Posted: Saturday, June 28th 2014 at 8:52am
150 years ago: The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, soldier's letter describes battle
By The Associated Press
KENNESAW - The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain played out 150 years ago in the Civil War, a prelude to the Union's eventual capture of Atlanta later in 1864 - and a letter from a Confederate soldier which describes the battle has been made public by the University of Georgia.
Confederates led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston entrenched on high ground at Kennesaw Mountain near Marietta on June 18, 1864, as Union fighters approached. Federal forces under Maj. Gen William T. Sherman attacked days later on June 27, hitting the Confederates hard with artillery.
Though the Union had the early momentum, Sherman's forces suffered thousands of dead and wounded as fighting ground to a standstill and resulted in a tactical defeat for the Union. But within weeks the Union would be pressing toward Atlanta in hopes of destroying Johnston's operation while federal forces pressed in on the Confederacy on a separate front in Virginia.
LETTER DESCRIBES BATTLE
A letter recently donated to the libraries at the University of Georgia gives an eyewitness account of the battle.
The letter is from Joseph Short to his wife, Nancy. It is part of the collection of William Joseph and Nancy Wallis Short family papers recently donated by Roger Rowell to UGA's Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
"At the time I am writing, there is terrible fighting going on," Short wrote. "The cannonading is awful heavy. Would you have an idea of present moments fighting even while I write: suppose that for every three seconds quick sharp peals of thunder, mingled with hoarse mutterings of reverberation and thousands of peals sharp and quick and you will have a faint impression of the commotion, produced by the firing of cannon and small arms now going on. We are not scared. All we soldiers dread is the burying some of our comrades."
Short enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862 as a member of Company G, Second Georgia Regiment of Cavalry and he and his wife corresponded regularly.
"...Brother soldiers will dig their graves, wrap their martial blanket around them and softly placing them in it drop the soldier's tear over him, bid his sleeping dust good-bye," Short wrote. "It is a touching scene, Nannie, to see soldiers bury their brothers in arms."
The UGA Libraries have joined with other cultural institutions observing the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in recent years. An annual exhibit of Civil War materials at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library gallery through July focuses on the Battle of Atlanta.
(For more on the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and the soldier's letter, click on the links below.)
(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)
Link: Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
Link: Soldier describes battle
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