In August 1864, after four weeks of siege operations, Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman withdrew his forces to move them secretly around Atlanta on a wide circuit beyond East Point and destroy the railroad at Jonesboro. He had found Atlanta's fortifications too strong to assault, and so long as that railroad could supply the Confederate Army of Tennessee, they could hold the city.
Late on the 25th, before moving the rest of his army, Sherman withdrew the 20th Corps from his siege line to positions near the river to protect his supplies and communication. William's division, in the center, covered the railroad bridge (Bolton). Ward's division covered Turner's Ferry, (Bankhead Highway Bridge). Geary's division covered Pace's Ferry, his three brigades abreast, his right joined with William's left north of Peachtree Creek.
Ireland's brigade (N.Y. and PA. Troops) and Bundy's 13th N.Y. Battery occupied this line. Believing that Sherman had given up hope of Atlanta, and that Ireland was posted here to cover a retreat across the river at Pace's Ferry, Confederate cavalry began attacking here at noon on the 26th. Repeated assaults failing, they withdrew, their force being too small to carry these strong, manned earthworks.