Fighting at Camp Creek
By Stephen Davis
By May 14 Johnston's Confederate army was in position north and west of Resaca. Its line stretched four miles with its left on the Oostanaula River and the right extending to the Conasauga. A "deep, narrow stream" called Camp Creek cut across most of Johnston's front, creating an additional obstacle for the Federals should they attack the Confederate position.
Sherman's forces marching from Snake Creek Gap got into position paralleling the Rebel lines. Sherman ordered attacks against Johnston's center-right to keep the Rebels occupied while Sweeny's division of the Sixteenth Corps crossed the Oostanaula four miles downstream from Rescaa, beyond the Confederates' left, to threaten the railroad.
Starting around 11:30 a.m. Yankees from Schofield's Twenty-third and Howard's Fourth Corps attacked across rough terrain: dense woods, a steep slope down to Camp Creek, and up the other side in front of a well-entrenched enemy. Camp Creek, "with quicksand in places, and steep muddy banks." proved a formidable obstacle indeed. Schofield's two divisions charged and failed. One brigade of Brig. Gen. Henry Judah's division never got past Camp Creek. The Fourteenth Corps divisions of Brig. Gen. Absalom Baird's and Brig. Gen. Richard Johnson also charged. Their troops at least got across the creek before having to withdraw under heavy musketry and cannon fire. Brig. Gen. Jacob Cox's division of Schofield's corps entered the battle after Judah's and was also thrown back.
On the Confederate line Pat Cleburne's and Maj. Gen. Thomas Hindman's divisions helped repel the attacks, but Maj. Gen. William Bate's division bore the brunt of them. According to Bate, his troops easily repulsed three separate charges.
The Federal assault on the Confederate center-right petered out around 3 p.m., having achieved nothing but casualties—at least 1,600 killed and wounded. Following their failed attacks, Thomas and Schofield ordered artillery to shell the Rebel works. After adding casualties from the bombardment, the Confederates probably lost between 400 and 500 men in the Camp Creek fighting on May 14.
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