Saturday, March 16, 2013

Powder Springs Road, Marietta, Georgia 1864: Kolb’s Farm

I took the opportunity of the Cobb County Library Book Sale the other day to stop by the Kolb House on the way, located on Powder Springs Road at the intersection of Callaway Road/Cheatham Hill Road at the southern edge of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.

Peter Valentine Kolb House

Built in 1836 by pioneer Peter Valentine Kolb, a prosperous farmer, two years before the final removal of the Cherokee Indians, the four-room cabin of squared hewn logs is a rare example of affluence in frontier North Georgia architecture, being two to four times the size of the usual single pen cabin or double pen dogtrot, and having a fireplace in each room, an unusual occurrence of the period. Built with an open dogtrot, the passageway was enclosed into a central hall some time before the Civil War. Of the buildings located within the current confines of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park before 1864, it is the only structure still standing.

The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park’s Cell Phone Audio Tour is an excellent source of information about the Kolb Farm and the Kolb family. Dial 770-325-0444, then press 105 when prompted for a stop number.

In May 1864, Confederate Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston began to defend Atlanta from Union forces under Gen. William T. Sherman by a series of delaying maneuvers, while Sherman, with the advantage of about twice as many men, sought to flank the Confederates out of each defensive stronghold. While constantly skirmishing from Dalton to Dallas, both commanders sought to avoid a major battle until they found ground of their choosing. Cutting loose from the Western and Atlantic Railroad that was his supply line to Chattanooga in an attempt to bypass Johnston once for all, Sherman found the wilderness of Paulding County and the troops of Patrick Cleburne very much to his dislikingand pulled back to the railroad at Acworth as soon as he could extricate himself from New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, and Dallas.

Johnston, on the other hand, found exactly what he had been searching in a series of peaks forming a defensive arc around Marietta and the railroad, connected and fortified by an elaborate line of entrenchments, leaving Sherman scrambling for a way around.

Attempting to flank Johnston’s left as usual, Sherman sent Schofield’s Army of the Ohio and Hooker’s Corps south of the Dallas Road toward Powder Springs Road with the objective of taking either Marietta or Smyrna, and with it the railroad, cutting off Johnston’s line of supply and line of retreat. To meet the threat, Johnston pulled Hood’s corps from his right and sent it through Marietta and out Powder Springs Road to block the movement. Rather than move into an entrenched position blocking the road, Hood recklessly decided to attack without knowing the extent of Federal troops to his front, assuming that he had only part of Schofield’s forces in front of him.

Around noon on June 22, 1864, Hood had Stevenson’s Division move down Powder Springs Road as far as Mount Zion Church at the intersection of Powder Springs Road and Macland Road. Shortly after 2:30, Stevenson’s skirmishers encountered two advancing Union regiments and forced them back with heavy firing. Stevenson hastily entrenched to await the Federal attack, but Hood soon ordered Stevenson’s and Hindman’s Divisions to attack.

The battle in the vicinity of Kolb’s Farm was costly, with Hood losing over 1000 men while Union casualties were only around 350. The Confederates succeeded in blocking the flanking movement, but only accomplished pushing two Union regiments back to their main line. Rather than flanking Sherman as he had planned, Hood retreated to an entrenched line across the road.


The stretching of the Confederate line south of Powder Springs Road led to Sherman’s fateful decision to attack the center of the main Confederate line around Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, costing him 1800 casualties to 800 Confederate losses. His lesson learned, Sherman resumed his flanking strategy.

The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park’s Cell Phone Audio Tour contains an informative summary of the Battle of Kolb’s Farm that is easy to follow, unlike the usual historical marker summaries that make little sense taken out of context of the main campaign. Dial 770-325-0444, then press 115 when prompted for a stop number.

For information on the rest of the tour stops, go to

Kolb Farm, part of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Location: Powder Springs Road at Callaway Road, southwest of Marietta, GA
Cost: Free

Rear of the Kolb House. The house is used as a private residence, and the interior is not open to the public.

The National Park Service restored the Kolb House in 1964 to its 1864 appearance. Presumably, the air conditioner was not original to the house.

This battlefield map faces west. Powder Springs Road (GA 360) is the diagonal line on the left running southwest toward Powder Springs. Macland Road (GA 360) cuts off to the right. Mount Zion Church is the square with a cross in the angle of the intersection on the right. The Dallas Road (Dallas Highway, GA 120) is the line on the right heading due west toward Dallas. Marietta would be just below the bottom edge of the map. Confederate forces are in red, Union in blue.

Looking west on Powder Springs Road from Kolb House. Mount Zion Church and Macland Road are just out of sight on the right.
 Sherman could only have dreamed of a paved five-lane road. Incessant June rains had turned the roads into quagmires of red mud. Still, if he had had to contend with modern metro Atlanta traffic, he would never have made it to Atlanta in time to secure Lincoln's reelection in November.

Looking east on Powder Springs Road from the Kolb House at the intersection of Callaway (right) and Cheatham Hill Road (left). The cross streets did not exist in 1864.

Update: Since this post I have found photos of the restoration of the Kolb House, including interior views. They are posted here:

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