The Kennesaw Line: “Boys, This is Butchery”

Kennesaw-ButcheryAlong the front of the 1st Arkansas at Kennesaw, the slaughter was terrible as they poured fire into the ranks of Charlie Harker’s Federal command. Amongst all of this savagery one incident occurs that is startling considering the nature of this fight.

Private William T. Barnes of Company G noted: “Well the Yanks got as far as the gully in the ravine, which seemed at that time the healthiest place. One would imagine Versuvius had opened over to the Confederate States of America and opened business on Kenesaw….”

“Our cannon were placed for execution. Their redoubts so low, the cannons mouth nearly on the ground, and at every discharge a blaze of fire sprang ou among the dry leaves, which were soon ablaze and eating their way toward the gully, which was full of a mass of human beings, squirming around and still piling on each other . . . just one glimpse of that seething mass of weltering human beings, the flying burning sticks with every discharge, flames leaping from limb to limb, the everylasting roar of cannon and small arms, not counting our usual Rebel yell. At this stage our colonel, Will H. Martin, sang out, ‘Boys, this is butchery,’ and mounting our headlogs, with a white handkerchief, he sang out to the Yanks as well as to our own men; ‘Cease firing and help get those men.’ It is needless to add that the Feds never once refused to comply with this request. Our men, scaling the head logs as though for a counter charge, were soon mixed with Yankees carrying out dead and wounded Feds with those who, a few minutes previous, were trying to ‘down our shanties.’ Together, the Rebs and Yanks soon had the fire beat out and the dead and wounded removed to the Federal side of the fence . . . . A Federal officer presented to Colonel Martin a brace of fine pearl handled pistols, making write a feeling little speech, not lengthy but to the point.”

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