Had the outcome of the battle of Jonesboro been different, the course of history may have been changed. Some say the Union victory helped President Lincoln to get reelected. Gen. William T. Sherman’s plan was to capture Atlanta and cut off the Confederate army’s major supply source which required winning battles in Dalton, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, and Jonesboro. Located about 20 miles south of Atlanta, Jonesboro was situated on the Macon & Western railroad, the last link of the supply route into Atlanta. Reenactor Peter Bonner describes how in the battle at Jonesboro 20,000 rebels faced 70,000 federal troops and by the second day only half of the Confederates were left. After two days of brutal fighting, Jonesboro fell with Atlanta soon to follow. Douglas Cubbison, a Union reenactor discusses the toll that bacteria and disease took on all soldiers throughout the war. While 200,000 died in battles in the Civil War, nearly 400,000 died from disease and infection. However, soldiers from both sides remained spirited. After Jonesboro, Gen. Patrick Cleburne led his outnumbered troops against Union soldiers in Nashville. This time the Confederate band played “Amazing Grace” as they marched into battle–many eerily hearing their funeral prayer as they fought.
Teacher tip: What if the Battle of Jonesboro had been won by the Confederates? Looking at maps of the area surrounding Atlanta, speculate what alternate plans General Sherman would have made in that instance.