Battles Listed on the Carroll County Civil War Monument
by W.H. Sparboe
The vertical shaft of the Carroll County Civil War Monument bears the names of twelve battles in raised letters: Atlanta, Chickamauga, Corinth, Donelson, Gettysburg, Hatchee, Nashville, Resaca, Shiloh, Stone River, Vicksburg, and Wilderness.
There are some surprising omissions from this list of battles. Other than the omission of the Battle of Franklin, the Western Theater is well covered, as would have been expected since most of the men from Carroll County fought in this theater.
In the Eastern Theater, however, it is strange that no mention is made of the two Battles of Bull Run, or of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Cold Harbor, Spottsylvania, the battles around Petersburg, or any fought during the Peninsular Campaign.
Several of the battles listed were not all that important, including Resaca, Hatchee, and Corinth. It is likely that a committee of Carroll County veterans was responsible for selecting the battles to be remembered on the monument. Perhaps these men had fought in the twelve and so wanted them to have special prominence, although there was space to have listed more battles. There is no apparent order in the way the battles are listed on the monument.
On the Northeast face are listed, from top to bottom, the battles of Resaca, Hatchee, and Chickamauga.
The Battle of Resaca was fought from 13-18 May 1864 between the Union forces of William T. Sherman and the Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by Joseph E. Johnston. The town of Resaca lies some 80 miles northwest of Atlanta along the vital railroad line to Chattanooga.
Following the amazing Union victory at Missionary Ridge, near Chattanooga, Braxton Bragg, who commanded the Confederate Army of Tennessee, was forced to retreat to Dalton, Georgia, where he was replaced by “Fighting Joe” Johnston.
U.S. Grant, who had been at Chattanooga in overall command to the Western Theater, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and moved east to Washington and the Army of the Potomac.
Sherman was left behind in Chattanooga in over-all command with orders to attack Johnston’s army and inflict all possible damage on the Confederacy. He commanded some 100,000 men. While Sherman advanced in the west, Grant would attack Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Atlanta was Sherman’s natural target since Johnston would have to defend this vital Southern city and so the Union advance, naturally, followed the railroad line from Chattanooga to Atlanta.
The campaign for Atlanta resembles a formalized dance. Johnston would find a good defensive position astride the railroad, skillfully entrench, and wait for Sherman to attack. Sherman would then advance, determine the strength of the Confederate position, and send James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee around Johnston’s flank to menace Johnston’s rear. This movement would force Johnston to withdraw to yet another defensive position and the whole process would be repeated, albeit closer to Atlanta.
After withdrawing from Dalton, Johnston established a new line near Resaca. On the 14th Sherman ordered an attack along the entire Confederate line, which was easily repulsed. So, encouraged by his success, Johnston ordered a counterattack on the 15th. But when he learned that McPherson was threatening his rear he had no choice but to withdraw to Dallas.
“ Hatchee” is a real question mark. Neither Shelby Foote’s The Civil War, A Narrative, or Mark Boatner’s The Civil War Dictionary mentions this name. There is a “Hatchie” River that played a small role in the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads and a “Tallahatchie” River in northern Mississippi where a minor engagement was fought with Nathan Bedford Forrest. Another possibility is that the name is a misspelling for the Hatchie River which, saw a skirmish between Union General Ord and Confederate General Van Dorn as the latter was retreating from the Battle of Corinth on 5 October 1862.
The battle of Chickamauga was a major Confederate victory that followed a brilliant campaign by Union General Rosecrans as he maneuvered General Braxton Bragg and the Army of Tennessee out of Tennessee and into northern Georgia. Chickamauga Creek is some eight miles southeast of the vital railroad junction of Chattanooga and was the scene of some of the most savage fighting of the entire war.
Rosecrans had divided his army into several columns as he attempted to trap Bragg’s troops, who, he believed, were in headlong retreat. His overconfidence cost him dearly and nearly destroyed the Army of the Cumberland when Bragg suddenly turned and attacked the Union army. In the nick of time, Rosecrans managed to concentrate his scattered forces along Chickamauga Creek. Most scholars agree that Bragg had a chance to destroy the entire invading Northern army. Chickamauga was an undeniable victory for the South, but errors by Bragg and his subordinates and hard fighting by Union troops under George Thomas prevented it from being a complete disaster.
After some preliminary skirmishing, the main battle began on 20 September 1863 with Bragg attacking and Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland fighting on the defensive. Due to a tragic series of mistakes, a Union commander withdrew his unit from the center of the battle line just as James Longstreet’s Corps, sent west from Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, made a smashing attack where the Union troops had been withdrawn. The Northern battle line was shattered and most soldiers, including Rosecrans, believed that a quick retreat to Chattanooga was the only hope of avoiding a catastrophe.
However, George Thomas and his 14th Corps were solidly entrenched in a position on high ground at the north end of the Yankee line known as Snodgrass Hill. Here Thomas, aided later by Gordon Granger’s division who, with no orders, “marched to the sound of the guns”, fought a heroic battle that only ended at dark when they followed the rest of the Army of the Cumberland into Chattanooga. Thomas and his 14th Corps were known forever afterwards as the “Rock of Chickamauga”.
This battle is one of the very few battles in the Civil War where the Confederates enjoyed an advantage in numbers. Bragg took some 66,000 men into battle and lost over 18,000. Rosecrans had over 58,000 men and lost over 16,000. Both casualty figures equal 28%, high by any military standards.
The monument’s northwest face lists the battles of Corinth, Vicksburg, and Wilderness.
The Battle of Corinth took place on 3-4 October 1862 in an important railroad center located in northeast Mississippi a few dozen miles southwest of Shiloh. Confederate General Earl Van Dorn decided to attack Union General Rosecrans at Corinth, because he thought he outnumbered him. He did not! While the typically slashing Southern attack at first gained some ground, the Union forces finally forced the Confederates to break off the battle. Unusually fierce fighting took place at Battery Robinett, a small Federal earthen fort roughly the size of a basketball court. Out of a total of 43,000 men involved on both sides, total casualties (killed, wounded, missing) were nearly 7,000.
Vicksburg, Mississippi was the scene of a nine-month campaign that ultimately resulted in the capture of this vital fortress on the Mississippi River. The loss of Vicksburg was an intolerable loss to the South since it was the last major fortress preventing the North from using this greatest of American rivers. Its capture by U.S. Grant added to his fame and severed the last link between the main body of the Confederacy and the important trans-Mississippi states.
For months Lincoln had been pressing his generals to capture Vicksburg and thus allow the Midwestern states to once again use the river for the cheap transportation of farm produce instead of having to utilize the expensive railroads.
Vicksburg sits atop a ridge of high ground along the east bank of the Mississippi River surrounded by swamps. Grant’s men were on the west bank and during the fall and winter of 1862 they attempted a variety of schemes to get close enough to the city to attack. These plans all failed and probably the wisest course of action would have been for Grant to admit failure and to take his army back north to Memphis and start all over again, this time down the east bank of the great river.
But this admission of failure would have caused political problems, so Grant had to think of something else. What he came up with was a brilliant idea to move below Vicksburg, cross the river, move against Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, and then attack Vicksburg from the east. The problem with this plan was the impossibility of protecting his long supply lines from Confederate attack. He solved this dilemma by cutting loose from his lines of communication and living off the country. His plan was a great success! In a matter of weeks Grant captured Jackson, easily defeated the southern forces in the area, and forced the Confederates to retreat into the lines of the Vicksburg fortress. (It is interesting to speculate that Sherman discovered during this campaign that an army could live off the rich Southern countryside, because he did much the same during his “March to the Sea”.)
Back on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, Grant was again in communications with the North and was able to receive supplies, although he still had to capture a very formidable fortress defended by excellent troops. The initial Union attacks were bloody failures and so Grant settled down to a siege operation that lasted from 19 May to 4 July 1863 when General Pemberton surrendered the Vicksburg garrison.
Grant was acclaimed a hero and finally, as Lincoln said, “The Father of Waters rolls un-vexed to the sea.” Coming a day after the Northern victory at Gettysburg, these two defeats spelled eventual ruin for the Southern cause.
The Wilderness battle took place from 5 to 7 May 1864 in an area of second-growth timber and meandering creeks along the Rapidan River northwest of Fredericksburg, Virginia. This bloody battle marked the beginning of the final campaign in the eastern theater of the Civil War.
Grant, superior in numbers and equipment, had no desire to fight General R.E. Lee in the difficult terrain of the Wilderness where his advantages would be reduced. For this same reason, of course, Lee was eager to attack his foe there since his scouts knew the area well and the superiority of the Army of the Potomac’s artillery would not count as much in this region of the old Chancellorsville battlefield.
The fighting was savage in the woods and clearing and Grant was, it could be argued, beaten by Lee’s superior generalship. But at the end of the battle when every other Union commander would have retreated, Grant turned south instead of north. Never again would Lee be able to make his brilliant offensive moves. The Army of the Potomac would stay in contact with the Army of Northern Virginia until the war ended at Appomattox Court House nearly a year later.
Out of slightly over 100,000 men, Grant lost nearly 18,000 in the Wilderness. Lee lost only about 7.700 out of 61,000.
The monument’s southeast face lists the battles of Shiloh, Nashville, and Gettysburg.
The Battle of Shiloh, 6-7 April 1862, takes its name from the church southwest of Pittsburg Landing on the west bank of the Tennessee River.
Following the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, which guarded the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in northern Tennessee, Grant hurried his men south up the Tennessee River to attack the important railroad center of Corinth, Mississippi. The best way to get there was to disembark from steamboats at Pittsburg Landing and then march on Corinth. The high ground above the landing was found to be a fine place to camp and soon Grant’s forces were happily ensconced there, utterly oblivious to the impending Confederate attack.
The South simply could not let the state of Tennessee go without a fight since this would imperil their hold on the Mississippi above Memphis and cost them the important industrial center of Nashville. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston resolved to push the Yankee invaders into the river at their backs. “Gentlemen,” he told his staff just prior to the battle, “Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee.” It very nearly happened!
At this point in the war, commanders on both sides believed that putting soldiers into fortifications somehow reduced their fighting spirit. Accordingly, the Federal troops had prepared no defensive positions and were happily boiling coffee and frying bacon in front of their tenths on the lovely Sunday morning of 6 April 1862 when the Confederate host suddenly came yelling out of the woods. One of the hardest-fought battles of the war was underway.
Few men on either side had had much experience before the battle began; this was to change quickly as the massed Confederates were soon driving the disorganized Federals back towards the landing and, many hoped, safety. Grant, somewhat overconfident, was not on the scene initially and when he arrived there wasn’t much need for great leadership; either the men fought or they ran. What saved the day for the Union army was a heroic stand led by General Benjamin Prentiss along a sunken lane that just happened to be lying across the Confederate line of advance. One of these men in the natural defensive position of the “Hornets’ Nest” fired the bullet that killed General Johnston. The loss of their fine general caused confusion in the Southern ranks as P.G.T. Beauregard replaced his fallen commander and tried to re-organize the attackers, some of whom had temporarily left the fight to plunder the rich Union camps.
As daylight faded the Confederate attacks died out. All night long Union reinforcements kept arriving at Pittsburg Landing while Grant and his officers struggled to bring in more ammunition and reorganize the shattered units.
Grant was driven out of his headquarters because it had been turned into a hospital and he could never bear the sight of blood. The little general and his chief subordinate, William T. Sherman, were forced to seek refuge from the rain under a nearby tree. Sherman observed to his friend that they had taken a “hell of a beating” and was ready to propose the possibility that they might have to retreat at daylight. Grant, who was probably smoking a cigar, thought a moment as said, “Yes, but we’ll whip ‘em tomorrow”. And so they did!
The Federals lost over 13.000 out of 62,000 engaged while Confederate losses were 10,000 out of 40,000.
Today Shiloh is among the loveliest of Civil War battlefields. The Peach Orchard has been re-planted and the trees bloom around the anniversary of the battle. The Bloody Pond lies serene now, no longer surrounded by wounded and dying men struggling for one last drink of water while their blood stained its waters.
The Battle of Nashville was fought on 15-16 December 1864 and represents the last major action in the western theater of the war.
Following his victory at Atlanta, Sherman took the Army of the Tennessee off on the celebrated “March to the Sea”. George Thomas went back to Nashville with the Army of the Cumberland and Hood was left wondering what to do with the Confederate Army of Tennessee. He decided that an attack into Tennessee might force Sherman to halt his march through Georgia. Thomas sent Schofield and the Army of the Ohio south of the great Union base at Nashville to below the town of Franklin to delay Hood.
In a brilliant piece of work, Hood got his men behind Schofield and nearly captured his entire army at Spring Hill. But due to terrible leadership and botched communications, Schofield was able to escape and retreat north to Franklin where his men dug-in while the bridge across the Harpeth River was repaired so Schofield could continue his march to Nashville. Hood was in a fury after the inexcusable fiasco at Spring Hill and drove his men directly at the Yankee lines on the southern edge of Franklin.
This attack involved more men than Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, and it was just as doomed. Five Confederate generals gave their lives at Franklin for no good result since Schofield continued his retreat to Nashville. Hood followed with his sadly depleted army and laid siege to Nashville.
On 15 December 1864 Thomas attacked Hood with his Army of the Cumberland, and within a few hours Hood was in full retreat back towards Alabama. Never again would the Army of Tennessee make a major attack.
The losses at the Battle of Nashville were relatively light. Thomas lost 3,000 out of nearly 50,000 engaged while Hood’s losses have been estimated at 6,000 out of 23,000 engaged. It is hard to believe that Hood would attempt to besiege a well-equipped army twice his size in strong fortifications. The results were predictable
Gettysburg, which is the largest battle over fought in the Western Hemisphere, took place from 1-3 July 1863. It was the high-water mark of the Confederacy. When Pickett’s men stumbled back down from their doomed charge, the dream of Southern independence died along with many of her sons on a lovely ridge in the midst of rolling Pennsylvania farmland.
In early May of 1863 R.E. Lee had won a stunning victory in the Wilderness at Chancellorsville. This battle is generally considered to be that great general’s finest battle. It was followed by his worst battle, Gettysburg, only two months later.
The problem the Confederacy faced after the Battle of Chancellorsville was that the Army of the Potomac would eventually be back, re-enforced and re-equipped and Virginia would continue to suffer from the war. And so Lee received permission to invade the North in hopes that a major victory there would convince Northern public opinion that the war could not be won and that the confederacy should be allowed to depart from the Union in peace. In addition, a victory might encourage England and France to recognize the South.
As Lee’s troops crossed the Potomac and into Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Army of the Potomac had its commander, Joe Hooker, replaced by George Meade. But the northern troops kept marching, trying to keep between Lee and Washington, D.C.
Purely by chance, a unit of Lee’s army (Pettigrew’s Brigade) made contact with John Buford’s Union cavalry on the outskirts of a small, Pennsylvania, market town: Gettysburg. (The Confederates were looking for shoes.) This unplanned encounter set the stage for the main battle as both commanders began to rush reinforcements to support their units. (Some ten roads meet in or near Gettysburg so it was a logical place for widely separated units to meet.)
On the first day things went very well for the Confederates as they pushed the outnumbered Yankees through the town and onto the ridge to the south. Union General Winfield Scott Hancock reported to Meade that the army should make a stand at Gettysburg. Meade agreed and ordered his army to take positions along Cemetery Ridge. The Federal positions resembled an upside-down fishhook with the point representing Culp’s Hill to the northeast, the curved part at the cemetery, and the shank of the hook, running south along the ridge to the “eye” of the hook at the Little Round Top.
During the second day of the battle Confederate attacks on either ends of the Yankee line at Culp’s Hill and the Little Round Top failed. Many historians believe that Stonewall Jackson would have succeeded where Ewell failed on the north while the attacks against the Little Round came very close to success.
Meade believed that having failed with attacks on the flanks Lee would hit the center of the line on the third day. This he did, sending Pickett and 15,000 crack infantrymen across an open field straight at the center of the Cemetery Ridge line. The attack failed after savage fighting and thousands of dead and wounded men littered the gentle slope after the Confederates retreated, leaving nineteen regimental colors on the field. The battle was over.
Lee stayed in his position another day to, in part, give his 17-mile-long wagon train of wounded a head start. The suffering of wounded men during the Civil War is beyond modern comprehension.
The Union Army sustained 23,000 casualties out of 88,000 engaged at Gettysburg. Southern losses were 28,000 out of 75,000.
The monument’s southeast face lists Atlanta, Donelson, and Stone River.
The Battle of Atlanta took place on 22 July 1864 when General Sherman tried to surround this major Confederate city to prevent Hood from making a successful retreat. But, ever aggressive, Hood was planning to attack, not to retreat, and he struck McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee on their exposed southern flank. The fierce attack was repulsed with considerable losses. General Grenville Dodge’s 16th Corps was then attacked by Hood with similar results.
Returning to his headquarters after observing Dodge’s successful defense, McPherson was shot and killed by Confederate skirmishers from Pat Cleburne’s division. McPherson’s body was sent through the lines under a flag of truce and Sherman wept over his young friend’s body. McPherson’s fiancé, Emily Hoffman, spent the next year in her room mourning her lost love.
Illinois General John Logan took command of the Army of the Tennessee, following McPherson’s death, and led it to eventual victory. As Logan, a very popular commander, rode down the wavering Union line, then under heavy attack, he shouted to his men, “Will you hold this line for me?” His soldiers reportedly shouted back his nickname: “Black Jack”! (It is probably for this action that he is memorialized in the official State Song of Illinois.)
Northern losses are estimated at 3,700 out of 30,000 engaged; Confederate losses are placed at 8,000 out of nearly 37,000 in action. The fine Southern General, W.J. Hardee, wrote later that the Battle Atlanta was, “one of the most desperate and bloody of the war.”
Fort Donelson guarded the Cumberland River a few miles below the northern border of Tennessee. Its capture, in February of 1862, by U.S Grant was a serious blow to the South.
Roads were very poor throughout most of the U.S. in the 1860’s, but they were especially bad in the rural South. Therefore, deep rivers became vital for the rapid transportation of soldiers and their vast amounts of supplies by steamboats. Realizing this fact, the Confederacy built two forts, Henry and Donelson, to prevent Union forces from using the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to invade the state of Tennessee.
Grant and Naval Commander Foote moved up the Tennessee in early February and laid siege to Fort Henry. But this fort had been poorly located, was nearly flooded, and so was virtually indefensible.
After a short bombardment Ft. Henry surrendered. Grant and Foote then moved their forces ten miles east to Ft. Donelson. Although this position was much stronger than Ft. Henry, the senior Confederate commanders (Floyd and Pillow) were inept and it soon became clear that they could not defend this vital installation for long.
After some hard fighting Pillow and Floyd escaped and General Simon Bolivar Buckner, an old friend of Grant’s, was forced to ask for terms. Grant replied, “No terms except immediate and unconditional surrender can be accepted.” Buckner had no choice but to accept these conditions. (General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry also escaped; he would cause the Union Army vast trouble in the coming years.)
The capture of Ft. Henry and Ft. Donelson meant the loss of much of Tennessee and badly hurt the Southern cause. Since these were the first two major Union victories they made Grant’s name a household word in the North.
The Battle of Stones River was fought from 30 December 1862 to 3 January 1863 on the edge of Murphreesboro, Tennessee. (The monument spells the name “Stone” River.) The battle is an unusual one, as both commanders, Rosecrans for the North and Bragg for the South, planned the same attack: hold with the left and attack on the right.
The initial Confederate attack was very effective and Rosecrans’ was forced far back along the Nashville Pike. At one point the Confederate attack was on the verge of success when it was shattered by the massed fire of 58 Union cannons. Two Illinois regiments distinguished themselves in the battle: the 100th and the 110th.
Although it was initially considered to be a Confederate victory, the fact that Bragg withdrew on the night of January 3-4 marks it as a Southern defeat.
Losses on the Union side were nearly 13,000 out of 41,000 engaged while Bragg lost nearly 12,000 out of 35,000. One of the earliest Civil War monuments is found on the battlefield.