By the spring of 1864, Atlanta, Georgia existed as the last connection between the western and eastern halves of the Confederate States of America. The southern city was one of the few that embraced the industrial movement ushered in by the war and grew to be a major contender in producing arms, clothing, and other wartime supplies for Confederate troops. Union possession of Atlanta would further divide the Rebel nation by controlling a major railroad junction and preventing production of supplies necessary for Southern troops. In addition the city's strategic value, the battlefield outcome also would directly influence the result of the upcoming presidential election between incumbent Abraham Lincoln and his democratic opponent General George B. McClellan. Due to the candidates' conflicting views on whether to continue fighting or settle for peace, the victor contained the power to decide the conclusion of the Civil War. These diplomatic factors made the Atlanta Campaign a politically driven series of military engagements. The five-month long operation was divided into two parts when Confederate command switched from the cautious Joseph E. Johnston to the more assertive John B. Hood in July. The modification in generals was a administrative decision by Confederate President Jefferson Davis designed to force the issue militarily with aggression. This political calculation that transferred military command led to eventual loss in Atlanta that enabled Lincoln to win the Presidential Election, which ultimately decided the war's conclusion. Staying true to the dominant theme of the Civil War, battlefield actions and outcomes existed as both the cause and effect of political decisions made by Presidents Lincoln and Davis during the pivotal 1864 Atlanta Campaign. .
Fighting around Atlanta began at the Rocky Face Ridge Summit near Dalton, Georgia on May 7th. In order to distract Johnston from the Union troops marching south to cut off the Confederate supply line, Sherman engaged in small skirmishes attacking from the north and west.