Following the Battle of Resaca, May 13-15, General Joseph E. Johnston' s army retreated southward while Sherman pursued.
Failing to find a good defensive position south of Calhoun, Johnston continued to Adairsville while the Rebel cavalry fought a skillful rearguard action.
On the 17th, skirmish fire continued throughout the day and into the early evening. Major General O.O. Howard's IV Corps ran into entrenched infantry of Lieutenant General William J. Hardee' s corps, while advancing, about two miles north of Adairsville.
The 44th Illinois and 24th Wisconsin (under the command of Major Arthur MacArthur, father of Douglas) attacked Cheatham's Division at Robert Saxon (the Octagon House) and incurred heavy losses.
Three Union divisions prepared for battle, but Major General George H. Thomas halted them due to the approach of darkness. Sherman then concentrated his men in the Adairsville area to attack Johnston the next day.
Johnston had originally expected to find a valley at Adairsville of suitable width to deploy his men and anchor his line with the flanks on hills. The valley, however, was too wide, so Johnston disengaged and withdrew.
Result(s): Confederate delaying action (Allowed Johnston to bait a trap at Cassville.)
Location: Bartow County and Gordon County
Campaign: Atlanta Campaign (1864) next battle in campaign previous battle in campaign
Date(s): May 17, 1864
Principal Commanders: Major General William T. Sherman [US]; General Joseph E. Johnston [CS]
Forces Engaged: Military Division of the Mississippi [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]
Estimated Casualties: Total unknown (US 200; CS unknown)