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Scrapping with Hood at Decatur

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In the aftermath of the Atlanta campaign, General John Bell Hood moved his Army of Tennessee north into Georgia then west into Alabama, all the while aiming to draw William Tecumseh Sherman’s army northwards in pursuit. It worked for a while, but eventually Sherman gave up the chase and Hood moved into Alabama with intentions to cross the Tennessee River and recover the state of Tennessee. He ran into his first major obstacle at the little river town of Decatur, Alabama where a scratch force of Federals under Colonel Charles Doolittle, soon supplemented by thousands of reinforcements under General Robert S. Granger, held Hood at bay for three days from October 26-29, 1864.             “It is positively known that this force, composed of the veterans of the Confederate States army of the West under their ablest leaders and numbering not less than 35,000 men left Palmetto, Georgia with the intention of taking Decatur,” General Granger wrote. “In view of this, their withdrawal from our

A View from Behind the Bars: A Buckeye at Libby Prison

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    On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address where he called upon the nation to a "new birth of freedom." His eloquent words speak to us across the ages, but it is important to remember that while Lincoln spoke, the very conflict which tested whether a nation conceived in liberty could long endure was still raging. Less than 200 miles south of Gettysburg in the heart of the Confederate capital, thousands of Federal soldiers also yearned for a new birth of freedom and for them it was a very personal and bitter struggle. The fortunes of war had delivered them as prisoners into the nerve center of the Confederacy; whether they were captured during Streight's Raid, at Second Winchester, at Chickamauga, or at little-remembered Limestone Station, all of these men struggled with the ennui and privations of prison life.       The following letter written by First Lieutenant George Duncan Forsyth of the 100th Ohio was penned while the writer

Lost on Little Round Top

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     In the Michigan section of Gettysburg National Cemetery rests the mortal remains of First Lieutenant Butler Brown, Co. E, 16th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Killed in action during the battle for Little Round Top at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, the Adrian native had clerked for several years in a dry goods store in nearby Hillsdale, Michigan before volunteering to go to war. Initially part of the 11th Michigan, Brown was transferred to the 16th Michigan in early August 1861 and commissioned second lieutenant of Co. E of August 9th. Lieutenant Brown's regiment soon left home for Virginia where it endured a very active and hard service with the 5th Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac.  First Lieutenant Butler Brown, Co. E, 16th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Killed in action July 2, 1863 at Little Round Top      "I have been with Butler through many months of active campaigns and fought by his side in eight battles," recalled Adjutant George Prentiss. "I never knew h

Pouring Peas on a Rawhide: A Texan Remembers Chickamauga

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     As orderly sergeant of Co. K of the 25th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted), North Carolina native Benjamin Franklin Grady participated in some tall fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. As he relates in this letter to his uncle, the pounding his regiment took from Union artillery was frightening. "Balls of all sizes, grape, canister, and 6 lb, 12 lb, and 18 lb balls whizzed among us in copious profusion and fearful proximity," he noted. "One man in our company was struck down by a grape and another had his shoulder torn off. A 12 lb ball went through Company B next to us and took off one's man's head and tore two others into ragged pieces! Many in the regiment were killed or wounded."     The 25th Texas was part of a consolidated regiment consisting of itself along with the 17th, 18th, and 24th Texas cavalry regiments, and was assigned to General James Deshler's brigade, Cleburne's Division, of General Daniel H. Hill's corps.  Gr

Running the Gauntlet: the 57th Ohio at the Battle of Atlanta

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The fight for Degress' battery at the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864 marks one of the most poignant moments of that hard-fought battle. A desperate charge on the part of the Confederates swirled around the guns and forced back two brigades of General Morgan L. Smith's division of the 15th Army Corps. Among those troops was First Lieutenant James Dixon of the 57th Ohio who was right in the middle of the fight for the battery, and recalled some of the details of the hand-to-hand fight that ensued. "A Rebel officer with a red sash jumped upon the rocks and demanded the surrender of a lieutenant working the battery," he wrote. "The lieutenant rushed towards him with sword drawn, intending to strike him, but was met by a Minie ball from the gun of a Rebel soldier and fell dead by the works. A Rebel attempted to spike one of the guns and Bill Gibson of Co. D knocked him down with the butt of his musket. There was a general row. Bullets were flying in every directio

With the 37th Mississippi at Peach Tree Creek

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     Long after the Civil War, Reverend Washington “Wash” Bryan Crumpton wrote a memoir entitled A Book of Memories of his wartime experiences while serving as a sergeant in the ranks of Co. H (the Jasper Rifles) of the 37 th Mississippi Infantry. The following account of the Battle of Peach Tree Creek, excerpted from Crumpton’s book, was published in the October 1921 edition of Confederate Veteran . The 37 th Mississippi was assigned to Cantey’s Brigade was led at this time by Colonel Edward A. O’Neal, and was part of General Edward C. Walthall’s division of A.P. Stewart’s corps. Washington B. Crumpton at left in a pre-war image taken with his brother H.J. After the war, Wash became a minister and noted author.      Wash's account captures the confusion endemic in war, and he opines that the real reason why the Confederate attack failed at Peach Tree Creek was the fact that his comrades were a little too eager to escort Yankee prisoners to the rear, and by so doing, left the fr

The Iron Game at Peach Tree Creek

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The 73 rd Illinois, popularly known as either the Persimmon Regiment for its proclivities at emptying fruit orchards during the 1862 Kentucky campaign or the Preacher Regiment for the profusion of preachers within its ranks (preachers don’t steal fruit, right?), was a tough unit that earned its reputation as part of Phil Sheridan’s hard fighting division of the Army of the Cumberland. After suffering heavy losses at Chickamauga, the 73 rd Illinois was folded, along with the rest of the 20 th Army Corps, into the newly formed 4 th Army Corps and served there for the rest of the war.           Mid-July 1864 found the regiment marching towards Atlanta where our unnamed correspondent picks up the story of one of the toughest fights of the campaign: July 20 th along Peach Tree Creek. His regiment was well out in front of the rest of the Army of the Cumberland that afternoon when he heard a noise that made his hair stand on end- it was the Rebel yell. “Not a clear and distinct yell su