The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain

The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was fought on June 27, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the most significant frontal assault launched by Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, ending in a tactical defeat for the Union forces. 

Sherman's 1864 campaign against Atlanta, Georgia, was initially characterized by a series of flanking maneuvers against Johnston, each of which compelling the Confederate army to withdraw from heavily fortified positions with minimal casualties on either side. 

After two months and 70 miles of such maneuvering, Sherman's path was blocked by imposing fortifications on Kennesaw Mountain, near Marietta, Georgia, and the Union general chose to change his tactics and ordered a large-scale frontal assault on June 27, 1864.

Fearing envelopment, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston withdrew his army of approximately 50,000 strong to a new defensive position astride Kennesaw Mountain, to the north and west of Marietta, Georgia. Johnston selected this position in order to protect his supply link to Atlanta, the Western & Atlantic Railroad. 

Prior to taking up this new line on June 19, Johnston had men working through the night digging trenches and erecting fortifications, turning Kennesaw into a formidable earthen fortress.

Having defeated Gen. John B. Hood troops at Kolb’s Farm on the 22nd, Union commander William T. Sherman, with an army of approximately 100,000 troops, was convinced that Johnston had stretched his line too thin and, therefore, decided on a frontal attack on the Confederate bastion. After an intense artillery bombardment, Sherman sent his troops forward at 9AM on June 27th

Determined Yankee assault troops came to within yards of the Confederate trenches, but were unable to break the Southern line and by 11:30 the attack had failed. 

Although they  were repulsed with heavy losses, a demonstration by Union forces led by Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield achieved a strategic success by threatening the Confederate army's left flank, prompting yet another Confederate withdrawal toward Atlanta and the removal of General Johnston from command of the army. 

Sherman, who later dubbed the battle as "the hardest fight of the campaign up to that date," lost roughly 3,000 men in the contest, including generals Charles Harker and Daniel McCook. Johnson losses are estimated at 1,000.


The Order of Battle for both armies are included in a PDF file in the Attachments Section at the bottom of the page.

There is map of the battlefield showing the deployment of the armies also included as a PDF file in the Attachments Section. This map shows the location the Iowa Regiments on the field. We have also identified regiments of forebears of Cedar Valley Civil War Roundtable members on the map. If you have a forebear in the units in the Order of Battle, and would like to have that unit identified on the map, please contact us by clicking here. For optimum viewing of a printed copy, use legal size paper.

Here is a link to an excellent article titled Battle of Kennesaw Mountain on Wikipedia. The article has some excellent maps that describe the Atlanta Campaign and how the Kennesaw Mountain Battle fits in.There are also some photos taken afterwards showing scenes from the battlefield.

Here is a map of the area today. For a better look, turn on the Terrain View using the button in the upper right corner of the map.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Charles Lott,
Nov 4, 2011, 1:49 PM
Charles Lott,
Nov 4, 2011, 2:05 PM