Battle of Rocky Face Ridge (May 7-13, 1864)

Updated: July 17, 2011

The Battle of Rocky Face Ridge was the first encounter between Union forces commanded by Major General William T. Sherman and Confederate forces commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston during the Atlanta Campaign. The engagement took place in Whitfield County, Georgia, near the town of Dalton, from May 7 through May 13, 1864.

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 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, leaving his trusted subordinate, Major General William T. Sherman, in command of Federal operations in the western theater. Upon arriving in Washington, Grant in conjunction with Sherman devised a "total war" policy aimed at the Confederate military, transportation systems, and anything else abetting the Rebel cause. 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.

On May 7, 1864, Sherman's forces approached the Army of Tennessee, which was entrenched near Dalton in rugged, mountainous terrain on and around Rocky Face Ridge. On May 7 and 8, General George Thomas's Army of the Cumberland tested the Rebel defenses with limited gains. Foreseeing little prospect for success through frontal assaults, Sherman sent General James McPherson's Army of the Tennessee west, in search of a way around the Confederate defenders. On May 9, McPherson discovered an unprotected gap in the mountains at Snake Creek. Leaving Thomas to demonstrate before the main Confederate line, Sherman moved the remainder of his army south through Snake Creek Gap, threatening to disable the Western and Atlantic Railroad behind Johnston's lines. In danger of being outflanked and having his supply line severed, Johnston was forced to withdraw twelve miles to Resaca, Georgia on the night of May 12-13.

Although Sherman probably suffered higher casualties than Johnston (total casualties are unknown), the Battle of Rocky Ridge was a Union victory because Johnston was forced to yield ground to the Sherman's seemingly inexorable drive toward Atlanta, Georgia.

Ohio units that fought in the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge 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

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

32nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

33rd 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

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

Battery C, 1st Ohio Light Artillery

Battery D, 1st Ohio Light Artillery

Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery

3rd Ohio Light Artillery

4th Ohio Light Artillery

6th Ohio Light Artillery

10th Ohio Light Artillery

14th Ohio Light Artillery

15th Ohio Light Artillery

19th Ohio Light Artillery

Cavalry units:

1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

10th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Battle of Rocky Face Ridge," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 25 Jul 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=154>

APA Style

"Battle of Rocky Face Ridge." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved July 25, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=154

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