Friday, March 21, 2008

First battle of Dalton, GA

Writing in 1971, Connelly, in his history of the Army of Tennessee, has this to say about the first battle of Dalton:

By February 21, the head of Hardee’s column began to arrive in Montgomery, but soon a change in plans of grave importance occurred. On the night of February 22, Johnston received intelligence reports of a projected advance against Dalton. With half of his infantry gone with Hardee, Johnston pleaded for their return. The next day, while General George Thomas’ corps skirmished west of Dalton with Johnston, the government countermanded Hardee’s orders. By the next day, the affair had ended. Thomas withdrew to Ringgold. (294)

That’s it. And no other source that I’ve consulted yet has any more detailed information. (If you know of a source that goes into good details of the event, please drop me a line.)

So, I’ve spent the past few days poring over the Official Records and a couple of maps in an effort to understand this battle. It took some doing, but I’ve figured out the battle occurred on both sides of Rocky Face Ridge. There is a map in the Atlas, but it only shows the action on the west side of the Ridge. Once I figured that out, events fell into line.

Official Reports for the Federals are numerous. However, there are no reports for the 85th and 86th Illinois, under the command of Col. Daniel McCook, the two Federal regiments in which I am most interested. I did find online a history of the 85th Illinois by Aten. There is also a book on the 86th, but it does not appear to be online.

So, here is a summary of events. A reconnaissance of the Confederates forces in North Georgia is called. The IV and XIV Corps are selected. Part of the First Division, IV Corps, under Brig. Gen. Charles Craft, heads down the east side of Rocky Face Ridge, toward Dalton. There, just south of Buzzard’s Roost Gap, they encounter the brigade of Henry D. Clayton. Clayton claims that he stops the Federal advance. The next day, February 25, Clayon’s brigade is replaced by Brig. Gen. Alfred Cumming’s brigade, and the battle of the east side of the gap is renewed, with Pettus’s brigade being fed into the battle from their reserve position. Then, on February 26, Granberry’s Texas brigade drives the Federals out of Dug Gap.

On the west side of the mountains, the fight was between the Federals of the First and Third Brigades, Second Division (Jefferson C. Davis’s) of the IV Corps, and the Confederate brigades of Stovall, Moore, Gibson, Reynolds, and Clayton. Action on February 23 amounted to little more than skirmishing between Stovall and Brig. Gen. James D. Morgan (10th Mich. and 60th Illinois). February 24 was the story: skirmishing. On February 25, the two regiments under Morgan attack Stovall and Stovall pushed then back. Stovall and Moore’s brigades are on the right, with Gibson in reserve. On the Confederate left, Reynolds’s brigade begins skirmishing with the 85th and 86th Illinois. Clayton feeds his regiments into Reynolds’s line, extending Reynold’s left. The Federals retreat, and by February 27, are back over on their side of Tunnel Hill.

So what has this got to do with the Old North State? The 58th and 60th North Carolina Troops are in Reynolds’s brigade. Reynolds, on the evening of February 25, reported his losses in these two regiments, as "24 wounded, 3 mortally." One of those was the 58th’s sergeant major, James Inglis, a native of Scotland who resided as a carpenter in Caldwell County prior to the war.

No comments: