Wednesday, May 14, 2014
One Soldier's Resaca - 150 Years Ago Today
One of the soldiers blunting the Union attacks was Sergeant James L. Cooper of the 20th Tennessee Infantry. The 20th was in Tyler's Brigade, which was part of William B. Bate's (pictured) Division in Hardee's Corps. Cooper had been wounded in the fighting at Chattanooga the previous November, but had recovered enough to rejoin the 20th for the spring campaign.
In the fighting at Resaca, Cooper took a serious wound to the neck. Here is what he wrote about his bad day (paragraphs added for readability):
"During the night of the 13th we worked at the fortification, and on the 14th, about 12 o'clock the enemy advanced in force, and began a heavy attack. We repulsed several assaults, and about three o'clock we were sitting behind our rail piles waiting for another charge. At this time I was shot by a sharpshooter who had crawled within a short distance from the works. I was sitting down, closely wedged in by my companions on every side, for the position was very exposed, when all at once I felt a terrible shock and with a sinking consciousness of dying, became insensible. In an instant I recovered my senses, and found myself with my head fallen forward on my breast, and without power to move a muscle. I could hear the blood of the wound pattering on the ground, and thinking I was dying, almost thought I saw eternity opening before me. I felt so weak, so powerless, that I did not know whether I was dead or not.
The noise of the battle seemed miles away, and my thoughts were all pent up in my own breast. My system was paralized, but in my mind was terribly active. My head was full of a buzzing din, and the sound of that blood falling on the ground seemed louder than a cataract. I finally recovered the use of my tongue and still thinking I was dying, told the boys that it was no use to anything for me, that I was a dead man. All this time I could hear remarks around me, which, although very complimentary, were not at all consoling. When first shot one man exclaimed, 'By God, they killed a good one that time,' another 'My God, Cooper's killed,' and several other equal to these.
Finally Capt. Lucas directed the man directly behind me, J. Gee, of Co. D to catch hold of the wound and try to stop the blood. To my surprise he succeeded, and in half an hour, or less time, I had sufficiently recovered by strength to start to the rear. I walked half a mile through perfect showers of balls, and reached the ambulance perfectly exhausted. I was then taken to the hospital, and after being exposed to some danger from shells, that night we were taken to the railroad, and then to Atlanta.
I suffered some from my wounds before I reached Atlanta but was well cared for when I was taken to the hospitals. I was about the most forsaken looking object that came to that place, I know, and when I got off the cars felt pretty sheepish. The entire "crystal of my pants" was gone, and I was covered with blood and dirt, so I had reasons for feeling sheepish, being exposed to the sharp eyes of about four hundred ladies. If their eyes were sharp, their hands and hearts were tender as I soon experienced."
Cooper was yet again back in service within two months, but was fortunate to land a position on the brigade staff to finish out the war. He fortunately survived the conflict and was able to return home to Nashville, where he excelled as a farmer and cattle breeder.