ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
Kennesaw Mountain
A Confederate cannon aims out from the top of
Kennesaw Mountain, scene of one of the fiercest
battles of the Civil War's Atlanta Campaign.
Bloody Angle at Kennesaw
The Illinois Monument and a
Civil War tunnel mark the
Dead Angle, scene of a key
attack during the Battle of
Kennesaw Mountain.
Guns of Kennesaw Mountain
The battlefield includes well-
preserved earthworks, battery
sites, Civil War cannon, trails
and mountain overlooks.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park - Kennesaw, GA
Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 18, 2012
Atlanta from Kennesaw
The overlooks on top of
Kennesaw Mountain offer a
panoramic view of the Atlanta
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Displays in Visitor Center
The visitor center features
outstanding displays on the
Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
and the Atlanta Campaign.
On June 27, 1864, General WIlliam
Tecumseh Sherman launched one of his few
direct attacks of the Atlanta Campaign when
he sent his army forward in a desperate
attempt to storm the rocky heights of
Kennesaw Mountain.

The site of the Confederate victory is now
preserved at Kennesaw Mountain National
Battlefield Park in Kennesaw, Georgia. The
park covers 2,923 acres and preserves the
mountain, miles of Civil War earthworks and
locations where heavy fighting took place.

Rising 1,808 feet above sea level, Kennesaw
Mountain takes its name from the Cherokee
word "Gah-nee-sah," which means "burial
ground." It is an appropriate name for the
mountain where 160,000 men battled for
control of the last high ground between
Sherman and Atlanta. More than 4,000 fell
killed and wounded.

The Atlanta Campaign had begun on May 7,
1864, when Sherman started out from
Chattanooga with his army moving in three
separate columns. Opposing him was the
Confederate Army of Tennessee, under
General Joseph E. Johnston.

Severely outnumbered, Johnston waged a
defensive campaign. The two forces battled
and maneuvered through the mountains for
the next six weeks, fighting at such places as
Resaca, New Hope Church, Pickett's Mill and
Dallas. By June 19th, Johnston faced down
on Sherman from the fortified slopes of
Kennesaw Mountain and adjoining high

The fighting began with a preliminary action
called the Battle of Kolb's Farm on June 22,

After examining Johnston's position and
deciding it was too strong for a direct assault,
Sherman continued the pattern he had
established during the campaign and tried
another flanking maneuver. Using his left
wing to hold the Confederates in place on the
mountain, the Union general moved his right
in an effort to move around the southern end
of Johnston's line.

The Federal advance to the right was
spearheaded by the XX Corps commanded
by General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker
and supported by General John Schofield's
single corps Army of the Ohio. Johnston
anticipated the movement and sent General
John Bell Hood to oppose it. As he was
prone to do, Hood attacked.

The Battle of Kolb's Farm ended in a Union
victory, with Hood's Corps suffering roughly
1,000 casualties. It did, however, achieve
Johnston's larger goal of checking Sherman
in his attempt to outflank the main position at
Kennesaw Mountain.

Sherman now found himself in an extremely
difficult position. Johnston had succeeded in
stalling him 15 miles from Atlanta and held a
daunting position on high ground that he was
strengthening by the day. Roads were knee-
deep in mud making additional attempts to
flank the position impossible and to make
matters worse, Johnston's cannon atop the
mountain were targeting the railroad that
brought in supplies for the Union army.

Recognizing that Kennesaw Mountain was
the "key to the whole country," Sherman now
prepared to do something that as a general
he did his best to avoid - make a direct attack
on a strongly fortified Confederate army.

The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain began at 8
a.m. on June 27, 1864. Gunners opened fire
on the Confederate defenses with over 200
cannon, doing everything in their power to
blast Johnston's men off the mountain.

One eyewitness wrote that the mountain was
so "ablaze with fire" that it reminded him of a
volcano. The Union infantry began moving
forward along a front that stretched for eight
miles, but the Confederates quickly realized
that much of this movement was little more
than a demonstration to hide the locations of
Sherman's two main assaults.

The first of these main assaults hit at 8:30
a.m. when three brigades from General
Morgan L. Smith's Division (5,500 men)
attacked the Confederate entrenchments on
Little Pigeon Hill, a spur of Kennesaw. These
breastworks were held by the 5,000 men of
Polk's Corps, now commanded by General
William Wing Loring as Polk had been killed
a few days earlier.

The attack overran some advanced rifle pits,
but did not even come close to breaking
through the main Confederate line. Realizing
that their men were being slaughtered, Union
commanders called off the attack.

The second main attack now developed two
miles south at a place now known as
Cheatham Hill, but better known to the
soldiers who fought there as the "Dead
Angle" because of the number of dead who
fell there trying to break through a projecting
point in the Confederate lines.
This heavily fortified section of the Southern
lines was held by General William Hardee's
Corps and the Union commanders made the
critical mistake of directing the point of their
attack directly at the hard fighting divisions of
Generals Patrick R. Cleburne and Benjamin
F. Cheatham.

The attack was made by four Union divisions
(9,000 men) which advanced in column
formation across open ground directly at
Cheatham Hill. The Federals hit the hill and
were rolled back by heavy Confederate fire. At
one point, Colonel Daniel McCook's Brigade
made it to within a few yards of the main
Confederate line. Hand to hand fighting
erupted but the Union attack was beaten
back. McCook himself was killed as he
leaped atop the Confederate breastworks,
swinging his sword.

Pinned down and unable to advance or
retreat, some of the Union soldiers began
digging a tunnel, the entrance of which can
still be seen near the Illinois Monument on
Cheatham Hill. They hoped to tunnel under
the Confederate lines, but that effort also

Sherman's grand assault had failed and the
casualty reports told the story. The Union
army had lost an estimated 3,000 men.
Southern losses totalled around 1,000.

The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was a
tactical victory for Joseph E. Johnston and the
Army of Tennessee. In the end, though, it
was just another useless slaughter. Some of
Sherman's men found a way around
Johnston's lines and five days later, with the
Federals moving around his left flank,
Johnston was forced to abandon the strong
lines at the mountain and fall back to Smyrna.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
preserves much of the battlefield and is a
remarkable place to visit. It is also a very
busy one.

The park is located in the metro Atlanta area
and the roads around it can be extremely
busy. On weekends it is also a remarkably
popular place for people from the Atlanta
area to come and walk. As a result, the
Visitor Center and mountaintop areas can
become extremely crowded, often with
people who know little about the battle but
who enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The Visitor Center features an outstanding
museum that explores not only the battle, but
the entire Atlanta Campaign. From there
visitors can either drive or hike up to the top
of the mountain which provides spectacular
views of the surrounding area and of the
Atlanta skyline in the distance. Short trails
also lead up Pigeon Hill and along the crest
of Cheatham Hill to the Dead Angle. The log
Kolb House is also on the driving tour.

Please click here for an online tour of
Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield.

To reach the park from I-75, take Exit 269
(Barrett Parkway). From I-75 North turn left
and from I-75 South turn right. Then follow
Barrett for three miles and turn left at the light
onto Old U.S. 41. Follow 41 to the next light
and turn right onto Stilesboro Road. The
Visitor Center will be immediately to your left.

The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30
a.m. to 5 p.m. The battlefield grounds are
open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.  The
Cheatham Hill area is open from 8 a.m. to
7:30 p.m. The battlefield is free to visit.

Please click here to visit the official website
for more information.
The Camouflaged Cannon
Union troops attacking at
Cheatham Hill ran into the
muzzles of two guns that had
been hidden from view.
Battle of Kolb's Farm
The log Kolb House, near
which Hood attacked Union
forces in a preliminary fight, is
the last surviving Civil War
structure on the battlefield.
Visitor Center at Kennesaw
The beginning point for tours
of the park, the Visitor Center
features a museum, film and
Civil War Sites in Georgia