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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

Despite being one of the more important campaigns of the American Civil War, the Atlanta Campaign has been somewhat underrepresented throughout the literature on the subject. While this oversight has been somewhat rectified in light of the sesquicentennial celebrations, most of these writings have focused on either the major battles that happened from late June 1864 through the fall of Atlanta or on the various commanders of the campaign. Nearly forgotten amongst all of this is the fighting that took place on the country crossroads and in the deep forests near Dallas, Georgia between 25 May and 4 June 1864. It was during this period of fighting that the Atlanta Campaign went from a series of quick flanking maneuvers to a constant daily grind of skirmishes and entrenchment, with little respite from weather-induced misery and the constant fear of death from an enemy one could not see. It was during this time that Confederate commander Joseph Johnston had the best chance to turn back the invasion of Georgia headed by Union general William T. Sherman. Johnston was able to effect a major change in the tempo and character of the campaign in the fighting around Dallas. However, his failure to contest Sherman’s crossing of the Etowah River and his inability to stop the Union general from reconnecting with an unbroken Western & Atlantic Railroad ensured that the Confederates lost their best chance at stopping the invasion of Georgia.

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