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The Battle of Buck Head Creek

November 28, 1864 in Jenkins County, Georgia
Sherman's Savannah "March To The Sea" Campaign

Union Forces Commanded by:
Brig. Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- 46 k&w - -

Confederate Forces Commanded by:
Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- 600 k&w - -

**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Inconclusive Victory


While Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's infantry marched east from Milledgeville on November 24th, his cavalry, under Brig. Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick, ranged northeastward. At Sherman's orders, Kilpatrick prepared to feint toward Augusta, then move eastward to burn the trestle over Briar Creek, near Waynesborough, severing the railroad midway between Augusta and Millen. Before rejoining the main army, the troopers were to attempt to release Union prisoners being held at Millen.

Kilpatrick's Confederate counterpart, Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, learned of the Union movement toward Augusta and concentrated his cavalry there. Only when the Federals failed to appear did he realize he had been fooled, and, pounding after Kilpatrick, he sought revenge.

His opportunity came on the 26th, when 2 Union regiments lagged behind Kilpatrick's main force. Attacking their camp at Sylvian Grove at night, Wheeler chased them to their main column, which he also harassed, preventing Kilpatrick from destroying the bridge at Briar Creek. To compound Kilpatrick's discomfiture, Wheeler soon learned that the prisoners at Millen had been removed to points unknown. Easing his frustration, Kilpatrick wrecked more than a mile of railroad before returning to the southwest to rejoin Sherman near Louisville.

On the night of the 27th, Kilpatrick encamped a short distance from Buck Head Creek, for some reason pitching his tent far from the main bivouac. Due to his carelessness, he was almost captured when Wheeler's persistent troopers surprised him early the next morning. Riding to safety just ahead of his pursuers, Kilpatrick led his men to Buck Head Creek, with Wheeler close behind.
While Kilpatrick's main force crossed the swampy creek, his rear guard waited to greet the Confederates. On their appearance, the regiment opened up with rifles and cannon.

The Federals then burned the bridge over the creek, buying enough time for Col. Smith D. Atkin's brigade to dismount and form line of battle a few miles farther south, at Reynolds' Plantation. There, protected by barricades, it repulsed 2 columns of charging Confederates quickly and easily. Wheeler then withdrew, and Kilpatrick marched toward Louisville without further difficulty.

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