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Skirmish at Adairsville

Beginning on 1864/05/17 and ending 1864/05/17

After falling back from Resaca, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (CSA) intended to make a stand at Adairsville, GA, and deployed his three Corps in an east-west line. It was soon determined that due to the width of the Oothcaloga Valley the position was deemed untenable. From Adairsville, two roads led south. The western route paralleled the Western and Atlantic Railway for about 9 miles to the town of Kingston where the Western and Atlantic Railway turned to the east toward Cass Station, south of Cassville. The second road led directly to the town of Cassville. Believing Gen. Sherman (USA) would assume that the Confederates would retreat to Kingston, Johnston decided to try and lay a trap for Sherman. He ordered Polk´s and Hood´s Corps to take the direct route to Cassville and left General Hardee´s Corps to delay the Unions advance. Hardee´s Corps was then to take the road to Kingston to reinforce the impression that the Confederates would make their next stand at Kingston.

As the 2nd brigade of Newton´s 2nd division, IV Army Corps (USA), approached the stone house belonging to Robert C. Saxon, they encountered eight Confederate regiments belonging to Cheatham´s Division of Hardee´s Corp (CSA). These regiments were part of Maney, Wright and Vaughan brigades, all eight of the regiments were from Tennessee. The two forces skirmished with each other for the remainder of the day. After midnight, the Confederates withdrew down the Adairsville-Kingston Road. General Johnston reported that, [1]

"At Adairsville (about midway), on the 17th, Polk´s cavalry, under Brigadier-General Jackson, met the army, and Hardee after severe skirmishing checked the enemy".



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Civil War in GA - Historic Markers Across Georgia


The Itinerary of Hardees Army Corp (CSA) describes its action during May 16 through the 18th as follows:

Monday, May 16. Major-General Walker, whose division had been at Calhoun for some five or six days, reported the enemy advancing from the ferry west of the place. Hardees corps was at once put into position to meet the advance, with Polk and Hood on the left and center. There being nothing of a threatening character in sight, Hood and Polk withdrew leisurely, leaving Hardee to protect the rear. About noon the enemy were reported advancing in force from the river west of Calhoun, driving the cavalry in. They soon struck our skirmishers, and a considerable firing commenced. They were also reported moving directly down from Resaca. About 3 or 4 p. m. Hardees line of skirmishes was strengthened and an advance ordered for the purpose of developing the enemy. It was handsomely executed by Walker and Cleburne, on the front line, who drove the enemy some distance. We held our position until 1 o´clock next morning.

Tuesday, May 17. Hardees corps retired slowly before the enemy about 1 a. in., leaving the cavalry to hold him in check. The rear of the army reached Adairsville, seven miles below, about noon. The enemy followed closely behind, and by 3 p. m. were skirmishing with our cavalry. They were hardly looked for so early, but by dint of great activity Hardees corps was in position to confront them in good time, and again the now familiar popping of rifles was heard. The fighting at no time went beyond heavy skirmishing, which, on our part, was sustained by Cheatham, who occupied the front line. When the firing ended at night we had not receded an inch anywhere. At a council held at night it was decided to fall back to Cassville, fifteen miles south of Adairsville (in this council it was understood that General Hardee advocated giving battle to the enemy in the position we then held in front of Adairsville, information having been received that McPhersons corps of the enemy were in the neighborhood of Rome and another had been sent to Virginia, which would give us greatly the advantage of the enemy, as we had our whole army massed at Adairsville), and orders were accordingly issued.

Wednesday, May 18. At 12 p. m. [17th] our army was again in motion, passing through Kingston about 9 oclock, and arriving at camp near Cassville at about noon. [2]

Brig. Gen. William Harrow (USA) reports that:

In accordance with written instructions from General Sherman, dated May 16, the army was put in motion on the Rome road, crossing; the river at Lay's Ferry; General Dodge in the advance. When between two and three miles from the river the advance met a check, coming upon the enemy in some force. A division of the Fifteenth Corps was pushed up to General Dodge’s assistance as rapidly as possible. The enemy, however, made but a, slight stand, and then retired. In this action the Second Brigade, Second Division, Sixteenth Corps, was engaged. The casualties amounted to 52 kill, wounded, and missing. Its commander, Colonel Burke, Sixty-sixth I1linois, was mortally wounded and died next day, giving the sacrifice of a valuable life to his country. At this place the command went into position. May 17, the command marched to McGuire's Crossroads. On the morning of the 18th, in obedience to instructions from General Sherman in his letter from Adairsville, May 17 the command formed a junction with the Army of the Cumberland at that point and march thence to Woodland. Took up position for the night on the Kingston and Rome road. The 19th the command marched to Kingston. Considerable cannonading was heard in that direction before commencing the march; no opposition, however, was encountered. At this place, with the other troops of the Military Division of the Mississippi, the Army of the Tennessee rested till the morning of the 23d, making, preparations for the march upon Dallas, in obedience to General Sherman's Special Field Orders, No.9. While at this point this army received the thanks of the President or the United States, through the Secretary of War, for the vigor and success of its operations thus far. [3]



  1. Historic Markers Across Georgia - Site of the Robt. C. Saxon House  [Online] of the Robt. C. Saxon House&EventTitle=Lay´s%20Ferry
     •The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies, Volume XXXVIII; Part 3, Operational Report 439; pp 33
  2. The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies, Volume XXXVIII; Part 3, Operational Report 604; pp 704
  3. The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies, Volume XXXVIII; Part 3, Operational Report 439; pp 33



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