It is General Hood’s first full day in command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. He is working to get a grip on the tactical situation and is making plans for a fight near Atlanta. He plans to attack the Federal Army of the Cumberland, commanded by General Thomas, after it crosses Peachtree Creek and before they can entrench. Once the Army of the Cumberland is pushed back to the Chattahoochee River and has surrendered or been crushed, he plans to turn the Confederate Army toward the east and attack the Federals east of Atlanta.
At General Sherman’s urging, General Thomas has sped up his southward movement and has the majority of the army across Peachtree Creek. Sherman has also ordered him to send Howard’s Corps to the east to reinforce Schofield and McPherson should the Confederate Army turn on them.
Unbeknownst to General Hood, McPherson is already in Decatur and has begun to destroy the railroad tracks and occupy the city. Garrard’s Cavalry has been sent as far east as he deems prudent to destroy as much of the railroad towards Augusta as he can. General Schofield an his Army of the Ohio are linking up with McPherson in Decatur.
Nearly continuous skirmishing takes place all along the Federal advance.
General Joseph E. Johnston is officially relieved of command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. President Davis promote Lt. General John. B. Hood to be the new commander of the Army of Tennessee. Davis advised Johnston the he was relieved of command due to his inability to stop the Federals from reaching Atlanta and that he did not have confidence that he could prevent the Federals from capturing Atlanta and destroying the Army of Tennessee. Johnston was very well liked among his troops and many were in disbelief.
This change in command has come at a crucial time as the Federals have just crossed the Chattahoochee River. The Army of the Cumberland crosses at Pace’s Ferry and Power’s Ferry and are advancing toward Peachtree Creek. General McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee, has crossed the river at Roswell and has been moving south through Dunwoody toward the Augusta Railroad line near Decatur. They reach it on the 18th and destroy about four miles of it in between Stone Mountain and Decatur, in an attempt to disrupt the supplies, and possibly reinforcements, coming from the east. McPherson then turns west and moves towards Decatur.
Wheelers Cavalry had been skirmishing with the Federals approaching Peachtree Creek for several days, but today they burn the bridges over Peachtree Creek at Moore’s Mill, Howell’s Mill, and on Ridgewood Road. They then move south east to intercept McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee near Decatur.
The pieces are nearly in place for the first of two major battles to happen on the outskirts of Atlanta. Soon the two armies will clash in the Battle of Peachtree Creek and then two days later at the Battle of Atlanta.
Over the last several days and continuing into the next several days, General Sherman is resting his troops and changing their positions in preparation for an assault on Atlanta. He is trying to deceive General Johnston into believing the attack will come from the west. To do this, he has sent Stoneman’s Cavalry on a raid towards Newnan to destroy the Railroad that connects Atlanta with Alabama. Stoneman’s Cavalry cross the Chattahoochee near Campbelton and skirmish with Confederates along the way. They are unsuccessful and fall back to Villa Rica before returning to the Federal lines along the Chattahoochee. During this time, Sherman is shifting several Corps from his right flank to the left flank at the river crossing in Roswell. The Federal soldiers crossing at Roswell will be shifted to the east of Atlanta. While both armies rest from the rigors of the campaign, there is a great deal of fraternization between the soldiers stationed along the Chattahoochee. There are many documented accounts of trading, usually the Confederates trading tobacco for coffee, as well as other goods and small items. There are accounts of Regimental bands on both sides having competitions and serenading the troops on the opposite side of the river. For some soldiers, this is the first time the have been able to have a bath in weeks. Even General Sherman himself, takes a bath in the river.
For General Johnston, this is a time of uncertainty, President Davis has sent Braxton Bragg, former Commander of The Army of Tennessee, to ascertain the tactical situation in Atlanta and to find out what Johnston plans to do. Davis is considering replacing Johnston and is relying on advice from Bragg as to who the replacement of Johnston should be. This decision would have great bearing on the outcome of the campaign. They met at Johnston’s Headquarters which was established at the Dexter Niles house along the Atlanta road between the Chattahoochee river and the city.
After the first Federal crossing of the Chattahoochee at Sope Creek on the afternoon of the 8th, Garrard’s Cavalry crosses at Roswell. At dawn on the 9th, a Federal Battery provides covering fire as several companies of dismounted cavalry begin wading across the Chattahoochee at what is called the “Shallow Ford”. It was the ford used by the Hightower Trail which was a prehistoric trading route. They engage a small Confederate force across the river. The Confederates are out numbered and out gunned and they quickly retreat and some surrender. The Federals are armed with Spencer repeating rifles and are able to move and shoot quickly without stopping while they cross the river. The battery that is providing cover fire is the Chicago Board of Trade Battery. When Sherman learns of Garrard’s crossing of the river, he immediately dispatches Newton’s Division from its camp near Rottenwood Creek, to Roswell “double time”, to reenforce Garrard. He also sends Dodge’s Corps to reenforce Garrard and establish a strong bridgehead for subsequent crossings. A detachment of General McCook’s Cavalry, the 1st Tennesse Regiment (US), under the command of Colonel Brownlow, dismounted and crossed the river enforce wearing only their hats and carrying their rifle and cartridge box.
After receiving information about these crossings and size of the forces at each crossing, General Johnston orders the fall back from the River Line. The Confederate army begins to retreat from the River Line at dusk and in the early morning hours of the 10th, they are across the river and begin to burn the Railroad bridge and the wagon bridge next to it. They also take up their pontoon bridges and at Pace’s Ferry they cut the pontoon bridge loose hoping it will swing across the river or down stream where they can recover it. It becomes stuck and is recovered by the Federals, but not put into use.
General Johnston establishes his Headquarters 3 miles from Atlanta, at the abandoned Dexter Niles house. He orders that the river crossings at Pace’s Ferry and Turner’s Ferry, be heavily guarded.
Rottenwood Creek: When General Sherman learned of Garrard’s crossing at Roswell he dispatched Newton’s Division double time to Roswell to reinforce Garrard. Newton’s Division was camped near the area of present day Cumberland Blvd, I-75 and I 285. They crossed Rottenwood Creek on a wooden bridge just above this small cascade.
During the attack on Kennesaw Mountain the Federals set an artillery battery containing 24 guns in total. It was located on a low rise near the base of Big Kennesaw Mountain. These images are from the 24 gun battery which is protected by the National Park.
With so many locations in connection with the battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain, I am going to make several more post over the next few days with more images. There were just too many to include in yesterdays post. Today’s images will focus on Pigeon Hill.
On the morning of June 27th, Federals under the command of General McPherson attacked the Confederate line in the area of Pigeon Hill and Little Kennesaw north east of Cheatham’s Hill. The Federals quickly overran some Confederate pickets and rifle pits located ahead of the main line, but were quickly stalled by the well entrenched Confederates of French’s Division, which held Little Kennesaw and Pigeon Hill. The Confederates well entrenched with plenty of large boulders and rocks used as cover in their earthworks. At one point the Confederates were even rolling boulders and large down on the attacking Federals. French’s Division also held the advantage of the higher ground thus forcing the Federals to attack up steep inclines that had been heavily covered with entanglements by the men of French’s Division. The attacking Federals were repulsed and forced to retreat to low valley between Little Kennesaw and Pigeon Hill where they were trapped by musket and cannon fire for hours. They were finally able to retreat back to their lines after darkness fell upon the battlefield.
On orders from General Sherman, General Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, was advancing down the Powder Springs Road in the direction of Marietta. Schofield was attempting to go around the left end of the Confederate flank. General Johnston recognized this threat and on the 21st he sent Hood from his right flank to the left in an attempt to neutralize the threat. In the late afternoon of the 22nd, Hood’s Corps met Schofied’s Army of the Ohio near the Kolb Farm. Hood initiated an attack without permission from his commander, General Johnston, and he did not bother to do any reconnaissance of the terrain or the force he was engaging. He unknowingly ordered an advance on a superior enemy force that was entrenched on the high ground. After suffering about 1000 casualties, Hood retreated and dug in. He was successful in stopping Schofield from turning the Confederate left flank, but was foolish in making his assault.
The Confederates are entrenched on the Kennesaw Mountain line and have multiple artillery pieces to the top of Little Kennesaw and Big Kennesaw. It took 100 soldiers to move each cannon up the mountain. Skirmishing continues all along the line, Federal and Confederate Artillery Batteries begin dueling back and forth. General Sherman has ordered General Schofield’s Army of The Ohio to move from Lost Mountain, via the Sandtown Road, thus swinging the Federal right over Mud Creek and toward the south western portion of Kennesaw Mountain. On the evening of the 19th, Schofield reaches Nose’s Creek, about half way between Mud Creek and Kennesaw Mountain.
After the fighting at Gilgal Church on the 15th and continued fighting on the 16th, the Union Army has figured out that lines in the area form a salient and begin to pour in enfilading fire on the Confederates. Other Union forces move against the thin line of southern soldiers west of Gilgal Church towards Lost Mountain. Schofield’s XXIII Corps is now in a position to turn Johnston’s left flank, Schofield may or may not realize that he is in such an advantageous position, but Johnston does and orders Hardee’s Corp to pull back at dark, to the far side of Mud Creek and establish a new line. During this retrograde movement, a Union artillery shell explodes near Brigadier General Lucius Polk. He is the nephew of Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk and only two days after the death of his Uncle, Lucius Polk is wounded and loses his leg.
On May 28th I photographed the area where the Battle of Dallas took place. This was a really great day. It was the 150th anniversary of the battle to the day. I was able to make images of some earthworks that were used in the battle. They were still deep enough to be defensible positions. The highlight of the day was photographing a historic home that was used as a Headquarters by General McPherson. It was also used as a field hospital. Today it is a law office. I went in the office to introduce myself and ask permission to photograph the house. They gave me permission and then we talked for awhile about the house and its history. She gave me a tour of the first floor and showed me the room used as an operating room. Then, she really surprised me, by bringing out a box containing human bone fragments. One was obviously from an amputated limb since it had been cleanly cut with a saw. She then told me about some of the strange things that happen in the house from time to time.
On the 29th I went to Pickett’s Mill to make images of the earthworks and key points of battle and the terrain. Since the park was closed on the actual anniversary of the battle, this was the first day I was able to get in there to photograph it. The lines here were occupied frm May 27th through June 6. I will be going back tomorrow to photograph the reenactment.