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Georgia Natural Wonder #245 - Battle Of Resaca
Georgia Natural Wonder #245 - Battle Of Resaca

We came to Gordon County with our visit to New Echota (GNW #202) the capital of the Cherokee Nation in the Southeast United States from 1825 to their forced removal in the late 1830s. We added a tangent on the history of Gordon County with that earlier post. We found a second Natural Wonder (Sort of) in Gordon County with the Rock Garden (GNW #244) and found we needed three Gordon County History Tangent Post so we could capture the 75 Historical Markers and Monuments of Gordon County. Well, we featured Civil War Battles and other Battles in Georgia as earlier Georgia Natural Wonders. This will be our 53rd time. We covered all the times Georgia has had military battles in it's history with Georgia Natural Wonder #218 - Battle of Fort Peter. We have 109 so far with 39 more that we can identify. Well we come to the most important event in the history of Gordon County, the Civil War Battle of Resaca. 

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The park there now is worthy of both a Historical and Natural Wonder of Georgia.

Battle of Resaca

Union correspondence and troop moments May 13, 1864.

May 13.--2.30 a.m., received a dispatch from General Sherman at Villanow, saying, "Feel the enemy's lines to-night with infantry and cavalry, and, if possible, follow him if he is returning south; also stating that he was at Villanow and would start for McPherson; asking to signal to him the appearances from all points in our possession.  Villanow will be held by Garrard until he gets through. 3 a.m., signaled General Sherman that we felt the enemy at dark; found him in force, about 20,000. 3.30 a.m., sent written order to General McCook; also verbal order by Captain Kirlin to Generals Stanley, Stoneman, and Newton, to satisfy themselves at daylight whether the enemy was yet in their front, and to inform the major-general commanding of the fact. "

Villanow Country Store.

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Still there.

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6.15 a.m., received report from General Stanley stating that the enemy had gone, and he possessed his works at 5 a.m. 6.30, received report from General Hazen that Rocky Face Ridge was evacuated. 

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Buzzards Roost - Rocky Face.

General Stoneman arrived at headquarters at 6. 6.30 a.m., sent Lieutenant Gilbreth to Snake Creek Gap to inform Major-General Sherman of the evacuation of the enemy in our front. As soon as the news of the enemy's retreat was heard Generals Stoneman, Stanley, Newton, and Wood (Wood's division, all save Hazen's brigade) were ordered to push after the enemy at once. General Howard left headquarters at 7 a.m. for Dalton. At 1.30 this a.m. the enemy retreated, going to Resaca, where they intended to fight, so they say. 

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Sherman views town of Resaca.

General Howard reached Dalton at 9 a.m. At once signaled Major-General Sherman that we were in Dalton. Stanley started at this time and met the rear of the enemy's column, and had a slight skirmish. Doctor Heard sent back to order Hazen's brigade up to join Wood's division. 10.40 a.m., General Stanley ordered to push his division forward beyond Dalton toward enemy, and keep General Howard fully advised of his position and condition, and was informed that McCook's cavalry would protect his right flank. 10.50, received dispatch from Stanley, wishing to know which road to take beyond Dalton; replied at Once he would push forward slowly until the cavalry would come up on the Sugar Valley road, watching his right. 

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Resaca Battlefield.

11 a.m., General Newton arrived at Dalton; head of his column just coming into town. 11.20 a.m., General Wood arrived; head of his column just coming into town. 12 midnight, Generals Newton's and Wood's columns passed through town; at same time directed General Newton to leave a regiment to hold the town and protect the depot. 

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Dalton Depot today, Trackside Tavern.

3.45 p.m., General Sherman signaled, "Press the retreat of the enemy with cavalry, supported by infantry, and open signal communication." The command moved from Dalton toward Resaca, on the Sugar Valley road, Stanley leading, then Newton, then Wood. About four miles from Dalton the rear guard of the enemy opened fire with artillery and musketry on the head of our column. He was soon driven back. On this account column was delayed one hour. Marched four miles more, and was met by McCook's cavalry, which had been moving on road to our right; here halted. Stoneman's cavalry moved from Dalton on direct road to Resaca, so as to cover our left. At last halt, eight miles from Dalton, received intelligence that the enemy were in strong line of battle about one mile to our left. Put our forces in line, and sent out skirmishers to develop this fact.

Atlanta Campaign Resaca — May 13-15, 1864

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Marker is at the intersection of Battlefield Parkway (U.S. 41) and Confederate Cemetery Road, on the right when traveling north on Battlefield Parkway. The marker stands at the edge of a pavilion, one of five erected in the 1930s along the route of Sherman's Campaign for Atlanta.

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The stone enclosure for the Resaca Pavilion stands in the background.

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Marker is at the intersection of Hall Memorial Road NW and Hall Road, on the left when traveling south on Hall Memorial Road NW.

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). Marker is on entrance road to Resaca Battlefield Historic Site.

Also ordered Stoneman and McCook to feel the enemy. About dusk McCook came up with the enemy; skirmished until an hour after dark, and reported that the force was cavalry, supported by infantry; said to be Bate's division; went into camp for the night at the place we halted, as just mentioned.6 p.m., Major-General Stoneman reported his position. He came up with the enemy, one brigade of infantry, with artillery, and about 500 cavalry, in too strong position to attack. 8.15 p.m., sent General Sherman word of our position. 10 p.m., ordered division commanders to be ready to move at sunrise tomorrow. Sent word to General Stoneman, at 11 p.m., that McCook would cover our front and left as far as Tilton and Resaca road, leaving to him the Tilton and Resaca road and the country to the left of it. 

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11.15, General Stoneman reports the enemy's rear guard quite strong, of all arms, and that if a night march could be made to Tilton this rear guard could be cut off. 12 midnight, received note from Major-General Sherman, asking to have the railroad repaired to Dalton:

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Move cavalry force forward carefully, supported by infantry; select on south front of Dalton for forts, in case the enemy should turn; have not discovered whether he is at Resaca or not; think he is about Swamp Creek; keep your troops light and feel to the right. Have a good force at the gap of Snake Creek. Tell McCook and Stoneman to strike the retiring wagons of the enemy. McCook's cavalry opened communication with General Sherman at about 7 p.m. to-day. Schofield's left about one mile from our right. Took about 100 prisoners. Day clear and warm. Lost very few men in wounded in skirmish of today. Roads good, but very narrow. Dense woods on either side the latter half of today's march Plenty of water.

Battle Resaca May 13th

When he realized that McPherson had failed to get into Johnston's rear at Resaca, Sherman decided to move most of his massive force through Snake Creek Gap, connect up with the Army of the Tennessee and attempt to defeat Johnston at Resaca. Leaving Major General Oliver O. Howard's IV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland along with Brigadier Edward M. McCook's and Major General George Stoneman's cavalry divisions at Dalton to protect his lines of communication, he succeeded in massing the bulk of his vast force at the mouth of the gap by the morning of May 13.

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Around noon, the Union forces encountered more rigorous resistance from the Confederate cavalry and Scott's brigade of Cantey's (now) division supported by a detached section of artillery. Scott was situated upon the bald hill along the road just west of Camp Creek. 

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The Union force placed some artillery into position to offer counter-battery fire upon the detached artillery Scott had been employing with great effect as McPherson readied his attack upon the hill. This silenced the Confederate battery, inducing its withdrawal. With the picket's driven in by Kilpatrick's cavalry and his artillery forced to withdraw, Scott was able to offer only momentary resistance before retiring back to the Southern works at Resaca proper.

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Marker is on Rooker Road NW, 0.4 miles west of U.S. 41, on the right when traveling west.

Perhaps the best description of the day's battle and particularly of the effect of Union artillery placement on bald hill in the late afternoon of May 13 and upon the hill to the south of it came from Major General Peter J. Osterhaus, commanding Logan's First Division: "The road to Resaca, from the intersection of the Dalton, and Calhoun Ferry road, lends around a series of hills in more or less sudden curves until it strikes Camp Creek, half a mile west of town. Timber and our fields alternate on both sides of the road, which, before reaching the creek, runs through a short gap, formed by narrow crested hills. From these the forts of Resaca are within effective range of rifled ordnance (1,600 to 2,400 yards). On receipt of your order to advance, my skirmishers and sharpshooters opened a lively fire on the rebels occupying a belt of timber in their front. Following up their fire by a steady advance, they soon dislodged the rebels, driving them from every position which the terrain induced them to take, until their rear reached the short gap mentioned above, west of Camp Creek. The eminencies on both sides of the gap were held by a strong line of sharpshooters, and on the hill on the left a two-gun battery had been established behind some light breast-works. As soon as my line debouched from a belt of timber to an open field, separating us from the rebel intrenchments on the line (distance not over 700 yards), the battery opened a brisk fire of spherical case and shell. 

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The conformation of the ground on the right of the road afforded comparatively good cover to my skirmishers and sharpshooters, who not only pushed back the enemy, but succeeded in approaching the position of the battery so as to expose its flank to our fire. While this movement on my right (First Brigade) was being executed, one section of 12-pounder howitzers (Battery F Second Missouri Artillery) was brought into action against the rebel battery with the usual alacrity and skin of this command. They immediately found the range of their opponents, and the enemy very soon had to yield to our superior practice. My skirmishers and line followed the retrograde movement of the rebels, and took possessions of the lines just evacuated by them. The occupation of these ridges giving us a direct artillery fire on the town, the Fourth Ohio Battery was placed in position on the right of the road, while the section of 3-inch ordnance (Battery F, second Missouri Artillery) was brought into action on the foremost crest to the left of the road; the First and Second Infantry Brigades were deployed on the left of the road, their lines conforming to the ridges, so that the bottoms in front, which, as yet, separated us from the fortifications, were exposed to their fire. The skirmishers advanced to Camp Creek, which winds around the base of the hills occupied by us. The Third Brigade was placed in reserve in the open field at the western slope of the hills mentioned. Our artillery opened with vigor and precision, and the consternation in the doomed town became apparent. The greatest commotion existed among the troops, and numerous railroad trains were seen to move southward over the bridge and trestle-work across Oostenaula River. Of course this became the objective point of fire of our long-range guns, and the Fourth Ohio Battery succeeded in landing several shots into the trains. At the eastern extremity of the gap, now occupied by our artillery and infantry, the Resaca road crosses Camp Creek by a bridge. A belt of timber, very dense, swarmed with rebel sharpshooters, who kept up a very well-directed fire, against which our skirmishers were hardly able to make headway, as they were compelled to expose themselves in an open field, while the thicket in front screened the rebel marksmen. Night setting in, artillery and musketry fire both ceased."

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When McPherson topped the bald hill this time he saw a much different landscape than what was presented on May 9. Polk's troops had been busy further fortifying that portion of the battlefield and now the entrenchments looked imposing indeed. More artillery had been placed in tactically important points along the line that had been much improved and extended. What's more, the field of fire was enhanced.

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Johnston had his men well-positioned by that time. They had vacated Dalton during the evening of May 12 - May 13. Since he had already positioned much of his army along the route toward Resaca on the evening of May 9, it didn't take long for his divisions to form up along whatever favorable terrain they could find. With Polk's troops already anchoring his army's left firmly on the Oostanuala River before Resaca proper, Lieutenant General William J. Hardee's corps entrenched on the east side of the Camp Creek valley leading about one mile north at which point Johnston bent his line back forming an angle where Hardee's and Hood's veterans met. Hood was to command the right flank of the Army of Tennessee and was responsible for the line from Hardee's right all the way over to the Conasauga River which protected Johnston's right. This upside down "L" clawed its way into the numerous ridges and angles around Resaca and readied for whatever blows Sherman chose to inflict upon it.

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Johnston hoped to have his new secret weapon ready.

From March 18th, 1864, Sherman led the Military Division of the Mississippi, which was composed of men from three different departments. The largest, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas' Army of the Cumberland, had 72,938 officers and men in three infantry corps. The men in the Fourth and Fourteenth corps were mostly western men, veterans of Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga, The Twentieth Corps was made up of men from the Army of the Potomac who had been transferred to relieve Chattanooga in 1863. Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's Army of the Ohio consisted only of a single corps, the Twenty-third, numbering roughly 12,805 soldiers. Finally Maj. Gen. James McPherson's Army of the Tennessee with its two corps - men who had fought under Grant and Sherman at Shiloh and Vicksburg - numbered 24,380 men. Prior to 1864, all three of these armies had operated independently of one another. Under Sherman's command, however, these three previously independent forces would now operate together with one objective: the capture of Atlanta. 

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After McPherson's Army of the Tennessee failed to cut the railroad on May 9, Sherman ordered his other two armies to march through Snake Creek Gap and take position opposite the Confederate positions around Resaca. Thus, when the Federal forces were engaged on May 14 and 15, it was the first time all three of these armies were united on a single battlefield. 

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Near dawn on May 14th, Sherman ordered Sweeny to cross the Oostanaula River, planning on sending two cavalry divisions behind him once the crossing was completed to destroy the rail line south of Calhoun. He simultaneously ordered a forward movement by the left of his line, thereby distracting the Confederates from Sweeny's activities. Sweeny found Lay's Ferry to be a good crossing place, with Snake Creek emptying into the river about 100 years south of the ferry itself. Sweeny ordered the majority of his men to drive the Confederates away from the ferry, while a smaller force effected the crossing. Faulty intelligence regarding the Confederates' whereabouts caused Sweeny to withdraw for a short time before successfully fording the river on the 15th and establishing a Union presence there.

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Marker is on U.S. 41, 0.2 miles north of Upper Tate Bend Road NW, on the left when traveling north. 

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Located at the Gordon County Justice Center & Sheriffs Office.

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Lay’s Ferry

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Marker is at the intersection of Georgia Route 136 Connector Road and Hall Memorial Road.

Battle of Lay's Ferry

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Marker is at the intersection of Herrington Bend Road and Hunt Road, on the left when traveling north on Herrington Bend Road.

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Confederate Defenses.

When Johnston received word that the Union left flank had no support and was vulnerable to attack, he decided to order an assault, hoping to strike a blow against Sherman. The brigades of Maj. Gen. Carter Stevenson's and Maj. Gen. A.P. Stewart's divisions of Lt. Gen. John B. Hood's corps were joined by a few units from the Confederate left and attacked it in the early evening on the 14th. They were able to overrun the Union trench line, sending its occupants fleeing form the charge, but were soon stopped short by a Union six-gun battery under Capt. Peter Simonson. The confederate forces attempted to break through the guns three subsequent times, but finally withdrew when Federal reinforcements arrived and drove them back.

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Our line was coming into position about 1 p.m., center of line about four miles from Resaca. At 1 p.m. sent word to Wood to advance, pushing out his skirmishers well. Stanley, who reported his command near by, was at the same time instructed to advance as General Wood advanced. Newton was now advancing on left of Schofield, and Wood was instructed to move to right oblique and close up on him. 1.10, General Cox, of Twenty-third Corps, got into line. 1.15, Stanley joined on Wood and Wood on Newton. Lines now advanced and heavy skirmishing with the enemy commenced. 

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The line of battle was formed in rolling country, with occasional cleared fields, but we had not advanced more than 300 yards when we came into a wilderness, through which it was almost impossible to pass. Added to the dense forest and undergrowth were steep, narrow ridges, running perpendicular to Resaca. It was almost impossible to move the troops in line through this country. Our advance was very slow, owing to the natural obstacles the country offered and the heavy fire of the enemy. General Schofield drove the enemy out of the first line of rifle-pits in his front. Colonel Harker's brigade, of Newton's division, occupied the first line of the enemy's rifle-pits in his front and he still holds them. General Hazen drove the enemy out of two lines of rifle-pits in his front and occupied them, still holding them, and General Stanley drove the enemy in his front. These rifle-pits were occupied by Harker at --p.m. and Hazen at -- p.m. Harker's brigade was relieved by part of Colonel Sherman's. Our lines now became so contracted that Newton could only operate part of one brigade at a time in front, the rest being in reserve, and Hazen's, Wood's and Willich's brigades, Beatty's being in reserve, and Stanley's, Whitaker's, and Grose's, Cruft's being in reserve. 

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Stanley's left, the left of our line and the extreme left of this army, now rested on the direct road from Dalton to Resaca. There was much danger of its being turned by the enemy, and a battery was placed in position, supported by part of Cruft's brigade, to repel a flank attack which might be made at this point. At about 5 p.m. General Stanley reported a heavy column of the enemy moving around to his left. Support was asked for, and General Thomas at once sent to this point General Williams' division, of Hooker's corps. This division arrived just in time to drive the enemy back, as he was already driving away the support to the battery. He was handsomely repulsed. This was about sundown. Afterward Hooker's corps was moved into position on our left, having been transferred from a position on the right of our army. Thus matters stood at dark. We had gained considerable advantage, and were now pressing the enemy on all sides. At 10 p.m. sent General Thomas a report of our situation and the result of the day's work. In accordance with instructions, breast-works were thrown up along our front, on the ridges we occupied at dark, before morning. Three hundred and fifty-two wounded; about 50 killed. The day was clear and warm.

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"Early on the morning of the 14th Cleburne, on foot reconnoitered the ground in his front, going across the valley to the edge of the stream (Camp Creek), a hazardous and imprudent thing, as the hill beyond the stream was heavily wooded, and soon afterwards occupied by the enemy, who immediately opened upon Cleburne's command a heavy fire. In the afternoon they made several attempts to charge across the open level ground, but uniformly without success, notwithstanding one of their commanders was heard to appeal to his men and incite them by saying, 'You are the men who scaled Missionary Ridge, and you can carry this!' But all to no effect, for they were then confronting the men who repelled every assault upon the part of the line held by them in battle. His men would advance a short distance into the open and quickly recoiled under the fire of Cleburne's veterans."

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Marker is on Chitwood Road NE, 0.3 miles east of U.S. 41, on the left when traveling east.

West Side of May 14th Battle

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There are two Markers side by side. This one covers 13th and 14th action.

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Marker is at the intersection of Fain Brown Road NW and Resaca-Lafayette Road NW (Georgia Route 136), on the left when traveling north on Fain Brown Road NW.

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Polk's Line Withdrawn to Resaca Marker (seen on the left). In 2nd picture, the marker has been removed. The pole stands next to a "Battle of Resaca" marker.

103rd O.V.I.

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Marker can be reached from the intersection of Resaca Lafayette Road NW (Georgia Route 136) and Worley Road, on the right when traveling west. Located at the Resaca Battlefield Historic Site.

123rd New York Infantry - The Washington County Regiment — Col. Archibald L. McDougall, Commanding

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Memorial is on Chitwood Road NE, 0.4 miles east of U.S. 41, on the right when traveling east.

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It was more difficult for Bate's men, especially on the portion of the line held by the famous "Orphan Brigade." This veteran unit was so named because it was composed of Confederate regiments raised in Kentucky early in the war. Since Union forces controlled their state for practically the entire war the troops felt themselves "orphaned." These men served as the "point" of the angle of the Confederate line as it shifted from along Camp Creek back to the east. 

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This meant that this brigade was not only faced with Judah's assault, but that of Cox's division as well. After repulsing Judah, the fighting intensified against Cox. A history of the brigade tells the story: "The Federals attacked repeatedly. 'Column after column came down in full view, and moved right toward us,' wrote an Orphan. Some of the enemy got within seventy-five yards of their line before (the brigade) opened up. 'It was harvest time with the Orphan Brigade,' said one, 'and every available contrivance was used for reaping the field before us. The fighting became so intense that when John Gordon of Company D, 4th Kentucky, fell dead, his comrades spent the rest of the day stepping over him in the melee. Only with nightfall could someone find time to take him from his place in the line. The new corps of sharpshooters operated…somewhat in advance. 'Their terrible rifles soon attracted the fury of the Federal artillerymen,' wrote an Orphan of the 4th. Before the day was out, half of the elite marksmen lay dead or wounded. Yet others, in the midst of this terrible holocaust, found time to admire pityingly a little kitten caught between the battle lines and crying in its terror. Finally, (a gunner) jumped the earthworks and ran forward to grasp the cat and return it safely. Thereafter the tortoise tabby was a familiar sight perched on his friend the gunner's shoulder or astride a caisson. In honor of the occasion the Orphans named it 'Resaca'."

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Orphan Brigade on this ridge West right by I-75.

A little after 3 p. m. General Harker's brigade, of Stanley's division, Fourth Corps, advanced under a galling fire of all arms to relieve the Second Brigade, and while preparing to effect the change Brigadier-General Manson was severely injured by concussion of a shell exploding near him, and was carried off the field."

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 Cox officially reported his losses in the attack as 562 killed, wounded, and captured. Judah's division lost over 700 men. So, the Union forces sustained more than 1,300 casualties (counting those of Palmer's and Howard's supporting corps) in about two hours of fighting. With this repulse, Johnston began to turn his thoughts toward possibly taking the offensive himself with the idea of cutting Sherman's entire force off from Snake Creek Gap and capturing a large portion of the Union armies. Johnston spent most of the morning with Hood and realized from scout reports that Howard's Corps did not extend as far to the east as did the Confederate lines. Therefore, it was possible to execute a turning movement against the Union left flank.

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Back to the East side of Battlefield

Johnston ordered Hood's Corps into action. At 5 p.m. the divisions of Major General Carter L. Stevenson and Major General Alexander P. Stewart, having not encountered any opposition along their respective fronts, advance with the idea of getting behind Howard's Corps. According to Dr. Philip Secrist: "Although the Confederate divisions began the advance almost simultaneously, Stewart's men, having the greater distance to cover, did not succeed in making contact with the enemy." Disorganized by rough terrain and some long-range artillery fire, Stewart halted his division after fifteen or twenty minutes to reorganize his straggling lines… Meanwhile, Stevenson's two brigades, having the shorter distance to cover, made contact with Sherman's exposed flank almost immediately. The attack struck Stanley's right brigade first and broke it. In wild disorder, a race between men in blue and gray began. The flight took Stanley's regiments through a depression where pines served as cover and screen. …the fleeing regiments passed to the left of Captain Peter Simonson's 5th Indiana Battery which was in position atop the hill. A frantic effort was made here to rally the panic-stricken regiments to protect the Federal battery." 

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Captain Simonson's official report describes what happened at this decisive moment: "I ordered the Fifth Indiana to open fire on the enemy, who were advancing in heavy force out of a thick woods, about 800 yards in front, which did not immediately check them as they advanced up the fields, driving our infantry back to and part of it in the rear of the battery, thus leaving the field clear in front and the enemy only about 400 yards distant. A very rapid fire of canister was opened on the advancing foe, which quickly cleared the field, the greater portion of the enemy's troops going into the woods toward our left. The pieces were immediately turned by hand to the left, and spherical case and shell were used, canister being held in readiness in case they gained the hill on our immediate left." 

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Captain Hugh Dilger supervising placement of cannon at the Battle of Resaca, 1864, Adolph Metzner. Courtesy Library of Congress.

They soon appeared on this hill and opened with a heavy volley of musketry, shooting at least twenty feet above the battery. The regiments which were upon the right and left of the battery seeing themselves flanked by a heavy force, immediately withdrew. The distance to the top of the hill was 150 yards. The men themselves, without particular orders, double-shotted the pieces with canister, and maintained the most rapid firing possible. Some few of the rebels reached the road at the foot of the hill, within fifty yards of the battery, but the main body appeared to be greatly disconcerted by the firing, and although their officers could be seen and heard trying to urge them forward, they very quickly put the hill between themselves and the pieces. They made one more endeavor to get over the hill more to our left, but were met in this attack at first by the fire of the battery with canister, and as they turned, by a volley from Robinson's brigade, of Williams' division, of General Hooker's corps, and who immediately charged and drove them clear over the hill out of sight in great confusion."

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West Side Again

Perhaps the most significant development of the day came not from Camp Creek nor the Union left flank but along the front before Resaca proper. Polk's Corps had been skirmishing with McPherson's all day there. At 5:30 p.m. McPherson was ordered to launch a full-scale attack on Polk. This was done to prevent Polk from sending any troops northward to aid in Hood's attack or perhaps to exploit any thinning of the Southern line if the Army of Tennessee had already sent men north. 

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A great deal more was accomplished, however, as summarized by Bill Scaife: "…Charles R. Woods' 1st Brigade pushed across the creek, the 26th Iowa Regiment in advance and the 12th Missouri Regiment protecting the flank. Woods was supported on the right by Giles A. Smith's 1st Brigade of Morgan L. Smith's 2nd Division - the with 57th Ohio, under the command of Colonel Americus V. Rice, leading the skirmishers. Encouraged by thousands of 'hurrahs' from Logan's XV Corps on the hills to their rear, Woods' and Smith's men ascended the slope and established a lodgement before dark. By daylight on May 15, Logan's troops had secured the position, while Polk reformed his Confederate line through the cemetery just west of the railroad, in the very outskirts of Resaca. Since Federal artillery could then command the railroad bridge across over the Oostanaula River, Johnston ordered a new pontoon bridge erected a mile upriver, hopefully out of range of the guns." He also ordered Polk to retake the hills. Three spirited Confederate assaults upon the positions, however, came to nothing. Polk's men retreated and strengthened their lines during the night.

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May 14 ended inconclusively. The main Federal assault of the day was badly mismanaged and soundly repulsed. Ultimately, Judah would be dismissed from command for his part in the debacle. Polk's men have been driven from key positions overlooking Resaca, threatening Johnston's ability to retreat. Meanwhile, on the northern part of the battlefield, Johnston and Hood were encouraged by the destruction wrought upon the exposed Northern left flank. Despite being unable to accomplish all that was hoped for, that evening Johnston ordered the attack be resumed the next day. Soon news would reach him that would cause him to temporarily countermand that order.

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On the morning of May 15th, Stevenson ordered Capt. Maximillian Van Den Corput's "Cherokee Battery" of four Napoleons to be placed in front of the Confederate line. Though dangerous, this placement ensured that the artillerymen would have clear lines of sight. The Confederates places the guns in an earthen shelter, but before they were able to connect these pits with their main lines, two Union regiments, one, the 70th Indiana, led by future U.S. president Benjamin Harrison, attacked. It was a dangerous mission. Harrison and his troops advanced on the enemy's earthworks "whose strength, and even exact location, was only revealed by the line of fire which, with fearful destructiveness, was belched upon our advancing column." 

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After entering and overtaking the Rebel soldiers, the Union troops, including Harrison, were forced to withdraw back down the slope due to heavy Rebel fire, leaving the guns of Van Den Corput's battery in no man's land between Union and Confederate lines. Neither side was able to reclaim the battery as 3 p.m. saw heavy skirmishes and artillery dueling that kept both forces pinned down. 

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 Future President Benjamin Harrison leading charge.

As Stevenson reported, the battery ended up in no man's land between the two forces. During the afternoon, the Northerners sent three different brigades forward in an attempt to capture and hold the four 12-pound Napoleon guns. They included an enthusiastic charge by the 70th Indiana under the command of Colonel Benjamin Harrison, future president of the United States. The first two attacks fail completely. As Castel put it: "Taking the cannon is one thing; keeping them is another. From the top of the hill and both flanks the Confederate infantry - tough Tennesseans of Brown's Brigade of Stevenson's Division - pour volley after volley into the presumptuous Federals, who scramble bank over the embankment and seek shelter on the other side." The final attempt was made by Colonel David Ireland's of Geary's division who "does not even try to reach the battery: instead it lies down fifteen yards away and opens fire on the enemy breastworks atop the hill, inflicting few casualties but forestalling an attempt by the Confederates to retrieve the guns. 'Come on - take those guns!' taunts Brown's Tennesseans. 'Come and take 'em yourselves!' the Federals yell back."

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"…Corput's battery became the scene of a holocaust," states Phil Secrist, "produced by the simultaneously advancing and constantly reinforcing columns of blue and gray. Colors were planted near the guns time and again, then lost and recovered as the outcome of the bitterly fought contest for the guns remained in doubt. Sergeant Frederick Hess, color bearer for the 129th Illinois of Butterfield's division, chagrined to hear the shrill triumphant cry of the Confederates, at once unfurled his flag, swinging it toward them in defiance. He instantly fell, but other hands grasped the flag, and it came back only to return and wave from the very spot where its former bearer fell."

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Generals Hazen and Willich, of Wood's division, stormed the enemy's works in their front, but the force of the enemy was so strong, and the direct and enfilading fire of artillery prevented them from holding the enemy's lines which they took. The demonstration had the effect to hold the enemy in our front, and to prevent him from massing in front of General Hooker. At this time General Whitaker's brigade, of Stanley's division, was in the rear of Hooker, waiting orders to advance, while Schofield's command was acting as an immediate support. 2.50 p.m., General Hooker sent word that he did not wish us to do anything more than to open artillery on the enemy. At same time seat word to General Hooker, by Lieutenant Gilbreth, that it would be done, and offered to afford any assistance General Hooker might call for. 4.40 p.m., in accordance with orders received from General Thomas, Generals Stanley, Newton, and Wood were ordered to press their skirmishers. This was done, and fire continued along our line until dark. 

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Marker is on Chitwood Road, ¾ mile east of Dixie Road (U.S. 41), on the left when traveling east. Two Battle of Resaca Markers at US 41 and Chitwood Road.

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This is second Marker beside first. Marker is at the intersection of Chitwood Road NE and U.S. 41, on the left when traveling east on Chitwood Road NE. Markers on north side of Chitwood Road NE.

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Marker is at the intersection of Chitwood Road NE and U.S. 41, on the left when traveling east on Chitwood Road NE. All these 14th - 15th Markers are right together.

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There was scarcely any cessation of fire along our whole line, in fact, from daylight until dark. General Hooker secured a good lodgment on the ridge opposite our left, but was unable to pursue, on account of heavy works and masses of the enemy's troops. The enemy's sharpshooters' fire very accurate and severe, and many men were killed and wounded along our lines by them. We kept up a fire of artillery all night and also of skirmishers. About 11 p.m. General Newton's skirmishers pressed up to the enemy's works to find out whether the forces in our front were retreating. Found them there in force, and they fell back under a very heavy fire. The enemy also charged our lines in Newton's front during the night and were repulsed. Our losses during the day about--. Day clear and warm.

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After dark, Union Brig. Gen. John Geary ordered troops to sneak forward, digging through the earthworks, and drag all four guns back to the Union line. The successful capture of Van Den Corput's pieces made the Cherokee Battery the only artillery lost by Johnston's army during the Atlanta Campaign.

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Geary digging the Cherokee guns out .

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Two photos showing present day location Cherokee battery.

During the Battle of Resaca, Sherman's Union troops suffered great casualties, inflicted comparably few on Confederate troops, and did not gain any meaningful ground during the fighting. The fighting, however poor the result for the Union armies, did, however, attain its goal in distracting Johnston and his troops from the Union's attempts to cross the Oostanaula River at Lay's Ferry. Once Sweeny and his division crossed, making way for reinforcements, it would only have been a matter of time before Johnston's supply line at Resaca was cut. 

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Though the Confederate line could have help against the attacking Federals, they could not do it without supplies. After receiving reports of the crossing, Johnston was finally forced to withdraw. In the late afternoon of the 15th of May, Confederate troops began to pull back, though some skirmishers remained, firing guns and making enough noise so Union forces would not suspect a retreat. By 3:30 a.m. on the 16th, Johnston had withdrawn from Resaca and Confederates had set fire to the rail line.

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Wagon Train Passing Resaca at Night.

The summer of 1864 saw fierce fighting on two fronts: the Eastern and Western theatres. The casualties in the Easter theatre were catastrophically high: the Battle at Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia between May 8-21 totaled 30,000 casualties, while the Battle of the Wilderness between May 5-7 was nearly as high at 29,800. Resaca's number of combined casualties is comparatively low, with a total of 5,547 (2,747 Union, 2,800 Confederate). Compared to other battles in the Western theatre during the summer of 1864, however, Resaca is actually one of the highest, second only to the Battle of Atlanta which totaled 9,141 casualties. Other battles during the Atlanta Campaign, like Kennesaw Mountain, Jonesborough, or New Hope Church, do not even come close to Resaca's total, with their casualties estimated at 4,000, 3,149, and 2,015 respectively. Though not always considered one of the more significant battles of the Civil War, these figures - and the accounts of the battle themselves - demonstrate how devastating and strategically important the Battle of Resaca truly was.

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Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Resaca Beach Boulevard (Georgia Route 136), on the right when traveling north on U.S. 41.

Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site

Though much of the historical landscape - including the site of most of the Confederate earthworks - have been destroyed by modern day I-75, the Civil War Trust and its partners have been able to save a significant amount of important land at Resaca. 

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From 1998 to 2000, the Georgia Battlefields Associations, working in concert with Friends of Resaca Battlefield, worked to purchase 505 acres of the Camp Creek valley that have since become a state battlefield park. Another 65 acres were purchased by Gordon County in 2003, where Fort Wayne, built by Confederates to guard the bridges over the Oostanaula River and later improved by Federals in the summer of 1864, originally stood. Finally, in March of 2011, with great effort on the part of the Civil War Trust and their partners (in this case, the Trust for Public Land, the American Battlefield Protection Program, and the Gordon County government), 483 acres of land east of I-75, along the Confederate right line - including the site of Van Den Corput's battery - were also able to be saved.

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Now I tried to place all these Markers in chronological order of battle and left them supersized so you can read them.

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on the near the comfort station at the end of the Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site entrance road.

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This Marker and the below Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136).

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Marker can also be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136) as it is right next to above Marker. 

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Both these Markers are at southern Red Battlefield Trailhead along entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

The Road to Resaca

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136).

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Marker is on entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Resaca — A Defensible Position

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Marker is on the entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site. 

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Marker is in the center.

Dancers in the Red Clay Minuet

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on the Loop Trail on the west side of the entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Hooker's XX Corps Moves North — Battle of Resaca — May 13th 14th

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Marker can be reached from the intersection of Resaca Lafayette Road NW (Georgia Route 136) and Worley Road, on the right when traveling west. 

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Located at the Resaca Battlefield Historic Site.

Logan's XV Corps to the South - May 13th still

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Damaged Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136).

Text since Marker hard to read.

The battle of Resaca began near the southern portion of the battlefield on 7 May. The previous day, Col. J.W. Sprague's Brigade (Brig. Gen. Dodge's XVI Corps) secured Shipp's Gap in Taylor's Ridge allowing the Army of the Tennessee to enter Snake Creek Gap. On the 9th, Major Gen. McPherson ordered Dodge to advance at 6:00 a.m. toward Resaca, still about 8 miles to the east. Reinforced by the 66th Illinois — Birge's Western Sharpshooters — the Federal line drove the Rebels back toward the town some 7 miles, With the lightly defended railroad in sight, Dodge was ordered back by McPherson to the gap, the same 7 miles he just covered. Resaca would have easily fallen to Federal forces had they proceeded as it was defended by only 4,000 inexperienced Rebel troops. The next few rainy days were filled with marching and skirmishes all along Rocky Face Ridge, while Johnston moved troops to Resaca to take up and reinforce positions along that ridge.

Lafayette-Resaca Road ran through a short gap of hills, west of Camp Creek, about a mile from Resaca. It was here that Dodge and Logan's XV Corps (McPherson's Army of the Tennessee)
established their line on 13 May. Their sight rested on the Oostanaula River. The rest of Sherman's forces still formed to the north. Across Camp Creek, about halfway to Resaca, lay Leonidas Polk's Corps of Confederates with Scott's Brigade of Loring's Division. Supported by a two-gun battery, Scott's Brigade lay forward establishing an advanced skirmish line. At about 1:00 p.m., supported by artillery, Wood's Brigade countered the attack. Again, the 66th Illinois armed with Henry 16-shot repeating rifles participated in this easement. Following several hours of heavy fighting, Scott's Brigade retired across Camp Creek, rejoining Polk's line.

Following a day of skirmishes at this point in the line, heavy fighting occurred again at about 5:00 p.m. on 14 May. Encouraged by thousands of "hurrahs" from Logan's XV Corps stationed along the hills to their rear, Wood's and Smith's brigades took the lead and pushed Rebel forces back, overtaking their fortified position. Passing over the creek and low-lying areas on a small bridge and fallen logs, the Yankees advanced. Capt. Charles Miller (76th Ohio) wrote, "dead trees were cut off by cannon balls and came crashing down about our heads." The storming columns took the entrenchments forcing the Confederates back toward Resaca. Polk reformed just west of the railroad along the outskirts of Resaca.

Johnston ordered Polk to retake the hills. Yet, three spirited Confederate assaults that continued in the failing light of dusk until about 10.00 p.m. failed. Logan's losses numbered more than 600 men killed, wounded, or missing.

Major Gen. Grenville M. Dodge's advance on 7 May reached the "bald hill" directly in front of this position after meeting and advancing on Confederate cavalry in Snake Creek Gap. The 66th Illinois — Birge's Western Sharpshooters with 16-shot Henry repeating rifles — drove "the enemy like sheep before them" over the seven-mile advance to the vicinity of Resaca.

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Marker is on the Loop Trail on the west side of the entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Site of Action — Carlin's Brigade - May 14th

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Marker is on Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on the Loop Trail on the west side of the entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Site of Action — Judah's Division - May 14th

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is along a circular path near the pavilion at the end of Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site's entrance road.

South Toward Atlanta - May 15th

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on the Loop Trail on the west side of the entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Stories from the Wild Hills of Resaca

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is along circular path near the pavilion at the end of Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site's entrance road.

Now all along the historical walk along the Battle Lines are all these markers Just For Kids!

Did You Know That Both Sides Used Red, White and Blue Flags?

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on the circular trail near the comfort station at end of Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site's entrance road.

Enduring the Battle of Resaca

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is along circular walkway near the pavilion at the end of Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site's entrance road.  

How to Tell the Yankees from the Rebels!

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is on the Loop Trail on the west side of the entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Civil War Fighting Men

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). Marker is at south Red Battlefield Trailhead along entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Why Fight at Resaca?

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is at the southern Red Battlefield Trailhead on Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site's entrance road.

Picturing a 19th-century Battle

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136).

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Marker is on the circular trail near the pavilion at the end of Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site's entrance road.

Resaca's Fort Wayne

Recently there has been rediscovered a significantly preserved set of earthworks that has been turned into a county park today. Gordon County's Fort Wayne Civil War Historic Site is located in Resaca on SR 136, 1 mile east of I-75 Exit 320 at the intersection of SR 136 and Taylor Ridge Road.  A fortified area at Resaca used by both Confederate and Federal troops.

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Resaca's Confederate Cemetery / Resaca's Fort Wayne

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Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road Northwest (Georgia Route 136). 

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Marker is at southern Red Battlefield Trailhead along entrance road to Resaca Battlefield State Historic Site.

Fort Wayne is located on a hill overlooking Resaca and the bridge at the Oostanaula River. It consists of an artillery battery position, a full-fledged redoubt, and numerous entrenchments. It is positioned on 65 acres of property preserved by the Friends of Resaca Battlefield, Inc. on conjuncton with the Gordon County Board of Commissioners in late 2003.

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Fort Wayne was originally a Confederate training camp and staging area in 1862. By May 1864, southern forces had built numerous trenches and placed an artillery battery there. After the Battle of Resaca, Federal troops fortified the hill more heavily, constructing a large redoubt circled by a double line of earthworks. Federal forces continued to occupy the position until 1868, three years after the war ended.

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One of the primary historic features of Fort Wayne are these trenches constructed by the Georgia Militia - the only remaining entrenchments constructed by the Militia known to still exist. All the rest has been destroyed by development.

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Enhancement of the previous image outlining the Georgia Milita's trenchline.

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Facing South: The main wall of the federal redoubt at Fort Wayne.

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Facing East: Trenchline at the base of the redoubt.

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Facing East: Trenchline at the base of the redoubt (enhanced).

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Facing South: Trenchline at the base of the redoubt's west side, regular and (enhanced).

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Facing North: A panoramic view of the redoubt. Federal artillery was positioned here after the Battle of Resaca.

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Facing North: A panoramic view of the redoubt (enhanced).

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28th Georgia Monument at the Fort Wayne Civil War Historic Site in Resaca, Georgia.

Whew! That took over a month. I took my old research and images and combined them with the 75 Historical Markers for Gordon County. Well I got my first image too large for this new Forum. I culled out the Markers specifically for the Battle of Resaca and tried to insert the relevant ones in chronological order from my earlier work. I am creating a 4th Natural Wonder for Gordon County to actually present the remaining Markers as we found two sites that combine for a 4th Gordon County Natural Wonder. So we end today's post with some GNW Gals who are Civil War reenactment gals.

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