Pickett's Mill remains a "misunderstood" encounter. Referred to in general terms like "The Dallas Line" or "Hell Hole" by Union soldiers, three separate battles south of Kingston are frequently confused and often combined. Today most historians view the battles as three distinct encounters:
May 25 - New Hope Church
May 27 - Pickett's Mill
May 28 - Dallas
moved there to avoid a battle. Late on a Friday in the Spring of 1864, 14,000 men from Oliver O. Howard's 4th Army Corps moved towards the Pickett's farm and grist mill on Little Pumpkinvine Creek and arguably the worst Union defeat during the Atlanta Campaign.
Pumpkinvine and Little Pumpkinvine Creek got their names from the curving, winding path they take, much like a pumpkin vine. This also illustrates the unusual, hilly nature of the terrain. Pumpkinevine Creek begins at the southern end of the Allatoona Mountains, and after a nearly 20 mile run ends about four miles from where it started.
The story of the Battle of Pickett's Mill begins ten days earlier, as Sherman occupies Kingston, Georgia. In 2 weeks the red-haired commander from Ohio marched half the distance between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta avoiding Joe Johnston's entrenched positions by outflanking him at Battle of Dalton and Resaca. The speed at which Sherman moved alarmed most Georgians and the entire Confederacy. Johnston lay waiting in Allatoona Pass, eight miles due east of Kingston and along Sherman's all weather lifeline, the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
Sherman chose to venture south into the hills of Paulding County. The move presented major logistical problems, especially trying to feed 100,000 soldiers deep in enemy territory. Additionally, as his path grew longer the lines of wagon trains took more men to guard.
"Fighting Joe" Hooker ran into resistance near a Methodist church. Confused by inaccurate maps and hindered by poor communication, Hooker waited for additional men. Sherman ordered an attack, trying to outflank the Rebels
before they have time to fortify the position. The engagement at New Hope Church
stuns Sherman, simply because he is not expecting strong Rebel resistance.
Caught off-guard, with his men beginning to suffer from a lack of rations, Sherman ordered Major General Oliver O. Howard to attack the left flank of the Confederate Army. General George Henry Thomas, Commander, Army of the Cumberland, and Howard scouted the area in the vicinity of Pickett's Mill and decided to attack what appeared to be the end of the Rebel line.
With Little Pumpkinvine Creek to the east men under the command of William B. Hazen advanced on the rapidly fortifying Confederate line. Hazen knew the attack was a serious mistake, but he followed orders. Comprised mostly of men from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, Hazen comes up against the best commander in the Western Theater and possibly the entire Civil War, Patrick Cleburne.
At 4:30 pm on that Friday in the Spring of 1864, the Civil War came to Benjamin and Malachi Pickett's farm. It was not a pleasant day.
Hazen's men moved toward the Rebel line. During the initial advance some of his men became confused and ended up east of the intended objective. Additionally, Hazen's support on the right flank was distracted by dismounted Confederate cavalry firing from the other side of Little Pumpkinvine Creek. Stranded on the middle of one of the few open areas in the field of battle, Hazen's men come under incredible fire. Additional support moving from the Union line was delayed by the thick underbrush. When Hazen realized the lack of support he has no choice. The order is given to retreat.
At 6:00 pm General Thomas J. Woods orders a second attack. This time the men have a shorter distance to go because of the advance made by Hazen. The brigade, under the command of Colonel William H. Gibson, is routed by Cleburne's men.
Confederate Hiram Granbury successfully repulsed attacks by the Federals. He asks and receives permission to advance to sweep the area in front of him for Union soldiers. At 10:00 pm Granbury's Texans begin their advance. The Federals meet the advancing line with a single volley, then withdraw. With this brief blast the battle is over. Based on the number of dead at the battlefield, Pat Cleburne estimated the Union losses at 3,000.
The battle of Pickett's Mill was a decisive victory for the Confederates. Sherman, for the first time during the Atlanta Campaign is now faced with the possibility of retreat. Sherman must return to the railroad to supply his army so he began movement along the Dallas Line to the north and east on May 29th. On June_1, 1864, he is relieved to find that General George Stoneman's cavalry has taken Allatoona Pass with little resistance.