Major General Samuel G French had been ordered to cut the Federal supply line at Allatoona Gap, Georgia. He did not hesitate to deploy his brigades in heavy attack columns immediately upon his arrival. Above, the Federals bristled in a thin line stretching almost a mile and a half from the railroad gap to the edge of the ridge.
French, sensing his numerical advantage, sent a message to the Federal commander,
“I have placed the forces under my command in such positions that you are surrounded, and to avoid a needless effusion of blood I call on you to surrender your forces at once, and unconditionally.
“Five minutes will be allowed you to decide. Should you accede to this, you will be treated in the most honorable manner as prisoners of war.”
Brigadier General Robert Corse, having just arrived with reinforcements, allowing him a second line, which were in defilade and invisible to French, replied, defiantly,
“Your communication demanding surrender of my command I acknowledge receipt of, and respectfully reply that we are prepared for the "needless effusion of blood" whenever it is agreeable to you.”
French found it agreeable immediately. At a range of about 1000 yards the Federal guns began to boom from the heights as French’s columns moved forward smartly. He massed two batteries of Napoleons between Chalmers’ right-hand brigade and the center brigade of Jones Withers. The guns began to bang away at the 11th Michigan in their earthworks about 500 yards away.
Chalmers advanced behind a double line of skirmishers - the 21st Alabama and 5th Mississippi – on a narrow front up the steepest part of the Federal line. Crowning the Federal left was the 19th Illinois and the Battery M, 1st Ohio Artillery. The Ohioans had had an early success when a shell hit one of J. H. Kolb’s cannon and completely destroyed it. However, as the skirmishers pushed up the hill, the guns switched targets, spraying canister like angry, lethal, bees, downslope.
Withers attacked on a wider front, with the 26th Alabama on the left and the CGRB on the right. He applied pressure to Battery G, 1st Ohio Artillery, and their supporting infantry, the 78th Pennsylvania. The 26th soon got into an uneven firefight with the Federal guns.
On French’s left, at the end of the ridge, Brigadier General J K Jackson sent forward Wheat’s Battalion and the 5th Kentucky. Supported by Bouchaud’s battery of rifled guns, they were soon pressing Brigadier General J Beatty’s brigade. Wheat and Bouchaud directed their attention against the 37th Indiana while the Kentuckians threatened the far flank.
Battle was intense all along the line with the lead Confederate units gradually worn away and the Federal units at the schwerpunkts also being battered. After two hours French sensed the Federal line cracking and ordered a full assault. The lines of butternut and gray surged the last hundred yards.
Corse, too, had seen his front line begin to waver and determined the time was right to maneuver those reserves heretofore unseen to French. The veteran 42nd Indiana ascended a small rise to the left of the decimated 37th. Greeted warmly by Bouchaud, they delivered a devastating volley to stop the 25th Alabama and plug the gap where Battery G was fighting sponge stave to bayonet over the gabions.
Likewise, on the right, the 11th Michigan finally gave way but forward into the gap marched the 18th and 74th Ohio to thwart the surge of the 1st Louisiana and 10th Mississippi.
A rider galloped up to French with a note that Federal columns were on the move on the road from Atlanta and he called of the attack, even as its momentum died at the lip of the fortifications on the anvil of the fresh reserves and their concentrated volleys.
Corse suffered casualties of almost 25%. French, with a considerably larger force, though at a decided tactical disadvantage in terms of altitude and dirt, lost almost 30%.
We use Mr. Lincoln's War rules and 15mm figures.
Diatribes are simply often humorous recountings of the games played by the Long Island Irregulars. We play with toy soldiers and are unabashedly happy to have never lost this part of our childhoods..