In October 1864, the Confederate General Hood believed that the only way to fight Sherman was to confront him. In this he was supported by Jefferson Davis. Hood knew that constant retreating was demoralising his men. Hood’s approach won the admiration and respect of the man he was trying to defeat – Sherman.
October 1st: The body of Rose O’Neal Greenhow was found on a beach near Wilmington, North Carolina. She was one of the foremost Confederate spies in Washington DC and passed onto General Beauregard the plans of General McDowell on the eve of what became known as the Battle of Bull Run. Fearing her ship might be boarded on her return from Europe, Greenhow took to a small boat to row ashore but it must have overturned and she drowned.
General Hood decided that an offensive campaign was the only way ahead for him against Sherman. Hood decided that Sherman’s supply lines were too long and therefore were vulnerable to attack.
October 2nd: Confederate troops cut the Western and Atlantic Railroad – an important part of Sherman’s lines of communication.
October 3rd: Jefferson Davis made a speech at Columbia, South Carolina, declaring that if everyone supported the work of Hood, he was confident that Sherman would be defeated.
Hood’s men broke the track of the Chattanooga-Atlanta railroad, a further blow to Sherman.
October 4th: Hood’s men destroy fifteen miles of railway near Marietta.
October 5th: Hood’s men attacked Union positions that defended the railroad pass at Allatoona. The Confederate attack was defeated. Such was the importance of this victory, that Sherman sent a personal message of thanks to Major General J M Corse who commanded the Union troops at Allatoona.
October 6th: General Thomas Rosser led a Confederate cavalry force against General George Custer at Brock’s Gap. It failed.
October 9th: Generals Custer and Lomax led a successful cavalry attack against Confederate positions in the Shenandoah Valley.
October 13th: Maryland voted to abolish slavery within the state.
A Confederate force destroyed twenty miles of railway near Resaca.
October 18th: General Early decided to attack General Sheridan’s army despite being heavily outnumbered. He knew that he could not simply just move and then move on still more. Not only could he not adequately feed his army, he knew that such a tactic was demoralising his men.
October 19th: Early 10,000 men attacked Sheridan’s 30,000 troops at Cedar Creek. Early’s advance was disguised by fog and his attack achieved near total surprise. However, the early Confederate successes could not be sustained and by midday the exhausted Confederates withdrew. Early’s army lost 3,000 men in total. The Union lost over 5,550 men in total but Sheridan’s army could sustain this.
October 20th: Sheridan decided not to pursue Early as he no longer considered them to be a sustainable fighting force.
October 22nd: Hood continued with his aggressive campaign against Sherman. However, he was aware that lack of supplies was becoming a major issue.
October 23rd: The South suffered a defeat at Brush Creek in Missouri. Both sides lost about 1,500 men.
October 26th: Sherman recognised that his opponent, Hood, was a highly able commander. He said of him: “He can turn and twist like a fox and wear out my army in pursuit.”
Bloody Bill Anderson was killed in an ambush at Richmond, Missouri.
The last Confederate offensive in Missouri ended.
October 27th: General Grant launched an attack against Confederate positions in Petersburg but it was beaten back.
October 31st: Hood’s attempt to draw Sherman away from Atlanta failed. Hood’s army was heading in one direction while Sherman’s was heading further into the Confederacy.