Cartersville, Georgia The Confederate assault on the forts at Allatoona would be the first major battle in what proved to be John B. Hood’s disastrous Nashville Campaign. The Battle of Allatoona Pass, fought on October 5, 1864, is rich both in myth and legend and is one of the most dramatic and tragic episodes of the Civil War. It was the inspiration for the familiar hymn by Evangelist Peter Bliss, “Hold the Fort,” and is remembered for the summons to surrender message by Confederate General Samuel G. French, “in order to avoid a needless effusion of blood.”
Brigadier General John Corse was instructed to move his division from Rome to back up the garrison of 976 men under the command of Lt. Colonel John E. Tourtellotte at Allatoona. Corse and his troops reached Allatoona Pass at 1:00a.m. on October 5th. He assumed command of better than 2,000 men but expected more. Twice the previous day, Tourtellotte had received telegraph messages from Sherman at Kennesaw to “...Hold out,” and “...We are coming.”
At 3:00 in the morning, October 5th, CSA General Samuel French arrived at Allatoona with his division of 3,276 men. His orders were to take the fort and fill the pass with debris, burn the Etowah River bridge five miles away, and then rejoin Hood the next day at New Hope Church.
Within a few hours, the “needless effusion of blood” began. The Confederate offensive came from the north and west, forcing a main contingent of Union troops inside the Star Fort, but at a terrible price. French’s forces made four assaults on the western fort, coming within 100 yards of taking it each time. ( William Scaife)
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