Section Two: Kilpatrick's Jonesboro Raid
August 18-22, 1864
Prepared by James Hibbard and Albert Castel
After Gen. Hood sent Gen. Joe Wheeler north to cut Sherman's supply lines, Sherman saw an
opportunity to attack the rail line to the south once more. He picked Brig. Gen. H. Judson
Kilpatrick a small man with a large ego. Sherman felt he was a hell of a damned fool. For the
mission Sherman assigned to Kilpatricks force his own division of three brigades under the
immediate command of Col. Eli H. Murray and of two brigades from Gen. Garrards division under
Col. Robert H. G. Minty. In all nearly 4700 men supported by two four-gun batteries of light
artillery. All the Federal troopers were veterans and many of them carried the seven shot Spencer
carbine which gave them far greater firepower. Sherman's instructions were to tear up as much
track as possible south of Atlanta. The plan was for Kilpatrick to do his job and return by way of
Flat Rock, and Decatur. Sherman ordered Gen. Schofields troops to feign against Hood to keep
him from sending infantry southward. Gen. Garrard was ordered to Flat Rock to keep the exit
open for Kilpatrick.
After Kilpatrick's column left Sandtown it came upon Brig. Gen. Lawrence "Sul" Ross' Texas
Cavalry brigade on the north bank of the Camp Creek. The colorful Ross had been a Texas
Ranger and an Indian fighter before the war. His men only number approximately 400. Kilpatrick
sent Lt. Col. Robert Klein's brigade of only 309 men toward Fairburn with orders to tear up the
Atlanta & West Point Railroad there and then proceed to Griffin. Kilpatrick's plan was to
confuse the Confederates to divert forces away from Jonesboro. Ross kept his division
commander Brig. Gen Jackson well posted on Kilpatricks movements. Hood alarmed by the
news sent Brig. Gen. Samuel Ferguson's cavalry brigade of some 2000 men to Rough and Ready
at 6:00 AM. Two hours later Brig. Gen. Daniel Reynolds infantry brigade about 700 men aboard
a train with instructions to proceed at once to Jonesboro. In addition, Hood alerted the post
commanders at Macon, Griffin and other points along the Macon & Western railroad. No one
notified Brig Gen. Frank Armstrong who had about 1500 cavalry at Jonesboro of the threat. He
learned from scouts of a force of Union cavalry moving toward Griffin so he set out for Lovejoy's
Station. It was Kleins decoy that he had heard of. That left Ross' little band of Texans to stand
between the railroad at Jonesboro and the on coming Kilpatrick. Ross set up a line at the Flint
River west of Jonesboro waiting for the Federals. The Chicago Board of Trade Artillery of
Kilpatricks force opened up against them forcing them to retire.
Meanwhile Klein's brigade arrived at Bear Creek Station on the Macon & Western.
He had missed the road to Griffin. But he found a nine car train at Bear Creek and proceeded to
burn the train. He also destroyed about one mile of track. He moved north toward Lovejoy
Station where he met Gen. Armstrong and Gen. Reynolds infantry so he moved toward
Fayetteville to escape with his small force. Armstrong pursued him and realized he was a decoy
and then moved toward Jonesboro. Klein made it safely back to Sandtown with his men.
After Kilpatrick burned buildings and tore up track to the tune of a brass band he then decided to
swing east of Jonesboro because Ross blocked his way south. After moving east then he turned
southwest and approached Lovejoy Station from the
northeast. This brought him to the Dorsey Plantation. Minty took his men toward the station and
encountered Reynolds infantry and lost a lot of men at the railroad.
Col. Long's men came up and halted the Confederate counterattack. Sul Ross' Texans had come
up from behind.
Kilpatrick was being squeezed by the infantry in the front and the cavalry on the rear.
Col. Minty asked for the job of dispersing the Texans. And so the famous charge at Lovejoy
Station was about to begin.
Ross' Texans were behind a rail fence one half mile due north of Minty's position which was
one-half mile north of the station. Between them the advancing Federals
lay an uncultivated field filled with gulleys and ditches. Along the southern side of the field ran
another rail fence. Without waiting for the fence to be taken down he simply smashed through it
and galloped full tilt toward the enemy line waving sabres
and yelling. Ross' troops although outnumbered nearly two to one by Minty's brigades held their
ground., firing both rifles and cannons. They failed to stop the charge and the Union troopers
broke through and dispersed the Texans. The subsequent fighting which took place centered
around the Plantation dwelling above the McDonough Rd. The Chicago Board of Trade Battery
opened up from the yard of the home and dispersed the Confederate attackers.
At about 6:00 PM the Union column moved toward McDonough. Marching in a heavy rain.
They passed through the village at around Midnight. Turned north and crossed Walnut Creek at
about 2:00 AM on August 21. They then stopped to rest.
At dawn they remounted and continued on to Cotton Indian Creek which they reached at
6:00AM. The bridge had been washed outand they had to wait for about two hours for the rain
swollen creek to subside. A short time later Armstrong arrived at the creek and seeing that the
raiders' had made it across he turned back. Ross' Texans understandably enough did not pursue at
Kilpatrick's men camped on the night of the 21st at Lithonia. On August 22 he made it back
through Decatur and Buckhead to meet with Sherman. Sherman was disappointed with the results
and found that cavalry could not get the job done of stopping the trains. Strategically the raid was
References: From 1985
Mr. Hibbard is a graduate history student at Western Michigan University. Dr. Castel,
is professor of history, at the same institution. edited the letters of Maj. Gen. William C. Stevens,
Ninth Michigan Cavalry, for the journal of summer 1979.
1.William T. Sherman, Memoirs of Gen W.T. Sherman, 2 vols. 4th ed. rev. (New York: Webster
& Co. 1891), 2:98.
2. John P. Dyer, "Fighting Joe Wheeler (Louisiana State Univ. 1941).
3. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate
armies (Washington DC 1880-1901) vol 38 p. 531.
4. Ibid. 524m 530-31, 548-50; Sherman Memoirs.
5. On Kilpatricks career and character see King "Gen. Judson Kilpatrick" New Jersey History
6.O.R. vol. 38 p.551.
7. Ibid John Robertson, Michigan in the War 1880.
8. O.R. vol 38 p. 551.
9. Ibid, 553, 555, 569-70.
10. Ibid. 582.
11. Kilpatricks Raid around Atlanta in Sydney Kerksis The Atlanta Papers 1980.
12.Fighting with Ross' Texas Cavalry Brigade CSA The diary of George L. Griscom.
Adjutant 9th Texas Cavalry Regiment. (1976). The Lone Star Defenders: A Chronicle of the
Third Texas Cavalry (1908).
13. O.R. vol 38 pp. 868-69.
14. Lone Star Defenders 206-208 and With Kilpatrick Around Atlanta, 577-78.
15. O. R. vol 38 pp 976-79. Estimate of Armstrongs strength (1901).
16. Raid of the Union Cavalry 608-9.
17. O.R. vol 38 pp. 868-69
18. With Kilpatrick around Atlanta 580-81.
19. ibid 582-83.
20. Raid of the Union Cavalry 610.
21. Henry Albert Potter Diary August 19, 1864.
22. Lone Star Defenders 206-7.
23. Raid of the Union Cavalry 611.
24. Reminiscences of a Mississippian 194-95.
25. O.R. vol 38 pp. 839-40.
26. Minty and the Cavalry, A history of Cavalry Campaigns in the western armies.
27. Sabre Strokes of the Pennsylvania Dragoons 1884.
28.O.R. vol 38 p 859.
29. Minty and the Calvary, Diary of George Griscom, , Lone Star Defenders, O.R.
30.Henry Albert Potter Papers, Michigan History Collection.
31.Raid of the Union Cavalry. 617.
32. O.R., vol 38 pp 814-15.
33. O.R. vol 38 pp 859 & Sherman Memoirs.
33. Michigan in the War 514; O.R. 200 Confederates had been killed or wounded during the
breakthrough. The Union army lost about the same amount.
34. O.R. vol. 38 p 859.
35. Lone Star Defenders 214-15.
36. John Wyeth, Life of Gen. N.B. Forrest 1899.