The series on Civil War Forts is wrapping up, and – as usual – we’re collecting all the series’ articles into one post for easy reference in the future. Thank you to all the writers and all the readers and commenters for making this series another one to remember!
We hope you’re inspired to go explore more forts as the spring and summer seasons approach…
Capturing “The Rebel Fort Henry on the Tennessee River” (Sarah Kay Bierle)
Question of the Week – Favorite Forts
Fort Henry Today (Chris Mackowski)
Fury at Fort Harrison (Doug Crenshaw)
Drewry’s Bluff: Tourism on the Front Lines (Bert Dunkerly)
Two Earthen Civil War Forts Still Stand in Maine (Brain Swartz)
Visiting Forts – From the ECW Archives
Fort Fisher in Fiction (Sarah Kay Bierle)
The War Department Tablets of Fort Donelson (Chris Mackowski)
Question of the Week – attack or defend a fort
The Vice President Toted a Rifle at Fort McClary (Brian Swartz)
“The Veritable Fort” – Fort McHenry & The Civil War (Sarah Kay Bierle)
Pensacola’s Advanced Redoubt (Sheritta Bitikofer)
Forts Footage from ECW’s YouTube Page
“Too Heavy To Level Down”: Fort Beauregard in Manassas (Kevin Pawlak)
A Forgotten Fort: Fort Tejon in Lebec, California (Meg Groeling)
Fort Abraham Lincoln: Symbol of Civil War Memory on the North Dakota Prairie (Cecily Nelson Zander)
Star Fort: “It was a hot place” (Sarah Kay Bierle)
Fort Collier: “It Seems Strong and Well Built” (Sarah Kay Bierle)
Ships vs. Forts 1861: Off To The Races (Dwight Hughes)
Fort Jefferson: An Un-Attacked Stronghold (Caroline Davis)
4 Responses to Forts: Conclusion
The Battle of Allatoona Pass, on October 5, 1864, needs also to be mentioned.This is where the Idiom “Hold the Fort” is believed to have started. Allatoona Pass was a stop on the Western & Atlantic Railroad north of Atlanta with a large Union storage facility. Messages were exchanged, using wig wag or hand signals, between General W. T. Sherman on Kennesaw Mountain and General John Corse, the Union Commander at Allatoona Pass. While Sherman denied saying this, it was believed that he signaled “Hold the Fort, we are coming” as the battle began. Shortly after the War, a popular hymn called “Hold the Fort” was written which helped publicize the battle and popularize the use of this idiom.
There were separate earthen forts on each side of the tracks. The Confederates, commanded by General Samuel French, attacked the western fort, only 75 by 60 feet with a 6 foot embankment. It was a fierce fight with many dead and wounded cramped into the fort. French got word that a Union force was marching toward the battle, and, if so, it would have trapped him. He decided to withdraw and the battle was over. The report was not true but he may not have been able to continue the attack as, after marching all night, they were running very low on food, water and ammunition.
The Federals had 2025 soldiers and suffered casualties of 35%. The Confederates attacked with 3276 troops and had a 27% Casualty rate. In the North, this was considered an important victory and was well publicized in the press. It was a month before the 1864 election and, after the victory at Atlanta on September 2, would have been a factor keeping the momentum going for Abraham Lincoln’s re-election in November.
Today, both forts are well preserved and it is worth a stop. There are monuments honoring all of the states, both Union and Confederate, that had regiments in the battle. The location is just off I-75 at Exit 283 about 30 miles north of Atlanta.
For more information, the best source is “Allatoona Pass – A Needless Effusion of Blood”, William R. Scaife, 1995.