150 Years Ago Today: May 12th and 13th

May 12th, 1864:  General Johnston begins to realize that General Sherman’s Objective is either Resaca or Calhoun.  Johnston begins the retrograde movement from Dalton, by ordering the wagon trains to start heading to Resaca.  He orders the infantry to move out after dark and has his Cavalry dismount and take their place.  The will then cover the retreat and protect the rear of the Confederate Army.

During the morning of the 12th, a large portion of the Union Army begin their flanking movement of Dalton and follow McPherson’s route to Snake Creek Gap.  Due to a thunderstorm and heavy rain the night before, the Union Army progresses slowly.  The roads are choked with wagons bogged down in the mud and infantry slogging through the quagmire.  This slows the Federals and allows the Confederate Army more time to reach Resaca and being digging in.  During the afternoon of the 12th, General Sherman arrives at Snake Creek Gap.  Upon meeting General McPherson, for the first time since his failure to take Resaca or destroy the railroad around Resaca and cut off the Confederate life line, he says “Well, Mac, you have missed the opportunity of a lifetime”.  An officer standing near by said these were spoken “not ungraciously”, but General McPherson realizes it is a deserved comment for his failure.

May 13th, 1864:  All the troops are in motion.  Union Troops are moving toward Resaca via Snake Creek Gap.  Confederate Soldiers have abandoned Dalton and started moving south.  Union Soldiers move into Dalton and find it empty and that the railroad is intact.  They begin to turn Dalton into a supply base and other Union troops begin to move south in pursuit of the Southerners.  Wheeler’s Cavalry fights a rear guard action against Union troops that are in pursuit of the Confederates near Tilton.  By the afternoon of the 13th, most of the Confederate Army is massed around Resaca and has dug in.  Sherman realizes the he will not be able to get between the Confederate Army and Resaca and orders the Union Army to dig in with a line of works paralleling the Southerners works.  Skirmishing takes place at various points along the line.  All the pieces are almost in place for the first large scale engagement of the Campaign.