Today, June 27, 1864: Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

Located on the western edge of Marietta, Georgia, Kennesaw Mountain is a small ridge that rises about 800 feet above the local landscape. There are two summits on the ridge, Big Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw. In 1864, it was the sight of a major Civil War Battle between two opposing generals.

In 1863, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman began driving through the South.

In May, 1863, Sherman confronts Confederate General Joseph Johnson at Jackson, Mississippi. Sherman and his Union army prevailed and drove Johnson out of Jackson.

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From May, 1863 to April 1864, Sherman battles his way through Mississippi and Tennessee. By this time, Union General Ulysses S. Grant has place Sherman over the Union Army of the West.

In May, 1864, Sherman enters Georgia. He has his sights set on Atlanta.

On June 22, 1864, Sherman defeated Confederate General John Hood at Kolb’s Farm, north of Kennesaw Mountain. Hood lost 1,500 troops in the battle.

On this day, June 27, 1864, Sherman again confronts Confederate General Johnson at Kennesaw Mountain, a mere 22 miles north of Atlanta.

Learning of Sherman’s approach, Johnson had located his troops at Kennesaw Mountain. He chose the location because it provided a better defensive position and he needed to protect his supply line from Atlanta.

Sherman believed that Johnson had spread his troops too thin in defending his supply line. He decided that a full on frontal attack on Johnson’s position at Kennesaw Mountain would be the best way to defeat the Confederate forces. Sherman feigned attacks on Johnson’s flanks before attacking head on.

The morning started with Union artillery bombarding Johnson’s position. At 9am, 8,000 Union troops charged the Confederates. They marched uphill to within yards of the Confederate troops before encountering defensive trenches dug by the Confederates. Slowed by the trenches, the Union soldiers became easy targets for the Confederates. By the time the Union troops retreated, they suffered 3,000 casualties, compared to only 500 Confederates killed or wounded.

At the end of the day, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was thought to be a decisive victory for Confederate General Johnson. However, Sherman remained in the area for the next several days and managed to fight their way into the rear of Johnson’s troops.

On July 2, 1864, Johnson was forced to retreat from Kennesaw Mountain south towards Atlanta. Sherman pursued Johnson’s retreat and the two forces continued to engage each other in numerous skirmishes throughout the summer of 1864.


Sources for the above includes: Kennesaw Mountain; The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain: Confederate Order of Battle; The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain: Union Order of Battle; Confederate and Union Forces Clash at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain; Kennesaw Mountain, Civil War Georgia; Kennesaw Mountain; William Tecumseh Sherman.

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