May 23, 1864: Federal Forces cross the Etowah River

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.
The original Euharlee bridge stood on this location and was used by elements of the Union army to cross to the south side of the Etowah River.  The current bridge was built in 1886 to replace the original that had washed away during a flood.
Under side of the covered bridge that spans Euharlee Creek.
Lattice style construction of the Euharlee covered bridge.
Georgia Power Plant Bowen now covers the ground that Federal troops crossed as they pushed deeper in to Georgia on the campaign for Atlanta.
Stilesboro Academy, which was built in 1859, survived the war and now overlooks the Etowah valley and Plant Bowen.
After elements of the Union army crossed the Etowah river at multiple points, they rallied at Stilesboro Academy and reformed to begin their march south and towards New Hope Church via Burnt Hickory.

Author: Clint Brownlee

My name is Clint Brownlee and I am a Photographer in Woodstock, Georgia with over 20 years of photographic experience in many different aspects of photography. I have photographed everything from weddings, special events and portraits to published materials, but my passion has always been Fine Art and Nature Photography. I have had a several shows at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia and The Roswell Visual Arts Center in Roswell, Georgia. I now sell through my website:

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