Peach Tree Creek - July 20, 1864
American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Peach Tree Creek on July 20, 1864
Lieut. Gen. John B. Hood ordered the corps of Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee and Maj. Gen. Alexander Stewart to attack en echelon (staggered intervals of departure from the main battle line) from his right to his left. Hardee, on the Confederate right, did not advance until nearly 3:30. His lead division, Maj. Gen. William Bate’s, moved into rough undergrowth in the gap in the Union lines between Thomas and Schofield and was never heavily engaged. Maj. Gen. William H. T. Walker’s division, next in line, made first contact with Brig. Gen. John Newton’s division on Thomas’ left. Walker’s men advanced as the Federals’ opened on them with musketry and cannon fire. The Southerners made repeated charges until about 6:00 p.m. without breaching the enemy works. Hardee’s third division, under Brig. Gen. George Maney attacked next, taking up Walker’s assault. For a while Confederate attackers overlapped Newton’s right flank, but Newton refused his line to repel the Rebels. All along the line Hardee’s attacks had failed.
Maj. Gen. William Loring’s division of Stewart’s corps took up the attack next, moving down the valley of Tanyard Creek (Early’s Creek). Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Featherston’s brigade, on the right, tried repeatedly to make headway, without success. Brig. Gen. Thomas Scott’s brigade, on Loring’s left, struck the XX Corps line, overrunning the 33rd New Jersey, which had been thrown out in advance of the main line of Brig. Gen. John W. Geary’s division. Scott then came under heavy fire from Col. Benjamin Harrison’s brigade (Brig. Gen. William Ward’s division) and Geary’s artillery.
As Geary’s division repelled Scott on its left, the charge of Maj. Gen. Edward C. Walthall’s Confederate division created a crisis on the other flank. Advancing with three brigades, Walthall’s right brigade, Col. Edward O’Neal’s Alabamians, charged up the ridge along which Collier Road runs and overran Geary’s right. Three regiments of Ohio and Pennsylvania men fell back, but the Union line was stabilized and O’Neal was stopped. Walthall’s left brigade, under Brig. Gen. Daniel Reynolds, also drove in skirmishers of Brig. Gen. Alpheus Williams’ division and even took a portion of its main lines. Federal counterattacks and enfilading fire forced Walthall back, causing his attack to fall apart. As darkness approached, Stewart ordered his troops back into their trenches.