Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Battle for Chattanooga: Grant Takes Command

By Capt. William Carraway
State Public Affairs Officer


Setting the stage

Following the September 1863 debacle of Chickamauga, the Union Army had retreated to the entrenchments of Chattanooga. Confederate General Braxton Bragg besieged Chattanooga with the intent of starving the federal army into submission.

With the Tennessee River forming a natural boundary to the north of Chattanooga, Bragg established the left flank of his siege line on Lookout Mountain just south of a bend in the river known as Moccasin Point. He also stationed troops at Brown’s Ferry near Moccasin Point to guard against possible river crossings. A ridgeline known as Missionary Ridge ran east, then northeast from Lookout Mountain and provided a natural stronghold for Bragg to establish his siege lines overlooking the vital rail hub and supply depot of Chattanooga. Bragg and his 45,000 men set in on the high ground for a long wait.



Map courtesy of the Civil War Trust (Civilwar.org)
Rattled by his defeat at Chickamauga, Union Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans seemed to lose the ability to act decisively. He was, in the words of Assistant Secretary of War Charles Dana “confused and stunned, like a duck hit on the head.” President Lincoln did not wait for Rosecrans to act. He ordered Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker (who had commanded the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville) to march with two corps of 15,000 men. Also ordered to move to Chattanooga’s relief were the 20,000 men under Maj. Gen. Willliam Tecumseh Sherman. As a final measure, Lincoln ordered Maj. Gen. Ulysses Grant to move to Chattanooga and personally take command of the army.
When he arrived in late October, Grant found an army demoralized and immobilized from the effects of the siege. The army had lost so many horses and mules to starvation that artillery and supply movement was seriously degraded.

Grant breaks out

On October 26, Union forces assaulted Brown’s Ferry just northwest of Lookout Mountain. This action compelled Bragg to react. He ordered Lt. Gen. James Longstreet to move to Brown’s Ferry. When Longstreet failed to respond, Bragg ordered him to attack Hooker’s concentrating forces near Wauhatchie. The October 28th battle of Wauhatchie took place entirely at night but is also notable for the poor performance of both Longstreet and Hooker. After a night of blundering by both sides, the Union held Brown’s Ferry and Wauhatchie and had opened a supply line to the beleaguered city.    
With supplies now flowing into Chattanooga, Bragg had to reevaluate his strategy. Siege was no longer an option. Instead, on November 3, 1863, Bragg dispatched Longstreet and his 12,000 men north to Knoxville to contend with Union Maj. Gen Ambrose Burnside and his army’s control of the railroad in hopes of establishing a new supply line from Virginia.

Consequential decisions

As Bragg was depleting his forces Grant continued to strengthen his. By mid November, Sherman’s forces were arriving by a circuitous northern route. Bragg concluded erroneously that Sherman was moving in opposition of Longstreet at Knoxville and further depleted his forces by sending the divisions of Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne and Maj. Gen Simon Bolivar Buckner to support Longstreet. Grant interpreted the move to indicate that Bragg was intent on retreating and concentrating at Knoxville. To counter this supposed retreat, Grant ordered Maj. Gen George Thomas to conduct probing attacks along Confederate positions on Missionary Ridge east of Chattanooga.

Orchard Knob, November 23, 1863

Thomas, in typical cautious fashion, organized a reconnaissance force of 25,000 men with the intent of moving in against Confederate picket posts located on a prominence called Orchard Knob. Thomas believed that if threatened, Bragg would deploy his forces in line of battle, thus revealing his relative strength. Confederates watching from Missionary Ridge and Orchard Knob initially thought they were witnessing a grand parade, so well dressed were the Union lines. Their perception was swiftly corrected as the Union forces swept forward across the Western Atlantic Railroad taking Orchard Knob at bayonet point and driving the pickets from their post.

Bragg reacts

Heretofore, Bragg had been convinced that a Union attack would fall against his left flank anchored on Lookout Mountain. Instead, Thomas had established a staging area directly opposite Bragg’s headquarters in the center of his Missionary Ridge line. Sherman meanwhile was concentrating on his right. Bragg immediately recalled Cleburne and his crack division and positioned them on his right flank near Tunnel Hill. Bragg also pulled troops from Lookout Mountain in order to bolster his Missionary Ridge Line. Included among these latter troops were the Georgia regiments of Brig Gen. John Jackson’s Brigade which was placed near the center opposite Orchard Knob.
Lookout Mountain November 24, 1863
Unbeknownst to Bragg, Grant had no intention of striking the fortified Missionary Ridge position head on. Instead, on the morning of November 24, he launched Hooker’s men against Lookout Mountain. A heavy morning fog prevented Confederate pickets from detecting the onrushing Union forces until they were upon them. For several hours Union and Confederate muskets blazed and flashed like lighting in what would come to be called The Battle Above the Clouds. Pushed back by the combined force of four divisions, the Confederate lines rallied on the crest and fighting gradually slowed. By midnight the remaining Confederates withdrew to the Missionary Ridge lines. Lookout Mountain was in Union hands. In two days, Grant had achieved two victories. On the morrow he would achieve a stunning third victory.

Missionary Ridge November 25, 1863

By the morning of November 25, Hooker’s forces were in position to threaten Bragg from the South. Sherman meanwhile had positioned his forces to threaten Missionary Ridge from the North. Thomas’s forces, still in position near Orchard Knob opposed the center of Missionary Ridge.
Grant’s plan was to assault along Bragg’s entire line. While Hooker pressed on the left and Thomas demonstrated to his front, Sherman would strike Bragg’s right as the decisive effort. Initially prospects seemed to go against the Union battle plan as Hooker’s attacks to the south were delayed by terrain and Sherman’s assaults made little headway against Cleburne’s Division.

Missionary Ridge, Orchard Knob, and Tunnel Hill. 
Map courtesy of the Civil War Trust (Civilwar.org)
Looking to break the stalemate, Grant ordered Thomas to move against the Confederate center, but only so far as the enemy’s rifle pits. In his haste, Grant had issued verbal rather than written orders. While some of Thomas’ commanders received orders to halt at the rifle pits, others received no such order. Regardless, 24,000 Union Soldiers had begun their advance without a defined end state. That end state became clear when the Soldiers, having driven the defenders from their rifle pits were raked by artillery from the crest of Missionary Ridge. To stay in position or move to the rear meant exposing themselves to direct plunging fire. The clearest way to eliminate the threat was to close the distance until those cannons could no longer depress to bring effective fire upon them. What followed was one of the most spectacular, most unexpected charges of the war. Without stopping, Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland passed the rifle pits, and began charging up the 600 foot ridgeline. Furious and helpless, Grant remarked to Thomas that someone would pay dearly if this charge failed.

Confederates watched in awe at the sea of blue approaching from below. Some Confederates were unable to fire because of their fleeing comrades. Many units could not even see the approaching federals due to the steepness of the terrain. Thus, many were taken by surprise when Union troops began to crest the ridge. The Georgians of Jackson’s Brigade were struck by the division of Brig. Gen. Absalom Baird, a former mathematics professor at West Point. Swiftly, more than 4,200 Confederates were captured along with nearly 50 pieces of artillery. Only Cleburne’s portion of the line held. Like Thomas’s stand at Chickamauga, Cleburne’s stubborn defense granted Bragg’s fleeing army precious time.

Epilogue

Chattanooga was an even more complete victory for the Union than Chickamauga had been for the Confederacy. Although the Union army had suffered nearly 6,000 casualties it had inflicted perhaps 7,000 on the smaller Confederate army. More importantly, the Union now had complete control over Tennessee and a base from which to launch operations into the Deep South.
Broken and in retreat, the Confederate Army was streaming south with the Union army close at its heels. Bragg, in a fit of desperation, ordered a single Confederate division to stand as rear guard against the full might of the onrushing Union Army. The division of Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne was ordered to stand against a force five times its size.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Battle of Chickamauga: Desperate struggle in North Georgia

By Capt. William Carraway
State Public Affairs Officer

[Second in a series on Chickamauga.  See first blog post here]

Prologue

The September edition of the Guardsmen recounted the opening maneuvers of the Chickamauga Campaign from Tullahoma to Chattanooga, and finally to the banks of the Chickamauga River north of Lafayette, Ga. By the evening of September 18, Union forces were arrayed west of the river and the Lafayette Turnpike. Confederate forces had achieved a bridgehead across the Chickamauga River at Reed’s Bridge and Alexander’s Ford, and were building combat power on the west side of the river.

Final Positions

Map of actions on 19 September.
Map courtesy of the Civil War Trust (civilwar.org)
On the evening of September 18, Union commander Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans sent Maj. Gen. George Thomas, commander of the 14th Corps north along the Lafayette Road. His intent was to extend his defensive line and maintain the Union army’s line of retreat north to Chattanooga. By the morning of September 19, Thomas’s men had taken up position in the fields of the Kelly farm. Having received a report from Union Col. Daniel McCook about an isolated rebel brigade trapped on the west side of the river, Thomas dispatched two Union divisions to investigate.

The Confederate troops McCook had encountered were cavalrymen of the 1st Georgia, who had thrown up skirmish lines in the vicinity of Jay’s Mill, approximately ½ mile west of Reed’s Bridge. Having already received orders to withdraw, McCook left the field to the Georgians before reporting his findings to Thomas. Thus, when Thomas’s brigades moved east in search of the isolated Confederate brigade the Georgians were prepared in skirmish order across Reed’s Bridge Road. In the woods, just one quarter mile south of the 1st Georgia, a Union brigade under Col. John Croxton encountered additional cavalry forces of Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest engaged Croxton with his cavalry long enough for rebel infantry of Col. Claudius Wilson and the 25th, 29th and 30th Georgia to enter the fight. Over the next two and a half hours, brigades would be sucked into the growing fight at Jay’s Mill.

Confusion and Reinforcement

The action alarmed both Rosecrans and his Confederate adversary, General Braxton Bragg. Bragg’s battle plan called for 25,000 men to assault Union lines along the Lafayette Road, well south of Jay’s Mill. The unexpected presence of Thomas to the north threatened Bragg’s right flank. Rosecrans, meanwhile, had ordered Thomas into defensive positions, only to have his subordinate launch a two-division attack.

Before launching his Lafayette Road offensive, Bragg determined to secure his flank in the vicinity of Jay’s Mill. He dispatched his reserve corps and five brigades of Maj. Gen. Ben Cheatham’s Division to reinforce Forrest. Simultaneously, Rosecrans shifted divisions from the 20th and 21st Corps. Both the Union and Confederate commanders were dispatching units without regard to the chain of command, a breakdown in command and control that would be further exacerbated by the terrain and lack of visibility.

The Fighting Moves South

Map of actions on 20 September.
Map courtesy of the Civil War Trust (civilwar.org)
Cheatham’s 7,000 Confederates slammed into the Union divisions shortly after noon, in the vicinity of the Brock Farm. After committing Cheatham, Bragg dispatched a third division under command of Maj. Gen. A. P. Stewart and ordered him to move “to the sound of the guns.” Stewart arrived south of Cheatham’s lines shortly before 2:00 p.m. in time to stabilize the faltering Confederate line. Moving with Stewart were the 4th Georgia Sharpshooters and the 37th Georgia Infantry. The Georgians were able to dislodge the stubborn Union defenders of Maj. Gen. Van Cleve’s Division from their positions on the Lafayette Road. Having taken a significant amount of ground, Stewart had insufficient men to maintain his position and was forced to withdraw east of the Lafayette Road.

Georgians Enter the Ditch of Death

Intent on finding the enemy flank, Rosecrans met with the improbably named Brig. Gen. Jefferson Davis and directed him to move his division across the Viniard Field, well south of the engaged forces. Expecting to find the Confederate left flank, Davis instead encountered the main body of Bragg’s waiting assault force-25,000 strong. In the next two and a half hours the most savage combat of the battle would swirl about the Viniard Field until the Union line collapsed at 4:30 and the Northerners were sent streaming back across the Lafayette Road. Pursuing the fleeing Union troops the Georgians of Brig. Gen. Henry Benning poured volley after volley into the backs of the retreating Union Soldiers. Sgt. W.R. Houghton of the 2nd Georgia recalled the action:

“We stood there… shooting them down… It was horrible slaughter.” The slaughter would soon be visited upon Benning’s men as they advanced into the field of fire of the brigade of Col. John Wilder, whose men were armed with seven shot repeating rifles. Benning’s Georgians were cut to pieces. Of 1,200 Georgians 490 became casualties.

A Restless Night

By 6:00 fighting had mostly ended in the Viniard Field where 15 brigades had contended. After nearly 12 hours of continuous combat the fighting was concluded, except for a rare night assault initiated by the division of Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne across the Winfrey Field. The men of both armies settled in for a restless night. Despite the temperatures that plunged below freezing, Soldiers of both armies were forbidden from starting campfires due to the proximity of enemy forces.

With the arrival of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet on the field, Bragg reorganized his army into two wings. Longstreet was given command of the left wing while Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk commanded the right wing. Bragg’s battle plan remained unchanged:  attack and drive the Union army south, away from its line of retreat to Chattanooga.   

On the opposite side of the Lafayette Road, Rosecrans, having gone without sleep, surveyed his lines with the intent of supporting Thomas’s lines to the north. Rosecrans would agree to reinforce Thomas – a decision that would have fateful consequences on the second day of the battle.

Action Resumes, The Union North in Peril

Although Bragg had intended to attack at dawn, the Confederate assault did not get underway until 9:30 a.m. when the corps of Lt. Gen. D.H. Hill struck Thomas. Though bloodily repulsed on part of their lines, two brigades of Hill’s Corps succeeded in turning Thomas’s left flank. The Confederates drove south down the Lafayette Road into the Kelly Field and threatened the entire Union position. Rosecrans, sensing the threat, shifted forces from the south and by 11:30, Hill was forced back.

Union Disaster

Hill’s success worried Rosecrans, who began shifting additional forces north. In the course of redeployment, the Union exposed a division-wide gap in their line. Just as the gap opened, Longstreet launched an assault into the gap. The divisions of Davis and Maj. Gen. Phillip Sheridan are crushed by 12,000 surging Confederates. In the resulting stampede Rosecrans, his chief of staff and future president, James Garfield, and three corps commanders are driven from the field. One third of the Union army ceased to exist as a fighting force. If not for the determined stand of Maj. Gen. Thomas’s men on Snodgrass Hill the entire Union army might have been destroyed in detail. Thomas holds just long enough to preserve the Union army before withdrawing to Rossville to the North. Nevertheless hundreds of Union Soldiers are captured by onrushing Confederates.

Aftermath

On the morning of September 21, Confederates awoke to find that the Union army had slipped away. Rosecrans would reestablish his base at Chattanooga but his tenure as army commander was drawing to a close. In just over a week Rosecrans would be replaced by a hard fighting western general named Ulysses Grant.

Although he was technically the victor, Bragg had failed in his objective of destroying Rosecrans. He would continue to bicker with his subordinate commanders until November when he would challenge the Union army for control of Chattanooga.

More than 34,000 of the 125,000 Soldiers engaged at Chickamauga became casualties. But D.H. Hill remembering the battle years later observed that true casualty of Chickamauga was hope.

"It seems to me that the élan of the Southern soldier was never seen after Chickamauga; the brilliant dash which had distinguished him was gone forever. He fought stoutly to the last, but after Chickamauga, with the sullenness of despair, and without the enthusiasm of hope. That 'barren victory' sealed the fate of the Southern Confederacy."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Prelude to Chickamauga: Opening Movements of the Bloodiest Battle in the Western Theater of the Civil War

By Capt. William Carraway
State Public Affairs Officer


 Situation in the West


Image of Reeds Bridge.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Where May 1863 saw the apogee of Confederate hopes with an improbable victory at Chancellorsville, July represented a stunning reversal and a resurgence of Northern fortunes.  In addition to Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg, Union forces under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had forced the capitulation of Vicksburg, Mississippi effectively dividing the Confederacy in two.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Union Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans was about to achieve a strategic victory of maneuver against his old foe Confederate Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee. As related in the December 2012 edition of the Georgia Guardsman, Rosecrans had fought Bragg to a standstill in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and forced the southern army to retreat to Tullahoma.  Remaining in Murfreesboro for six months, Rosecrans rebuilt his army before launching his Tullahoma Campaign to drive Bragg from his strong defensive positions.  In early July, Rosecrans sent his three army corps on separate routes of march flanking Bragg from his lines and forcing him to retreat to Chattanooga.  The campaign was nearly bloodless and a brilliant study in maneuver.  But Rosecrans was set on driving Bragg completely out of Tennessee. To that end, he set his sights on Chattanooga, a vital rail hub key to the launching of operations into the deep south.

Approaches to Chattanooga

Anyone who has driven north through Monteagle, Tenn. is familiar with the Cumberland Plateau.  It rises sharply, dividing Chattanooga from the rich farmland of middle Tennessee.  This terrain feature provided Rosecrans with a significant challenge. He would have to cross the plateau with an army and all of its supply wagons.  Moreover, once across the plateau, he would be vulnerable to attack from Bragg who could isolate his elements and attack them with their backs to the mountain removing any avenue of escape.  To compound his problem, Rosecrans would then have to cross the Tennessee River to approach the defensible city of Chattanooga. 
To cross the river, Rosecrans employed clever subterfuge.  Sending his three corps to the west and southwest of Chattanooga, Rosecrans dispatched a diversion force of four brigades to demonstrate north of the city.  While the bulk of his forces moved west screened by mountains the diversion force shelled Chattanooga by day and by night lit dozens of campfires to lend the appearance of vast numbers of encamped Soldiers.  The plan worked. By early September, Rosecrans had crossed downstream and to the rear of Chattanooga. Through deception, Rosecrans had brought his Army within striking distance of Chattanooga, traversing both mountain and river utterly uncontested.  As with Tullahoma, Bragg found himself outmaneuvered with the enemy threatening his communications and his route of escape.

Bragg Retreats

Opening actions at Reeds Bridge.   
Map courtesy of the Civil War Trust (civilwar.org)
Alarmed by the developments and hoping to reverse the setbacks of the summer of 1863, Jefferson Davis dispatched two divisions from Mississippi under Maj. Gen. John Breckenridge, a former United States vice president, and two divisions from the Army of Northern Virginia under command of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet to bolster Bragg’s ranks.  These reinforcements would prove critical to the battle of Chickamauga, but for now, Bragg was on his own. Abandoning Chattanooga, Bragg retreated to the vicinity of Lafayette, Ga.  Rosecrans, exultant at the victory began pursuit.  Compelled by Washington telegraphs to pursue Bragg, Rosecrans divided his army and plunged into Georgia with 60,000 men moving along three separate avenues of approach.  Nearly 6,000 would not return.

Civilian reports confirmed Rosecrans’ suspicions that Bragg was making a disorganized retreat.  Crestfallen deserters confirmed the civilian reports and convinced Rosecrans that he was moving into terrain devoid of effective enemy resistance.  Ignoring the advice of Maj. Gen. George Thomas, who commanded Rosecrans’ XIV Corps, Rosecrans did not pause to consolidate and reinforce Chattanooga. Instead he dispatched his army along diverse routes with the intention of concentrating at Lafayette, Ga.

The Trap is Set

Rather than fleeing to Atlanta, Bragg was himself concentrating forces near Lafayette, Ga. Anticipating Rosecrans’ actions, Bragg had enacted deception operations of his own sending deserters into Union ranks with false reports of a disorganized retreat. Confederate officers primed civilians with tales of an Army on the verge of ruin with the intention of luring Rosecrans into a false sense of security. Far from the demoralized army that Rosecrans envisioned, the Army of Tennessee, swelling in size to 63,000 men was poised to strike. Knowing that the mountains west of Lafayette canalized movement to three passes, Bragg ordered his generals to be prepared to advance upon Union elements in the vicinity of McLemore’s Cove. 
Marching into McLemore’s Cove, Soldiers of Thomas’ corps were confronted by forces of D.H. Hill’s corps at Davis’ Crossroads on September 10, 1863. Despite outnumbering the Federals three to one, Confederates failed to seize the opportunity.  Thomas was able to withdraw the bulk of his forces before they could be destroyed in detail.  Meanwhile, to the north near Graysville, Ga., Union forces attempting to cross Pea Vine Creek were thwarted by the 6th Georgia Cavalry supported by Captain Gustave Huwald’s Georgia Artillery Battery. 
After the abortive attempt by Confederates at Davis’ Crossroads and the actions along Pea Vine Creek, Rosecrans belatedly realized the peril of his position.  He had sent his corps in motion along separate routes of march confident that his enemy was fleeing.  Instead, Bragg was numerically superior, concentrated, and in a position to seize the initiative.  Recognizing the danger Rosecrans resolved to concentrate his forces along the banks of the Chickamauga River north of Lafayette.  Bragg intended to give him battle before he could concentrate.

Crossing the Chickamauga

On September 18, 1863, lead elements of the Confederate army encountered Union resistance at Reed’s Bridge, a crossing of the Chickamauga creek.  Union forces under Col. Robert Minty attempted to burn the bridge but were compelled to withdraw by Confederate pressure.  Among the units present at Reeds Bridge were the 1st and 6th Georgia Cavalry. 
Meanwhile to the south at Alexander’s Bridge, Union Col. John Wilder’s brigade defended the river crossing with seven-shot Spencer carbines.  These weapons allowed Wilder’s Brigade to summon the firepower of two divisions worth of musket fire.  While Wilder was able to hold his position, Confederates secured a bridgehead across the Chickamauga at Reed’s Bridge.  Unable to drive Wilder’s men from the north side of Alexander’s Bridge, Confederates managed to cross the stream nearby at Lambert’s and Bedford’s Ford.
On the morning of September 19, 1863 Union and Confederate forces faced each other in a line running roughly north to south with the Union arrayed on the west side of the Lafayette Road.  General Bragg was resolved to cut off Union avenues of retreat while Rosecrans’ intent was to hold the Lafayette Road line to prevent the destruction of his forces.  Rosecrans was committed to fighting a defensive battle.  The initiative thus shifted to Bragg. 

Next month:  Bragg attacks and the bloodiest battle in the western theater begins.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gettysburg Part II: Georgians and Gettysburg

By Capt. William Carraway
State Public Affairs Officer

[Second in a series on Gettysburg. Find the first blog post here.]


A skirmisher with the 2nd Georgia Battalion
moves out in front of Wright’s Brigade.
Georgia Joins the Fight

As Maj. Gen. Harry Heth contended with the Union Iron Brigade west of Gettysburg, Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell’s Corps arrived to the north and deployed to dislodge Union positions at Oak Hill. To Ewell’s southeast, Brig. Gen. Francis Barlow’s Union division had advanced to occupy the high ground of Blocher’s Knoll. Exposed as they were on the Union right flank, Barlow’s men made tempting targets for the Georgia brigades of Jubal Early’s Division. While Brig. Gen. John Gordon assaulted and fixed Barlow in place, Brig. Gen. George Doles men swept in and flanked Barlow from his position. The dislodged Union troops belonged to Col. Leopold Von Gilsa – the same New Yorkers who had been flanked by Jackson at Chancellorsville. Barlow was wounded and captured and two of his brigades were routed. In one hour’s fighting the Georgians inflicted more than 3,000 casualties on the Union XI Corps while suffering 750 casualties.

The collapse of the Union right caused the entire Union line to fall back through the town of Gettysburg. Union Soldiers desperately established defensive positions on Cemetery Ridge as darkness brought an end to the fighting. Significantly, though the Confederates had nearly routed the Union, they had failed to dislodge them from the high ground of Cemetery and Culps Hills.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kennesaw Mountain leadership lessons still relevant

By Maj. Dustin Krack
Joint Force Headquarters Operations


National Park Service Ranger Willie Johnson
refers to a map to show the array of forces
just prior to the battle of Dead Angle.
Soldiers of the G3 (operations) office of Joint Force Headquarters, Georgia Army National Guard, along with students of Georgia's Regional Training Institute (RTI) military intelligence school, recently had the opportunity to conduct a staff ride of the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park located just outside Marietta, Ga.

The first staff ride was conducted in 1906 by a group of U.S. Army students stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kans. as a means of leader development and professional military education. By definition, a staff ride consists of a preliminary study of a selected campaign, a visit to the actual sites associated with the campaign, and an integration phase where participants can discuss ideas and lessons learned.

The field study portion of the Kennesaw Mountain staff ride took place on June 2nd, 2013 guided by ranger and historian Willy R. Johnson of national park services. Johnson has been a loyal employee of the National Park Service for over 39 years, earning the Ancient Order of Saint Barbara, a coveted distinction sought after by the field artillery community.