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Book Review: The Battle of Allatoona Pass

By Jon Guttman
12/13/2016 • Civil War Times Magazine

The Battle of Allatoona Pass: Civil War Skirmish in Bartow County, Georgia
 Brad Butkovich
 The History Press

Some Civil War encounters made up for their less than epic scale in their disproportionate intensity, and Brad Butkovich’s examination of the fight for Allatoona Pass on October 5, 1864—lent more intimate detail by the discovery of new firsthand reference material—is a case in point. A sideshow to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, it involved a vital link in the Western & Atlantic Railroad, for which 2,190 Union troops under Brig. Gen. John M. Corse fought off some 2,250 attackers of Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French’s Division of General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee.

If the battle is remembered at all, it is for communications between Corse and Sherman that evolved into “Hold the fort—I am coming.” Sherman denied saying it that way, and Butkovich presents exchanges that come close, such as: “Hold the place. I will help you.”

Regardless, Allatoona Pass was a confrontation with high stakes and high casualties, totaling 32 percent of the Union defenders and 40 percent for the Rebel attackers. Anyone looking for a gorefest will get his money’s worth in this book.

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