Union and Confederate armies were jockeying for new positions north of Marietta, Georgia. A comrade of Covington’s soldiers in the ‘Tipton Rifles” Company I, 4th Tennessee (and 5th Tennessee Consolidated), Colonel Otho F. Strahl’s Brigade, summarized their campaigning:
“(Union General William) Sherman continued to move by the left flank to secure the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and General Johnston followed the movement by extending his line to the right. In moving by the right flank we would sometimes be halted where the position was already fortified, and at others beyond the intrenched line, win which case our arms would be stacked, skirmishers thrown out, and we would begin to fell trees and, placing the logs along the line selected by the engineers for our rifle pits, would then, with pick and spade, dig a trench behind the logs and throw the earth in front of them, till, standing in the ditch, we could just see over the logs. Above this a head-log would be placed, leaving just space enough to aim the guns through. Skirmishing was kept up continually, we sometimes driving the enemy back, and sometimes being driven ourselves.”
Tipton’s soldiers in the “Harris Zouave Cadets,” Co. D, 154th Tennessee (consolidated with the 13th Regiment and commanded by Colonel Michael Magevney), A. J. Vaughan’s Brigade, lost two men killed in the fighting May 28 at Wiggins’ Mill: J. B. Park and Henry Parsons (of Randolph). A letter written by Colonel J. N. Wyatt of the 12th Tennessee, sheds light on their activities:
“Monday May 30th – Saturday June 4: Heavy skirmishing along the lines. The enemy seems to be moving troops to our right in the direction of the railroad, near Big Shanty. Five p.m. Left trenches on extreme left and marched until daylight, passing Lost Mountain; distance, 12 miles. It rained the night through, and the mud was shoe-mouth deep in thinnest places. A more disagreeable and fatiguing march we have not taken since the commencement of the war. The night was dark as Erebus; and a great many gave out and did not join the command for hours after we encamped.
“Sunday, June 5th: Marched about two miles to the right and bivouacked till the following morning.
“Monday, June 6th, daylight: Marched to a gap near Golgotha Church and relieved Lowry’s Brigade on picket. We continued on picket until the morning of Saturday, 11th 5 p.m., when we were relieved by Lowry’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division, and ordered to join our (Cheatham’s) Division, which we did at 8 a.m. It rained all the time we were marching. Bivouacked in the open woods. It rained all night and continued with but little intermission till Tuesday the 14th at noon.”
Both armies received reinforcements during this time. Sherman received 12,000 reinforcements on or by the 8th including 9,000 “hardened veterans of Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg.”
From Mobile, Ala. came James Cantey’s 6,000-man brigade to Johnston’s Army of Tennessee.
A mail of several thousand Union soldier’s letters were captured by the Confederates of William J. Hardee’s Corps on the 6th. Reading the letters during the next two days, some Southerners began to grasp the reality of the war grinding to its bitter end with a Union victory:
“Not one (letter) contains a single sentiment indicating a desire to close the war by granting the South her independence. All seem determined to subjugate us. Their greatest hope seems to be centered on (U. S.) Grant taking Richmond, and all say when they reach Atlanta (by July 4th) and capture Joe Johnston, the war will be over…”
Continued next week.