The Beginning of the Atlanta Campaign
— Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail —
The city of Tunnel Hill was incorporated in 1848.
The next year the state of Georgia began
construction of a depot in anticipation of the
completion of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
This rail line linked Atlanta to Chattanooga. Yet
before it could be completed a tunnel had to be
carved through nearby Chetoogeta Mountain.
Utilizing slave labor this feat was completed in
October of 1849, and the first train steamed into
Tunnel Hill on May 9, 1850. Today, the depot still
stands nearby, and the old tunnel has become a
popular tourist attraction.
Also visible is the home constructed by Mr.
Clisby Austin, known as the "Clisby Austin
House" or "Meadowlawn." It was built at
approximately the same time as the depot.
Tunnel Hill witnessed several Civil War events,
including the "Great Locomotive Chase" (or
"Andrews Raid) on April 12, 1862. Two
locomotives, the "General," stolen þy Federal
scouts, and the "Texas," used by Southern pursuers,
passed through the tunnel and the town. One of
the crew of the captured "General later wrote,
We kept right on through the tunnel and the
village of Tunnel Hill beyond where we
carefully crouched down to conceal our number
from the curious eyes of any who might be
about the station.
The chase ended north of Ringgold with the
capture of the "General."
On September 11, 1863,
as a Federal army was
moving into Georgia in the
prelude to the battle of
Chickamauga, Union Colonel
John T. Wider's "Lightning
Brigade" of mounted infantry
met Confederate cavalry
south of Ringgold. The
in Southern troopers made a
fighting withdrawal toward Tunnel Hill, during
which their commander, Brigadier General
Nathan Bedford Forrest, was slightly wounded.
At dark the Federals returned to Ringgold.
Following the Confederate
defeat near Chattanooga in
November 1863, Tunnel Hill
lay between the Confederates
in Dalton and the Federals in
Ringgold. On February 23,
1864, elements of two
Federal army corps advanced
upon Confederate cavalry
occupying an advanced
position at Tunnel Hill,
then quickly retired. Their
feint alarmed Confederate
commander General Joseph
E. Johnston sufficiently that
he withdrew an order
sending part of his army to
strengthen opposition to
Union Major General William
T. Sherman's Meridian,
On May 7, 1864, as
Union Major General John
M. Palmer's 14th Corps
advanced on Tunnel Hill,
the first shots of Sherman's
Atlanta Campaign were fired from a Federal
battery on a hill near the Clisby Austin House.
The battery and supporting infantry
town of Confederate cavalry and opened the
door for the Federal armies to move on
Johnston's Confederates at
Dalton. Sherman had
arrived in Tunnel Hill late
that day and used the Clisby
Austin House as his
headquarters until leaving
on May 12 to join the
Federal Army of the
Tennessee near Resaca.
The last skirmish at
Tunnel Hill occurred March
3, 1865, when a squad of
Federal soldiers from the
145th Indiana Infantry were
attacked by Confederate
cavalry led by Major General