Battle of Gilgal Church (June 15, 1864)

Updated: May 09, 2011

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.

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. 

By June 9, 1864, Johnston had withdrawn the Army of Tennessee to an entrenched position in the Marietta area, in Cobb County, Georgia. Over the next three weeks, Sherman continued to press Johnston, engaging his army at various locations near Marietta, including at the Battle of Gilgal Church on June 15. In this battle, the Union Army's Third Division of the Twentieth Corps of the Army of the Cumberland, which was commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker and Major General Daniel Butterfield, encountered a Confederate division, commanded by General Patrick Cleburne. Cleburne's men quickly withdrew to Gilgal Church, where the Southerners dismantled the church to use the boards and pews for defensive works. Cleburne's men drove the Northerners from the battlefield, inflicting approximately 200 casualties while suffering only a few themselves. While this engagement was a loss for the Union military, after the Battle of Gilgal Church and several other engagements, Sherman forced Johnston to withdraw from the area by July 3.

Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Gilgal Church included:

Infantry units:

55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

79th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Artillery units:

Battery C, 1st Ohio Light Artillery Regiment

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Battle of Gilgal Church," Ohio Civil War Central, 2021, Ohio Civil War Central. 19 Sep 2021 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=452>

APA Style

"Battle of Gilgal Church." (2021) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved September 19, 2021, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=452

Comments powered by Disqus

Related Entries

Categories

Topics

Time Periods

Regions

Help support the ongoing development of Ohio Civil War Central by clicking the banner and then purchasing products from Amazon.com.

Ohio Civil War Central: An Encyclopedia of the American Civil War