Q: I often drive past the Kennesaw Mountain battlefield. Can you tell me more about the battle fought there during the Civil War?
A: Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston tried to block the Union advance on Atlanta by fortifying a rough semicircle near Marietta, anchored by Kennesaw Mountain at one end in June 1864. Union Gen. William T. Sherman wanted to move around the position at Kolb's Farm, but was stopped by a Confederate counterattack, leading him to think that Johnston had overextended his forces and he could break the center. Union artillery began bombarding Confederate positions on the morning of June 27 and launched a diversionary attack on nearby Pigeon Hill. Sherman's main assault was aimed at a wooded ridge in the center of the line, which is now known as Cheatham Hill. The attack on Pigeon Hill stalled and the assault on Cheatham Hill was repulsed with losses so heavy that it was nicknamed "Dead Angle." The battle was technically a victory for the Confederates – who suffered 1,000 casualties compared to about 3,000 Union casualties -- but didn't stop Sherman. He forced Johnston's army from its fortifications by more maneuvering and continued his march to Atlanta. Kennesaw Mountain was designated as a national battlefield in 1917 and Cheatham Hill was added in 1933. The area includes 2,923 acres, a visitor's center and museum, and 17.3 miles of walking trails.
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