May 23, 1864: General Sherman had devised a plan to move away from his railroad supply lines and angle southwest in an effort to out flank General Johnston’s Confederate Army, who are held up in the fortified positions of Allatoona Pass. Since they were leaving their main supply line, Sherman striped down his army to the just the essential equipment and rations to last a few days. Extra supplies would have to be brought by wagon train from the railroad and would take a great deal of time. On the 23rd of May the Federal troops begin crossing the Etowah River in multiple locations. They used existing bridges that were not burned by retreating Confederates, shallow fords, and the pontoon bridges that their engineers constructed. After crossing the river, the Union troops began concentrating in the area of Euharlee and Stilesboro. From here they moved away as three separate columns. McPherson was ordered to be the right wing of the advance and was sent to take Dallas. He went in a sweeping arch movement far out to the west through Taylorsville, Aragon, and Van Wert (now Rockmart). Sherman’s left wing was made up General Thomas’s and General Schofield’s Armies. From Stilesboro they moved south from that point, but stayed fairly close to each other, in case one of them needed support upon making contact with the Confederates. They stopped in the area of Burnt Hickory for a day to allow McPherson to complete his movement toward Dallas.
Meanwhile, General Wheeler’s Confederate Cavalry were observing what movements the Union Army was making and sent word back to General Johnston. He immediately issued orders to begin moving elements of his army into blocking positions to prevent or delay the Federal Advance. General Hardee was sent to Dallas to stop McPherson and become the left of the Confederate line. Hood stayed at Allatoona Pass for another day and then moved to New Hope to block the advancing Federals. Polk was sent to Lost Mountain where he could move easily in any direction to offer support if it were needed.