|Photo by Mark Dolan, June 2010|
In the evening of the 25th, Cleburne moved his division to the right of the line near New Hope Church, where elements of Hood's Corps had that morning engaged the enemy in sharp skirmishing. Cleburne' Division was now detached from Hardee's Corps and reporting directly to Hood who was in command of the army's right wing. Late that afternoon, the Confederates in the center of Hood's line, Gen. A.P. Stewart's men, repulsed another attack during a severe thunderstorm. Hood's line continued to hold.
|Photo by Mark Dolan, June 2010|
Overnight, as Hood's men dug entrenchments in the soggy clay, Sherman began pushing a force northeast toward the tiny community of Pickett's Mill, about 2.5 miles away, in hopes of turning the Confederate's right flank and seizing the railroad at Acworth, several miles in the Confederates' rear. However, the Confederates were ready for the attack. Before daylight on the 26th, Cleburne roused his men for a march on the Dallas-Atlanta road to the mill, which they reached a couple of hours later. His men now form the extended right of the Confederate line. In preparation for an anticipated battle, he directed his men to clear paths behind his line and to his front in order to connect his brigades for rapid movement when needed. He also ordered rifle pits to be dug along the line. His foresight would prove essential to the outcome of the battle.
About 2 or 3 o'clock of the afternoon of the 26th I arrived with my division on the extreme right of the then line of the army, when I was sent to support Major-General [Thomas C.] Hindman. At that point our lines, the general bearing of which was north and south, retired for a few yards to the east. In continuation of this retiring line I placed [Brig. Gen. Lucius] Polk's brigade (of my division) in and diagonally across it, upon a ridge in echelon by battalion to avoid an artillery enfilade from a neighboring position held by the enemy. Resting on Polk's right I placed [Maj. Thomas R.] Hotchkiss artillery, consisting of four Napoleons, four Parrott guns, and four howitzers. Supporting on the right was one regiment of [Brig. Gen. Daniel C.] Govan's, of my division. The remainder of my division was disposed in rear as a second line in support of Hindman's right brigades and my first line. Intrenchments were thrown up in the afternoon and night of the 26th and in the morning of the 27th. The position was in the main covered with trees and undergrowth, which served as a screen along our lines, concealed us, and were left standing as far as practicable for that purpose. On the morning of the 27th, at about 7 o'clock, Govan was sent to the north front on a reconnaissance, with directions to swing to the left in his advance. From time to time, while engaged in this reconnaissance, Govan sent me word that the enemy was moving to the right—his own left.
Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne
|Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jesperson|
From the edge of the field the fighting was uphill for the Federals. Cleburne remarked that the enemy displayed "courage worthy of an honorable cause—pressing in steady throngs to within a few paces of our men." Their determined advance up the slope was hampered by rocks and thick undergrowth, making their progress slow and deadly under the Confederate fire. During their attack, Cleburne's men "slaughtered them with deliberate aim," the general wrote in his report, leaving their dead in piles. Hotchkiss’s artillery ended up being out of position for using the guns to fire into the enemy approaching through the ravine. But, Capt. Thomas J. Key had moved 2 guns from his Arkansas Battery forward by hand and added to the murderous slaughter.
|Brig. Gen. Mark P. Lowrey|
[Lowrey's] arrival was most opportune, as the enemy was beginning to pour around Baucum's right. Colonel Adams, with the Thirty-third Alabama, which was the first of Lowrey's regiments to form into line, took position on Baucum's right and advanced with him, his seven left companies being in the field with Baucum, and his other four in the woods to the right. Baucum and Adams, finding themselves suffering from the enemy's direct and oblique fire, withdrew, passing over the open space of the field behind them. The right companies of Adams, which were in the woods, retired to a spur which rises from the easterly edge of the field about 200 yards from its southerly edge, where Baucum's and Adams' left companies rested. Here they halted. Captain [William E.] Dodson, with fine judgment perceiving the importance of the position—it would have given the enemy an enfilading fire upon Granbury, which would have dislodged him—and making his company the basis of alignment for the remainder of Lowrey's, now coming into position. This retrogade movement across the field was not attended with loss as might have been expected, the enemy not advancing as it was made. It was mistaken, however, for a repulse, and some of my staff officers hearing that my line had broken hastened forward [Brig. Gen. William A.] Quarles' brigade, of [Maj. Gen. A.P.] Stewart's division, just then providentially sent up by General Hood to re-establish it. Lowrey, being under the same impression, detached his two right regiments (which had not been engaged) under Colonels [W.H.H.] Tison [Great Grandfather Oakes's regiment] and [A.B.] Hardcastle, and had them quickly formed in support of Baucum and Adams. The error, however, was soon discovered, and my line being ascertained to remain in its integrity, Quarles' brigade was conducted to the rear of Lowrey, and formed as a second line. The Fourth Louisiana, Colonel [S.E.] Hunter, finding itself opposite an interval between the two regiments of Lowrey's line (caused by Baucum's resting closer upon Granbury on his return from the advance, than he had done at first), under the immediate superintendence of General Quarles, advanced with great spirit into the field, halted, and delivered a very effective fire upon the enemy in his front. After some minutes Quarles withdrew this regiment and formed it behind the field, where they continued their fire across it. General Quarles and his brigade have my thanks. During these movements the battle continued to rage on Granburys front, and was met with unflagging spirit. About the time of Quarles getting into position night came on, when the combat lulled. For some hours afterward a desultory dropping fire, with short, vehement bursts of musketry, continued, the enemy lying in great numbers immediately in front of portions of my line, and so near it, that their footsteps could be distinctly heard.
Here, again, a victory was secured by a dash, that could have been secured in no other way. Granbury's gallant Texans fought as but few troops would have fought, and the destruction of the enemy in their front was perhaps the greatest that occurred during the whole war, considering the number engaged and the length of time. But the position could not have been held had not the right flank been secured, and I am quire sure this could not have been held if I had waited to put my whole brigade in position, and move them all up at once. Indeed, it was one of those times in which the victory trembled in the scale, and the lives of many men, and probably the destiny of an army hung upon a moment of time.
Granbury, finding it impossible to advance his skirmishers until he had cleared his front of the enemy lying up against it, with my consent, charged with his whole line, Walthall, with his brigade, from Hindman's division, whom I sent to his support, taking his place in the line as he stepped out of it. The Texans, their bayonets fixed, plunged into the darkness with a terrific yell, and with one bound were upon the enemy, but they met with no resistance. Surprised and panic-stricken many fled, escaping in the darkness, others surrendered and were brought into our lines. It needed but the brilliancy of this night attack to add luster to the achievements of Granbury and his brigade in the afternoon. I am deeply indebted to them both. My thanks are also due to General Lowrey for the coolness and skill which he exhibited in forming his line. His successive formation was the precise answer to the enemy's movement in extending his left to turn our right. Time was of the essence of things, and his movement was the quickest. His line was formed under heavy fire, on ground unknown to him and of the most difficult character, and the stern firmness with which he and his men and Baucum's regiment drove off the enemy and resisted his renewed attacks without doubt saved the right of the army, as Granbury had already done before.
The next morning I had the privilege of walking over the whole ground, and such a scene! Here lay the wounded, the dying, and the dead, hundreds upon hundreds, in every conceivable position; some with contorted features, showing the agony of death, others as if quietly sleeping. I noticed some soft beardless faces which ill comported with the savage warfare in which they had been engaged. Hundreds of letters from mothers, sisters, and friends were found upon them, and ambrotypes, taken singly and in groups. Though they had been my enemies, my heart bled at the sickening scene. The wounded nearly all expressed themselves tired of the war.
Photo by Mark Dolan, June 2010Plaque at New Hope Church
On the morning of the 28th, Johnston sent Bate's Division on the left against the Federals near Dallas. This time it was the the Confederates' turn to be repulsed. After that attack, there were no other general engagements in the Dallas/New Hope Church vicinity. By June 4th, Sherman managed to concentrate his 3 armies around New Hope Church and move part of his force eastward around the Confederate right. Johnston had no choice but to evacuate overnight to a new position 10 miles south. Heavy rains prevented Sherman from immediately pursuing.
2 In his memoirs Gen. Sherman made scant mention of the Battles of New Hope Church. He also failed even to acknowledge his soldiers' honorable sacrifice in the Battle of Pickett's Mill.