By 27 June 1864, Sherman had called off frontal assaults. He ordered General McPherson to feint to the right of the Confederate lines, and Schofield to demonstrate on the left and threatened General Johnston’s rear. This succeeded in drawing attention away from the frontal assault. Sherman ordered McPherson to swing behind the divisions of General Thomas (whose battered soldiers had borne the brunt of the frontal assault) and Schofield and reach for the Chattahoochee River. He hoped that this would convince Johnston that he was being flanked (yet again).
Johnston saw no alternative in his efforts to protect Marietta (railroads) and Atlanta (ditto). On 2 July, Johnston pulled off of Kennesaw Mountain. Sherman had once more forced Johnston out of a strong position, but at a cost.
Johnston is now on the loose and heading for the Chattahoochee. Sherman gives chase, thinking that Johnston won’t dare to entrench with his back to the river. Johnston, however, sets up camp in Smyrna, a tiny town just west of Atlanta, four miles south of Marietta. His position is a seemingly impregnable six-mile flat horseshoe protecting the railroad bridge (told you so) with both flanks anchored on the river. Atlanta is less than 10 miles away.