|Monuments at Allatoona Pass Battlefield|
The first battle of Confederate General John Bell Hood's Franklin & Nashville Campaign, the fight took place on October 5, 1864, when Hood sent General Samuel G. French's division to take the Union forts that guarded the Deep Cut at Allatoona Pass. The cut, dug to a depth of 175 feet through the solid rock of the Allatoona Mountains, provided a usable grade for the trains of the Western & Atlantic (W&A) Railroad. This single track was the only source of supplies for General William Tecumseh Sherman's Union army then occupying Atlanta.
|Deep Cut at Allatoona Pass|
It did not take Union scouts long to realize that French was on the move with his 3,276 man division. From a tower on the top of Kennesaw Mountain near Atlanta, Sherman had messages sent by signal flag urging the 976 Union soldiers guarding Allatoona Pass to hold on until reinforcements could reach them. A Northern officer later remembered the message as saying, "Hold the fort; I am coming."
|Earthworks of the Star Fort|
Sherman's two messages actually said "Sherman is moving in force; Hold Out!" and "General Sherman says Hold Fast. We are coming." When asked about the song in later years he said that while he never sent the message "Hold the Fort," that was certainly the intent of his messages.
The Union troops at Allatoona Pass did indeed "Hold the Fort." In a bloody mountaintop battle, they repelled four separate attacks on the Star Fort by the veterans of French's Division.
To learn more about the Battle of Allatoona Pass, the writing of the song "Hold the Fort" and to take an online tour of the battlefield, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/allatoonapass.