The Battle of Resaca, what should I know about it?

major bill

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I have passed by The Battle of Reaca site on my way to and from Florida but never stopped to visit it. I am not sure there is much to see there but perhaps if I understood the battle better I would stop and spend a couple hours there. What do I need to understand to enjoy seeing the battle site?

This was an important battle in the Atlanta Campaign and could have helped save Atlanta if the Confederates could have won a decisive victory. I am not sure the Confederates stood a real chance of a winning a decisive victory. The Confederates were outnumbered but perhaps did have at least a chance to win a marginal victory.
 

bdtex

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I think I read in the Resaca issue of Blue & Gray Magazine, before our Chickamauga gathering in 2018, that 160,000 troops were engaged in the Battle of Resaca. When we visited the battlefield, it was hard for me to wrap my brain around 160,000 troops packed into that ground.
 

Luke Freet

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I have passed by The Battle of Reaca site on my way to and from Florida but never stopped to visit it. I am not sure there is much to see there but perhaps if I understood the battle better I would stop and spend a couple hours there. What do I need to understand to enjoy seeing the battle site?

This was an important battle in the Atlanta Campaign and could have helped save Atlanta if the Confederates could have won a decisive victory. I am not sure the Confederates stood a real chance of a winning a decisive victory. The Confederates were outnumbered but perhaps did have at least a chance to win a marginal victory.
Most of my knowledge of the battle comes from good old Castel. The things I recall are:
1.) McPherson could have cut off Johnston's line of retreated and ended Confederate opposition in the region if he had not been so overcautious over a single brigade of infantry (Cantey's) and a single brigade of cavalry (Grigsby's).
2.) Stewart's attack in the North
3.) Corput's Battery being overrun by Butterfield's Division
 

DixieRifles

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I hope to head out there and see these battlefields of the Atlanta Campaign. I had several ancestors who fought in these battles.

Here is a quote from Rowland’s history of the 30th Mississippi which had been consolidated with the 29th Mississippi.


In January, 1864, Lieut.-Col. James M. Johnson was in command of the Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth and Twenty-fourth Regiments, in winter quarters near Dalton.

In the Atlanta campaign Wathall's Brigade was in Hindman's Division, commanded by Gens. John C. Brown and Patton Anderson, Hood's Corps, commanded after July 27 by Lieut.-Gen. Stephen D. Lee. After Walthall was promoted to command of a division of Stewart's Corps, Colonel Benton commanded the brigade until he died, after which Colonel Brantley was the Brigadier-General. The Thirtieth was consolidated with the Twenty-ninth throughout the campaign. Colonel Brantley commanded them when they left camp at Dalton May 7 to go into line at Alt's Gap, and at the battle of Resaca, May 14-15, when the two regiments, except three companies in the trenches, were placed behind the battalion of artillery on the hill which they defended. Here they were exposed to the fire of twenty-four Federal cannon. In front the Federals assaulted with great determination. Three times Brantley was required to sally and drive them from a lodgment obtained near the Confederate batteries. The battle raged through the 15th, when, Brantley said, "the artillery firing was the heaviest I have known during the war." Lieut.-Col. J. M. Johnson was wounded on the first day, Major J. K. Allen on the second. Adjutant Powell was specially commended for gallantry. The casualties of the Thirtieth were 10 killed and 29 wounded.
 

RobertP

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Sears Brigade arrived from Alabama just in time for the battle and it became the largest brigade in French’s Division. Much of it was comprised of Vicksburg parolees who had been in exchange camps at Enterprise. My g-grandfather and his brother were two of those in the 36th Miss.
 

DixieRifles

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A quote from the history of the 31st Mississippi Regiment.


Lt. Col. Stephens was commanding the regiment, in Featherston's Brigade, Loring's Division, army of General Polk, concentrated at Canton, . . . . The division moved to Morton and fell back to Demopolis, Alabama.

Early in March, 1864, they moved to Montevallo, Alabama, with the army under General Polk. They arrived at Resaca, Georgia, at the beginning of the battle of May 12-15, and several men were wounded by artillery fire while getting off the train. The regiment, with its fine band, was rushed at once into the thick of the fight, and havoc resulted in the musical corps as well as among the companies. On the last day the regiment marched at the head of the line led into battle by Gen. Johnston. The retreat across the river to Calhoun Station followed.
 

NedBaldwin

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My 2 cents...

1. McPherson secured the road through Snake Creek Gap in the ridge west of Resaca on May 8, which flanked Johnston’s position near Dalton. McPherson had Dodge’s two division Corps approach Resaca on May 9th in a move that is still debated today (see Luke Freet’s comment above). He found it defended by approximately a division so McPherson had him pull back

2. A few days later Johnston had moved from Dalton and formed an arc around Resaca. Sherman moved his massive force up and attacked Johnston’s prepared position. Failed. Hood counter attacked at the northern end, partial success. But Logan’s Corps near the river on the west side of town pushed Polk’s men back and secured hills looking into town and within cannon range of the bridge. Meanwhile one of Dodge’s divisions found a crossing downriver. Johnston tried to counter but he had too few men to both hold the line against Sherman and detach a force to block the downriver crossing and the bridge was now in danger so he pulled out during the night and fell back about 15 miles to Adairsville

3. The battlefield park is in the area in which Dodge’s men tangled with Polk’s men on the 9th and Logan’s men tangled with them on the 14th/15th
 

NedBaldwin

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When driving I-75, if you get off at GA 136 and head west, the battlefield park is right there -- a grass field with a creek running through it and a row of hills about 1/2 mile from the highway. I beleive there is evidence of trenches and there are trails with intepretive signs
 

major bill

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I said that I had never visited it, but once I did get off of I-75 and drove to the battle site however the gate was closed and I was not able to enter. I guess I should have looked up the hours prior to stopping.
 

Luke Freet

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My 2 cents...

1. McPherson secured the road through Snake Creek Gap in the ridge west of Resaca on May 8, which flanked Johnston’s position near Dalton. McPherson had Dodge’s two division Corps approach Resaca on May 9th in a move that is still debated today (see Luke Freet’s comment above). He found it defended by approximately a division so McPherson had him pull back

2. A few days later Johnston had moved from Dalton and formed an arc around Resaca. Sherman moved his massive force up and attacked Johnston’s prepared position. Failed. Hood counter attacked at the northern end, partial success. But Logan’s Corps near the river on the west side of town pushed Polk’s men back and secured hills looking into town and within cannon range of the bridge. Meanwhile one of Dodge’s divisions found a crossing downriver. Johnston tried to counter but he had too few men to both hold the line against Sherman and detach a force to block the downriver crossing and the bridge was now in danger so he pulled out during the night and fell back about 15 miles to Adairsville

3. The battlefield park is in the area in which Dodge’s men tangled with Polk’s men on the 9th and Logan’s men tangled with them on the 14th/15th
Pretty succinct summary of what went down. Thanks Ned.
 

James N.

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I have passed by The Battle of Reaca site on my way to and from Florida but never stopped to visit it. I am not sure there is much to see there but perhaps if I understood the battle better I would stop and spend a couple hours there. What do I need to understand to enjoy seeing the battle site?T
I think I read in the Resaca issue of Blue & Gray Magazine, before our Chickamauga gathering in 2018, that 160,000 troops were engaged in the Battle of Resaca. When we visited the battlefield, it was hard for me to wrap my brain around 160,000 troops packed into that ground.
Here's the website for the Resaca Battlefield Park: http://resacabattlefield.com/FoRstart.html
I enjoyed my visit there and was able to take the long walking trail which runs north along the west side of Camp Creek, the back down the other side. Would highly recommend a visit.
Is there much to see at the battle site?
Nope!!! I have visited Resaca twice. There is not much to see. Most battlefields have unit markers. Resaca does not. You are pretty much left on your own. For a Civil War battlefield, I was very disappointed.
When driving I-75, if you get off at GA 136 and head west, the battlefield park is right there -- a grass field with a creek running through it and a row of hills about 1/2 mile from the highway. I beleive there is evidence of trenches and there are trails with intepretive signs
... 3. The battlefield park is in the area in which Dodge’s men tangled with Polk’s men on the 9th and Logan’s men tangled with them on the 14th/15th
The trouble with most of you is that you're ONLY looking at the so-called Battlefield Park; Bobby's right - you couldn't fit 160,000 men inside it! HOWEVER, the battle itself as Ned has rightly observed is actually located solely on the center of the Confederate lines where the principal - but scarcely the only - Union assault was made. That would be like my friend Doug @1863surgeon who thought that because he had once long ago stopped at and looked for maybe fifteen minutes or so out over the field at Gettysburg where Pickett had made his Charge that he had "seen" Gettysburg! Like most Civil War battlefields, Resaca covers an area of several square miles, the principal sites consisting of:

1. Battlefield Park
I have visited Resaca twice. There is not much to see. Most battlefields have unit markers. Resaca does not. You are pretty much left on your own. For a Civil War battlefield, I was very disappointed.
Unfortunately I had a similar experience during a previous visit finding the gate locked; the park got off to a slow and bumpy start for several years but as Bobby can attest is now a nice self-contained unit though admittedly lacking a NPS-type Visitor Center.

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Note the three historical markers at right, only the first of many spaced out along the park road or the trail that covers almost the entire length of the park.
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Although not traditional unit markers per se, they nevertheless give a good idea of what went on - from this one I was able to satisfy myself that I'd found the area held by my ancestor in Lowrey's Brigade of Pat Cleburne's Division. One problem here is that the actual Confederate position is partly taken up by the Interstate Highway that runs parallel to and just outside the area of the park.

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Below positioned along the trail within the woods is what may be the only "real" unit marker showing the position reached by the 103rd Ohio during the assault.
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2. Railroad Redoubt
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Although not a part of the battle here, to the east of the highway are the remains of a Confederate earthwork built to protect the railroad bridge in the wake of the Andrews Raid aka the Great Locomotive Chase. There's a parking area, picnic ground and trail leading to the earthwork; unfortunately nothing there is marked or explained, though there's a solitary marked gravesite.

3. Wayside Park and Resaca Confederate Cemetery
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This beautiful cemetery is located off the old Dalton Road/U.S. Highway (pre-Interstate) and is about atop the Confederate defense line that runs through this area.

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There is also a Wayside (like a typical Roadside Park) at the Cemetery turn-off with a large bronze relief map of the Atlanta Campaign.

Note all the BLUE area in the NE part of the map below; that's NOT part of the park but was the scene of heavy action and is now where the reenactment takes place. It's true there are few if any markers in this area, but a marked trail leads from there in front of a private residence to the location where Van Den Corput's Confederate battery was captured in a surprise night assault. Note especially that almost NONE of the Union positions are included in protected land - that would be the same as what BLM would do by eliminating the Confederate markers at Gettysburg! I STRONGLY suggest before visiting Resaca you at least pick up a copy of the old Blue & Gray issue devoted to the battle.

Battle%20of%20Resaca%20-%20May%2014,%201864%20(Evening).jpg
 
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bdtex

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The trouble with most of you is that you're ONLY looking at the so-called Battlefield Park; Bobby's right - you couldn't fit 160,000 men inside it!
When I posted that, I didn't mean all that many men right there in the park. I knew/know there was fighting, defensive positions and troops elsewhere. It's the same as visiting Shiloh. When you see the actual acreage of the park and the areas around it where you know troops were, it's hard to imagine that many people in that small an area doing everything that people do.
 

bdtex

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; the park got off to a slow and bumpy start for several years but as Bobby can attest is now a nice self-contained unit though admittedly lacking a NPS-type Visitor Center.
I like places like Resaca, Dug Gap, Gaines' Mill, Cold Harbor where the preserved battlefields aren't cluttered with monuments and markers. I can read up on the battles, take copies of the ABT and B & G maps et.al. and walk the ground and envision the troop locations, movements, engagements myself. To me, there ain't nothing like being on a mostly undisturbed battlefield.
 
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I have visited Resaca twice. There is not much to see. Most battlefields have unit markers. Resaca does not. You are pretty much left on your own. For a Civil War battlefield, I was very disappointed.
I took part in a very good and very wet and muddy (gooey red clay mud) reenactment there in 2014, part of the 150th anniversary reenactments. I agree that as a tourist site, it's not much. There is a Confederate cemetery worth visiting.

Texans in the Muddy Road.jpg


Malloy Resaca 5.jpg
 
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