Sunday, July 20, 2014

150 Years Ago Today - Peachtree Creek

Gen. John Bell Hood wasted little time once in command of the Army of Tennessee. He immediately went to work on offensive plans. Hood desired to make an attack near Peachtree Creek, just north of Atlanta, in attempt to throw back Sherman's Union forces.

Originally planned for 1:00 p.m. on July 20, 1864, the Confederate attacks actually began about 4:00 p.m. The Southerners met rough terrain, uncoordinated organization, and a stubborn enemy, and were forced to withdraw late in the day. They lost about 2,500 in killed, wounded, and missing.

One of those making the attacks was Lt. Robert M. Collins of the 15th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) of Gen. Hiram Bronson Granbury's (pictured) Brigade, Cleburne's Division. Most of Cleburne's men were held in reserve during the Peachtree Creek attacks, but some units, such as Collins's, were sent forward. Collin wrote:

"In front of our brigade was an open field about 400 yards across. About 4:30 o'clock the command was given, 'Forward, march!' We quit the [earth]works and moved out into the field. The Federals greeted us with terrific fire of shot and shells, but as we were moving down the hill they passed over our heads, doing no damage except that of making a fellow feel like he was very small game to be shot with such game.

On we go, now the lines come to the fence of a farm, the line halts and the men take hold of it and just bodily lift it and throw it down. Just at this moment a blinding flash right in our front and shell explodes. It seemed to be filled with powder and ounce balls. It laid a good many of the boys out, and among the number was Capt. Ben Tyus and myself.

Capt. Tyus was wounded in the ankle while I received an ounce ball in the upper third of my left thigh. As I fell I noticed that about two inches of my gray Georgia jeans pants had gone in with the shot; this was conclusive that a piece of shell had passed through my thigh and had necessarily cut the femoral artery, and that therefore I would be a dead Confederate in just three minutes, as my understanding was that the femoral artery cut would let all the blood in a man out in that time.

However, I made a grip on the wound with my right hand, intending to stop the blood as much as possible, and thereby hold on to life long enough to give my past history a hasty going over and to repeat all the prayers I knew. Four big stout fellows picked me up on a litter and started back to the line of breastworks. We had to pass through a galling fire of minies, shot and shell; I was not alaramed at all at this, because my mind was made up to quit the earth and I was now only waiting, as the saying goes, for death to strike me square in the face.

I finally ventured to inquire of one of the men carrying me if I were bleeding much. He was a witty Irishman, and replied, ' Not a drap of rudy current to be seen, Lieutenant.'

These words brought back my hope that had already gone over the hills out of sight, and made me remark that an improvement in gait would soon land us out of reach of these Yankee bullets. Then I chuckled in my sleeve when the thought occurred that maybe this wound will win a good furlough, and if it does won't I have fun with those Georgia girls. This may all sound like a strange line of thoughts to run through one's mind in so short a time and under such circumstances, but all this is sound common sense compared to some things we are guilty of doing during our natural lives."

Collins received immediate medical attention, and fortunately his wound had indeed missed his femoral artery. He recuperated in Georgia hospitals for about four months, returning to his regiment in November.

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