The Kennesaw Line: Artillery on the Mountain

Little Kennesaw
Little Kennesaw

On top of Little Kennesaw Mountain, Guibor’s (pronounced Gee-Beau) Missouri Battery was fortified on the rocky heights. The following accounts are from an incident that occurred on June 23rd. It was fairly typical of the action.

Gunner W.L. Truman remembered:

Thursday, June 23rd, 1864. The enemy removed all of their tents and vehicles of every kind out of sight last night, we can see nothing to fire on but their breastworks. We cannot see the men that are in them but we know that they are there, and will plunge our shell into the work. We fired three or four rounds to a gun this morning, and then had to stop until twelve o’clock for a supply of ammunition. The enemy replied to us with about twelve guns, which seemed to be well concealed behind works. At two o’clock this evening we were ready, and opened fire, the enemy reply with twelve guns, the contest was kept up for two hours, before we were ordered to cease firing, having fired sixty rounds to a gun. When we quit, the enemy was replying with only three guns. Our commander Lieut. McBride was killed this evening, and four men were wounded. McBride had his right side, torn away by a shell, I saw right inside of a living human being, every movement of his lungs, as he struggled for breath, were visible. He called for his spiritual adviser, Father Donnelly, but the brave jolly priest could not reach him before he became unconcious. He was the only commisioned officer with our battery, Capt. Guibore, is on the sick list, and we very seldom see or hear from him. Harris, whom we have nick named Little Toby, our 3rd Lieut. is absent on the sick list also, and Sargent Murphy, the sargent of my gun is now in command of our battery. The fact is, every man knows his duty perfectly, and does it faithfully, and our own battery officers are merely figure heads, through which we receive orders from higher officers, after we get orders, a sargent and corporal is all the officers we need.

Gunner Robert Caldwell Dunlap was one of the four wounded and noted the experience in his diary:

“. . . our guns opened fire and after firing about sixty rounds as rapidly as possible we ceased firing and I sat down on the caisson just then a shell from the enemy’s gun burst just inside the embrasure sending its fragments in every direction killing Liut McBride, wounding Bob Welch in the foot, and one piece crashed through my left arm causing it to fall limp by my side-I was stunned for a moment feeling no pain. Imideately some of the boys rushed to my assistance and I walked back a few yards. And here took place a generous and sympathetic deed that is indelibly fixed in my mind, namely a little dressy Irishman, Pat Quinn took of his sting necktie and tied it around my arm to stop the flow of blood. I was then taken to an improved field hospital where a doctor gave me first treatment; filled up with whiskey and loaded into an ambulance and started for Marietta over a newly opened road over stumps, root and rocks And oh! The suffering I endured the broken bones grinding together every jar of the ambulance, notwithstanding Sam B. was trying to steady my arm and body the best he could. After arriving at Marietta my arm was amputated by Dr. Fleuellen assisted by my great and good old friend Dr. Gough.”

Caldwell’s brother, Samuel Baldwin Dunlap, also recorded the incident, stating in his memoir:

“The sun had already risen on the 23rd when my Brother & I rose from our bed – which was a large flat rock-from which we cleaned off most of the prickly pears-however enough were left to stick us occasionally Thousands of blue coats with their glistening bayonets could be seen over in ‘yankee dom’ taking position in line of battle. Some sharpshooting-but the calm of the morning, was not disturbed b artillery until 7 o.c. am. When our battery fired eight rounds-to which the Feds replied from several directions. About 10 am our gun was moved back to the first position in the breastworks. We immediately proceeded to carry up a good supply of ammunition which was quite a task-as it could not be brought up in any other manner than in our arms. About noon the yanks commenced tantallizing us, by firing an occasional shot from their artillery about nineteen hundred yards in our front-& at 3 o.c. our Maj Storrs, thinking it was intended as a banter – Said, Boys can’t you silence those fellows? The Answer was- we will try. & at it we went-with our four guns & two of Hoskin’s battery. The duel although very unequal was quite animating-they having more than ten guns to our one. The roar of artillery was incessant-& the yanks kept an almost solid sheet of shot, shell & fragments of shell raining over & around us. After firing one hour, our gun was running short of ammunition, & ordered to cease-But the enemy kept a hail storm of their deadly missiles in the air. The boys al seated themselves, behind the works, & about equally divided on either side of the gun, & had engaged in general conversation-in a manner becoming insensible to the deadly conflict in progress-when we were startled by the sharp crack of a shell, which was supposed to be from a twelve pound Napoleon gun-which entered one corner of the embrasure exploding at the same time-killing Lieutenant McBride instantly, shattering my Brother’s left arm near the shoulder & wounding my friend ‘Bob’ Welch in the foot. As soon as the smoke cleared away so that I could see the dire effects of the explosion, immediately spring to my Brother’s side-with the query-Oh! Caldwell are you hurt? He not being conscious of the dreadful calamity which had befallen him-replied No! Not much! But his army hanging limp by his side-the large hole torn in his jacket sleeve by a fragment of the shell-the blood spurting from his army-his palid countenance-told a tale of horror. One of the men by the name of ‘Pat’ Quinn, took a small silk tie from his own neck-& assisted me in tying it tightly above the wound, to check the blood, &with the assistance of the boys placed him up a litter, & carried him a short distance down the mountain to the company Surgeon’s quarters.”

1 Response to The Kennesaw Line: Artillery on the Mountain

  1. Great accounts… As an artilleryman myself, I am in awe of the idea of [and amount of effort needed] to have a battery firing 60 rounds to the gun…

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