Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
Overview
 
The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was fought on June 27, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

 of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. It was the most significant frontal assault launched by Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 Maj. Gen.
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 William T. Sherman against the Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

, ending in a tactical defeat for the Union forces.

Sherman's 1864 campaign against Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, was initially characterized by a series of flanking maneuvers against Johnston, each of which compelling the Confederate army to withdraw from heavily fortified positions with minimal casualties on either side.
Encyclopedia
The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was fought on June 27, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

 of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. It was the most significant frontal assault launched by Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 Maj. Gen.
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 William T. Sherman against the Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

, ending in a tactical defeat for the Union forces.

Sherman's 1864 campaign against Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, was initially characterized by a series of flanking maneuvers against Johnston, each of which compelling the Confederate army to withdraw from heavily fortified positions with minimal casualties on either side. After two months and 70 miles of such maneuvering, Sherman's path was blocked by imposing fortifications on Kennesaw Mountain
Kennesaw Mountain
Kennesaw Mountain is a high-running ridge between Marietta and Kennesaw, Georgia in the United States with a summit elevation of . It is the highest point in the core metro Atlanta area, and fifth after further-north exurban counties are considered...

, near Marietta, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Marietta is a city located in central Cobb County, Georgia, United States, and is its county seat.As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 56,579, making it one of metro Atlanta's largest suburbs...

, and the Union general chose to change his tactics and ordered a large-scale frontal assault on June 27, 1864. Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson
James B. McPherson
James Birdseye McPherson was a career United States Army officer who served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

 feinted against the northern end of Kennesaw Mountain, while his corps under Maj. Gen. John A. Logan
John A. Logan
John Alexander Logan was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman and senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President...

 assaulted Pigeon Hill on its southwest corner. At the same time, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas launched strong attacks against Cheatham Hill at the center of the Confederate line. Both attacks were repulsed with heavy losses, but a demonstration
Demonstration (military)
In military terminology, a demonstration is an attack or show of force on a front where a decision is not sought, made with the aim of deceiving the enemy....

 by Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield achieved a strategic success by threatening the Confederate army's left flank, prompting yet another Confederate withdrawal toward Atlanta and the removal of General Johnston from command of the army.

Background

In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 was promoted to lieutenant general
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

 and named general in chief of the Union Army. He devised a strategy of multiple, simultaneous offensives against the Confederacy, hoping to prevent any of the rebel armies from reinforcing the others over interior lines. The two most significant of these were by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

, accompanied by Grant himself, which would attack Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

's army directly and advance toward the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

; and Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, replacing Grant in his role as commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi
Military Division of the Mississippi
The Military Division of the Mississippi was an administrative division of the United States Army during the American Civil War that controlled all military operations in the Western Theater.-History:...

, who would advance from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

, to Atlanta.

Both Grant and Sherman initially had objectives to engage with and destroy the two principal armies of the Confederacy, relegating the capture of important enemy cities to a secondary, supporting role. This was a strategy that President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 had emphasized throughout the war, but Grant was the first general who actively cooperated with it. As their campaigns progressed, however, the political importance of the cities of Richmond and Atlanta began to dominate their strategy. By 1864, Atlanta was a critical target. The city of 20,000 was founded at the intersection of four important railroad lines that supplied the Confederacy and was a military manufacturing arsenal in its own right. Atlanta's nickname of "Gate City of the South" was apt—its capture would open virtually the entire Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

 to Union conquest. Grant's orders to Sherman were to "move against Johnston's Army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy's country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their War resources."

Opposing forces

Opposing commanders

Sherman's force of about 100,000 men was composed of three subordinate armies: the Army of the Tennessee
Army of the Tennessee
The Army of the Tennessee was a Union army in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, named for the Tennessee River. It should not be confused with the similarly named Army of Tennessee, a Confederate army named after the State of Tennessee....

 (Grant's and later Sherman's army of 1862–63) under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson
James B. McPherson
James Birdseye McPherson was a career United States Army officer who served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

; the Army of the Cumberland
Army of the Cumberland
The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

 under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas; and the relatively small Army of the Ohio
Army of the Ohio
The Army of the Ohio was the name of two Union armies in the American Civil War. The first army became the Army of the Cumberland and the second army was created in 1863.-History:...

 (composed of only the XXIII Corps) under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield. Their principal opponent was the Confederate Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

, commanded by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

, who had replaced the unpopular Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 after his defeat in Chattanooga
Chattanooga Campaign
The Chattanooga Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in October and November 1863, during the American Civil War. Following the defeat of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Union Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Chickamauga in September, the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen...

 in November 1863. The 50,000-man army consisted of the infantry corps of lieutenant generals William J. Hardee
William J. Hardee
William Joseph Hardee was a career U.S. Army officer, serving during the Second Seminole War and fighting in the Mexican-American War...

, John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness...

, and Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk was a Confederate general in the American Civil War who was once a planter in Maury County, Tennessee, and a second cousin of President James K. Polk...

, and a cavalry corps under Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler was an American military commander and politician. He has the rare distinction of serving as a general during war time for two opposing forces: first as a noted cavalry general in the Confederate States Army in the 1860s during the American Civil War, and later as a general in the...

.

Start of the Atlanta Campaign

Sherman's campaign began on May 7, 1864, as his three armies departed from the vicinity of Chattanooga. He launched demonstration attacks against Johnston's position on the long, high mountain named Rocky Face Ridge
Battle of Rocky Face Ridge
The Battle of Rocky Face Ridge was fought May 7–13, 1864, in Whitfield County, Georgia, during the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. The Union army was led by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and the Confederate army by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston...

 while McPherson's Army of the Tennessee
Army of the Tennessee
The Army of the Tennessee was a Union army in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, named for the Tennessee River. It should not be confused with the similarly named Army of Tennessee, a Confederate army named after the State of Tennessee....

 advanced stealthily around Johnston's left flank toward the town of Resaca
Resaca, Georgia
Resaca is a city in Gordon County, Georgia, and Whitfield County, Georgia along the Oostanaula River. The population was 815 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Resaca is located at ....

 and Johnston's supply line on the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Unfortunately for Sherman, McPherson encountered a small Confederate force entrenched in the outskirts of Resaca and cautiously pulled back to Snake Creek Gap, squandering the opportunity to trap the Confederate army. As Sherman swung his entire army in the direction of Resaca, Johnston retired to take up positions there. Full scale fighting erupted in the Battle of Resaca
Battle of Resaca
The Battle of Resaca was part of the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. The battle was waged in both Gordon and Whitfield counties, Georgia, from May 13 - 15, 1864. It ended inconclusively with the Confederate Army retreating. The engagement was fought between the Military Division of the...

 on May 14–15 but there was no conclusive result and Sherman flanked Johnston for a second time by crossing the Oostanaula River
Oostanaula River
The Oostanaula River is a principal tributary of the Coosa River, about long, in northwestern Georgia in the United States. Via the Coosa and Alabama rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mobile River, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Its name is said to come from a Cherokee Indian term...

. As Johnston withdrew again, skirmishing erupted at Adairsville on May 17 and more general fighting on Johnston's Cassville
Cassville, Georgia
Cassville is an unincorporated community in Bartow County in the U.S. state of Georgia. It was originally the county seat before the name was changed from Cass County...

 line May 18–19. Johnston planned to defeat part of Sherman's force as it approached on multiple routes, but Hood became uncharacteristically cautious and feared encirclement, failing to attack as ordered. Encouraged by Hood and Polk, Johnston ordered another withdrawal, this time across the Etowah River
Etowah River
The Etowah River is a waterway that rises northwest of Dahlonega, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Its name is the Cherokee version of the original Muskogee word Etalwa, which means a "trail crossing". On Matthew Carey's 1795 map the river was labeled "High Town River"...

.

Johnston's army took up defensive positions at Allatoona Pass
Allatoona, Georgia
Allatoona was a town located in extreme southeastern Bartow County, Georgia. Built along Allatoona Creek, it was a gold mining area later in the first U.S. gold rush, which occurred in Georgia and North Carolina. Reaching its height in the 1840s, the Georgia Gold Rush continued into the 1850s...

 south of Cartersville
Cartersville, Georgia
Cartersville is a town in Bartow County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 19,7314. The city is the county seat of Bartow County.-Geography:Cartersville was named for Colonel Farish Carter....

, but Sherman once again turned Johnston's left as he temporarily abandoned his railroad supply line and advanced on Dallas
Dallas, Georgia
Dallas is a city in and the county seat of Paulding County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 11,544. It was named for George M. Dallas, Vice President of the United States of America under James K. Polk.-History:...

. Johnston was forced to move from his strong position and meet Sherman's army in the open. Fierce but inconclusive fighting occurred on May 25 at New Hope Church
Battle of New Hope Church
The Battle of New Hope Church was fought May 25–26, 1864, between the Union force of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston during the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War...

, May 27 at Pickett's Mill
Battle of Pickett's Mill
The Battle of Pickett's Mill was fought on May 27, 1864, in Paulding County, Georgia during the American Civil War between Union and Confederate forces. Union Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman attempted an attack on the right flank of Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.After the Union defeat at...

, and May 28 at Dallas
Battle of Dallas
The Battle of Dallas was a series of engagements during the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. They occurred between May 26 and June 4, 1864, in and around Dallas, Georgia, between Lt. General William J. Hardee's Confederate corps and the Union defense line, held by the XV Corps under Maj....

. By June 1, heavy rains turned the roads to quagmires and Sherman was forced to return to the railroad to supply his men. Johnson's new line was established by June 4 northwest of Marietta, along Lost Mountain, Pine Mountain, and Brush Mountain. On June 14, following eleven days of steady rain, Sherman was ready to move again. While on a personal reconnaissance, he spotted a group of Confederate officers on Pine Mountain and ordered one of his artillery batteries to open fire. Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk was a Confederate general in the American Civil War who was once a planter in Maury County, Tennessee, and a second cousin of President James K. Polk...

, the "Fighting Bishop," was killed and Johnston withdrew his men from Pine Mountain, establishing a new line in an arc-shaped defensive position from Kennesaw Mountain to Little Kennesaw Mountain. Hood's corps attempted an unsuccessful attack at Peter Kolb's farm (the Battle of Kolb's Farm
Battle of Kolb's Farm
The Battle of Kolb's Farm was fought on June 22, 1864, between Union forces under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker and Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. John B. Hood. Hood attempted an attack on the Union force, but poor terrain conditions led to its failure....

) south of Little Kennesaw Mountain on June 22. Maj. Gen. William W. Loring
William W. Loring
William Wing Loring was a soldier from North Carolina who served in the armies of the United States, the Confederacy, and Egypt.-Early life:...

 succeeded to command Polk's corps.

Sherman was in a difficult position, stalled 15 miles north of Atlanta. He could not continue his strategy of moving around Johnston's flank because of the impassable roads, and his railroad supply line was dominated by Johnson's position on the top of 691-foot Kennesaw Mountain. He reported to Washington "The whole country is one vast fort, and Johnston must have at least fifty miles of connected trenches with abatis
Abatis
Abatis, abattis, or abbattis is a term in field fortification for an obstacle formed of the branches of trees laid in a row, with the sharpened tops directed outwards, towards the enemy. The trees are usually interlaced or tied with wire...

 and finished batteries. We gain ground daily, fighting all the time. ... Our lines are now in close contact and the fighting incessant, with a good deal of artillery. As fast as we gain one position the enemy has another all ready. ... Kennesaw ... is the key to the whole country." Sherman decided to break the stalemate by attacking Johnston's position on Kennesaw Mountain. He issued orders on June 24 for an 8 a.m. attack on June 27.

Battle

Sherman's plan was first to induce Johnston to thin out and weaken his line by ordering Schofield to extend his army to the right. Then McPherson was to make a feint on his extreme left—the northern outskirts of Marietta and the northeastern end of Kennesaw Mountain—with his cavalry and a division of infantry, and to make a major assault on the southwestern end of Little Kennesaw Mountain. Meanwhile, Thomas's army was to conduct the principal attack against the Confederate fortifications in the center of their line, and Schofield was to demonstrate on the Confederate left flank and attack somewhere near the Powder Springs Road "as he can with the prospect of success."

At 8 a.m. on June 27, Union artillery opened a furious bombardment with over 200 guns on the Confederate works and the Rebel artillery responded in kind. Lt. Col. Joseph S. Fullerton wrote, "Kennesaw smoked and blazed with fire, a volcano as grand as Etna." As the Federal infantry began moving soon afterward, the Confederates quickly determined that much of the 8-mile wide advance consisted of demonstrations rather than concerted assaults. The first of those assaults began at around 8:30 a.m., with three brigades of Brig. Gen. Morgan L. Smith
Morgan Lewis Smith
Morgan Lewis Smith was a Union general in the American Civil War.-Biography:Smith was born in Oswego County, New York. In 1843 he settled in Indiana, and later had some military experience in the United States Army. At the outbreak of the Civil War he raised the 8th Missouri Volunteer Infantry, of...

's division (Maj. Gen. John A. Logan's XV Corps, Army of the Tennessee) moving against Loring's corps on the southern end of Little Kennesaw Mountain and the spur known as Pigeon Hill near the Burnt Hickory Road. If the attack were successful, capturing Pigeon Hill would isolate Loring's corps on Kennesaw Mountain. All three brigades were disadvantaged by the approach through dense thickets, steep and rocky slopes, and a lack of knowledge of the terrain. About 5,500 Union troops in two columns of regiments moved against about 5,000 Confederate soldiers, well entrenched.

On the right of Smith's attack, the brigade of Brig. Gen. Joseph A. J. Lightburn
Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn
Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn was a farmer, soldier and Baptist Minister, most famous for his service as a Union general during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 was forced to advance through a knee-deep swamp, stopped short of the Confederate breastworks on the southern end of Pigeon Hill by enfilading fire. They were able to overrun the rifle pits in front of the works, but could not pierce the main Confederate line. To their left, the brigades of Col. Charles C. Walcutt
Charles C. Walcutt
Charles Carroll Walcutt was an American surveyor, soldier, and politician. He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, in which he was wounded twice....

 and Brig. Gen. Giles A. Smith
Giles Alexander Smith
Giles Alexander Smith , was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.-Biography:...

 crossed difficult terrain interrupted by steep cliffs and scattered with huge rocks to approach the Missouri brigade of Brig. Gen. Francis Cockrell
Francis Cockrell
Francis Marion Cockrell was a Confederate military commander and American politician from the state of Missouri. He served as a United States Senator from Missouri for five terms. He was a prominent member of the famed South–Cockrell–Hargis family of Southern politicians.-Early life:Cockrell was...

. Some of the troops were able to reach as far as the abatis, but most were not and they were forced to remain stationary, firing behind trees and rocks. When General Logan rode forward to judge their progress, he determined that many of his men were being "uselessly slain" and ordered Walcutt and Smith to withdraw and entrench behind the gorge that separated the lines.

About 2 miles to the south, Thomas's troops were behind schedule, but began their main attack against Hardee's corps at 9 a.m. Two divisions of the Army of the Cumberland—about 9,000 men under Brig. Gen. John Newton (Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard
Oliver O. Howard
Oliver Otis Howard was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War...

's IV Corps) and Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis
Jefferson C. Davis
Jefferson Columbus Davis was an officer in the United States Army who served in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Modoc War. He was the first commander of the Department of Alaska, from 1868 to 1870...

 (Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer
John M. Palmer (politician)
John McAuley Palmer , was an Illinois resident, an American Civil War General who fought for the Union, the 15th Governor of Illinois, and presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party in the 1896 election on a platform to defend the gold standard, free trade, and limited...

's XIV Corps)—advanced in column formation rather than the typical broad line of battle against the Confederate divisions of Maj. Gens. Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham , known also as Frank, was a Tennessee aristocrat, California gold miner, and a General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, serving in many battles of the Western Theater.-Early years:Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee on a plantation...

 and Patrick R. Cleburne, entrenched on what is now known as "Cheatham Hill." On Newton's left, his brigade under Brig. Gen. George D. Wagner
George D. Wagner
George Day Wagner was an Indiana politician, farmer, and soldier, serving as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. His controversial actions at the Battle of Franklin in 1864 overshadowed his positive performance earlier in the war.-Early life and career:Wagner was born in...

 attacked through dense undergrowth, but was unable to break through the abatis and fierce rifle fire. On his right, the brigade of Brig. Gen. Charles G. Harker
Charles Garrison Harker
Charles Garrison Harker was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was killed in action at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in northern Georgia during the Atlanta Campaign...

 charged the Tennessee brigade of Brig. Gen. Alfred Vaughn
Alfred Jefferson Vaughan, Jr.
Alfred Jefferson Vaughan, Jr. was an American civil engineer, planter, soldier, and writer. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, in which he was wounded twice, and fought mainly in the Western Theater of the conflict.After the war Vaughan resumed farming, was active in...

 and was repulsed. During a second charge, Harker was mortally wounded.

Davis's division, to the right of Newton's, also advanced in column formation. While such a movement offered the opportunity for a quick breakthrough by massing power against a narrow point, it also had the disadvantage of offering a large concentrated target to enemy guns. Their orders were to advance silently, capture the works, and then cheer to give a signal to the reserve divisions to move forward to secure the railroad and cut the Confederate army in two. Col. Daniel McCook
Daniel McCook, Jr.
Daniel McCook, Jr. , one of the famed Fighting McCooks, was a brigade commander in the Union Army who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, during the American Civil War.-Early life:...

's brigade advanced down a slope to a creek and then crossed a wheat field to ascend the slope of Cheatham Hill. When they reached within a few yards of the Confederate works, the line halted, crouched, and began firing. But the Confederate counter fire was too strong and McCook's brigade lost two commanders (McCook and his replacement, Col. Oscar F. Harmon), nearly all of its field officers, and a third of its men. McCook was killed on the Confederate parapet as he slashed with his sword and shouted "Surrender, you traitors!" Col. John G. Mitchell
John G. Mitchell (general)
John Grant Mitchell was an Ohio lawyer and a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was active in several important campaigns and battles in the Western Theater, including the Chickamauga, Atlanta, and Franklin-Nashville and Carolinas campaigns...

's brigade on McCook's right suffered similar losses. After ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, the Union troops dug in across from the Confederates, ending the fighting around 10:45 a.m. Both sides nicknamed this place the "Dead Angle."

To the right of Davis's division, Maj. Gen. John W. Geary
John W. Geary
John White Geary was an American lawyer, politician, Freemason, and a Union general in the American Civil War...

's division of Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

's XX Corps advanced, but did not join in Davis's attack. Considerably farther to the right, however, was the site of the only success of the day. Schofield's army had been assigned to demonstrate against the Confederate left and he was able to put two brigades across Olley's Creek without resistance. That movement, along with an advance by Maj. Gen. George Stoneman
George Stoneman
George Stoneman, Jr. was a career United States Army officer, a Union cavalry general in the American Civil War, and the 15th Governor of California between 1883 and 1887.-Early life:...

's cavalry division on Schofield's right, put Union troops within 5 miles of the Chattahoochee River
Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River flows through or along the borders of the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and emptying into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of...

, closer to the last river protecting Atlanta than any unit in Johnston's army.

Aftermath

Sherman's armies suffered about 3,000 casualties in comparison to Johnston's 1,000. The Union general was not initially deterred by these losses and he twice asked Thomas to renew the assault. "Our loss is small, compared to some of those [battles in the] East." The Rock of Chickamauga replied, however, "One or two more such assaults would use up this army." A few days later Sherman mournfully wrote to his wife, "I begin to regard the death and mangling of couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash."

Kennesaw Mountain was not Sherman's first large-scale frontal assault of the war, but it was his last. He interrupted his string of successful flanking maneuvers in the Atlanta campaign for the logistical reasons mentioned earlier, but also so that he could keep Johnston guessing about the tactics he would employ in the future. In his report of the battle, Sherman wrote, "I perceived that the enemy and our officers had settled down into a conviction that I would not assault fortified lines. All looked to me to outflank. An army to be efficient, must not settle down to a single mode of offence, but must be prepared to execute any plan which promises success. I wanted, therefore, for the moral effect, to make a successful assault against the enemy behind his breastworks, and resolved to attempt it at that point where success would give the largest fruits of victory."

Kennesaw Mountain is usually considered a significant Union tactical defeat, but Richard M. McMurry wrote, "Tactically Johnston had won a minor defensive triumph on Loring's and Hardee's lines. Schofield's success, however, gave Sherman a great advantage, and the federal commander quickly decided to exploit it." The opposing forces spent five days facing each other at close range, but on July 2, with good summer weather at hand, Sherman sent the Army of the Tennessee and Stoneman's cavalry around the Confederate left flank and Johnston was forced to withdraw from Kennesaw Mountain to prepared positions at Smyrna.

On July 8, Sherman outflanked Johnston again—for the first time on his right—by sending Schofield to cross the Chattahoochee near the mouth of Soap Creek. The last major geographic barrier to entering Atlanta had been overcome. Alarmed at the imminent danger posed to the city of Atlanta, and frustrated with the strategy of continual withdrawals, Confederate President
President of the Confederate States of America
The President of the Confederate States of America was the Head of State and Head of Government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United States, thus precipitating the American Civil War. The only person to hold the...

 Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 relieved Johnston of command on July 17, replacing him with the aggressive John Bell Hood, who was temporarily promoted to full general. Hood proceeded to attack Sherman in battles at Peachtree Creek
Battle of Peachtree Creek
The Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought in Georgia on July 20, 1864, as part of the Atlanta Campaign in the American Civil War. It was the first major attack by Lt. Gen. John B. Hood since taking command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The attack was against Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's...

 (July 20), Atlanta/Decatur
Battle of Atlanta
The Battle of Atlanta was a battle of the Atlanta Campaign fought during the American Civil War on July 22, 1864, just southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Continuing their summer campaign to seize the important rail and supply center of Atlanta, Union forces commanded by William T. Sherman overwhelmed...

 (July 22), and Ezra Church (July 28), in all of which he suffered enormous casualties without tactical advantage. Sherman besieged Atlanta for the month of August, but sent almost his entire force swinging to the south to cut off the city's last remaining railroad connection. In the Battle of Jonesboro (August 31 and September 1), Hood attacked again to save his railroad, but was unsuccessful and was forced to evacuate Atlanta. Sherman's men entered the city on September 2 and Sherman telegraphed President Lincoln, "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won." This milestone was arguably one of the key factors enabling Lincoln's reelection in November.

Battlefield today

The site of the battle is now part of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Kennesaw Battlefield Park, at 905 Kennesaw Mountain Drive between Marietta and Kennesaw, Georgia, preserves a Civil War battleground of the Atlanta Campaign, and also contains Kennesaw Mountain...

, where both Confederate deliberate trenches on top of the mountain and some Union rifle pits are still visible today.

In popular culture

The first commissioner of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Kenesaw Mountain Landis was an American jurist who served as a federal judge from 1905 to 1922 and as the first Commissioner of Baseball from 1920 until his death...

, was named for Kennesaw Mountain, but using a variant spelling. His father, a physician, fought on the Union side and reportedly nearly lost his leg in the battle.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK