FIGHTING SHERMAN IN GEORGIA

 ELSBERRY RIDGE-NEW HOPE CHURCH,

MAY 28-29th, 1864.  (Continued)

 

By May 28, General William T. Sherman ordered the concentration of his armies for a move eastward to the Western and Atlantic Railroad at Acworth.  Terrain and Confederates had largely foiled his plans during the past few days.  Lack of good roads, dense forests and ridges were preventing the Federals from receiving rations. Southern observation posts detected these movements.  Alerted to the danger, Johnston began moving his forces to the east while probing for weaknesses.

With the exception of the pickets, most of Major General B. F. Cheatham’s Division rested  for much of the 28th.  D. C. Neal, 51st Tennessee Infantry, Colonel John C. Carter’s Brigade, wrote:

“We still hold our ground (and) in several places (we) drove the enemy.  General (William) Bate engaged the enemy on our left today. General Cheatham’s (Division)  is near the center, General (Patrick) Cleburne’s on Cheatham’s right.  Cheatham’s Division is all resting today, all asleep, the General with them...very heavy fighting…at 12 o’clock…”

Robert Gates of Brigadier General George Maney’s Brigade  recalled the action near Dallas:

“At New Hope (Church) there were skirmishes. The 6th & 9th  (Tennessee including men from Tipton)) were posted in a graveyard, which position was assaulted repeatedly by the enemy, but which was held to the last by the regiment.  The boys say that this was a grave-yard engagement, and that they were never before or afterward so suggestively situated.  They stood in the midst of graves and grew fruit at the muzzle of muskets for more graves.  They made breastworks of tombstones, and sheltered behind the mounds that sepulchered innocence and childhood; they fought and died and triumphed amid the tombs of a generation that had not dreamed of civil war.”

Sunday, May 29 was mostly quiet for Maney’s troops. Van Buren Oldham, 9th Tennessee, wrote:

“A little skirmishing in the evening…All of the wounded were sent off during the night so that none remains but the sick; everything very quiet on the lines…heavy firing on the lines near the center, and I understand the enemy charged our works but were handsomely repulsed.”

Carter’s Brigade, including Tipton’s men in the 51st Tennessee saw little action on the 29th per D. C. Neal:

“This is a beautiful Sabbath morning, very little skirmishing this morning….I visited the hospital…found the wounded doing well…at 12 o’clcok very little firing yet at intervels we hear the boom of heavy cannon.  Late in the evening all calm, no wounded coming in to our hospital. Some indications of a move all of the wagons are being sent off from the hospital.  Our brigade is in the front lines but have very good breastworks.  (At) 10 o’clock at night the enemy charges our lines; there seems to be a general engagement; our men repulse them at every point.  The line seems to be 20 miles in length; the firing kept up nearly all night.”

In a letter home, Colonel J. N. Wyatt of Brigadier General A. J. Vaughan’s Brigade wrote in part:

“Built breastworks in two hours to protect us from the shelling of the enemy.  The enemy charged Gen. Cleburne’s position (Pickett’s Mill on May 27th), and were repulsed with heavy loss.  They left 700 dead in front of his works.  Their total loss was 2,500, while our loss was 390. Gen. Bate charged the enemy’s works (at Dallas on May 28th), and after taking them, was not able to hold them, so was compelled to fall back to his original position.  The men slept all night with accouterments on.”

Continued.

Lisa DeLancey is a staff writer for The Leader, focusing on education. She is a 2016 graduate of The University of Memphis. 

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