New Atlanta Campaign Forum

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Atlanta
#41
What Atlanta Campaign Forum wouldn't need a begining at Rocky Face Ridge? This was the first of the Atlanta Campaign battles and set the stage for the flanking manuevers that would be indicative of the campaign. With nearly 100,000 men Sherman began his march into north Georgia on May 4th with Johnston opposing him with a little over 55,00 maybe as high as 60,000. The Confederates had well fortified their position along the 10 mile stretch of rock known as Rocky Face Ridge. The Union had Thomas in the center McPherson on the right and Shcofield on the left. The way I see it, there is no way that Johnston could expect a headlong assault on a ridge so well defended and fortified. So what could Johnston have done differently to help guard against what was sure to be a flanking manuever that was coming? It seems to me that he (Johnston) had all his eggs in the same basket because he only had the one basket. He simply did not have the troop strength to protect both of his flanks. McPherson alone had over 25,000 men to the south. Any thoughts?

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Although I am sure this will draw some fire, I will never understand why Johnston, the defensive mastermind, did not place at least two brigades in Snake Creek Gap and fortify it. Johnston had four months to prepare for Sherman's offensive and failed to take even basic steps. Heck, the Union troops almost broke through at Dug Gap!

The more I read about Johnston, the less I think of him. Sorry, but there it is.
 

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#43
Although I am sure this will draw some fire, I will never understand why Johnston, the defensive mastermind, did not place at least two brigades in Snake Creek Gap and fortify it. Johnston had four months to prepare for Sherman's offensive and failed to take even basic steps. Heck, the Union troops almost broke through at Dug Gap!

The more I read about Johnston, the less I think of him. Sorry, but there it is.
I agree. The more I've read about Johnston it seems that he was a little too jaded by events and acts in Richmond that he viewed as unfair and didn't ever completely have his head in the fight.
I also agree that at least some defensive positions should have been taken around Snake Creek Gap and I know he had his topographers make detailed maps of the area but not much else. What are your thoughts about Wheeler failing blow or destroy the W&A tunnel at Tunnel Hill? The Union could repair a bridge in no time but a Tunnel would be a larger obstruction for Sherman to deal with once he started trying to move his supplies deeper south.
 
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Joined
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Guntersville, Al
#44
Congrats, C33!

My son and I had the opportunity to the tour the Atlanta Campaign sites last April and we were both very impressed with the state of Georgia. We only experienced one disappointment at Resaca. The new Camp Creek Battlefield was not completed by our arrival. But the rest of the Resaca sites were awesome. Next time.....

Bill
Were you on Greg Biggs tour with Thomas Cartwright?
 

Buckeye Bill

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#47
I had the privilege last year and it was a great tour. He has another coming up this year but I have not seen the dates yet. I will send you a message when I find them out if your interested.
Thanks but I will not be able to travel south this year.

We are touring the North Carolina and South Carolina Civil War sites in May.

Then I will be taking my bride in September on our 25th wedding anniversary NPS western tour.

Can't wait for both trips!!!

Bill
 

Nytram01

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#49
Although I am sure this will draw some fire, I will never understand why Johnston, the defensive mastermind, did not place at least two brigades in Snake Creek Gap and fortify it. Johnston had four months to prepare for Sherman's offensive and failed to take even basic steps. Heck, the Union troops almost broke through at Dug Gap!

The more I read about Johnston, the less I think of him. Sorry, but there it is.
Johnston did not know where the Federal Armies were. He knew the Army of the Cumberland was against him at Rocky Face Ridge and was pretty sure the Army of thw Ohio was there with it, but the Army of the Tennessee had dissapeared from his reports altogether. He requested that Wheeler scout for the Federal movement and discover where the AotT was and what it was doing but Wheeler did not do so.

With the AotT unnacounted for and his cavalry unable or unwilling to scout the situation so as to remedy that problem Johnston was forced to rely on information gathered by small calvary units and his intuition.

Johnston believed the most likely route that Sherman would take to advance would be around the north of Rocky Face Ridge because it was more open terrain and his superior numbers would not risk getting caught up in the more restrictive passes through the mountains. As such the Army of Tennessee was placed in the Dalton area.

The second likely line of advance, Johnston believed, would be south toward Rome because it would bypass the mountain passes and Rome was an industrious little manufacturing town of war material so it would have been a tempting prize. As such Polk's Army of Mississippi - soon to be a Corps of the AoT - was placed in that area.

To secure the lines of supply to Atlanta and communiction between Dalton and Rome, Johnston placed around 5,000 under James Cantey in Resaca where they dug in. In the meanwhile Cavalry units were used as a forward guard in the passes through the mountains with the intent of watching for enemy movements, slowing any enemy advance and acting as a warning system.

Johnston did not have the manpower to spread his army out and guard every single pass through the mountains, and because the AotT had dissapeared off his radar - so to speak - and he was recieving little-to-no information from his cavalry and none about the AotT he simply had to judge the situation in the moment and make the decision about where he thought would be most threatened and where to place his troops.

Circumstances proved that he was wrong, that the Federals did not act as he believed they would do, but in context it is entirely understandable why he made the decision he did.
 
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#50
Johnston did not know where the Federal Armies were. He knew the Army of the Cumberland was against him at Rocky Face Ridge and was pretty sure the Army of thw Ohio was there with it, but the Army of the Tennessee had dissapeared from his reports altogether. He requested that Wheeler scout for the Federal movement and discover where the AotT was and what it was doing but Wheeler did not do so.

With the AotT unnacounted for and his cavalry unable or unwilling to scout the situation so as to remedy that problem Johnston was forced to rely on information gathered by small calvary units and his intuition.

Johnston believed the most likely route that Sherman would take to advance would be around the north of Rocky Face Ridge because it was more open terrain and his superior numbers would not risk getting caught up in the more restrictive passes through the mountains. As such the Army of Tennessee was placed in the Dalton area.

The second likely line of advance, Johnston believed, would be south toward Rome because it would bypass the mountain passes and Rome was an industrious little manufacturing town of war material so it would have been a tempting prize. As such Polk's Army of Mississippi - soon to be a Corps of the AoT - was placed in that area.

To secure the lines of supply to Atlanta and communiction between Dalton and Rome, Johnston placed around 5,000 under James Cantey in Resaca where they dug in. In the meanwhile Cavalry units were used as a forward guard in the passes through the mountains with the intent of watching for enemy movements, slowing any enemy advance and acting as a warning system.

Johnston did not have the manpower to spread his army out and guard every single pass through the mountains, and because the AotT had dissapeared off his radar - so to speak - and he was recieving little-to-no information from his cavalry and none about the AotT he simply had to judge the situation in the moment and make the decision about where he thought would be most threatened and where to place his troops.

Circumstances proved that he was wrong, that the Federals did not act as he believed they would do, but in context it is entirely understandable why he made the decision he did.
All great points to look at. Other than some of the more glaring deficiencies I've not really looked at what Wheeler was doing at this stage of the campaign. It's been my understanding that he was very strung out mainly north to south possibly as far as Gadsden, Al. I need to find out if this was ordered by Johnston or if Wheeler was just given free reign.
 
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#51
Johnston did not know where the Federal Armies were. He knew the Army of the Cumberland was against him at Rocky Face Ridge and was pretty sure the Army of thw Ohio was there with it, but the Army of the Tennessee had dissapeared from his reports altogether. He requested that Wheeler scout for the Federal movement and discover where the AotT was and what it was doing but Wheeler did not do so.

With the AotT unnacounted for and his cavalry unable or unwilling to scout the situation so as to remedy that problem Johnston was forced to rely on information gathered by small calvary units and his intuition.

Johnston believed the most likely route that Sherman would take to advance would be around the north of Rocky Face Ridge because it was more open terrain and his superior numbers would not risk getting caught up in the more restrictive passes through the mountains. As such the Army of Tennessee was placed in the Dalton area.

The second likely line of advance, Johnston believed, would be south toward Rome because it would bypass the mountain passes and Rome was an industrious little manufacturing town of war material so it would have been a tempting prize. As such Polk's Army of Mississippi - soon to be a Corps of the AoT - was placed in that area.

To secure the lines of supply to Atlanta and communiction between Dalton and Rome, Johnston placed around 5,000 under James Cantey in Resaca where they dug in. In the meanwhile Cavalry units were used as a forward guard in the passes through the mountains with the intent of watching for enemy movements, slowing any enemy advance and acting as a warning system.

Johnston did not have the manpower to spread his army out and guard every single pass through the mountains, and because the AotT had dissapeared off his radar - so to speak - and he was recieving little-to-no information from his cavalry and none about the AotT he simply had to judge the situation in the moment and make the decision about where he thought would be most threatened and where to place his troops.

Circumstances proved that he was wrong, that the Federals did not act as he believed they would do, but in context it is entirely understandable why he made the decision he did.
You and I have had exchanges about this before. And I respectfully disagree. Had he fortified the gaps he could leave a mobile reserve to move to threatened areas. Digging in at Resaca does little good when you could fortify Snake Creek Gap just a few miles to the west much more effectively.
Don't you even wonder why Dug Gap was almost pierced?
Even if we stipulate that Wheeler performed poorly, Johnston could have done much better. Any glance at the map screams out that SCG needed infantry defense before the Union armies even begins to move. Sherman broke a very formidable natural barrier with hardly any effort.
 
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#52
I agree. The more I've read about Johnston it seems that he was a little too jaded by events and acts in Richmond that he viewed as unfair and didn't ever completely have his head in the fight.
I also agree that at least some defensive positions should have been taken around Snake Creek Gap and I know he had his topographers make detailed maps of the area but not much else. What are your thoughts about Wheeler failing blow or destroy the W&A tunnel at Tunnel Hill? The Union could repair a bridge in no time but a Tunnel would be a larger obstruction for Sherman to deal with once he started trying to move his supplies deeper south.
Good point. I am not sure if Wheeler had instructions to blow the tunnel. Maybe they thought they might regain Chatanooga and would need the railroad to work for them in ,that event.
 
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Nashville, TN
#53
i had heard that at the battle of utoy creek, union troops from kentucky were in direct fighting with the orphan brigade. during the fight, the troops were yelling across the field calling guys out by name since they were from the same towns. can anyone confirm this and maybe list resources where these accounts can be found??? i haven't been able to find much detailed information on this battle.
 
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Georgia
#54
I am so excited about this!!! I moved to the Atlanta area 2 years ago next Thursday, and this is definitely an exciting new forum topic!! My daughter is in your shoes, @Chattahooch33. Most of my days off are spent dragging her around the plantation I work at or going to museums and confederate cemeteries. She's even hot several childrens books on the civil war, like the confederate alphabet book. It's quite hilarious. More funny than educational!
Congrats, by the way and happy new year!
 

Nytram01

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#55
You and I have had exchanges about this before. And I respectfully disagree. Had he fortified the gaps he could leave a mobile reserve to move to threatened areas. Digging in at Resaca does little good when you could fortify Snake Creek Gap just a few miles to the west much more effectively.
Don't you even wonder why Dug Gap was almost pierced?
Even if we stipulate that Wheeler performed poorly, Johnston could have done much better. Any glance at the map screams out that SCG needed infantry defense before the Union armies even begins to move. Sherman broke a very formidable natural barrier with hardly any effort.
The issue was that there were too many passable gaps through the moutains and Johnston didn't have enough manpower to defend everyone of them. Further he had no way of being certain that Snake Creek Gap was going to be the target for a Federal advance - he knew it was there and the danger it could potentially be because Thomas had advanced towards it earlier that year, but it was only one of many potential areas which the Federals could have threatened. If Johnston had detatched and fortified every potential area there Federals could advance through he would have strung out his army all along the moutains and been strong enough no where to resist any concentrated Federal attack.

The only way you can argue that Johnston was somehow negligent in not defending Snake Creek Gap is with hindsight because, as I have laid out, in the context of the situation at the time it is entirely understandable why Johnston made the decisions he did in regard to his troop dispositions. Now, this doesn't mean that you cant argue that the situation couldn't have been handled better, that somebody else, perhaps, would have made better choices and achieved a better outcome, but that wouldn't change the fact that no decision Johnston made during that period of time was unreasable or unfathomable.
 
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#56
Unless Sherman went southwest toward Rome, there were only four avenues to guard: Buzzard's Roost, Crow Valley, Dug Gap, and Snake Creek. Johnston had the first two covered. Dug Gap was inadequately guarded. Snake Creek was unguarded. There is some speculation that Johnston didn't know it existed. Four months on the job and he still doesnt know the terrain? He was fortunate McPherson didn't nab Resaca and get between Th Army of Tennesee and Atlanta. Just pathetic.
 

uaskme

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#58
I agree. The more I've read about Johnston it seems that he was a little too jaded by events and acts in Richmond that he viewed as unfair and didn't ever completely have his head in the fight.
I also agree that at least some defensive positions should have been taken around Snake Creek Gap and I know he had his topographers make detailed maps of the area but not much else. What are your thoughts about Wheeler failing blow or destroy the W&A tunnel at Tunnel Hill? The Union could repair a bridge in no time but a Tunnel would be a larger obstruction for Sherman to deal with once he started trying to move his supplies deeper south.
I was part of a Battlefield walk this past Saturday with David Powell and Jim Ogden the Chichamauga Battlefield Park Ranger. On Friday they went to Resaca, which I missed, but did go to a QA session they had Friday night. Question was ask about the Tunnel. All agreed the Confederates didn't have the means to blow it up. It would of taken many holes bored in the Tunnel walls and filled with Black Powder. They didn't have the means to bore the holes. Tracks were pulled up, Probably by the RR.

Ogden said there has been no study to determine how many and how much support people and material Sherman had in his supply line which went thru Chattanooga and to Louisville. The Union Forces were overwhelming and Davis had no battle Plan that they could find reference to. They said 1 of the first thing Johnston did was review the defenses at Atlanta. He knew he didn't have the support to stop Sherman.
 
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DaveBrt

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Charlotte, NC
#59
Confederate resources were overstretched at the start of the '64 season. Lee's army had so few horses in good condition that it could only operate one day from a railroad. Longstreet was near Bristol in the hopes (incorrect) that he could sustain himself there. Lee and Johnston were so short of men that even when Longstreet and Polk were pulled in, they had no chance of winning -- surviving, but not winning. The railroads were so run down that neither army received the corn and forage they needed. Manpower was so short the Secretary of War reviewed every request for a detail of a mechanic to a railroad, a shoe maker to a factory or a carpenter to a wagon works.

1864 was all down hill -- some places faster than others, but all down.
 

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