Tunnel Hill, GA



Campaign: Atlanta Campaign [1864]

Battles in Campaign:


  • At Tunnel Hill, the Western & Atlantic Railroad passes through Chetoogeta Mountain for a distance of 1,477 feet.

  • The first train passed through the mountain tunnel on  May 9, 1850. Keeping the railroad tunnel open was critical for the movement of men, munitions and supplies for the confederate Army operating above that point.

  • The importance of the railroads was heightened in April of 1862 by the "Great Locomotive Chase." The General had passed through the tunnel closely pursued by the Texas on its race to fame.


  • Union:  

  • Confederate:

Principal Forces:

  • Union:

  • Confederate:


  • In 1863, Georgia governor, Joseph E. Brown called for a volunteer force of  8,000 men to serve as home guards. As local defense units they would protect the state borders, railroads, bridges and other property vital to its interest. The order affected all men not already in the military between the ages of 15 and 45, drawing from exempt men and men over the conscription age.

  • The Georgia State Guards, 1st Regiment, became a part of this force. Companies A, C. E. G. and K were made up of men from Gordon County. Companies B, D, H, and I were from Whitfield County and Company F was from Murray County, Ga.

  • Being less than 30 miles from the state line the good citizens of Tunnel Hill, Ga. responded quickly to the governor's plea.

  • On July 4, 1863 even as Vicksburg, Mississippi was being surrendered to Union forces, the men of Tunnel Hill were forming a company ready to serve.

  • On July 23, 1863, the Rev. Hamilton Young was elected Captain. He quickly appointed his staff of 14 and designated the Company as "The Tunnel Hill Guards", and for awhile carried out that self-appointed responsibility.

  • In November 1861 two railroad bridges over Chickamauga Creek, above Graysville, had also been burned. These events were fresh on the minds of the Tunnel Hill Guards. The ultimate responsibility for guarding the gaps and passes north and west of Dalton was relegated to General Wheeler's Cavalry.

  • On Dec. 15th 1863, the 1st Reg. was ordered to Calhoun and there assigned guard duty. The new year of 1864 found the Guards on their way to Atlanta. Upon arrival there (January 2nd) they reported to General Howell Cobb, that noble Georgian, and were assigned to the Provost Guard. They became a part of the police force in the City of Atlanta. For the next 29 days they performed their task magnanimously. On Jan 31st, at the expiration of their enlistment, the men of the "Tunnel Guards" mustered out of service and returned to their family in and around Tunnel Hill. A few joined other regiments and continued to serve throughout the war.

    The average age of the Tunnel Guards was 44. The youngest being 17 and the oldest 65.

    "A History of the Men who Served in the Dalton Machine Guards"

    In July, 1863, Captain James H. Bard, later Major, organized a company of 47 men to be used for local defense in Whitfield County. They became known
    as the Dalton Machine Guard. Most of them were enrolled on July 7th and enlisted on the 21st of August 1863 for a period of 6 months.

    When war broke out in 1861, things begin to change in Dalton. The Dalton Machine Guards made canteens by the thousands, wire buckles, harness rings
    and 8,000 tin straps for 6 pound, 12 pound, 32 pound, and 44 pound shells. These were being shipped to the Atlanta Arsenal and to Richmond, Va.

    As winter approached in 1862, their manufacturing turned to stove pipes, elbows, caps, dampers, ventilating tubes, etc...These were installed in all the hospitals and officer quarters in and around Dalton. They also supplied the hospitals with large boiling pots for soups, sheet iron baking pans, coffee pots and the like.

    In 1863, the hospitals in Dalton were filled to capacity. The Machine Guards were supplying the hospitals with such things as cook stoves, dippers, mess pots and pans, wash boilers, tin buckets, candlesticks, lanterns, tin plates, and other assorted goods.

    In 1864, before the fall of Dalton, the operations were moved to Macon and they continued to manufacture thousands of harness buckles, rings,
    triangles and staples. The last order filled in March, 1865 was for 60 gross of buckles, 299 1/2 dozen harness rings.

Photo Gallery:1

Description of the Union Seizure of Tunnel Hill

Description of Western and Atlantic railroad tunnel

Sherman Headquarters at the Clisby Austin house

Clisby Austin house

Confederate land mine

View of the tunnel

The tunnel entrance

Commemorative plaque over tunnel entrance

Ceiling of tunnel

Inside the tunnel

Inside the tunnel

Inside the tunnel

At far end of the tunnel

Atlantic & Western ironwork

Outside end of tunnel


Classification2: None


  • Union:

  • Confederate:

Results: Confederate Victory Miniature Confederate Victory

Battlefield Websites: 

Lodging and Restaurants: Georgia Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 National Park Service summary.

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 05/13/2015