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Sugar Valley in Walker County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Snake Creek Gap

Sherman's First Flanking Movement

 

— Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail —

 
Snake Creek Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 19, 2019
1. Snake Creek Gap Marker
Inscription.  By early May 1864, after wintering around Dalton, Georgia, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's approximately 50,000-man “Army of Tennessee” was prepared for battle on Rocky Face Ridge. One of Johnston's defensive necessities was to protect his "lifeline," the Western & Atlantic Railroad, to the south toward Atlanta. Meanwhile, Union Major General William T. Sherman, commanding over 100,000 men positioned in and near Chattanooga, began marching his three combined armies south. Sherman's goals were to destroy both Johnston's army and Confederate war-making capacity throughout the region. He also aimed to capture Atlanta. Rather than launch a major frontal attack against Johnston's strong positions at Dalton, Sherman ordered the “Army of the Tennessee,” led by Union Major General James B. McPherson, to march southwest of Dalton through Snake Creek Gap. This gap had been discovered by Federal reconnaissance over the winter.

Sherman hoped to cut the Confederate army's rail line at Resaca, located near the southern end of the gap. He also wanted to place major portions of his larger

Snake Creek Gap Marker at the Pinhoti Trail Trailhead. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 19, 2019
2. Snake Creek Gap Marker at the Pinhoti Trail Trailhead.
force on either side of the Confederate army at Dalton, thus forcing it to abandon that city and retreat into open country with a reduced capacity for re-supply. Sherman's directive to McPherson was explicit: “Do not fail, in that event, to make most of the opportunity by the most vigorous attack possible.”

While General Sherman's other two armies occupied Confederates on Rocky Face Ridge, General McPherson marched his 24,000-man army toward Snake Creek Gap. Private Thomas W. Moffatt of the 12th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment recalled, “We were...sloshing along over the stones and water of Snake Creek Gap. The road over which we were passing was probably the finest in the world as far as dustlessness was concerned for it was the flat bed of Snake Creek.”

McPherson's troops arrived at the north end of the gap on May 8th, finding it undefended, and by only by a small number of Confederate cavalrymen at its southern end. After noon on the 9th, McPherson notified Sherman that his troops were within two miles of Resaca. Slamming his fist on a table, Sherman excitedly exclaimed, “I've got Joe Johnston dead!” However, General McPherson's army soon encountered about 4,000 Confederates under Brigadier General James Cantey, entrenched near Resaca. Though greatly superior

Snake Creek Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 19, 2019
3. Snake Creek Gap Marker
in numbers, McPherson had limited supplies and no cavalry to scout for any possible enemy flank attack. He decided to withdraw to the safety of Snake Creek Gap. On May 12th, in a face-to-face meeting, General Sherman said, "Well, Mac, you have missed the opportunity of a lifetime."

For General Johnston, his failure to adequately guard Snake Creek Gap, and his cavalry's failure to notify him sooner of the Federal flanking movement, could have resulted in a Confederate disaster. General Sherman pushed the bulk of his armies through Snake Creek Gap, Johnston withdrew his army south from Dalton to where reinforcements awaited, and both commanders readied for the first major battle of the Atlanta Campaign, at Resaca on May 14 & 15, 1864.
 
Erected 2019 by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc. (Marker Number 13.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Georgia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 34° 39.847′ N, 85° 3.583′ W. Marker is in Sugar Valley, Georgia, in Walker County. Marker can be reached from Resaca Lafayette Road NW (Georgia Route 136) 4.1 miles north of Connector Route 136 Connector Road, on the right when traveling north. Located at the Pinhoti Trail Trailhead within the Chattahoochee-Oconee

Another nearby Snake Creek Gap Marker 3.9 miles south on GA-136. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 19, 2019
4. Another nearby Snake Creek Gap Marker 3.9 miles south on GA-136.
National Forests. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Resaca Lafayette Road NW, La Fayette GA 30728, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Villanow (approx. 3.2 miles away); McPherson’s Army at Snake Creek Gap (approx. 3˝ miles away); a different marker also named Snake Creek Gap (approx. 3.9 miles away); Battles of Tilton (approx. 4.6 miles away); Geary's Division to Dug Gap (approx. 4.7 miles away); Babb's Settlement (approx. 5.1 miles away); Battle of Dug Gap (approx. 5.1 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Dug Gap (approx. 6 miles away).
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 

More. Search the internet for Snake Creek Gap.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 23, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 61 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 23, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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