July 4th, 1864:
Yesterday, General Sherman entered Marietta and established his headquarters in the Kennesaw House and ordered his forces to continue the pursuit of the Confederates and attempt to engage them no matter what the cost of men and material. They must press their advantage while the Confederates are retreating.
The Federal troops continued their chase and soon, as they approached Smyrna, they began to encounter resistance from Confederate Skirmishers. They were pushed back to their main lines and the Federals began to entrench. Elements of Howard’s and Palmer’s Corps of the Army of the Cumberland advanced on the portion of the Confederate Smyrna Line near Smyrna Camp Ground, roughly the center of the Confederate line. They were engaging seasoned troops of Cleburne’s Division and suffered heavy losses. The second portion of the attack was made by Dodge’s Corps of the Army of the Ohio, they attacked the Confederate Left near Ruff’s Mill. There was a salient in the Confederate line near this point that was their target. This is where Hood’s and Hardee’s Corps met. Elements of Dodge’s Corps pushed the skirmishers of Stevenson’s Division out of their rifle pits and back to their main works, but suffered heavy losses during the assault. These attacks gained no ground for the Federals and only confirmed that the Confederate army was still in the line enforce.
They main Federal advantage gained this day, was Blair’s Corps being able to work its way around and behind the Confederate left flank. At that point they were closer to Atlanta than the main body of the Confederate Army. Blair’s movement seriously threatened Johnston and in the late night hours of July 4th and early morning hours of July 5th, Johnston fell back from the Smyrna Line to the last line of defense west of the Chattahoochee River, The River Line.
150 Years Ago Today: July 4th, 1864
July 4th, 1864: