In a pair of recent posts I wrote about the movement of the Army of the Tennessee through Snake Creek Gap to Resaca on May 9th 1864. Let’s take a look at the other side — who was defending Resaca that day?
The Official Records make no mention of this, but in his book ‘Four Years On The Firing Line’ James Cooper Nisbet wrote that “On the first of May, I received an order to go to Resaca, to guard the W.&A. Railroad bridge across the Oostanaula river”.  Nisbet commanded the 66th Georgia to which was attached the 26th Georgia Battalion and in his book he refers to having 1,500 “rifles”. Nisbet wrote that when he got to the bridge at Resaca he found an old dilapidated battery and a company of cavalry. In his book Lost for the Cause, Steven Newton identified two Georgia State Line regiments and a company of cavalry that were guarding railroad lines and bridges in northern Georgia. It seems likely that what Nisbet found at the bridge was part of the Georgia State Line. But just how many might have been at Resaca is unclear. Perhaps a hundred?
Kelly’s cavalry division had been camped at Resaca until May 4th when Gen. Johnston ordered it to join Gen. Wheeler at the front, bringing all the men who were properly mounted and equipped and “to have the men left considered as belonging to the defense of the place where our trains are”. The implication is that some portion of the division was not properly mounted. In an article in the magazine North & South, Steven Newton interprets the order to mean that these men were left in Resaca and his review of the unit rolls for Kelly’s divisions suggests that it could have been several hundred men.
In late April Cantey’s brigade had been sent from the Department of the Gulf to Rome, Georgia, and then was ordered to Resaca on May 5th. Also on May 5th Gen. Maury, commanding at Mobile, reported that he had received orders to sent Daniel Reynolds’ Brigade to aid Johnston and that two regiments had already been sent with the rest going soon. By May 7th the first two regiments had arrived but had been sent further north to Dug Gap. The question is when did the other units of this brigade arrive. Johnston wrote to Cantey on May 8th that one Arkansas regiment would arrive that day. Presumably another would get there the next day.
Also on the 9th, Johnston ordered Vaughan’s Tennessee Brigade to reinforce Cantey in Resaca and Grigsby’s cavalry brigade, which had met the US troops coming out of Snake Creek Gap had fallen back to Resaca. 
So as McPherson arrived outside Resaca the afternoon of the 9th, there was a hodgepodge collection of units defending it composed of Cantey’s brigade, Vaughan’s brigade, Grigsby’s brigade, portions of Reynolds brigade, Nisbet’s command, cavalry left behind by Kelly, and a detachment of the Georgia State Line. All told, this probably represented 6,500 present for duty.
As the campaign was kicking off, Johnston had other men in motion in the backfield. On May 7th Martin’s cavalry division had been shifted to Calhoun, about 5 miles south of Resaca. He had been directed to communicate with the Cantey in Resaca and on the 9th Martin was identified as operating on the flank of McPherson’s command.  Late on the 9th Johnston directed Hood to take the infantry divisions of Cleburne, Hindman and Walker to Resaca to make sure it was secure. So in addition to those already in Resaca, Johnston had a significant portion of his army moving in support.
The point is that by drawing in reinforcements from Alabama, and shifting around the forces already in northern Georgia, Johnston had adequately protected against the US attempt to make a quick strike at Resaca. Rather than being caught with his pants down by the move through Snake Creek Gap, Johnston seemed to have the situation well in hand.
 What Really Happened At Snake Creek Gap?, Steven Newton, North & South Volume 4 Number 3, 2001
 The Opening of the Atlanta Campaign by Wm. C.P. Breckinridge, published in The Century Magazine April 1888.
 Opposing Sherman’s Advance to Atlanta by Joseph E Johnston, published in The Century Magazine August 1887.