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May 28, 1864

The Battle of Dallas

Having been forced to cancel Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood's attack against the Federals' left, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston saw an opportunity on their other flank. Gen. William T. Sherman was clearly moving troops eastward and Johnston thought the Yankees might be withdrawing troops from their right. Johnston instructed Gen. William Hardee to have Brig. Gen. William B. Bate's division, on the Confederate left, to "develop the enemy" near Dallad and "ascertain his strength and position, as it is believed he is not in force." Some of Bate's men already knew that the enemy lines ahead were fortified and still occupied with the infantry and artillery of Gen. James B. McPherson's Army of the Tennessee. Lt. Col. Franklin Montgomery of the 1st Mississippi Cavalry wrote that he had taken "a good look at a part of their works, which seemed very strong, and I no doubt were well manned." But General Bate believed that he faced only an enemy skirmish line. Kentuckian John S. Jackman commented in his diary, "the boys generally know what is in front and could have told Gen. Bate better."

By 3:00pm, Bate had formed his plan. Brig. Gen. Frank Armstrong's brigade of dismounted cavalry would charge the Yankee line; if they encountered strong opposition, they were to retire. If not, they would press their attack toward the right. Two artillery shots would signal Bate's three infantry brigades to then advance. 

Around 3:45pm, Armstrong's troops sallied forth, so suddenly that they drove the Yankees back and captured three cannon. But Maj. Gen. John A. Logan organized a counterattack that drove the Mississippians back to their lines. General Bate sent couriers to his three brigade commanders to cancel their attack, but only one of them received the order. The brigades of Col. Robert Bullock and Brig. Gen. Joseph Lewis charged the strong Federal lines and were bloodily repulsed. Confederate losses totaled 1,200. Logan reported 379 casualties in his three divisions engaged. 

Both sides spent May 29 watchfully waiting in lines anywhere from 200 yards to a half-mile apart. Skirmishers were active, peppering the other side, and artillerymen kept up their fire. "During the day all rather quiet Sharpshooting," recorded an officer on Johnston's staff. On the 30th, Sherman wanted his forces to start withdrawing from the Dallas-New Hope-Pickett's Mill lines for a move back toward the railroad. He had flanked Johnston out of Allatoona, and now it was time to move back to his line of supply, and on to Acworth. McPherson, however, had difficulty disengaging from the Rebels (Bate's division in his front). On June 1, the Army of the Tennessee carefully withdrew and started marching northeastward. 

Johnston received reports of the enemy movement from observers in Elsberry Mountain. To parallel Sherman's eastward march and to block his next advance, Johnston chose to place his next defensive line at Lost Mountain, six miles southeast of the Confederates' New Hope line. On June 3, when Sherman's advance reached the railroad at Acworth, Johnston issued orders for the march to Lost Mountain.