Resaca

Stiles/Akin

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#1
On the morning of May 9, 1864, Major General James B. McPherson's Army of the Tennessee emerged from the bottom of Snake Creek Gap with two veteran divisions of... his XVI Corps and his entire XV Corps. His lead element, the 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry, quickly came into contact with a Confederate cavalry brigade under the command of Colonel Warren Grigsby that had been ordered to withdraw south from Dalton the day before and reconnoiter the area west of Resaca. Because of the nature of Snake Creek Gap, McPherson's troops were backed up and initially unable to bring the weight of their force to bear against their outnumbered foe. In heavy skirmishing, Brigadier General Thomas W. Sweeny managed to form a line and began to drive the Confederate cavalry back toward Resaca, a few miles to the east.

McPherson personally directed Major General Grenville Dodge's XVI Corps forward. Major General John A. Logan's XV Corps followed close behind. Grigsby'scavalry skirmished with the Federals every step of the way until the Southerners were able to withdraw into the outer line of a series of fortifications constructed near Resaca. There the 37th Mississippi, a Regiment of Cantey's Brigade, reinforced the cavalry. This particular line was on what was described as "a bald hill" and had been hastily prepared. Against this Dodge sent in a brigade of infantry supported by artillery, and the 66th Illinois Regiment armed with Henry 15-shot repeating rifle. This attack easily drove the Confederates all the way across Camp Creek about mid-afternoon.

So far so good. In fact, when Sherman received a report as to the Union progress (which didn't reach him until supper time that evening) he made his often quoted exclamation: "I've got Joe Johnston dead!". Now McPherson ordered Dodge to send the 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry north and east to find the best route to the railroad. Meanwhile, Dodge's skirmishers cautiously approached a formidable line of fortifications east of Camp Creek. In it were not only Grigsby's cavalry and the rest of Cantey's Brigade, but also a brigade of infantry under Brigadier General Daniel H. Reynolds that had just arrived at Resaca. In addition, the Confederates had in place at two batteries of 12-pound Napoleon field pieces.

Dodge described these actions in his official report: (The 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry) "struck the railroad about two miles south of Tilton (which they found strongly patrolled by the enemy's cavalry) and succeeded in cutting the telegraph wires and in burning a wood station, reporting to me without loss at dark. About 4 p. m., I received orders to advance my left, the Fourth Division, to the railroad north of Resaca, and hold the Bald Hill with the Second Division. General Veatch was immediately ordered to move, with Fuller's and Sprague's brigades, of his (Fourth) division, massed in close column by divisions, and, forming promptly, he moved rapidly across the west fork of Mill Creek, in plain view of Resaca. The enemy, observing the movement, opened a heavy fire from his batteries upon the column, and also, together with rapid musketry, upon the left of the Second Division, doing, however, but little execution. After having moved the column across the first open field, I received from General McPherson an order directing me to look well to my right, as the enemy was massing and pressing forward in that direction. Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Fuller led the advance of the column, and, just as he was gaining cover of the woods on the east side of Mill Creek, I received notice that Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Sprague's brigade had been halted. My order of General McPherson, to support the left of the Second Division and hold the space between that division and the Fourth Division. I was with the advance (Fuller's brigade). The skirmishers had just reported that they were within a short distance of the railroad when the enemy opened fire upon the brigade with a regiment of infantry and a battery in position, directly on our right. I immediately sent orders to Colonel Fuller to charge the battery and swing still farther to the north, under cover of the timber. Before this order was executed I received orders from General McPherson to withdraw the brigade and close upon Colonel Sprague, who was formed on the left of the Second Division. This had to be done in view of the enemy, whose batteries had a point-blank range across the open fields upon the column. Colonel Fuller deployed his brigade under cover of the timber, and, withdrawing by regiments across the open fields, formed in position on the west side of Mill Creek. By the time the withdrawal was accomplished it was sunset; and I received orders to withdraw the command and retire to Snake Creek Gap." (OR No. 524) Note: Dodge's reference to "Mill Creek" here pertains to Camp Creek.

What happened to the assault? By mid-afternoon the town of Resaca was in plain sight, defended by a force that McPherson outnumbered at least 5 to 1 and, more importantly, his Federal army was less than a mile from the railroad that served as Johnston's vital line of communications. As his official report indicates, however, other issues plagued his perspective. He became acutely sensitive to his exposed position and retreated back to Snake Creek Gap. There he fortified his lines and awaited for Sherman to send more troops through the gap. He would not advance again until May 13.
Brigadier General James B. McPherson
 

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#2
New to this forum, I had three relatives in the 24th KY Inf (Union) that were at Resaca, my gg-Uncle was wounded and later died from his wound while making a charge on Confederate fortifications at Resaca. I plan to visit the area soon and realize the battlefield was spread out over large area. Is there anyway to find out the movements of specific regiments during the battle? I would appreciate any information.
 
Joined
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California
#5
New to this forum, I had three relatives in the 24th KY Inf (Union) that were at Resaca, my gg-Uncle was wounded and later died from his wound while making a charge on Confederate fortifications at Resaca. I plan to visit the area soon and realize the battlefield was spread out over large area. Is there anyway to find out the movements of specific regiments during the battle? I would appreciate any information.
Welcome to the Forum.
I had ancestors in Wood's, Carlin's, Scribner's, Whitaker's and Walcutt's brigades and somehow they all came through unscathed throughout the Atlanta campaign. Not sure if they deserted
 

SJU5

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Mar 27, 2018
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#6
69C41066-4541-44FF-810C-456538F27827.jpeg
Welcome to the Forum.
I had ancestors in Wood's, Carlin's, Scribner's, Whitaker's and Walcutt's brigades and somehow they all came through unscathed throughout the Atlanta campaign. Not sure if they deserted
Are you looking for info on your relatives? I found some...let me know if you would like these on your relatives
 
Joined
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Messages
286
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California
#7
Samuel Cowan is the only one I have definitive info on. He left a notarized letter about his enlistment and wounding in the left knee on the first day at Chickamauga, and subsequently was assigned to the Veteran's Reserve Corps. Of the others that I list, I have no info on whether they were wounded , KIA, POW, or deserters.
 
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#9
You sir are a true Gentleman and Scholar. Thank you so much for filling in the blanks on my ancestors. Sad to hear that one drowned and one deserted, but considering how the war affected so many families, I guess I'm not surprised. Thanks again.
 

SJU5

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Joined
Mar 27, 2018
Messages
130
#10
EEA6C325-6CBF-4283-9F8E-D54062DAA0A1.jpeg F021CA88-30F4-41F5-9F55-740100DB13A7.jpeg 54ABAC49-F0ED-40A3-8622-0B469F507F51.jpeg
You sir are a true Gentleman and Scholar. Thank you so much for filling in the blanks on my ancestors. Sad to hear that one drowned and one deserted, but considering how the war affected so many families, I guess I'm not surprised. Thanks again.
 

bdtex

Brigadier General
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#13
We have some new benches to be installed at the park hopefully soon. Fall is just around the corner, I can't wait.

Tony Patton
Resaca Battlefield Historic Site
Thanks for the update sir. New stuff is good. A number of members of this forum are converging on Chattanooga/Chickamauga in late October. I know a few are making side trips to Resaca.
 

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