As the Army of Tennessee settled into its new line along the imposing heights of Kennesaw Mountain and Sherman’s armies approached, the continued threat of death from Sharpshooters and cannon Fire continued. Falling today 150 years ago on this line was Capt. John Wood Mebane. Mebane commanded a Tennessee Battery and was another one of the talented young officers that fell under the constant fighting that marked the Atlanta Campaign.
Mebane was born in 1840 and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1860. He lived with his father, John, on his plantation near Memphis when the war began and joined a local artillery unit, taking command after the battle of Stones River when the Battery’s commander, Capt. E.E. Wright, was killed.
Mebane had proven himself a reliable and talented officer, and his loss was a sharp sting. “Capt. Mebane, commanding a battery in Cobb’s battalion of artillery, was killed yesterday morning by a solid shot striking him in the head,” a newspaper correspondent for the Memphis Daily Appeal reported. “Thus the life of a fine officer, useful citizen, and accomplished gentleman is lost the service and a large circle of friends, but that indifference and contempt for ganger which is so characteristic of the Southern soldier. Capt. Mebane’s fly was erected between two of his guns which were planted upon a prominent hill, and in full view of the enemy. They had been firing upon the position all the morning and this was the first shot that took effect.”
More specific was a postwar account that noted, “Captain Mebane was killed, having the top of his head blown off by an eight inch Parrott shell….”
During the Atlanta Campaign, the Army of Tennessee would lose a large portion of its veteran battery commanders by the fall of Atlanta in September. The “long arm” of the army would be a shadow of its former self.