Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meanwhile in Georgia. . . .

While things were heating up in Virginia, Sherman was on the move in Georgia. In the weeks before his campaign started "Uncle Billy" wrote to his his wife that "All that has gone before is mere skirmishing. The war now begins, and with heavy well-disciplined masses the issue must be settled in hard fought battles."  Hard fought battles there would be, along with a significant amount of maneuvering.

On May 8, 1864, a clash appeared imminent at Dug Gap, near Dalton. Preparing for that fight was Lt. Lot D. Young of the 4th Kentucky Infantry (CSA). The 4th Kentucky was one of the regiments of the Orphan Brigade - the Bluegrass State Confederates who were not to go home until the war was over. The Orphans had lost their commander Gen. Benjamin Hardin Helm at Chickamauga back in September, but the battle-hardened veterans were now led by Gen. Joseph H. Lewis (pictured).

In the mountains of northern Georgia, Lt. Young and Orphans watched the Union forces gather. He wrote:

"While contemplating the future, news came that the enemy were now moving Daltonward. We indulged the hope and wondered whether Sherman would undertake to force the pass in Rockyface Mountain through which the railroad and wagon road both ran. We thought of Leonidas and his Spartans and hoped for an opportunity to imitate and if possible to eclipse that immortal event at Thermopylae. But not so the wily Sherman. That "old fox" was too cunning to be caught in that or any other trap.

We were ordered out to meet him and took position in the gap and on the mountain, from which we could see extending for miles his grand encampment of infantry and artillery, the stars and stripes floating from every regimental brigade, division, and corps headquarters and presenting the greatest panorama I ever beheld. Softly and sweetly the music from their bands as they played the national airs were wafted up and over the summit of the mountain. "Hail Columbia," "America" and "The Star Spangled Banner" sounded sweeter than I had ever before heard them, and filled my soul with feelings that I could not describe or forget. It haunted me for days, but never shook my loyalty to the Stars and Bars or relaxed my efforts in behalf of our cause."

Lt. Young, like so many other soldiers, did not make it though the following months of trying combat without wounds. On August 31, while fighting at Jonesboro, Georgia, he received a leg wound, which ended his service.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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