May 30th, 1864:
General Sherman has decided he wants to shift his armies back east toward the railroad near Acworth. His plan is to begin leap frogging his units from Dallas and move to the east toward Acworth. Sherman has ordered McPherson to begin his movement several times, but Confederate attacks on his lines have prevented his withdrawal. On the night of the 29th, what was thought to be a large scale attack, kept both sides up all night in constant heavy skirmishing. The Union troops thought the Confederates were attacking and the Confederates thought the Union troops were attacking. On the morning of the 30th, Sherman inspected the lines with McPherson, and decided the men were in no condition to move after fighting all night. He then ordered their withdrawal to take place on the night of the 31st.
There was constant skirmishing all along the lines and both armies were trying to extend their lines toward the railroad. Sherman was trying to get back to a steady supply line and General Johnston was trying to stop him.
I spent last Sunday afternoon at New Hope Church Battlefield. I was able to photograph the “Hell Hole” ravine as well as the cemetery and church area. I got lucky and thunderstorm clouds began to build and help add to the drama of the scene. There was really horrible thunderstorm 150 years ago to the day, during the battle. I also was able to photograph the dedication of a monument that was being placed near the earthworks behind the old church. It was very touching and several speeches were made and an honor guard posted colors. There was a 21 gun salute and then a three gun artillery battery gave a salute. I made a few new contacts and saw several people that I knew from previous events. I made around 500 images in about five hours. Hopefully I will not get poison Ivy from trudging through the ravine.
May 25, 1864: General Hood had successfully moved his Corps from Allatoona Pass to the area of the crossroads at New Hope Church. New Hope Church is located several miles Northeast of Dallas. General Hood had his men deploy along a ridge line looking north in the direction of the Union advance. Hood deployed Stevenson’s Division on his right, Hindman’s Division on the left, and Stewart’s Division held the center. When Stewart deployed to the center he placed Stovall’s Georgia Brigade on his left abutting Hindman’s right. Stovall’s Brigade was deployed in the area that is now the cemetery. It was a cemetery then, but has grown in size over the years. My relatives in the 42nd Ga. were positioned some where along Stovall’s line. Stovall’s Brigade decided against entrenching in the cemetery and formed an open line of battle. The remainder of the units on the line entrenched. Multiple artillery units were also deployed along the line.
General Hooker’s XX Corps was moving south from Burnt Hickory where they had stopped for the previous night. Geary’s 2nd Division was leading the Union column as it approached New Hope crossroads. Geary was met with stiff resistance from Stewart’s skirmishers, but was able to drive them back and then came under heavy fire. He realized he had met a large Confederate force and began the process of digging in and sent word for the rest of the Army to move up quickly. Sherman scoffed at the idea of there being a large Confederate force near the area, but he was soon proven wrong. As more Federal troops moved up, Geary formed his Brigades to take the Union Center, Williams’ 1st Division moved to the Union Right and Butterfield’s 3rd Division took up the Union Left. As the Union soldiers advanced toward the Confederate line, the skies opened up and poured down a heavy rain with thunder and lightning. Williams’ 1st Division was the first to reach the Confederate lines and suffered heavy losses. Losing approximately 800 men in the opening few minutes. The remaining Divisions suffered a similar fate with a total loss of approximately 1600. Many were pinned down under such heavy fire that they sought shelter in a deep ravine on the battlefield and were unable to retreat until darkness fell. They later nick named the ravine the “Hell Hole”. That term has also been used to describe the general area and conditions all along the Dallas, New Hope, Pickett’s Mill line. Howard’s IV Corps was called up to support Hooker’s Corp, but arrived to late to be able to have any influence on the battle. The Union Army then began the process of entrenching.
During the battle, Confederate General Johnston sent a courier to Stewart asking if he needed any support. Stewart replied with confidence, “My own men will hold the position”, and they did. He is reported to have been riding back and forth along the line during the heat of the battle, to rally his men. Confederate losses were around 300 to 400. Skirmishing continued throughout the next day.
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.
Co. Aytch: Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment or A Side Show of the Big Show
By Samuel Rush Watkins
Most of the books I have read are history book and are specific to a time and location or specific to a particular battle with maps, photos, directions, and land marks. I decided to take a departure from that and settled upon the memoirs of a foot soldier in the Army of Tennessee.
This was written about 20 years after the war and you are reminded of it regularly throughout the book. He goes on to say how he is not writing a history of what happened, but is relaying the experiences and thoughts of a Private in the Confederate Army. He does a very good job of this and covers every thing from the daily life to the thrill of battle and the agony of defeat. Samuel paints a very horrific picture of the conditions they lived in and of the aftermath of battle. He served throughout the entire war and saw action in a great number of battles, including the Atlanta Campaign.
I really enjoyed this fairly quick read at only 220 pages. You can find it free online in a pdf format or on your Nook for a dollar. It is full of funny tales and interactions and heartbreaking stories from the battlefield. If you want to know what it was like for the common soldier on the front lines during the Civil War, then this is a must read book. There are a great may personal diaries and memoirs out there and I think I will be reading some more. I really enjoy the personal side of it.
My Dad has been working on our family genealogy for many years. Last week while the boys and I were visiting my parents for spring break, I talked with Dad about our ancestors that fought in the Civil War. Turns out, we have quite a few that participated in the war. My 3rd Great Grandfather, Captain Andrew Kroeg, was the Captain of a Schooner called the “Santee”. He was a blockade runner for the Confederacy. He and his ship were captured near Charleston attempting to bring rice into the city. I also had four 3rd Great Grand Uncles that were in the 42nd Regiment Georgia Volunteers. They were Milton S. Brownlee, who was wounded in the right arm and wrist at the Battle of Resaca, Thomas Brownlee, who died of disease in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Warren Brownlee and John C. Brownlee who fought throughout the war with the 42nd Georgia Volunteers. They were assigned to the Army of Tennessee and fought throughout the Atlanta Campaign. They were involved in some pretty heated battles. I will do another post about the 42nd at a later date. I will also be highlighting some of their battle locations in my book. There was also Robert Mooney, who is a first cousin six times removed, he was in the 43rd Regiment Georgia Volunteers and fought in many of the same battles as the 42nd. He was captured during the fighting around East Atlanta and Decatur on July 21, 1864. He was sent to Camp Chase in Ohio where he died some time later. Another relative was James W. Rutledge, he was in the 155th Georgia Infantry and was captured at Cumberland Gap.
The Battle of Pickett’s Mill, Along the Dead-Line
By Brad Butkovich
Published by The History Press
I purchased this book at Pickett’s Mill State Historic Site during a Civil War History talk by the Author Brad Butkovich. After the talk, he took us on a walk through part of the battlefield and described the events that took place there.
I have finally had a chance to finish the book and I have to say that it is very well written and an exciting read. He covers all the action of the engagement and the events in the area leading up to the battle in great detail. I really enjoyed the personal accounts from soldiers and officers that were in the battle. That really shows the great amount of research that went into this book. Not just regimental histories, etc, but reading personal diaries and letters of those that were there. There is nothing like the first hand account of those engaged.
One of the best parts of the book is the introduction. It is short, but the information that it includes about how the Union Army and the Confederate Army named and numbered units is very valuable. It has confused many people over the years and now, to have it written and explained so well, is an invaluable addition to the book. I also like the inclusion of the complete Order of Battle. The book is annotated and has a fantastic bibliography for those that would like further reading.
Brad has just finished his new book on the Battle of Alatoona Pass and it should be available by June. I am really looking forward to it as I enjoy his writing style and the amount of detail he includes.
If your interested in a copy of The Battle of Pickett’s Mill, Along the Dead-Line, it can be purchased at the Pickett’s Mill State Historic Site or through Amazon.The Battle of Pickett’s Mill, Along the Dead-Line.
Here is a link to a post I wrote for Paranormal Georgia Investigations blog. It is about a personal experience I had while scouting the New Hope Church Battlefield for my book.