Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kennesaw Mountain Aftermath

The Union attack at Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, 1864, produced about 3,000 in killed, wounded, and missing. The following two days saw a series of ceased firing to gather those that had fallen for treatment or burial. The scene on what became known as Cheatham's Hill, was witnessed by David P. Conygham, a newspaper man serving as a volunteer aide-de-camp for the Union army. Conygham seemed surprised to see the soldiers from both armies using the truce time to talk with each other, catch up on old times, and seek news. He wrote:

"Next day General Johnston sent a flag of truce to Sherman, in order to give time to carry off the wounded and bury the dead, who were festering in front of their lines.

A truce followed, and Rebels and Federals freely participated in the work of charity. It was a strange sight to see friends, to see old acquaintances, and in some instances brothers, who have been separated for years, and now pitted in deadly hostility, meet and have a good talk over old times, and home scenes, and connections. They drank together, smoked together, appeared on the best possible terms, though the next day they were sure to meet in deadly conflict again.

Even some of the generals freely mixed with the men, and seemed to view the painful sight with melancholy interest.

I saw Pat Cleburne [pictured], with that tall meagre frame, and that ugly scar across his lank, gloomy face, stand with a thoughtful air, looking on the work his division had done; for it was his troops that defended the line of works in the centre, and committed such fearful havoc on Newton's and Davis' divisions. He looked a fit type of the lean Cassius. He was certainly to the western army what Stonewall Jackson was to the eastern. . . .

There were Generals Cleburne, Cheatham, Hindman, and Maney in busy converse with a a group of Federal officers, whom they had formerly known. Cheatham looked rugged and healthy, though seemingly sad and despondent. He wore his fatigue dress--a blue flannel shirt, black neck-tie, gray homespun pantaloons, and slouched, black hat. At first he was very taciturn; but this wearing off, he made inquiries about old friends, particularly about those from Nashville."

Cleburne would survive the upcoming battles around Atlanta, only to be killed in the futile attack at Franklin, Tennessee, almost exactly five months from Conygham's eyewitness account.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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