Photograph of George Henry Thomas.

On May 9, 1864, elements of Major General George Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland attacked Rebel defenders entrenched at a gap in the mountains north of Resaca, Georgia, known as Buzzard’s Roost Gap. [Library of Congress]

Battle of Buzzard's Roost Facts External Links

May 9, 1864

External Links for Battle of Buzzard's Roost - Facts

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The Battle of Rocky Face

The bluffs of Rocky Face presented William Tecumseh Sherman with his first challenge in the Atlanta Campaign. Joseph E. Johnston had chosen the site and prepared well for the Federal onslaught. Steep cliffs give way to a high gap called Mill Creek which locals refer to as "Buzzards Roost".

Battle of Rocky Face Ridge Summary

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had entrenched his army on the long, high mountain of Rocky Face Ridge and eastward across Crow Valley. As Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman approached, he decided to demonstrate against the position with two columns while he sent a third one through Snake Creek Gap, to the right, to hit the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Resaca.

Battle of Rocky Face Ridge

The first major battle of Gen. William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign was fought in Whitfield County at a long mountain known as Rocky Face Ridge. The Battle of Rocky Face Ridge was a series of Union attacks on Confederate defenders at two passes through the mountain. The main gap was Mill Creek Gap (also known as Buzzard's Roost Pass), which led to Dalton, Ga. on the eastern side of the mountain.To the south was a smaller and more difficult pass known as Dug Gap. Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston were well entrenched to defend each pass.

Sherman's Advance from Dalton to Atlanta

ROCKY FACE RIDGE is a lofty, sheer rock wall. It begins some seven miles northwest of Dalton and ends in a series of lower ridges 15 miles southwest of the town. Mill Creek Gap (Buzzard's Roost), through which both the highway and the railway to Chattanooga pass, cuts through the ridge three miles from its northern extremity. Five miles below it the old Dalton-La Fayette road passes over Dug Gap, 800 feet above the valley floor.

The Decisive Battle of the Civil War: Another Nomination

Rather than championing this battle as the most decisive, the intent is to provide a different and hopefully thought-provoking point of view about a little known Civil War battle, the ramifications of which are greater than the apparent insignificance of the battle. The battle in question is Rocky Face Ridge, the opening battle of William Tecumseh Sherman's Atlanta campaign. This battle is nominated as the decisive battle of the war because it set the pattern for the entire Atlanta campaign, and the Atlanta campaign, as argued below, was the most significant military action in ensuring Union victory.

Rocky Face Ridge (1864)

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had entrenched his army on the long, high mountain of Rocky Face Ridge and eastward across Crow Valley. As Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman approached, he decided to demonstrate against the position with two columns while he sent a third one through Snake Creek Gap, to the right, to hit the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Resaca.

Sherman's March to Atlanta

Animated account of Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, including the battles of Buzzard's Roost and Rocky Face Ridge.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of Buzzard's Roost - Facts External Links
  • Coverage May 9, 1864
  • Author
  • Keywords battle of buzzard's roost, american civil war, william t. sherman, joseph e. johnston, atlanta campaign, george thomas
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date September 22, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 18, 2021
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