May 15, 1864...
"At about 10 p.m. on this day we moved out of our trenches and began our retreat from the blood-dyed hills of Resaca, and not a heart but heaved a sigh of regret at abandoning a spot where we had struggled so hard for thirty-six hours for our common country's cause - a spot consecrated by the life-blood of so many of the best and bravest of our comrades in arms; but as we looked for the last time upon their graves, and knew that the vandal foe would tread upon them on to-morrow (we felt) that they had not fallen in vain."
The Battle of Resaca, fought on May 14-15, 1864, was the first major battle of the Atlanta Campaign. Approximately 105,000 Union and 55,000 Confederate troops clashed in the bloodiest battle of the entire campaign with the exception of the Battle of Atlanta itself. Some 6,000 casualties were incurred.
The Battle is historically significant as it marked a missed opportunity by Union forces to cut off General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee from its line of communications. Equally, it resulted in the repulse of several full-scale attacks by General William T. Sherman's massed armies against the greatly outnumbered Confederates.
The ferocity of the fighting made Sherman hesitant to attack the Southern forces again. Resaca thus set into motion the events of Johnston’s classic “Fabian” strategy of retreat and Sherman’s constant use of flanking actions that have caused the Campaign for Atlanta to be among the most studied military endeavors in world history.
The acreage of the battlefield purchased by carpet mill owner Scott Fletcher in 1998 contains trenches, gun emplacements, and breastworks that were constructed by Confederate troops of General William J. Hardee's Corps. These superbly preserved fortifications are situated in the northeast quadrant of the Fletcher property in a wooded area whose timber rights are owned by the Bowater Land Company. This portion of the Battlefield has now been secured thanks to intense negotiations between the State of Georgia and Mr. Fletcher.
Beginning about 11:30 a.m. on May 14, 1864, Hardee's line was hit in a combined attack by portions of two Union Corps, General John M. Palmer's XIV Corps and General John M. Schofield's XXXIII Corps. The fighting continued for several hours. When it was over, General Schofield's Corps had sustained over 1,200 casualties. General Palmer's forces were involved to a lesser extent in supporting Schofield's right flank and suffered a couple of hundred casualties at most. Confederate killed and wounded probably amounted to about 300.
Afterward, the Northern forces brought up their plentiful artillery and bombarded Hardee's positions for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, fighting continued on other sections of the battlefield not situated on the Fletcher property. On May 15, the battle raged further east until it became known that Sherman had sent a Northern division under General Thomas W. Sweeny to threaten Johnston's communications further south near Calhoun. Johnston ordered a retreat on the evening of May 15 and the battle of Resaca was over.
About one-third of the battle took place on the property purchased by Scott Fletcher.
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