It had been three long years since the first shots rang out at Fort Sumter. Both sides were growing weary of the war. General Grant had a made a plan to bring a Union victory and an end of the war. It included sending General Sherman’s army into Georgia with the mission to capture Atlanta, the critical rail and industrial hub of the South.
But first he would have to get break through General Johnston’s forces at Kennesaw Mountain, twenty miles northwest of Atlanta. The mountain peak was known “Gibraltar of Georgia.” and Johnston’s troops had already dug and erected fortifications, turning Kennesaw into a formidable earthen fortress. They were ready and waiting.
Sherman was confident about gaining an easy and quick victory. He had just pushed back General Hood at nearby Kolb’s Farm was sure General Johnston was now “spread too thin.”
At 8 AM on June 27, 1864, Sherman ordered a 200 gun frontal attack. Yankee troops made a desperate effort to storm the trenches in the steep terrain coming within yards of the troops, but were unable to break the Southern line. By 11:30 Sherman’s attack had failed. The rough terrain and intense Confederate fire combined to defeat the Union Army. It seems he underestimated the situation with Johnston and the Rebel troops.
Sherman later dubbed this fray as “the hardest fight of the campaign up to that date.” The battle was a victory for Johnston who lost 1,000 troops to Sherman’s 3,000, making it one of the bloodiest single days in the campaign for Atlanta.
Although this was a bitter defeat for Sherman, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain ultimately did not prevent his drive to Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. But it was his last attempt at a frontal assault during the rest of war.
Maybe he did learn that he should never underestimate the enemy. He found out there was still plenty of spirit and determination left in hearts of the hard fighting soldiers of the Confederate Army.
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