May 25 to June 5, 1864.
Armies of the Cumberland, Tennessee and Ohio.
On May 24 Gen. Sherman Learned through a captured despatch that
Gen. Johnston was forming his line along the south side of
Pumpkin Vine creek from Dallas to Allatoona, and at once began
the disposition of his forces to Either Give Johnston Battle or
force him from his position.
Johnston’s Line covered the roads leading from Dallas to
Acworth, Marietta and Atlanta, his Center Being Near New Hope
Church, 4 Miles northeast of Dallas. It occupied the wooded
summits of A Number of ridges, with open valleys in front, over
which the Union forces would have to advance to attack.
The natural position was one capable of easy defense and every
available minute was spent in strengthening it by formidable
intrenchments. Sherman Began his advance on the morning of the
25th. On the right was Gen. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee
Near Van Wert, 16 Miles northwest of Dallas, and moving against
that Place by the Rome Road.
In the center was the Army of the Cumberland Under Gen. Thomas,
advancing on several roads from Burnt Hickory, some 5 or 6
Miles northeast of Dallas. It consisted of the 4th, 14th and
20th army corps, respectively commanded by Gens. Howard, Palmer
Butterfield’s division of Hooker’s corps, preceded by McCook’s
cavalry, moved on the road leading to Golgotha; Geary’s
division advanced on the direct road to Dallas, and Williams’
on the Right. Palmer’s and Howard’s Corps made A Detour to the
right to strike the Van Wert Road 3 or 4 Miles from Dallas,
Thus forming a junction with McPherson.
Gen. Schofield, with the Army of the Ohio, was ordered to
remain Near Burnt Hickory During the Day, the only activity on
that part of the line being reconnaissances by Stoneman’s
cavalry on the roads to the left and front. Geary’s division
reached Pumpkin Vine creek at Owen’s Mill to find the bridge on
While the men were extinguishing the flames they were fired on
from the Hill in front. Part of Hooker’s cavalry escort Forded
the creek, deployed and drove off an outpost of some 25
cavalrymen. The bridge was then soon repaired, the division
crossed over and moved in the direction of New Hope Church, the
7th Ohio Being deployed as skirmishers.
About a mile and a half from the bridge this regiment
encountered the enemy in force. Candy’s brigade, which was in
advance, was deployed in line of battle, advanced at the
double-quick and the enemy was forced back for some distance.
The skirmish line was then strengthened and extended by the
addition of the 28th Pa., and the rest of the division pressed
forward in close support, again forcing the Confederates back
for about half a mile and capturing a few prisoners.
From these it was learned that the force in front was Hood’s
entire corps, and that Hardee was not far off in the direction
of Dallas. As the division was Several Miles from the nearest
supporting troops Hooker ordered Geary to take position on a
ridge and throw up barricades for defense.
Hooker had already sent orders to the other two divisions of
the corps to move to Geary’s support. They arrived about 4 p.
m. and massed their troops, with Williams on the right and
Butterfield on the left and rear of Geary. An attack was now
ordered to be made in columns by brigades, Williams Leading,
Butterfield next, and Geary, who had already been engaged for
over four hours was held as a reserve.
Hooker’s columns thus arranged assaulted Hood’s position
repeatedly and endeavored to gain possession of the roads at
New Hope Church. Confederate reinforcements were pouring in,
however, and although Hood was forced back to the church his
intrenchments there proved too strong to be carried.
In the midst of a terrific thunderstorm the fight raged until
dark, when the dead and wounded were gathered up and Hooker’s
forces retired to the ridge in their rear. When Sherman Heard
the Firing, Soon After Geary crossed the creek at Owen’s Mill,
he rode to the front and upon learning the situation ordered
Howard to bring up his corps to the support of Hooker.
Newton’s division arrived about 6 o’clock and took position on
the left of Butterfield. By morning the whole corps, with the
exception of Baird’s division, which had been left at Burnt
Hickory to guard the trains, was on the field and extended the
line still farther to the left.
At 5 o’clock that afternoon Schofield received orders to
proceed to the front. Leaving Hovey’s division to guard the
trains the other two divisions moved Forward Via Burnt Hickory
and Owen’s Mill. While Riding Forward in the darkness to learn
the position of troops already on the field and to receive
Further Orders, Schofield was severely hurt by his horse
falling into a ditch and the command of the corps was
transferred to Brig.-Gen. J. D. Cox.
The corps reached the field at daybreak and went into position
on the extreme left, covering the Dallas and Allatoona road.
In the meantime McPherson had pushed forward with commendable
vigor direct on Dallas and the morning of the 26th found him
confronting Hardee. Logan’s (15th) corps formed the right,
extending across the Atlanta Road, Dodge, with the 16th corps,
was on Logan’s Left; and on the left of Dodge was Davis’
division of Palmer’s Corps, which was on the way from Rome to
join its command.
Beyond Logan’s Right the country was picketed by Garrard’s
division of cavalry, thus guarding against the flank being
turned by the Enemy. Sharp skirmishing was kept up along the
whole line during the 26th, the hottest part of it being in the
neighborhood of the church.
Each man on the skirmish line protected himself as he could by
a shallow pit, a few fence rails or a friendly log, knowing
that he could not be relieved until after dark, and the
sharpshooters on both sides were constantly on the alert for
opportunities to pick off some mounted officer who might happen
to expose himself imprudently.
During the Day McCook’s cavalry, which was operating on the
left, had a skirmish with part of Wheeler’s, in which McCook
captured about 50 prisoners. This skirmish, with the
information gleaned from some of the prisoners, Led Sherman to
believe that Wheeler’s was the only force holding the region
east of Johnston’s Right.
The skirmishing along the lines had developed the fact that the
Federals were superior in numbers and Sherman decided to
withdraw part of his forces from the intrenchments for the
purposes of turning the Confederate right. The Army of the
Ohio was in possession of the road to Allatoona and by
extending his line along that Route Sherman hoped to
reestablish communications with the railroad, while at the same
time he could gain a position from which he could operate on
Accordingly Thomas was ordered to withdraw Wood’s division of
Howard’s Corps, unite it with Johnson’s division of Palmer’s,
which had been in reserve, and with these two divisions and a
brigade from the Army of the Ohio Make the flank movement.
The movement was placed in charge of Howard, who made a
reconnaissance at the Place designated by Sherman and found the
enemy was in a position to Bring A Cross-Fire of both infantry
and artillery upon the approaches to it. The troops were then
moved farther to the left and massed in a field concealed from
the Confederates by the intervening Woods.
At 11 a. m. on the 27th Wood moved about a mile farther to the
left, when Howard Thought the enemy’s flank was reached, and
the command wheeled to the right, McLean’s brigade of the Army
of the Ohio Being deployed on Wood’s Right.
McLean pushed forward his skirmishers and developed a
considerable force of the enemy intrenched in front. The
skirmishers were withdrawn and Again Howard moved a mile to the
left. About 5 p. m. another effort was made to turn the flank.
The entire command moved forward, drove in the enemy’s
skirmishers and vigorously assaulted the Main Line. Col.
Scribner, commanding Johnson’s advance brigade, was fired into
from across the Creek Near Pickett’s Mill, and halted Long
Enough to throw a detachment across the stream to protect his
This delay came at an inopportune moment, as it gave the enemy
an opportunity to push forward his reserves on Wood’s Left,
forcing it back and bringing his line into position where an
enfilading fire could be brought to bear upon it. Wood
withdrew under this fire and formed his troops on a ridge
farther to the Right, Johnson forming his to the left and rear.
In this affair, known as the battle of Pickett’s Mill, the
Union loss in killed, wounded and missing was about 1,400.
That of the enemy was not ascertained. Although the flank
movement had failed, a position was secured Near Pickett’s Mill
that afterwards proved to be of great importance.
During the attempt to turn the enemy’s flank the divisions of
Newton and Stanley kept up a strong demonstration in their
fronts by way of a diversion, and repulsed one assault on their
lines with heavy loss to the Confederates. Skirmishing was
kept up along the lines, but there was no more hard fighting
until the afternoon of the 28th, when McPherson was ordered to
close to the left on Thomas in front of New Hope Church, and
allow Davis to join his command, Sherman’s object being to
extend his line still more to the Left.
Johnston suspected that Sherman was withdrawing his right from
in front of Dallas and ordered Hardee to threaten McPherson’s
lines to see if they Held. Hardee Sent Forward Bate’s
division, which made a sudden and daring attack in front of the
town. McPherson’s men had erected good breastworks and Bate
Met with a bloody and decisive repulse.
About the same time Armstrong’s brigade of Confederate cavalry
tried to pass through the space between Logan and McPherson,
but was met with such a withering fire of artillery and
musketry that he was forced to give up the attempt and retreat
with heavy loss. The two armies now lay in front of each other
without any important action on either side until June 1, when
Sherman succeeded in moving his whole line to the left about 5
Miles, occupying the roads to Allatoona and Acworth.
Stoneman’s cavalry was then moved rapidly into Allatoona at the
east end of the pass and Garrard’s cavalry around by the rear
to the West End. These movements were made without opposition
and on the 4th the entire Union army was withdrawn to the
railroad Near Acworth, leaving Johnston in his intrenched
position at New Hope Church.
The Confederate commander did not remain there Long, however,
for on the night of the 4th he fell back to A New Line Across
the railroad before Marietta and Kennesaw mountain.
Source: The Union Army, Vol.,5 p.,337