Shermans Atlanta Campaign Phase 1 may 7201864

By early May, Sherman had assembled a force of 100,000 men in the Chattanooga area. The force consisted of General Thomas's Army of the Cumberland, McPherson's Army of the Tennessee, and Schofield's Army of the Ohio. Facing it at Dalton, Georgia, were about 55,000 Confederates under General Johnston, organized into two infantry corps under Generals William J. Hardee and John B. Hood, and a cavalry corps led by Major General Joseph Wheeler.

Aware that Johnston's position on Rocky Face Ridge was impregnable to a frontal assault, Sherman outflanked it by sending McPherson via Snake Creek Gap to cut the Western & Atlantic Railroad - Johnston's sole supply line - at Resaca. Although McPherson failed, this move obliged Johnston to retreat to Resaca. There, on May 14 and 15, he repelled Federal attacks on his center and right, but m turn suffered repulses when he twice tried to turn Sherman's left. Learning that a Federal force had crossed the Oostanaula River above Resaca, and was threatening his supply line, Johnston evacuated Resaca on May 15, and retreated toward the Etowah River.

Sherman's army followed in four separate columns. Hoping to take ad-va ntage of this dispersal, Johnston - whose strength had been increased by General Polk's Army of Mississippi to about 70,000 - on May 19 concentrated his forces northwest of Cassville, intending to crush the Federal left wing. However, before Johnston could strike, Federal cavalry appeared in the rear of Hood's corps, and

Johnston withdrew to a ridge southeast of Cassville. There he planned to make a stand, but when Hood's and Polk's positions were enfiladed by enemy artillery, Johnston retreated south of the Etowah.

During this phase of the campaign, Johnston failed to protect the easily defended Snake Creek Gap and displayed poor judgment m his choice of position at Cassville. Equally, Sherman wasted an opportunity to smash Johnston's army by failing to send a larger force through Snake Creek Gap not only to cut the railroad, but to seize Resaca.

An audacious cavalry commander, Gen. Wheeler (below) had sixteen horses shot from under him during the war. "Fighting Joe's" primary function throughout the campaign was to observe and inform Johnston of Sherman's flanking maneuvers.

An audacious cavalry commander, Gen. Wheeler (below) had sixteen horses shot from under him during the war. "Fighting Joe's" primary function throughout the campaign was to observe and inform Johnston of Sherman's flanking maneuvers.

Finding Johnston's army occupying a four-mile long defensive line at Resaca, Sherman ordered McPherson to again attempt outflanking his opponent while a number of divisions tested Johnston's strength. The assaults of the first day resulted in bloody repulse, followed by a Confederate counterattack (see map left). On the second day, Hooker was ordered to support Howard in further attacks. Heavy losses were suffered by both sides but the outcome of the battle was decided by McPherson's success in outflanking Johnston, who was forced into further withdrawal (see map below).

Finding Johnston's army occupying a four-mile long defensive line at Resaca, Sherman ordered McPherson to again attempt outflanking his opponent while a number of divisions tested Johnston's strength. The assaults of the first day resulted in bloody repulse, followed by a Confederate counterattack (see map left). On the second day, Hooker was ordered to support Howard in further attacks. Heavy losses were suffered by both sides but the outcome of the battle was decided by McPherson's success in outflanking Johnston, who was forced into further withdrawal (see map below).

ÍCASSVILU

May 18-19,

ÍCASSVILU

May 18-19,

May 3-71864: Thomas and.Schofield. advance on Johnston's Confederates at Dalton; McPherson's Federals march into Snake Creek Gap

May 8-11: Thomas and Schofield press Confederate defenses on Rocky Face Ridgi but make .no major attacks

May 9: McPherson probes Confederate defenses at Resaca^ but withdraws to Snake Creek Gap without cutting railroad

May 10-13: Sherman leaves IV Corps at Rocky Face Ridge and joins McPherson; Johnston withdraws to Resaca and is reinforced by Polk

May 14, late am-early pm: Federal XIV and XXIII Corps make unsuccessful assault on Confederate center at Resaca (see map left)

May 14, late pm: Johnston tries to turn Sherman's left but is repelled (see map left)

May 14, evening: Union XV Corps storms b ^^ above railroad bridge at Resaca, then repels Confederate counterattacks (see map left)

May 14, early pm: Federal XX Corps, supported by IV Corps, makes unsuccessful attack on center of Confederate right wing (see map left)

Remark made by Gen. Sherman to a quartermaster officer at the commencement of the Atlanta campaign-

Milan A' Bridge

May 3-71864: Thomas and.Schofield. advance on Johnston's Confederates at Dalton; McPherson's Federals march into Snake Creek Gap

May 8-11: Thomas and Schofield press Confederate defenses on Rocky Face Ridgi but make .no major attacks

May 9: McPherson probes Confederate defenses at Resaca^ but withdraws to Snake Creek Gap without cutting railroad

May 10-13: Sherman leaves IV Corps at Rocky Face Ridge and joins McPherson; Johnston withdraws to Resaca and is reinforced by Polk

May 14, late am-early pm: Federal XIV and XXIII Corps make unsuccessful assault on Confederate center at Resaca (see map left)

May 14, late pm: Johnston tries to turn Sherman's left but is repelled (see map left)

May 14, evening: Union XV Corps storms b ^^ above railroad bridge at Resaca, then repels Confederate counterattacks (see map left)

May 14, early pm: Federal XX Corps, supported by IV Corps, makes unsuccessful attack on center of Confederate right wing (see map left)

"T'm going to move on Joe Johnston X the day Grant telegraphs me he is going to hit Bobby Lee. And if you don't have my army supplied, we'll eat your mules up, sir- eat your mules up!"

Remark made by Gen. Sherman to a quartermaster officer at the commencement of the Atlanta campaign-

Milan A' Bridge

Sherman's armies, following Johnston south, converged on the Confederates in the Cassville area. Johnston ordered an attack on the separated units of Sherman's army, hut the confederates were forced to yield and fall back to the Etowah River (see map left).

X would have had a secure place of refuge at Chattanooga, while our only place of safety was Atlanta, a hundred miles off with three rivers intervening... I therefore decided to remain on the defensive... due to it's lengthening lines the numerical superiority of the Federal army would be reduced daily so that we might hope to cope with it on equal terms beyond the Chattahoochee."

Gen. Johnston defending his strategy of withdrawal.

Union infantry advance uphill toward Confederate positions on the first day of the battle of Resaca (below). Sherman expressed disappointment at McPherson's failure to break the railroad and seize Resaca but readily admitted the difficulty of the task.

Gen. Sherman, (above) commanded the Union forces in the western theater. Called by W.C. Gray "the most American looking man 1 ever saw", Sherman was respected by his troops, although he found it difficult to accept the personal popularity of his subordinates.

May 19, pm: Johnston withdraws to defensive position southeast oi Cassville; retreats when Hood and Polk enfiladed by Federal artillery (see map above)

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