Return to Snake Creek Gap – October 1864

by Ned B. on November 11, 2015 · 0 comments

Several times in the past (herehere, here, and here) I have posted  about the movement of the Army of the Tennessee through Snake Creek Gap, Georgia in May 1864. In discussions about that event, I have often seen it said “if only Johnston had defended the gap”. The opposing armies returned to the area later in the year and Hood, who had replaced Johnston in command of the Confederate army, did defend the gap but it didn’t stop Sherman then either.

In October 1864 Hood threatened Resaca then moved west through Snake Creek Gap on his way to Alabama. Confederate Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee was assigned the task of holding the gap until the rest of the army had moved on.  In his campaign report, Lee wrote: “The enemy made his appearance at the gap on the 14th in large force, and on the 15th it was evident that his force amounted to several corps. Several severe skirmishes took place on the 15th, in which Deas and Brantlys brigades, of Johnsons division, were principally engaged. This gap was held by my command until the balance of the army had passed through Mattoxs Gap, when I followed with the corps through the latter.” 1

When he learned of Lee’s Corps in the gap,2 Sherman devised a plan for a portion of his command to approach the gap directly while another portion turned the gap by way of Redwine Cove.3 A road through Redwine Cove into the gap is visible in the upper left of this map: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/resaca/resaca-maps/resaca-area.jpg

Here is how Major General Jefferson Davis, commanding the 15th Corps, described the execution of Sherman’s plan:

At dawn on the morning of time 15th the corps moved in co-operation with the Fourth Corps in turning the enemy’s position at Snake Creek Gap. On reaching Redwine’s Cove it was ascertained that no trains could possibly be taken over the mountain in this direction, and they were ordered to remain behind. The ascent was commenced late in the evening, and the summit reached several hours after dark, when the troops bivouacked the remainder of the night on the mountain. On the 16th moved at daylight and passed down the mountain into the gap a short distance in advance of the Fourth Corps; and after passing into the level country beyond, by cutting a road to the side of the main one, was enabled to march the infantry abreast of the Fifteenth Corps until the head of the column reached Dicks Gap and went into camp. 4

Flanking the gap through a road over the mountain shows that the ridges were passable at points other than the gap. Do the events of October shed any light on the situation in May?  Was the gap as defensible as is claimed?

 

  1.  Official Records, Series 1 – Volume 39, Part I, page 811
  2. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 39 Part I, page 602
  3. Official Records, Series 1 – Volume 39 Part I page 582 and Part III page 268
  4. Official Records Series 1 – Volume 39 Part I, 615

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