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Battle of Allatoona (October 1864), US Civil War

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  • Pvt. James Starwalt, (USA) (1838 - 1899)
    Residence Springville IL; Enlisted on 8/1/1862 as a private. On 9/6/1862 he mustered into Co. H, 123rd Illinois Infantry Mustered Out on 6/28/1865 Member of GAR Post #424 (Hall Wilson) in Toledo, IL.
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The Battle of Allatoona, also known as the Battle of Allatoona Pass, was fought October 5, 1864, in Bartow County, Georgia, and was the first major engagement of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign of the American Civil War. A Confederate division under Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French attacked a Union garrison under Brig. Gen. John M. Corse, but was unable to dislodge it from its fortified position protecting the railroad through Allatoona Pass.

French's division arrived near Allatoona Gap during the early morning hours of October 5. The battle began at 7:00 A.M. when eleven Confederate manufactured 12 pounder bronze Napoleon guns began firing upon the Union fortifications. Confederate artillery involved were two batteries of Myrick's Artillery Battalion manned by men of Capt. Alcide Bouanchaud's Battery of Louisiana, Capt. James J. Cowan's Battery of Warren County, Mississippi and a battery from Storr's Artillery Battalion, French's Division, Capt. R. F. Kolb's Battery of Alabama. French had ordered a one gun detachment to force the surrender of the blockhouse a few miles away on Allatoona Creek. Six guns of the 12th Wisconsin Battery answered the Confederate artillery. After a two-hour artillery bombardment, French sent a demand for surrender, which Corse refused. French then launched his brigades in an attack—Sears from the north (against the rear of the fortifications) and Cockrell, supported by Young, from the west. Corse's men survived the sustained two-hour attack against the main fortification, the Star Fort on the western side of the railroad cut, but were pinned down and Tourtellotte sent reinforcements from the eastern fort. Under heavy pressure, it seemed inevitable that the Federals would be forced to surrender, but by noon French received a report from his cavalry that a strong Union force was approaching from Acworth, so he withdrew at 2 p.m. More reinforcements from Rome reached Allatoona the next morning.

Allatoona was a relatively small, but bloody battle with high percentages of casualties: 706 Union (including about 200 prisoners) and 897 Confederate. Nonetheless, in his autobiography, General and President U.S. Grant praised the stand made by Corse and his men. Corse was wounded during the battle and on the following day sent a message to Sherman: "I am short a cheek bone and one ear, but am able to whip all hell yet." French was unsuccessful in seizing the railroad cut and Federal garrison, regretting in particular that he was unable to seize the one million rations stored there, or to burn them before he retreated.