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326

BATTLE OF KENES AW.

these continual flank movements—now around his right, and then around his left, ever threatening his communications with Atlanta. As before, so now he was compelled to abandon his stronghold which he had fortified with so much care, and fell back to Kenesaw Mountain, if possible a still stronger position than any he had thus far abandoned. Making Alla. toona Pass a secondary base, and leaving a garrison there to hold it, and repairing the railroad behind him, Sherman prepared to advance again.

On the 9th of June “Forward" sounded from our bugles, and the 'conquering army took up its march for Kenesaw Mountain.

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It drew up in front of this formidable height, whose crest, four hundred feet high, was seen to be lined with artillery. On the right arose other mountains, and, farther back, Lost Mountain-all dark with batteries, while every spur was alive with men, “felling trees, digging pits, and preparing for the grand struggle impending.” Says Sherman, " the scene was enchanting, too beautiful to be disturbed by the rude clamors of war, Lat the Chattahoochee lay beyond, and I had to reach it.” “By the 11th of June our lines were well up, and we made dispositions to break the line between Kenesaw and Pine Mountains. General Hooker was on its right and front, General Howard on its left and frorit, and General Palmer be¿ween it and the railroad." On the 14th, during a sharp cannonade, General Polk was killed, and the next morning Tine Mountain was discovered to be abandoned.

The death of Polk, as related by Captain Conyngham, reminds one of the death of Moreau, at Leipsic. Bonaparte, seeing a group of officers on a distant elevation, ordered a captain of artillery to throw a shot into it, saying, perhaps

DEATH OF POLK.

327

man.

some little Generals are there. The latter did so, and the cannon ball smote Moreau.

Sherman, riding up to a battery, took a careful survey of Pine Mountain with his glass. Then turning to Captain Simonson, he said, “Can you send a shell right on the top of that knob? I notice a battery there, and several general officers near it.'

"I'll try, General," was the reply. He-fired. :"A little too high, try again, with a shorter fuse," said Sher

The second shell, flew through the air, and entering the distant group, crashed through the side of Polk, tearing his body into fragments.

Thomas and Schofield now advanced, and found the enemy again strongly intrenched along the line of rugged hills that connect Kenesaw and Lost Mountains. On the 17th, the enemy abandoned Lost Mountain, and took position on Kenesaw ; his right wing thrown back, so as to cover Marietta, and his left covering the railroad in the rear, thus contracting his lines, and leaving no weak spot open to an attack. From his high position he could look down on every movement of our troops, while his cannon thundered away upon our long line. To make matters worse, a heavy rain storm had set in, and day and night, week after week, it poured down on the exposed army, turning the narrow country roads into gulleys, and every open space into a marsh, and thus preventing any general movement. The troopz suffered greatly, yet kept steadily at work. “General McPherson watching the enemy on Kenesaw, and working his left forward; General Thomas, swinging, as it were on a grand left wheel, his left on Kenesaw, connected with General McPherson, while General Schofield was all the while working to the south and east along the old Sandtown road.”

Thus matters went on, amid the pelting rain, when on the 22nd, Hood made a sudden attack on Hooker's Corps. Driving in the advanced detachments, he fell furiously on

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Williams' division. · The onset was fierce, but failed--the enemy losing seven or eight hundred men.

Sherman now determined to assault in turn; and, on the 27th, the army advanced against the stronghold. The long rain storm had cleared away, the roads were good—and a warm summer sun was shining, as the columns moved off on the desperate undertaking. The grand assault was made by the two armies of Thomas and McPherson, at two different points. Gulleys, rocks, trees, and underbrush, lay on the line of march, before the mountain, swarming now with men like bees, could be reached. Heralded by the crash of artillery, the columns moved steadily forward, and the battle soon raged furiously. Kenesaw seemed a volcano there in the summer air, while a surge of fire kept rolling steadily up its base. Troops never behaved more gallantly, and the officers held them to their deadly work with unparalleled devotion. Generals McCook and Harker fell at the head of their brigades, cheering en the men, and many other officers went down before the awful fire that swept, without cessation, the rugged slopes of the mountain. But it was vain valor, for the position was too strong to be carried by direct assault. Some brave regi- . ments mounted half way up the slope, but only to be hurled back broken and bleeding; and at length the bugles rung out the order to cease firing, and the battle was over. Sherman had met his first defeat. His loss was severe, reaching full three thousand, among whom were many valuable officers.

If Sherman made any mistake in this remarkable cam. paign, it was in ordering this assault. His own reasons for making it are not satisfactory. He says, “all looked to outfíank. An army to be efficient must not settle down to one single mode of offense,” &c. An army must "settle down" just to that “mode of offense" which will bring victory with the least loss of life. He thought also that the “moral

THE CHATTA HOOO HEE REACHED.

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effect of a successful assault would be good. But it is equally true that the "moral effect ” of an unsuccessful one is bad, and the chances here were nine to one against him. Besides, he after all, had to fall back again to his old flank. ing system, the only wise course when it can be taken against such a strong position as Kenesaw mountain was.

Gathering up his bleeding army, and, burying his dead, under à flag of truce, he sent McPherson forward to the Chattahoochee, far in the rear of Kenesaw Mountain. As soon as Johnston was aware of this movement, he evacuated his strong position, and Sherman rode into Marietta. The result showed that this would have been the proper course at first, and that he could have had the strong position without the loss of a man.

Sherman now pressed forward, in hope of catching Johnston in the confusion of crossing the Chattahoochee. But the latter had provided against such a contingency, and covered his movements so well that no considerable advantage could be gained over him, though more or less fighting occurred all the way to its banks. On the 4th and 5th of July, the rebel army crossed the river in safety. : On the 7th, Schofield effected a lodgment on the farther bank, and laid a good pontoon and trestle bridge. Sherman handled his troops with such skill, that by the ninth, he had secured three good points for crossing over his army above the enemy's tete-du-pont, when the latter reluctantly abandoned his last line of defense, and fell back to Atlanta.

In the meantime Rousseau, with two thousand cayalry, was sent around Atlanta, to destroy the railroad at Opelika, Ala., south, and cut off Johnston's supplies. This force was gone twelve days, and succeeded in accomplishing its object, and returned, with the loss of only thirty men.

The control of the Chattahoochee, Sherman said, “was one if not the chief object of the campaign,” but Atlanta lay

330

ATLANTA IN SIGHT.

only eight miles distant, and he determined to capture it. But after the heavy marching and fighting of the past

few weeks, the army needed rest before entering on such a desperate undertaking, and it pitched its camps along the stream, and gave itself up to several days' repose. From • neighboring hill the steeples of Atlanta, and the smoke of its foundries could be seen. Around it stretched a beautiful country, dotted with plantations, while in every direction, the smoke of locomotives, as they sped along the plains, revealed the various lines of railroad that centered in the place.

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