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The Battle of New Hope Church

May 25-26, 1864 in Paulding County, Georgia
Atlanta Campaign

Union Forces Commanded by:
Maj. General William T. Sherman and Maj. General Joseph Hooker
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- 1,600 k&w - -

Confederate Forces Commanded by:
General Joseph E. Johnston
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- - - -

**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Confederate Victory


After Gen. Joseph E. Johnston retreated to Allatoona Pass on May 19-20, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman decided that he would most likely pay dearly for attacking Johnston there, so he determined to move around Johnston's left flank and steal a march toward Dallas. Johnston anticipated Sherman's move and met the Union forces at New Hope Church. Sherman mistakenly surmised that Johnston had a token force and ordered Maj. General Joseph Hooker's corps to attack.
In the midst of a heavy rain storm, in a dense woods, an attack was made against Confederate troops under Gen.John Bell Hood that were entrenched on higher ground and supported by artillery. This corps was severely mauled. On the 26th, both sides en-trenched, and skirmishing continued throughout the day. Actions the next day in this area are discussed under Pickett's Mills.

Recollections of a 107th NYVolunteer Infantry soldier:

In the midst of a heavy rain storm in a dense woods the regiment attacked Confederate troops under General John Bell Hood that were entrenched on higher ground and supported by artillery.

During this battle the 107th NYVolunteer Infantry had 165 casualties, the largest number ever suffered by them in a single engagement. Twenty seven men were killed outright and sixteen died from their wounds.

The brunt of this battle was felt by the 1st division of the 20th Corps. Almost 1200 men of this division fell dead or wounded.

It was 5pm when the 2nd Brigade advanced with the 107th on the right flank. Artillery fired on the enemy in front, but there was no response. A bugle sounded and the advance began. The skirmishers in front drove the enemy back.

The regiment moved quickly forward in the steady rain; down the hill, across the ravine and up the other side with beautiful precision toward a thickly wooded forest in their front. Double quick they entered the woods and were met with a hailstorm of grape, canister, minie ball and buckshot.

Sergeant Benjamin Force, Co. H, killed at New Hope Church, Georgia.

As the regiment pushed forward under heavy fire, Captain John Knox of Co. F, urging his men forward with his sword drawn, was struck dead by a mini ball. At almost the same moment his 2nd Lt. John Hill fell near him. Louis Vreeland a private in Co. B was loading his gun when he sank quietly to a sitting posture. He did not act if anything was the matter, but did not respond when spoken to. A comrade loosened his belt and straps, and undid the buckles of his knapsack. As the straps parted he slumped back on his knapsack disclosing a sickening wound gushing bright red blood from his breast. A moment later Private Hay Grieves threw up his arms and fell backward to the ground. He had been struck in the head by a rifle ball and killed instantly. Men were dying everywhere. Private Martin McGuire suddenly fell to ground, and with face having an indescribable look of terror on it, crawled on his hands and knees to a man near him and gasped "I am hit, where can I go to get out of this?" He tried to crawl to the rear, crept a few paces collapsed and died. Daniel Keener, age 46, whose son was also in the regiment asked if he could go back and help his wounded son. Given permission, he disappeared toward the rear, but was gone only a few minutes. His son Charlie, age 23, was moved back to Kingston after the fight and died five days later.

Sgt. Lauren T. Reeder while in the act of loading his gun had it struck near the hammer by canister shot tearing the stock from the barrel, leaving it literally a piece without lock, stock or barrel. He threw it down and picked up another that had been dropped. As he was ramming home a cartridge a bullet struck the hammer between his hand and the muzzle bending it halfway double. Disheartened, he threw down the gun, and lay flat with his face to the ground growling like an angered bear. At that moment a projectile of some sort passed obliquely down through the brim of his slouched hat filling his face, mouth and eyes with the loose dirt. He exploded with anger, jumped up, seized another gun and began loading and firing. Later after the fight was over he examined his clothing, and found that in addition to his hat he had been hit by no less than seven balls. One shoulder strap of his knapsack was cut clean through, the buckle which fastened his haversack was shot off, his canteen was perforated by a ball and another ball had passed across his left leg near the ankle cutting clean through his trouser leg and drawers. Lastly a fry pan strapped on the outside of his knapsack had been hit and no longer was serviceable. Sgt. Reeder would survive this battle and would live to return home at the end of the war.

Recollections of J. T. Gibson, Company A, 78th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry:

The movements of the 78th Regiment for the next five days did not bring us in direct conflict with the enemy. On the 18th of March we marched to Calhoun, Georgia, and bivouacked two miles south of the town. On the 19th we marched to Kingston and threw up fornications, where we remained until the 23rd. On the 23rd the advance column of the Union Army left the railroad and marched directly westward for the purpose of turning the left flank of the enemy at Dallas instead of making a direct attack on him in the mountain passes. This movement was anticipated by the Confederate commander, and his troops were found in force in the neighborhood of Dallas. The battle lines at this time were nearly 10 miles long, and there was always brisk skirmishing at different points. At an intermediate point known as New Hope Church on the 27th of May, the Union lines were advanced more than a mile, breaking through the Confederates lines, and bringing on a pitched battle. In this advance, the 78th Pennsylvania, leading our brigade, moved forward in battle line across wooded ravines and ridges to the edge of the open fields advancing under a very heavy musketry and artillery fire of the enemy.

Before we reached the open fields a number of men were killed or wounded. The first man of Company A that I saw fall was James Little. I was but a few feet from him, and thought that he was instantly killed, but Captain Ayers, of Company H, told me afterwards that he had raised him up when he said to him, "Tell mother I am in the front ranks yet," and, repeating the words three times, he expired a few moments afterwards in the arms of Chaplain Christy.

Having reached the edge of the woods we halted in a ravine, and the line of battle was somewhat protected, thought the officers, being a few paces in the rear of the line, were peculiarly exposed. In a very few minutes the enemy made a desperate charge across the open fields to drive us from our position. They did not have any very definite line of battle, but they seemed to be in countless numbers, and they did not waver until, at some points, in front of the 78th Regiment they were not 10 paces from our line. As they approached, and as they retreated, our soldiers loaded and fired with deliberate aim and fatal effect. The number killed and wounded on the part of the enemy must have been great, for in all my experience and observation of the 78th Pennsylvania Regiment never had an opportunity for doing such deadly work, and never did their duty more courageously. This particular charge lasted only a few minutes, and our Regiment lost that evening in killed and wounded more than half a hundred men. the number killed as compared with the wounded was much larger than in any other battle in which we were engaged. Three men of Company A were killed instantly; two others were wounded, one of whom died, and the one who recovered was seven months in the hospital before he was able to be taken to his home.

This was my last sight of the Regiment as a part of the Army in the field; for, as the enemy retreated, I had the misfortune to stop a minnie ball of fifty-nine calibre, which shattered the bone of my left arm and lodged in my shoulder, where it remained for 3 years.

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