Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Battle Over A Railroad Cut

The Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought October 5th 1864 in Bartow County, Georgia and was a part of the Franklin Nashville campaign.

After Atlanta, Georgia fell, Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood moved his Army of Tennessee north to threaten Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s supply line.  A Confederate corps under Lieutenant General Alexander P Stewart hit garrisons and damaged track along the Western and Atlantic Railroad between October 2nd and 4th.  Under orders from Hood, Stewart moved to attack the Union supply base where the railroad ran through a gap in the Allatoona Mountain.
The Union garrison was commanded by Colonel John Eaton Tourtellotte, who had the 93rd Illinois, 4th Minnesota and 18th Wisconsin under his command.  Just before the southern troops came up, Union Brigadier General John M Corse joined Tourtellotte with another brigade and took over total command.  The Union position was a strong one, with two earthen fortifications on each side of the deep railroad cut.

Confederate Major General Samuel G French’s division arrived near Allatoona in the early morning hours of October 5th 1864.  A two hour long artillery assault was opened by Confederate Captain Alcide Bouanchaud.  French sent in a demand for surrender but Union force declined.  At this point French sent in his infantry, with Brigadier General Claudius Sears moving from the north, and Brigadier General Francis M Cockrell from the west.  The Union men stood up to a two hour attack against its fortifications.  It looked as though the Union forces would have to surrender.  Then around noon French received a faulty report from his  cavalry that a Union force was advancing, and so he grudgingly called his soldiers off.
Although a small battle it had high casualties, with about 706 Union men killed, wounded, or captured, and 897 Confederate.  Union Brigadier General Corse was wounded, sending a message to Sherman that said, "I am short a cheek bone and one ear, but am able to lick all hell yet."  The Confederates were unable to take the Union garrison or seize the railroad cut.


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