Remembering Pickett’s Mill

Pickett's MillThis past weekend (June 3-5) I was privileged to participate in activities  connected with the 152nd Anniversary of the battle of Pickett’s Mill. I cover the engagement in our new volume in the Emerging  Civil War Series, A Long and Bloody Task: The Atlanta Campaign from Dalton through Kennesaw Mountain to the Chattahoochee River, May 5-July 18, 1864. In our book, Stephen Briggs, Interim Director at Pickett’s Mill, has written a fine appendix explaining the fight.

The battle was fought on May 27, 1864.

Sherman had marched his forces away from the Western & Atlantic Railroad, his supply line, in order to draw Joe Johnston and his army from their strong defensive position at Allatoona Mountain.

As Sherman sidled west, so did the Confederates. Deducing that Sherman was heading toward a key crossroads junction around Dallas (about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta), Johnston drew up a line running eastward from Dallas through New Hope Church. After Hooker’s troops suffered a nasty repulse on the 25th at New Hope in the center of the Rebel line, Sherman ordered his left to probe around the Rebel flank and launch a reconnaissance-in-force. The Union assault of several brigades on the afternoon of the 27th was decisively repulsed by Pat Cleburne’s division. Later, Lt. Ambrose Bierce termed the whole episode, “The Crime at Pickett’s Mill.”

Pickett’s Mill is a Georgia State Historic Site, billed as “one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields in the nation.” And it surely is. The park features 765 acres of walking trails through woods across the battlefield, featuring pristine earthworks constructed by Federal and Confederate troops.

Y’all come on down. The park is open on Fridays and Saturdays (drat that lack of State funding!).

3 Responses to Remembering Pickett’s Mill

  1. I’ve explored Pickett’s Mill several times. A confusing battle, to say the least, and one that left many Federals frustrated with the outcome. Bierce was not alone in his enmity.

  2. While researching for a A History of the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry U.S.: The Boys Who Feared no Noise (2000) I discovered the battle map included in “The Battle of Pickett’s Mill: A Complete Trail Guide” handed out by the Park contained an error. The map showed the 6th Kentucky posted on the far right of Hazen’s second column (and to the immediate right of the 5th Kentucky) at the start of the advance at 4:30 P.M., maintaining this position during the entire attack: the 23rd Kentucky is shown on the far left of the brigade. Cant. Isaac N. Johnston (6th Ky.) states in his book Four Months in Libby that the 6th Kentucky was on the far left of its brigade and the 23rd Kentucky was to its right. “The Battle of Pickett’s Mill ” map is in error. Based on the order of march disclosed in the O. R., the 6th Kentucky was on the far left of the second column and therefore would have been on the far left of the brigade when the second column drifted east during the advance. Moreover, Hazen had paired the 6th and 23rd Kentucky in a battalion and they would have moved side-by-side, not separated by the 5th Kentucky and the 6th Indiana as the map indicates. Other maps in some published articles also have erroneously shown the 6th Kentucky to the right of the 5th Kentucky. I furnished this information to the head Park Ranger but do not know if the maps were ever corrected.

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