Battle of Pickett's Mill (May 27, 1864)

Updated: September 28, 2016

The Battle of Pickett's Mill was an encounter between Union forces commanded by Major General William T. Sherman and Confederate forces commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston on May 27, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.

In late November 1863, Union forces commanded by Major General Ulysses S. Grant successfully lifted Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Union victories at Lookout Mountain (November 24) and Missionary Ridge (November 25) forced Johnston to withdraw thirty miles south to near Dalton, Georgia. 

After the Federal breakout from Chattanooga, Grant was promoted to the special rank of Lieutenant General and placed in command of all Union armies. Grant moved his headquarters to Washington, DC,  leaving his trusted subordinate, Major General William T. Sherman, in command of Federal operations in the Western Theater. Grant's primary military strategy was a coordinated effort to attack and defeat the two main Confederate armies in the field, Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the east, and Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee in the west. On May 5, 1864, Grant launched his Overland Campaign against Lee in Virginia. Two days later, Sherman led three armies, the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Major General James B. McPherson; the Army of the Ohio, commanded by Major General John M. Schofield; and the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major General George H. Thomas, out of Tennessee in pursuit of Johnston's army in northern Georgia.

Throughout the summer of 1864, the Confederate and Union armies engaged in a series of battles between Dalton and Atlanta in northern Georgia. Most of the fighting occurred at places on or near the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which connected Chattanooga and Atlanta. Both sides depended on the railway for supplies throughout the campaign. In a pattern that was often repeated, Sherman employed flanking movements that threatened the railway to Johnston's rear, forcing the Confederate commander to retreat south in order to protect his supply lines. 


Following the Union defeat at the Battle of New Hope Church on May 26, 1864, Sherman ordered soldiers under the command of Major General Oliver O. Howard to attempt to turn the right flank of the Confederate line at Pickett's Mill on May 27. Johnston anticipated Sherman's maneuver and reinforced his right flank on May 26, with soldiers led by one of his best commanders, Major General Patrick R. Cleburne. As Cleburne's men dug in, Howard's soldiers probed through dense underbrush and rough terrain trying to locate the end of the Confederate line. At about 4:00 p.m., the Federals encountered the Rebel line and Sherman sent word for them to "get on the enemy's flank and rear as soon as possible." At 4:30, the Union soldiers began advancing through a deep ravine tangled with heavy undergrowth. As they struggled up the slopes of the ravine, Confederate sharpshooters, concealed by the dense vegetation, unleashed a murderous volley from above. In the confusion that followed, the Union soldiers were pinned down and not reinforced as planned. The Confederates continued to pour heavy fire onto the hapless Union troops until launching a counterattack at 10:00 p.m., forcing their foes to turn and run. By the end of the battle, the Federals had suffered over 1,600 casualties, including 700 killed. The Confederates suffered only 500 casualties. 

Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Pickett's Mill included:

Infantry units:

  • 1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 5th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 6th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 9th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 13th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 27th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 29th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 30th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 33rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 32nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 37th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 39th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 40th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 41st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 43rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 45th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 46th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 47th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 49th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 50th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 51st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 52nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 53rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 54th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 57th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 59th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 61st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 63rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 64th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 66th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 68th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 70th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 71st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 74th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 76th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 79th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 81st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 82nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 90th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 93rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 94th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 97th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 98th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 99th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 100th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 101st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 103rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 104th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 108th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 111th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 113th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 118th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 121st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 124th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • 125th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Artillery units:

  • Battery A, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • Battery C, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • Battery D, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment
  • 3rd Ohio Artillery Battery
  • 4th Ohio Light Artillery Battery
  • 6th Ohio Light Artillery Battery
  • 10th Ohio Light Artillery Battery
  • 14th Ohio Light Artillery Battery
  • 15th Ohio Light Artillery Battery
  • 19th Ohio Light Artillery Battery

Cavalry units:

  • 1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
  • 3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
  • 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
  • 10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

After the war, Sherman was criticized for ignoring the ill-fated attack he ordered at Pickett's Mill in his memoirs. His most vocal critic was famed author Ambrose Bierce, who fought for the Union at Pickett's Mill. In 1888, on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the battle, an embittered Bierce published an essay titled, "The Crime at Pickett's Mill." In the essay, Bierce detailed the carnage that occurred at Picket's Mill and chastised Sherman for relegating the brave men who fought there to oblivion, by ignoring the battle in his memoirs, despite the fact that Sherman ordered the attack. 

 

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Battle of Pickett's Mill," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 21 Sep 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=152>

APA Style

"Battle of Pickett's Mill." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved September 21, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=152

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