— Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails —
The Western & Atlantic Railroad, running from
Chattanooga to Atlanta, "winds Southeasterly among
the hills, and...penetrates a minor ridge and emerges
from a cut"
recalled a Federal officer. The ruggedness of
Allatoona Pass made it an important location during three
episodes of the Civil War.
The first episode happened on Saturday, April 12,
1862. Federal soldiers, dressed as civilians and led by
civilian James Andrews, stole a locomotive, the
"General," at Big Shanty (present-day Kennesaw),
Georgia, and drove it toward Chattanooga. Known as
"Andrews' Raid," or "The Great Locomotive Chase."
the "raiders" endeavored to pull-up rails, burn bridges
and disrupt Confederate telegraph communications as
they continued north. At Allatoona another railroad
crew, stopped with their train on a sidetrack, looked-on
suspiciously as the "General" passed-by. Unaware of
what was happening they did not try to stop the
raiders. Hotly pursued by other Confederates,
Andrews' raiders were captured just north of Ringgold.
Two years later, on Friday, May 20, 1864, Confederate
General Joseph E. Johnston's army was retreating south
roughly parallel to the railroad, preparing to defend Allatoona
Pass. Johnston hoped Union Major General William T. Sherman's armies would
his army in this stronghold. Yet Sherman, who had worked
in the region as a young army lieutenant twenty years
earlier, knew about the pass. "I therefore knew that the
Allatoona Pass was very strong, would be hard to force,
and resolved not even to attempt it,"
Sherman wrote in
his memoirs. He decided "to turn the position, by moving
from Kingston to Marietta via Dallas."
The flanking of
Allatoona Pass to Dallas, about fifteen miles southwest,
is what Colonel Robert N. Adams, 81st Ohio Volunteer
Infantry Regiment, considered "one of the most adroit and
daring movements of the [Atlanta] campaign."
the fighting around Dallas, Federal
cavalry captured Allatoona Pass unopposed on June
1st. Johnston's army eventually retreated east from
Dallas toward Marietta. Sherman's armies returned to
their railroad "lifeline" and Allatoona Pass became
their fortified forward supply base.
After Atlanta was captured in September 1864 the
Confederate army moved north, hoping their actions
against General Sherman's railroad lifeline would force
him to abandon Atlanta. On Wednesday, October
5th at Allatoona Pass, Confederate
Major General Samuel G. French urged the Federal
garrison commander to surrender, Brigadier General
John M. Corse. Determined
to hold his fortifications, two
fort on a 175-foot-high
embankment, Corse refused.
Over 3,200 Confederates attacked, driving about
2,000 Federals into the star
fort, but no further. French
soon retreated, suffering 897
casualties versus 706 Federal
losses. Union Second
Lieutenant J. Q. Adams, a
signal officer during the battle,
wrote "the loss of the million and
a half of rations...would have
been a great disaster."
Pass, which Sherman called
"one of those formidable (places), which give an army on
the defensive so much advantage"
Federal control. The railroad was relocated in the 1940s
prior to the creation of Lake Allatoona.