Battle of Resaca (May 13th-15th, 1864)

At Resaca, 110,000 Union troops under William Tecumsah Sherman fought against 60,000 Rebel soldiers under General Joseph E. Johnston for two days (May 14 & 15, 1864) in what would be the first major battle of the Atlanta Campaign. The Atlanta Campaign was General Sherman's strategy to take Atlanta and not only destroy the city but the morale and will of the Confederacy. While the battle was indecisive, for the most part it would change Sherman's tactics for the remainder of the campaign, as he would for the most part fight a more tactical campaign rather than use his dominate numbers to go straight after Johnston's men. In fact, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain later in the campaign would be the last time that Sherman ordered a frontal attack on Johnston's men, as he began to try to flank and counter Johnston's moves which still let him take advantage of his numbers. At Resaca, Johnston's men were dug in a fish-hook shaped line.

Sherman sent General McPherson through Snake Creek gap to strike a blow to the Confederate left. McPherson had an opportunity to strike a crushing blow early agains the Confederate left, but he was overly cautious on two occassions failing to take advantage of his numbers and the undefended Snake Creek gap. Sherman would later tell McPherson, "Well, Mac, you have missed the opportunity of your life." On the 15th General Hooker bungled an attack against Confederate General Hood's forces, again gaining nothing but casualties for both armies. Seeing that continued defense of Resaca was going to be impossible because of the Union's position on his left flank, Johnston ordered a withdrawl the evening of the 15th. Wth covering fire by Confederate picketts the Union awoke on the 16th to see the Rebel works abandoned as Johnston retreated toward Atlanta.

Casulaty figures for Resaca vary greatly depending on who you read. Sherman began giving monthly figure instead of daily ones, but the Federals lost at least 3,500 men and maybe as many as 6,800. Confederate lost at least 2,600 and maybe as many as 5,200. You really should read the information below about this battle as it is hard for me to describe here in short form. For me, sleeping on the same spot as a soldier did 147 years ago that Civil War Trust and others are trying to protect, walking the ground with my dad and people who are working to keep the history alive and watching the reenactment will make this one of the battles that I most remember and study.