population of a city; drive men, women, and children from their homes at the point of bayonet, under the plea that it is in the interest of your Government...You issue a sweeping edict, covering all the inhabitants of a city, and add insult to the injury heaped upon the defenseless by assuming that you have done them a kindness...And, because I characterize what you call a kindness as being real cruelty, you presume to sit in judgment between me and my God;  You came into our country with your Army, avowedly for the purpose of subjugating free white men, women, and children, and not only intend to rule them, but make negroes your allies, and desire to place us over an inferior race, which we have raised from barbarism to its present condition, which is the highest ever attained by that race, in any country, in all time." (page 235) Of course, this exchange would not be the complete representation of the period that it is if it did not contain racist comments, which were one of the reasons for the war to begin with.

Here is the final letter penned by Sherman, the shortest of all letters considered here, in its entirety so that you can see the complete formal style of such correspondence as we are considering.  It was written two days later:

"Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Atlanta, Georgia, September 14, 1864

"General J.B. Hood, commanding Army of Tennessee, Confederate Army

"General: Yours of September 12th is received, and has been carefully perused.  I agree with you that this discussion by two soldiers is out of place and profitless; but you must admit that you began the controversy by characterizing an official act of mine in unfair and improper terms.  I reiterate my former answer, and to the only contained in your rejoinder add:  We have no 'negro allies' in this army; not a single negro soldier left Chattanooga with this army, or is with it now.  There are a few guarding Chattanooga, which General Steedman sent at one time to drive Wheeler out of Dalton.

"I was not bound by the laws of war to give notice of the shelling of Atlanta, a 'fortified town, with magazines, arsenals, foundries, and public stores;' you were bound to take notice.  See the books.

"This is the conclusion of our correspondence, which I did not begin, and terminate with satisfaction.  I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

W.T. Sherman, Major-General commanding" (page 602)

In his memoirs, which were published after Sherman's, Hood offers a commentary on the nature of the discussion between the two generals. Hood admits he was tempted to respond to Sherman's curt "see the books" comment.  He then proceeds to argue "that General Sherman's conduct, in this instance, was in violation of the laws which should govern nations in time of war." He cites examples of military conduct during the Peninsular War in addition to numerous passages from three war scholars on the nature of "unnecessary violence" and on the protection of non-combatants in populated areas, implying again that Sherman's orders were "barbarous cruelty."

Compared to Hood, Sherman's memoirs make no comment on the affair.  He merely collects the letters and presents them for the reader's consideration as if they speak for themselves. However, Sherman includes some correspondence that Hood does not.  Both memoirs reprint the plea by two City Councilmen and the Mayor, James M. Calhoun, addressed to Sherman asking that he reconsider his eviction orders.  Sherman pens a very lengthy reply to these gentleman, as long as anything he wrote to Hood.  Nothing better documents Sherman's perspective and this serves as comment enough to compare with Hood's analysis. In part it reads:

"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will.  War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices today than any of you to secure the peace.  But you cannot have peace and a division of our country....You might as well appeal against a thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop this war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetrated in pride." (page 601)

Sherman gathered all this correspondence with Hood and with the Mayor of Atlanta and sent it to Washington for review by Army Chief of Staff Major-General H. W. Halleck.   Sherman concludes this matter in his memoirs by simply publishing Halleck's reply dated September 28.  Halleck writes:

"Not only are you justified by the laws and usages of war in removing these people, but I think it was your duty to your own army to do so.  Moreover, I am fully of the opinion that the nature of your position, the character of the war, the conduct of the enemy (and especially of non-combatants and women of the territory which we have heretofore conquered and occupied), will justify you in gathering up all the forage and provisions which your army may require, both for a siege of Atlanta and for your supply in your march further into the enemy's country.  Let the disloyal families of the country, thus stripped, go to their husbands, fathers, and natural protectors, in the rebel ranks; we have tried three years of council action and kindness without any reciprocation; on the contrary, those thus treated have acted as spies and guerrillas in our rear and within our lines." (page 603)

Each side exchanged 2,000 prisoners, Atlanta was evacuated of all civilians, most choosing to go south, placing the burden for the exodus upon Hood, and Sherman militarized the city for several weeks.  Sherman was unclear as to what his next move should be.  But Halleck's passing suggestion that he "match further into the enemy's country" would soon be realized in Sherman's infamous "March to the Sea."  Much of Atlanta would be burned to the ground, clearly destroying the homes of the evicted southerners, something beyond Sherman's stated intent in these letters. Thus the rules of war would be shown to be, as they have for all history, strictly the interpretation of the victor.  (In fairness, it should be pointed out that Confederate forces burned the Pennsylvanian town of Chambersburg on July 30, 1864.)

This battle of letters between Sherman and Hood could well represent the first clash of histories of the war.  Which is more historically accurate? Sherman pointing out the great Southern responsibility for all the hardships of the war?  Or Hood believing that the South was victimized, its culture insulted and threatened by a hostile North. My guess is there is more than a bit of truth (and propaganda) in both perspectives.  These letters contain a wealth of contemporary perspective and it is valuable to consider them when researching and debating the nature of America's bloodiest war.

Note: Sherman sent his final letter to Hood 150 years ago today.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Atlanta Fell 150 Years Ago Today

Hood blew up his ammunition train before abandoning Atlanta. This photo was taken a few days later as Federal forces occupied the city. 
The Confederate army under General John C. Pemberton surrendered at Vicksburg on Independence Day, July 4, 1863. This was a major strategic victory for the Union cause in the War Between the States.  It severed the cattle and horse rich western Confederacy from the eastern armies of General Robert E. Lee and, at the time, General Braxton Bragg.  But in truth it did not mean much to the war weary public on both sides. The war continued and the strategic significance of Vicksburg turned out not to be enough to get Abraham Lincoln re-elected in 1864.

Lincoln feared he would lose the presidency to his Democratic opponent, Union General George B. McClellan.  The north was tired of the war and wanted peace.  There were anti-draft riots in New York City as well as pervasive grumbling throughout the northern states.  Also in the summer of 1863, General George Meade stood his ground against Lee's best infantry and turned the Confederates away at Gettysburg.  It was the bloodiest battle of the war and the most storied battle in American history but at the time it was seen as a draw, particularly in the south, not as a southern defeat.

Then came Chickamauga, a clear Confederate victory.  Up north there were demands for an investigation into what was seen as a military fiasco.  Even though the Rebels were routed from Chattanooga only a few weeks later, a sense of despondency pervaded the north.  About 300,000 were dead on each side.  So many more were hobbling around without arms and legs. There was no indication the Union could win in the Deep South away from its river gunboats and navy.  Even with its vast naval firepower, Charleston Harbor had not fallen in very heavy attacks in the fall of 1863.  Vicksburg seemed to be an exception rather than the rule.  Overall, the battles were bloodier than ever.  It was time for peace and Lincoln seemed to be a war president. America was sick of war.

In 1864 General Ulysses S. Grant, the victor of Vicksburg and Chattanooga, aggressively and repeatedly attacked the Army of Northern Virginia in a series of very bloody battles with the Army of the Potomac.  By the fall of that year, however, the public viewed Grant's attacks as just another bloody draw. No one saw victory in Grant's efforts. The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor, among several others, all drained both armies.  The series of almost non-stop battles cost the south 35,000 men but Lee had inflicted over 60,000 casualties on Grant.  Northerners were tired of this long bloody attrition.  Grant was referred to as "the butcher" even as he edged ever closer to the Confederate capital at Richmond. May - August 1864 was the bloodiest period of months in the entire war.  A significant minority in the North wanted peace and that peace minority was stronger at the moment than the emancipation minority.

Albert Castel captures the wide-spread northern despair in his 1992 history of the Atlanta Campaign.  Castel wrote his book in the present tense. "On August 29 the Democratic Convention, twice postponed, finally will gather in Chicago. Almost surely it will adopt a platform branding the war as a failure and calling for a negotiated peace. Almost surely, too, it will nominate General George B. McClellan, former commander of the Army of the Potomac and still beloved by many soldiers, for president.  And just as surely, unless the war takes a decisive turn for the better, McClellan will be elected.  Such, at any rate, is the hope and expectation of the Democrats and the fear and apprehension of the Republicans. Among the latter is Thurlow Weed of New York, reputedly the canniest politician in the country.  He believes that 'the people are wild for peace.' and he has told Lincoln, to whom he is an unofficial adviser, that his reelection is 'an impossibility.' Another is Horace Greeley, whose New York Tribune still refuses to endorse Lincoln's nomination. Declaring that 'Mr. Lincoln is already beaten,' Greeley has joined with some like-minded Republicans, including the mayor of New York and the national treasurer of the party, to bring about a new convention that will choose a new candidate: Grant, Ben Butler, and even Sherman are being considered.  Butler, Senator Charles Sumner, and Governor John Andrew, all of Massachusetts, support this movement.  So, too, the Cincinnati Gazette, which has called for Lincoln to withdraw from the race, a pleas that is echoed by other major Republican newspapers.

"In fact, so widespread and intense is Republican defeatism that even Henry Raymond editor of the New York Times and national chairman of the Union (Republican) party, believes that 'unless some prompt and bold step be taken all is lost.'" (page 477)

Meanwhile, despite bloody repulses at Resaca and Kennesaw Mountain, General William T. Sherman out-maneuvered General Joseph E. Johnston toward Atlanta. This ultimately led Confederate President Jefferson Davis to controversially replace Johnston with General John Bell Hood due the strategic and political importance of Atlanta.  That southern railroad town became the war-related key for Lincoln's reelection.  A union defeat at Atlanta would most likely have elected George McClellan as President.  In fact, the south likely did not even have to defeat Sherman's combined three Union armies.  All the Army of Tennessee needed to do was hold on to Atlanta as Lee held Petersburg and Richmond and the malaise that pervaded the north (and the people of the south too for that matter though that had no immediate political consequences in 1864) would have seemed validated.

Mobile Bay fell in the late summer of 1864 before the fall of Atlanta and this was a morale boost for the north.  This closed one of only two remaining major southern ports open to blockade runners bringing supplies into the Confederacy.  But that was still too strategically abstract to affect the majority of disgruntled northern people.  Mobile Bay, like Vicksburg and even Gettysburg, was a strategic Union victory but it was not viewed as particularly important by the majority in the north at the time of the war.  For them and the vast focus of northern newspapers during this time the war was about capturing Richmond and Atlanta.

The Union victory at Atlanta came after three battles around the city on July 20, July 22July 28, and the disastrous Battle of Jonesboro.  The Confederates were flat-out whipped. As long as Atlanta was held, these southern defeats did not matter.  Some even argue that hyperbole about these battles at the time actually lifted southern morale.  But when Sherman managed to cut the last rail line south of Atlanta, the city's only supply line, it was a clear victory and it was trumpeted throughout the north.  This was no stalemate, it was a major Union victory that, along with Mobile Bay and General Jubal Early's defeat in the Shenandoah, proved to be enough to get Lincoln re-elected and to see the war through to complete northern triumph.

It is an irony that the Democrats nominated McClellan on the same day as Sherman ordered troop maneuvers toward Jonesboro.  In essence this was the critical moment in the war. To the extent that Hood could not deal with Sherman's troops cutting his supply to Atlanta, McClellan lost to Lincoln.

Renowned historian James McPherson writes about the impact of the fall of Atlanta in his splendid history of the war (1988): "The impact of this event cannot be exaggerated. Cannons boomed 100-gun salutes in northern cities. Newspapers that had bedeviled Sherman for years now praised him as the greatest general since Napoleon.  In retrospect the victory at Mobile Bay suddenly took on new importance as the first blow of a lethal one-two punch. 'Sherman and Farragut,' exulted Secretary of State Seward, 'have knocked the bottom out of the Chicago platform.' The Richmond Examiner reflected glumly that 'the disaster at Atlanta' came 'in the very nick of time' to 'save the party of Lincoln from irretrievable obscures the prospect of peace, late so bright.  It will also diffuse gloom all over the South.'" (pp.  774-775)

Sherman quickly occupied Atlanta and soon turned it into a huge military depot while evicting the entire civilian population.  Hood's battered army limped south to Lovejoy Station where it found supplies and dug in.  The campaign then briefly transformed from a military confrontation into a war of words.  But that is the subject of my next post.