Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pickett's Mill: Candlelight tours back on, will focus on daring night attack at ravine

(Georgia State Parks)

Five candlelight tours next weekend will provide a front-row seat to a re-enactment of the desperate nighttime fight at Pickett’s Mill near Atlanta.

Spots are open for the March 3-4 tours at the well-preserved Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site in Paulding County. The tours originally were set for last fall, but a burn ban resulting from a drought caused the event to be postponed.

The tours, at a cost of $10 per person (no cost to children 2 and under) can be booked online here. Advance reservations are required. Each tour is limited to 30 people.

The event, being put on by the Friends of Pickett’s Mill Battlefield and the park, will focus on a Confederate counterattack and significant victory at the May 27, 1864, Atlanta Campaign battle.

Capt. Thomas Key and his Arkansas four-gun battery played a large part in the outcome. Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne ordered Key to place two guns to the right oblique to enfilade a ravine.

Federal troops under Brig. Gen. William Hazen charged uphill that afternoon in an attempt to take the top of a ridge. Key’s howitzers were ready for them. A second attack also failed.
The Federal soldiers were mired in the ravine. About 10 p.m., Brig. Gen. Hiram B. Granbury’s Texas troops, their bayonets fixed, went into action.

Hiram Granbury
“With darkness settling over the field … Granbury evaluated the day’s action. His troops had successfully repulsed the Federal attacks, suffered minimal casualties, and their morale stood at a high point,” said Michael K. Shaffer, a historian who will help conduct the tours.

Upon receiving orders from Cleburne to “clear his front,” Granbury initiated an all-out charge, Shaffer said. The Confederates chased the hapless Federals out, capturing several prisoners before returning to their lines.

Cleburne wrote of the counterattack: “Surprised and panic-stricken, many (of the enemy) fled, escaping in the darkness; others surrendered and were brought into our lines. It needed but the brilliancy of this night attack to add luster to the achievements of Granbury and his brigade in the afternoon. I am deeply indebted to them both.” (As a side note, Cleburne and Granbury were killed at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee six months later.)

A reproduction artillery piece will be used to demonstrate the action that night.

Participants in the hourlong experience will walk part of the Blue Trail, see Granbury’s lines and re-enactors clash at the ravine.

Participants in the tours are encouraged to dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. No pets or strollers are permitted. The park is located at 4432 Mount Tabor Church Road, Dallas, GA 30157 

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