June 27th, 1864
The battle of Kennesaw Mountain was really an extended operation last for several days before and after the 27th. Troops were under small arms and cannon fire daily, the 27th was day of the main Federal Assault at Cheatham’s Hill, also known as the Dead Angle, as well as the area of Pigeon Hill and the remainder of the Federal left. After days of a stalemate, General Sherman was frustrated and ordered a frontal assault on the Confederate Lines. The attack was to begin at 8:00am on the 27th, but was delayed for nearly an hour. Their goal was to break the Confederate line at what they thought was the weakest point. They chose Cheatham’s Hill due the salient in the line. General Sherman ordered General McPherson to use his Army of the Tennessee to attack the right of the Confederate line as a diversion to the main assault. McPherson’s diversionary attack was carried out against Big Kennesaw, Little Kennesaw, and Pigeon Hill. General Schofield, who was still positioned astride the Powder Springs Road near Kolb’s Farm, was ordered to keep extending the Federal right flank in an attempt to reach the end of the Confederate lines and turn their flank. General Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland were positioned in the center of the Federal lines.
The main Federal assault was carried out by elements of Palmer’s XIV Corps and Howard’s IV Corps. They were attacking the salient angle that was manned by Cheatham and Cleburne of Hardee’s Corps. The Confederates were outnumbered, but were behind a strong line of works. The Federal troops took a beating and at one point on the hill, there was a dead spot. The Southern soldiers could not fire upon this spot due to the position of their works and the angle of the hill. The Union troops in this spot began to dig in with their bayonets, tin cups and dinner plates. They were only about 25 to 30 yards from their objective. During the night, shovels and picks were brought up to facilitate easier digging and an attempt to tunnel into the hill and under the Confederate works was made. The plan was to pack it with powder and blow up the works, but the tunnel was abandoned after only making it about half way to the Confederate line.
Federal losses were just over 3,000 and the Confederate losses were about 1000. This was a tactical defeat for the Federal Army, but Schofield eventually made it to the end of the Confederate line and began moving to flank General Johnston. This forced Johnston to withdraw from his lines at Kennesaw Mountain and towards the Chattahoochee. There are many stories of Gallantry, Bravery, and Humanitarian acts during the battle. The stories and accounts from the diaries of the men who fought and died here make for excellent reading and paint an vivid picture of what happened here.
150 Years Ago Today: June 27th, 1864, The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
June 27th, 1864