Snake Creek Gap, 150 Years Later


The original road to the homesite

150 years ago, a little boy was enjoying a spring morning when soon his brother came riding to the family home, exclaiming that the Yankees were just over the hill and headed toward the family farm, which lay along the road running from the little community of Villanow, Georgia, to Snake Creek Gap. This was the experience of my great grandfather on the morning of May 8, 1864.

With most of his brothers serving in the Confederate Army, he and one older brother now felt the rush of panic as over 23,000 Union soldiers approached their home.

The site of Lee White's family homestead

The site of Lee White’s family homestead

My great-grandfather, William Caiphus White, later told his son of hearing the Battle of Chickamauga raging in September of 1863 and about the day in May of 1864 when the Yankees came—and that son would later tell me those stories. My family now had the war come to their front doorstep as James McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee made its way toward Snake Creek Gap and the unprotected rear of Joe Johnston’s Army of Tennessee’s position at Dalton, Georgia—one of the most controversial episodes of the war in the West. The veterans of Shiloh and Vicksburg passed the White house, getting water from the stream that ran by the family home and flirting with my great great aunts. But the soldiers didn’t linger: the war called them toward the battlefield at Resaca.

I can imagine what it had to have been like for William that day, watching the endless line of men making their way along that dusty road, seeing boys not much older than him—boys that had fought against his brothers—going past his home.

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5 Responses to Snake Creek Gap, 150 Years Later

  1. singleseatfighterpilot says:

    As historically significant to McPherson’s troop movements at the outset of the Atlanta Campaign as is Snake Creek Gap, I have been intrigued by the name of the villiage you mentioned — Villanow. Accepting that others, like Armuchee, had their names given by the indigenous Cherokee, I wonder about the origin of the name Villanow.
    Resaca – an American Civil War battle — named for the town called Resaca, Georgia. Returning soldiers from the war with Mexico are responsible for the naming of this town. They were veterans of the battle of Resaca de la Palma, fought not 150 years ago, but 168 years ago, tomorrow.

    • singleseatfighterpilot says:

      Oops – make that 168 years ago, today!

      • Amanda Warren says:

        That is so interesting!!! I had thought about the strange coincidence of the Resaca name with the battle in 1846, not dreaming that the town was actually named for that battle.

    • Amanda Warren says:

      According to “Georgia Place Names” by Kenneth Krakow, “Villanow” has two possible derivations: (1) It came from the name of a magnificent palace, “Villanow,” described by Jane Porter in her 1803 novel “Thaddeus of Warsaw.” (2) An alternative report suggests that “Mrs. Constantine Wood, mother of Captain J.Y. Wood, proposed the name, saying, ‘It is no longer a hamlet but a village, or village now, i.e., ‘Villanow.'”

      • Robert B. Brooks says:

        Does any one know the exact location of the Contantine Wood’s Homesite in Villanow? There is a place known as Wood;s Gap just east of Cantrell Rd. on Hwy. 136??

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