Monday, June 27, 1864

Near Kenesaw, Georgia

General Harker’s brigade advanced to within twenty paces of the enemy’s breast- works and was repulsed with canister at that range, General Harker losing an arm. General Wagner’s brigade, of Newton’s division, supporting General Harker, was so severely handled that it is compelled to reorganize. Colonel Mitchell’s brigade, of Davis’ division, captured one line of rebel breastworks, which they still hold. McCook’s brigade was also very severely handled, nearly every colonel being killed or wounded. Colonel McCook wounded. It is compelled to fall back and reorganize. The troops are all too much exhausted to advance, but we hold all we have gained.

I reported the events of the day to Halleck.

8 p.m.
Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck, Washington, D.C.

Pursuant to my orders of the 24th, a diversion was made on each flank of the enemy, especially on the Sandtown road, and at 8 a.m. General McPherson attacked at the southwest end of Kenesaw, and General Thomas at a point about a mile farther south. At the same, time the skirmishers and artillery along the whole line kept up a sharp fire. Neither attack succeeded, though both columns reached the enemy’s works, which are very strong. General McPherson reports his loss about 500, and General Thomas about 2,000; the loss particularly heavy in general and field officers. General Harker is reported mortally wounded, also Colonel Dan McCook, commanding a brigade; Colonel Rice, Fifty-seventh Ohio, very seriously. Colonel Barnhill, Fortieth Illinois, and Captain Augustin, Fifty-fifth Illinois, are killed.

The facility with which defensive works of timber and earth are constructed gives the party on the defensive great advantage. I cannot well turn the position of the enemy without abandoning my railroad, and we are already so far from our supplies that it is as much as the road can do to feed and supply the army. There are no supplies of any kind here. I can press Johnston and keep him from re-enforcing Lee, but to assault him in position will cost us more lives than we can spare. McPherson took today 100 prisoners, and Thomas about as many, but I do not suppose we inflicted heavy loss on the enemy, as he kept close behind his parapets.

W. T. Sherman, Major-General

Early in the morning, I set up a telegraph station on signal hill to watch the battle unfold. Thomas started his attack promptly at 8 am.

General Harker’s brigade advanced to within twenty paces of the enemy’s breast- works and was repulsed with canister at that range, General Harker losing an arm. General Wagner’s brigade, of Newton’s division, supporting General Harker, was so severely handled that it is compelled to reorganize. Colonel Mitchell’s brigade, of Davis’ division, captured one line of rebel breastworks, which they still hold. McCook’s brigade was also very severely handled, nearly every colonel being killed or wounded. Colonel McCook wounded. It is compelled to fall back and reorganize. The troops are all too much exhausted to advance, but we hold all we have gained.

McPherson’s column reached near the top of the hill through very tangled brush, but was repulsed. It is found almost impossible to deploy, but they still hold the ground.

Schofield has one division close up on the Powder Springs road, and the other across Olley’s Creek, about two miles to his right and rear. McPherson and Schofield are at a deadlock. Thomas must carry some part of the enemy’s line today for them to continue.

Thomas reports:

Major- General SHERMAN:

Davis’ two brigades are now within sixty yards of the enemy’s intrenchments. Davis reports that he does not think he can cary the works by assault on account of the steepness of the hill, but he can hold his position, put in one or two batteries tonight, and probably drive them out tomorrow morning. General Howard reports the same. Their works are from six to seven feet high and nine feet thick. In front of Howard they have a very strong abatis. Davis’ loss in officers has been very heavy. Nearly all the field officers in McCook’s brigade, with McCook, have been killed or wounded. From what the officers tell me I do not think we can carry the works by assault at this point today, but they can be approached by saps and the enemy driven out.

Saps would not be helpful because the enemy could build a dozen new parapets by the time we completed one sap. General Thomas reports that the enemy works are well defended and could only be carried at great loss.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, 
June 27, 1864: 6 p. m.

Major-General SHERMAN:
The assault of the enemy’s works in my front was well arranged, and the officers and men went to their work with the greatest coolness and gallantry. The failure to carry them is due only to the strength of the works and to the fact that they were well manned, thereby enabling the enemy to hold them securely against the assault. We have lost nearly 2,000 officers and men, among them two brigade commandeers, General Harker, commanding a brigade in Newton’s division, and Colonel Daniel McCook, commanding a brigade in Jeff. Davis’ division, both reported to be mortally wounded, besides some 6 or 8 field officers killed. Both General Harker and Colonel McCook were wounded on the enemy’s breastworks, and all say had they not been wounded we would have driven the enemy from his works. Both Generals Howard and Palmer think that they can find favorable positions on their lines for placing batteries for enfilading the enemy’s works. We took between 90 and 100 prisoners.

Respectfully,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major- General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding

Schofield Reports:

Major- General SHERMAN:
General Cox’s position overlooks the Nickajack Valley and seems to control the ridge between the two creeks, so that the enemy cannot extend his line along that rise without displacing us. It threatens the enemy’s left rear and seems to me more important than I at first supposed. I think it should be held by my whole force if you propose to operate in that direction.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major- General

My Reply to Thomas:

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, 
Near Kenesaw Mountain, June 27, 1864.

General THOMAS:
Let your troops fortify as close up to the enemy as possible. Get. good positions for artillery, and group your command as conveniently as you can by corps and divisions, keeping reserves. Schofield has the Sandtown road within eleven miles of the Chattahoochee, and we could move by that flank,. The question of supplies will be the only one. I regret beyond measure the loss of two such young and dashing officers as Harker and Dan. McCool. McPherson lost 2 or 3 of his young and dashing officers, which is apt to be the case in unsuccessful assaults. Had we broken the line today it would have been most decisive, but as it is our loss is small, compared with some of those East. It should not in the least discourage us. At times assaults are necessary and inevitable. At Arkansas Post we succeeded; at Vicksburg we failed. I do not think our loss today greater than Johnston’s when he attacked Hooker and Schofield the First day we occupied our present ground.

Are you willing to risk the move on Fulton, cutting loose from our railroad! It would bring matters to a crisis, and Schofield has secured the way. We can get to the river, force a crossing and force Johnston to retreat.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major- General, Commanding

Thomas asks,

What force do you think of moving with! If with the greater part of the army, I think it decidedly better than butting against breast- works twelve feet thick and strongly abatises.

My Reply:
If we move on Fulton we must move with the whole army, leaving our railroad, on the chance of success. Go where we may we will find the breast- works and abatis, unless we move more rapidly than we have heretofore. If we had our supplies well up I would move at once by the right flank, but suppose we must cover our railroad a few days.

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