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Kennesaw Mountain

Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign

Earl J. Hess

Publication Year: 2013

Sherman's march almost grinds to a stop While fighting his way toward Atlanta, William T. Sherman encountered his biggest roadblock at Kennesaw Mountain, where Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee held a heavily fortified position. The opposing armies confronted each other from June 19 to July 3, 1864, and Sherman initially tried to outflank the Confederates. His men endured heavy rains, artillery duels, sniping, and a fierce battle at Kolb's Farm before Sherman decided to directly attack Johnston’s position on June 27. Kennesaw Mountain tells the story of an important phase of the Atlanta campaign. Historian Earl J. Hess explains how this battle, with its combination of maneuver and combat, severely tried the patience and endurance of the common soldier and why Johnston’s strategy might have been the Confederates’ best chance to halt the Federal drive toward Atlanta. He gives special attention to the engagement at Kolb's Farm on June 22 and Sherman's assault on June 27. A final section explores the Confederate earthworks preserved within the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Earl J. Hess is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in history at Lincoln Memorial University and has written many books, including ###The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi#.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Civil War America

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-13

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pp. xiii-xvi

Six weeks after setting out from Chattanooga in early May, 1864, Major General William T. Sherman hit a massive roadblock while fighting his way toward Atlanta. Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee was heavily fortified along a line that stretched across the Georgia countryside, anchored...

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ONE. The Road to Kennesaw

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pp. 1-27

Sherman began the campaign against Atlanta with an army group consisting of troops from three different departments within his Military Division of the Mississippi. Major General George H. Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland, the largest of the three field armies under his direct control, fielded more than...

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TWO. Kolb’s Farm

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pp. 28-46

The morning of June 22 dawned clear, bringing in the first dry weather in many days. Sherman’s plan for the day involved firming up his extreme right wing and advancing it closer to Marietta. Hooker’s role in the operation involved extending the Twentieth Corps line southward to the Powder Springs and Marietta Road...

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THREE. Sherman Decides to Strike

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pp. 47-70

The Confederates worked all night on June 22 to clear the battlefield of their dead and wounded. They failed to find all of them before dawn forced an end to their mission of mercy. As a result, the Federals found quite a few bodies still in place when they moved forward to claim the field early on June 23. D. P....

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FOUR. The Fifteenth Corps Attack

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pp. 71-95

The sun rose in a clear sky early on the morning of June 27, and the temperature began to climb with it. Before long it was very warm and became uncomfortably hot before the day was out. Sherman advised McPherson to have plenty of orderlies at Army of the Tennessee headquarters to carry messages to all parts...

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FIVE. The Fourth Corps Attack

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pp. 96-112

At about the same time that Logan’s Fifteenth Corps troops started their advance along Burnt Hickory Road, elements of Howard’s Fourth Corps also started their attack two miles to the south of Pigeon Hill. Howard’s men aimed at an obscure sector of the Confederate line, shielded by a shallow stream lined with heavy...

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SIX. The Fourteenth Corps Attack

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pp. 113-137

The third attack by Sherman’s army group on the morning of June 27 was the smallest, but it involved some of the best troops in Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland. Two Fourteenth Corps brigades of Jefferson C. Davis’s Second Division started from the same ridge that Newton used, but from a location a bit south of Newton’s position, and they aimed squarely at the angle in the Confederate line on Cheatham’s...

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SEVEN. The Residue of a Long Day

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pp. 138-164

While the Fifteenth, Fourth, and Fourteenth Corps conducted fierce attacks against the Confederate center, Schofield’s Army of the Ohio quietly worked on Johnston’s left flank all morning of June 27. Sherman’s double approach—experimenting with assaults combined with a tried and true method of seeking to...

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EIGHT. Along the Kennesaw Line

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pp. 165-187

The small space of red clay separating the opposing forces on Cheatham’s Hill presented “a frightful and disgusting scene of death and destruction” after the end of Davis’s attack. Captain James I. Hall of the Ninth Tennessee in Maney’s brigade could not recall seeing any battlefield “so completely strewn with dead bodies.” Yet the Federals...

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NINE. Flanking

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pp. 188-214

On June 28, the day after the failed attacks, Sherman continued to plan his next move. “We have constant fighting along lines for ten miles, and either party that attacks gets the worst of it,” he wrote to Joseph Webster in Nashville. It was obvious that Johnston would not “come out of his parapets,” and turning the Confederate position involved cutting loose from the rail line that barely supplied...

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pp. 215-226

Everyone recognized that the battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27 was a salient feature of the contest for Atlanta. Sherman called it “the hardest fight of the campaign up to that date,” and Confederate trooper William E. Sloan referred to it as “the great battle” of the drive toward the Gate City. Postwar writers also pinpointed the engagement as a special event in Civil War history that added new...

Orders of Battle

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pp. 227-234

APPENDIX: Kennesaw after the War

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pp. 235-262


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pp. 263-304


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pp. 305-318


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pp. 319-332

E-ISBN-13: 9781469608372
E-ISBN-10: 1469608375
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469602110
Print-ISBN-10: 1469602113

Illustrations: 25 illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Civil War America
The Civil War America series interprets the field broadly to include biography, military and nonmilitary history, works that explore the immediate background of the conflict, and studies of postbellum topics related to the war. A few diaries, sets of letters, and memoirs that make exceptional contributions to our understanding of the era also will appear as volumes in the series.