The Wounded Cry for Help to No Avail, Even Steel-Hearted Sharpshooter Moved, A Little
May 23, 1864. Alabama sharpshooter Jeremiah Tate wrote his sister from near Hanover Junction, VA: “. . . We moved down near the ford and attacted the enemy at eleven o’clock and the fight raged with fury for several hours at which time we succeeded in driving the enemy from his pursition we then went to work and soon had the hill fortifide about sunset the enemy made another assault but was repulst and driven back, hear we remained from thursday til sunday morning they attacted our lives each day during our state at this place but was repulst with grate loss, our loss was cumparitively small, in my company thar was one kild and four wounded two taken prisoners, it was a sight that is seldom seen to gase upon the did bodies of the enmy and to hear the cries for assitence and water, as they lay between our lines for two days and nights and neither party could get them out, or give them any releaf, it was enough to brake the hart of the most harden to hear those cries . . .
I have spent every other night at the skirmish line since the fight comenst, I am most broke down for the want of sleep. The sharp shooters has had the hardest time of any, one consolation is we have had the chance of taking revenge out of the vandals, they never have courage to fight until they are made drunk, then our boys mow them like they wir grass. I will close. Write soon as I am ever anxious to hear . . .”
Historian Robert E. Bonner notes, “It took a special kind of soldier to become a sharpshooter since this assignment required both skill and a willingness to draw a bead on unsuspecting victims. Not everyone had the stomach for this kind of killing, which removed any uncertainty whether it was one’s own fire or that of another soldier that had struck a particular enemy. Effective sharpshooters tended to develop a calculated indifference to the casualties they inflicted, which could easily lead them to become numb to dangers they faced in return. . . .”
Robert E. Bonner, The Soldier’s Pen, pp. 104-5.
Sherman’s Approach Throws Atlanta Into Alarm
May 25, 1864. “The approach of Sherman’s armies threw Atlantans into alarm. Newspaper editors urged calmness and chastised gloomy ‘croakers’ who began to predict the city’s fall. Increasing numbers of wounded soldiers arrived by train as the battles moved closer; the fall of Rome and other nearby towns poured more refugees into the city. Atlantans heard their first distant thud of cannon fire on May 25, 1864, when General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army held Sherman’s forces near Dallas, Georgia. . . .”
Stephen Davis, “Atlanta as Confederate Hub,” in The Civil War in Georgia, John C. Inscoe, ed., pp. 136-137.
Grant Measures Up
May 29, 1864. Captain Charles Francis Adams (USA) wrote his father, “Grant is certainly a very extraordinary man. . . . He handles those around him so quietly and well, he is so evidently has the faculty of disposing of work and managing men, he is cool and quiet, almost stolid as if stupid, in danger, and in a crisis he is one against whom all around, whether few in number or a great army as here, would instinctively lean. He is a man of the most exquisite judgment and tact. See how he has handled this Army. . . . He has humored us, he has given some promotions, he has made no parade of his authority, he has given nor orders except through Meade, and Meade he treats with the utmost confidence and deference. The result is that even from the most jealously disposed and most indiscreet of Meade’s staff, not a word is heard against Grant. The result is of inestimable importance. The army has a head and confidence in that head.”
The American Civil War 365 Days, Margaret E. Wagner, ed. p. July 29.
– Submitted by Vermont Humanities Council Executive Director Peter A. Gilbert