Sherman´s grand objective in this campaign was the capture of Atlanta. The strategic importance of the Georgia capital as a military stronghold and depot of supplies was recognized by the Federal commander. On account of its central location, accessibility, and prominence, it seemed to hold the key to the situation and to offer particular attraction as a prize of war.
On July 22, 1864, McPherson´s army, having moved upon the Georgia Railroad, in the neighborhood of Decatur, was threatening Hoods communications, and it was necessary either to abandon Atlanta or to checkmate his movements. Accordingly Hood gave battle. Wheelers Calvary, with brilliant dash, supported the corps commanders, Hardee, Steward and Cheatham in this terrific engagement, known as the Battle of Atlanta, or the Battle of twenty-second of July. There was great loss of life on both sides: but the temporary advantage was with the Confederates who made a number of splendid captures.
To quote General Hood: "While the grand results desired was not accomplished the movement of McPherson upon the communications were entirely defeated and no further effort was made in that direction at any time." Major General James B. McPherson, on the Federal side, and Major General Wm. H.T. Walker, on the Confederate, were among the killed. It was a sanguinary struggle, but its close found Hood still master of the Confederate citadel.