The prize was Atlanta. William Tecumseh Sherman knew it, as did his Confederate opponent Joseph Johnston.
It was just 100 miles from Chattanooga to Atlanta, but the Confederates were prepared to do anything to keep Sherman from reaching his goal. Johnston prepared a series of assaults on the advancing Federals, but Sherman was able to flank the rebels and continued on his southeast course. But things changed outside Marietta, Georgia.
Johnston had his men construct trenches and earthworks at Kennesaw Mountain. By the time Sherman’s men reached the mountain, the Confederates were ready for them.
On this date, 143 years ago, The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain took place. General John Bell Hood began the Confederate assault, but Union soldiers were able to fight him off. Sherman initially wanted to keep his army moving toward their goal, but heavy rain, muddy roads, and a determined Confederate army made it impossible. He had to fight.
Sherman believed the Confederates were stretched too thin. He decided to attack the center of their line. He began his assault with a heavy artillery barrage, followed by a three-part infantry attack: George Henry Thomas would lead the main attack on the Confederate center, while James B. McPherson would attack the Confederate right along the slopes of Little Kennesaw Mountain, and John Schofield would engage the southern end of the Confederate line.
The Union attack against the dug-in Confederates at the Dead Angle, near the Confederate center, was unsuccessful. Estimated casualties were about 500 for the Confederates, while 3,000 Union men fell.
Historians have questioned Sherman’s decision to attack the well-entrenched Confederates. However, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was one of the few Confederate victories during Sherman’s successful Atlanta Campaign.