Friday, June 20, 2014

On the Kennesaw Line

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week, but I was busy forwarding the flag of history in College Park, Maryland, at the National History Day competition. If you are not familiar with this great program, which teaches students the skills of "doing history," check it out at

Mid-June 1864 saw the Confederate defenders in Georgia holding off Sherman near Kennesaw Mountain, under 30 miles from targeted Atlanta. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston used the region's geography to his advantage, tempting Sherman to attack the formidable earthworks, which due to constant close combat, were becoming as common in Georgia as in Virginia.

Corporal Benjamin F. McGee of the 72nd Indiana Infantry Regiment of Gen. John Thomas Wilder's (pictured) Brigade wrote about the imposing Confederate defenses at Kennesaw.

"On emerging from this forest we could see, for the first time during our service, nearly the entire field of strife. The panorama was terribly grand and awe-inspiring. Had we the time, and the power of Homer, we should like to describe it. What was most repugnant to our feelings, and made us shrink back a little on emerging from the dark woods, was to see on the north end of Kenesaw [sic] an eight-gun battery, of largest calibre, which seemed within a stone's throw of us, and ready to drop death and destruction amongst us. The battery was really four miles away, but so clear was the air that the grim guns seemed very near. The truth is, as we swept our eyes over the scene, horrible with devices and enginery of death, the prospect for a speedy termination of the conflict was not at all encouraging. Every mountain and hill, in front and away to the right, fairly bristled with artillery and swarmed with rebels, Never before had we seen so many rebels at one time."

One June 22, Sherman attempted yet another flanking movement in effort to avoid a direct confrontation at Kennesaw Mountain, but was met at Kolb's Farm by John Bell Hood's Corps. Although Hood's counterattack was bungled, it proved partly successful in that it returned Sherman's attention directly on Kennesaw Mountain. There, a week later, a desperate Union attack was met with an even more desperate and successful Confederate defense.

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