“History Hides the Lies of Our Civil War”: The Forgotten Battle of Pickett’s Mill

Today we are pleased to welcome guest author Angela M. Zombek, Ph.D. Angela is an Assistant Professor of History at St. Petersburg College, in Clearwater, Florida. Sh erecieved her an M.A. from the University of Akron, and her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She is surrently working on her first book, Penitentiaries, Punishment, and Military Prisons: Familiar Responses to an Extraordinary Crisis during the American Civil War. Which will be published through Kent State University Press.

William T. Sherman

William T. Sherman

In 1884, William T. Sherman and a Confederate veteran casually reminisced about battles of twenty years past over cold beers. The Southerner mentioned that he often opposed Sherman. Sherman refocused his gaze and inquired where and under whom the man served. “General Patrick Cleburne,” the veteran replied. Sherman raised his glass and said, “‘I want to shake hands with you again, and hats off in memory of Pat Cleburne, the ablest division commander in your army. When we met with Cleburne’s division we always had to fight.’”[1] Sherman’s memory then drifted to encounters with Cleburne’s Division, and perhaps he pondered the Union loss at Pickett’s Mill, Georgia on May 27, 1864.

This small Atlanta Campaign battle stunned Sherman. His army lost 1,732 casualties in approximately five hours after a piecemeal advance through a steep, overgrown ravine towards Confederate forces entrenched on high ground. The Confederates lost only 500.[2] By 1864, these numbers were not newsworthy. Battles with tens of thousands of casualties perfectly fit newspapers’ sensational agendas and journalists excited readers with large, bloody encounters but engagements with fewer casualties were buried upon the death of veterans. [3]

Shiloh, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg have become household names, while smaller battles have become curiosities. Carol Reardon, in her study of Pickett’s Charge, contends that the Battle of Gettysburg secured a place in America’s national imagination since its memory rests on the “double foundation of history and memory.” Conversely, in the case of Pickett’s Mill, history and memory became, at best, separated and, at worst, completely disregarded. The battle is one of many forgotten engagements. Dyer’s Compendium lists over 10,000 military actions during the Civil War – only a handful became en-grained in popular imagination.[4]

Hazen's attack at Pickett's Mill

Hazen’s attack at Pickett’s Mill

Ironically, well-known battles are the exception, not the rule, when remembering Civil War combat. Countless smaller engagements are buried in the historical record and their blood-soaked ground ploughed under for the sake of modern development. Pickett’s Mill, as part of three successive battles on the Dallas Line: New Hope Church (May 25, 1864); Pickett’s Mill (May 27), and the Battle of Dallas (May 28), vanished due to changing military tactics and Sherman’s omission of a blundering defeat.

Regardless of defeat, Union veterans fought, almost obsessively, through wartime and post-war writing, to secure Pickett’s Mill’s place in historical memory. The battle fits squarely into the Lost Cause myth since the lopsided Confederate victory inspired tales of Southern courage and manliness as soldiers repulsed swarms of Union assailants from high ground, delaying Sherman’s drive towards Atlanta.[5] But Union veterans clung to the battle’s memory. They denounced its misidentification, recorded harrowing scenes, and contended that the fighting was as fierce and just as important as major battles. Pickett’s Mill became a “lost cause” for Union veterans. Their recollections reveal that there is something heroic, even romantic, about memorializing a demoralizing loss within a larger cause that they ultimately won. Writing about this battle provided veterans the opportunity to showcase bravery, recall fear, mourn death and correct Sherman’s omission.

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce

Sherman could have ignored the battle because the casualties incurred, while meaningful to suffering soldiers, were not noteworthy to the reading public hungry. Contemporaries were, even without war, familiar with death. As Nicholas Marshal has noted, nineteenth-century Americans witnessed death anywhere from two to seven times more than Americans today and viewed death as inevitable, not as something to avoid. The Civil War, generally, and the Battle of Pickett’s Mill, specifically, disrupted the experience of a “Good Death,” but, newspapers desensitized people to the death of a few hundred soldiers and fed public cravings for news of death by the thousands. Newspapers, especially large papers in northern cities, focused on grand battles and there were few Southern papers with a broad enough circulation to publicize Pickett’s Mill.[6] Sherman had little reason to think that the general public, beyond families of the men whom Pickett’s Mill directly affected, would ponder it. The battle, however, haunted Union veterans and their recollections emphasized the battle’s disorder, pain, fear, death, and destruction – not war as a triumphant national spectacle.[7]

The worst fate veterans suffered was lack of credit—public recognition on maps, monuments, and books were prized possessions in the post-war years. This nightmare of anonymity became reality for Pickett’s Mill’s veterans, but Union men vowed to reverse the trend. They did not fault regimental, brigade, or company commanders for the blundering assault, but criticized Sherman’s omission.[8]  Robert Kimberly and Ephraim Holloway’ of the 41st Ohio snidely remarked as a “fact worth notice” that Confederate reports recorded Pickett’s Mill as one of the “most prominent and important events” of the Atlanta campaign,” but Sherman’s memoirs wholly ignored it. Union veteran George Putenny contended that, “Sherman in his memoirs was unfair to us in failing to mention our battle on the 27th,” while Joseph Johnston called it one of the “fiercest of the Atlanta campaign.” Most famously, topographical engineer Ambrose Bierce, quipped, “To how many having knowledge of the battles of our Civil War does the name Pickett’s Mill suggest acts of heroism and devotion performed in scenes of awful carnage to accomplish the impossible?” Bierce’s post-war essay, “The Crime at Pickett’s Mill,” invited readers to assess the battle’s importance and screamed that Sherman ordered the battle, but later ignored it.[9]

Other veterans, like Arthur Fitch, believed that Pickett’s Mill was overlooked since Americans had grown accustomed to large battles by 1864. In an 1886 National Tribune article, Fitch acknowledged constant fighting on the Dallas Line, but contended that New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, and Dallas were “three well-defined and bloody engagements,” which “at an earlier period of the war, would have excited general attention.”[10]

Pickett's MillVeterans’ fight for national recognition intensified late in the century. The National Tribune ran a regular feature in the 1880s and 1890s called “Fighting Over Them,” consisting of first-person accounts of battles and camp life. In the February 11, 1897 edition, A.J. Gleason, First Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 15th Ohio, addressed the identity of Pickett’s Mill.  His article, “Confusion as to Names: New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mills, Dallas,” griped that numerous comrades erroneously used all three names to designate the same battle. He exhorted, “there were three separate engagements, each in no way connected . . . being distant several miles and no two on the same date.” Gleason also noted that comrades sporadically inquired why no one wrote up “New Hope Church or Dallas, meaning Pickett’s Mill,” denouncing ignorance of the correct name.[11]

Sergeant Gregory McDermott of the 23rd Kentucky also plugged Pickett’s Mill in The National Tribune. He wrote that men in Gen. Wood’s Division, Fourth Corps would long remember May 27, 1864 when they fought “at the battle of Pickett’s Mills, also called New Hope Church.” Almost thirty-three years later, McDermott vividly recalled being “hurled into that slaughter-pen,” and his “brigade (Hazen’s) and the division organization almost destroyed.”[12]  Pickett’s Mill changed lives, and its magnitude for the veterans could not be overstated. Men like George Putenny of the 37th Indiana vehemently proclaimed that his comrades would have rather died than retreated, recalled how the living stripped the dead of ammunition, and boasted that no one complained when ordered to use the bayonet. “If duty was shirked or responsibility transferred there, let the doubting tell,” Putnney penned, “but leave to us, as comrades, the proud memories of Pickett’s Mill.”[13]

Union veterans touted bravery despite the poor battle plan. Civil War soldiers’ experiences were horrible and, in instances like Pickett’s Mill, unfair, but on May 27, men demonstrated staunchness and valor that commanded admiration of friend and foe.[14] Capt. David Conyngham captured the irony that the enlisted men were prepared to march into a trap that their commanders failed to recognize. He noted how Union assailants advanced towards the Confederate line through the matted ravine and crested the hill in such good form that one would think the soldiers “were going to a parade, instead of to death.”[15]

Many veterans measured success on bravery, not on the battle’s outcome. Col. Oliver Payne of the 124th Ohio reported that Union soldiers attacked with “spirit” and concluded that “no more honest or bold attempt to carry the enemy’s works” occurred during the campaign. Payne contended that “if valor and heroism could have gained the point,” the Union would have won.[16] Payne remembered fearlessness, but those who feared the assault readily admitted misgivings. Fear became a hallmark of the Union experience at Pickett’s Mill.

Union soldiers at Pickett’s Mill were no strangers to battle’s wrath, but the ill-fated attack magnified terror, which permeated soldiers’ recollections. In his diary, Lt. William Woodcock of the 9th Kentucky recalled that the beautiful day was “destined to be tarnished by one of those rude contests that result from the unrestrained passions of men.”[17] Many of Woodcock’s comrades shared his sense of impending doom.

W.S. Franklin of the 49th Ohio recalled that some Union soldiers awoke from an afternoon nap to “presentiments of a calamity,” but dolefully concluded that soldiers under orders “cannot stop for presentiments.” Men did not stop, but they fought an inner battle between common sense screaming retreat and their sense of duty urging them forward.[18] As soldiers heed orders, scenes of their former lives played in their minds and many wondered if they would have the privilege of a future.

The contrast between life and death on the battlefield is profound: trees sway in the breeze and animals scamper, but troops, massed and armed, can steal life without notice. George Putenny of the 37th Indiana recalled the “awful stillness” that preceded battle. As his regiment advanced through dense woods, he recalled no wounds of weaponry, just “happy birds” singing in the trees “as if no war or suffering or bloodshed were near.” The 37th passed a squad of cavalry, which Putenny recalled, cautioned them to “watch out.”[19] William Woodcock also recalled his unit’s advance and receipt of orders to lie down, which inspired the “most terrible anxieties known to the soldier; viz., the viewing of a bloody carnage and knowing that you will in a moment have to participate in it.”[20]

The prospect of dying far from home distressed soldiers. The inability to properly identify the battle of Pickett’s Mill suggests that for a combat death to be “Good,” men needed an idea of where they were and had to die during the battle’s main thrust. A “Bad Death,” resulted from lack of courage, or having no idea where death occurred.[21] Stray bullets took many lives after the major fighting subsided. Francis Kiene recalled a harrowing scene as he lay close to the Confederate line, shielding himself with dead bodies. A Rebel ball fatally struck a man who crept in front of him. Union men returned a few ragged shots and Kiene recalled how another man, Lieutenant Gibbs, fell mortally wounded when he stood up to order a cease fire.[22]  Dying this way was tragic, not heroic.

Dying during combat, however, constituted a “Good Death” because it meant that soldiers fulfilled their duty. Mortally wounded men wanted the folks at home to take pride in their last moments. J.T. Gibson described comrade James Little’s heroic death, recalling Little as the first man he saw fall. He thought Little instantly killed, but Gibson later learned about Little’s final moments. Little pleaded with his captain three times to tell his mother, ““I am in the front ranks yet,”” and then expired “in the arms of Chaplain Christy.”[23]  Little’s final resting place remains unknown, but he presumably fared better than comrades killed in front of the Rebel line at nightfall. Agonized men lay between the lines, begging to be shot. As W.S. Franklin retreated, he noted that the wounded lunged towards the living, imploring soldiers to carry them to the rear. This, Franklin said, was impossible since the living themselves were “nearly helpless,” and he lamented how dead comrades fell into the enemy’s “cruel hands.”[24]

Confederate soldiers denied Union dead a proper burial. Franklin and his comrades, days later, looked for the missing only to find that the Rebels stripped the dead of possessions and carelessly buried them in shallow mass graves with only “a few inches of earth” hiding the “dead heroes from view.”[25] Confederate treatment of the Union dead was disgraceful, and the number of casualties a tragedy – one that Union veterans contended earned Pickett’s Mill a place in history.

Joseph Johnston

Joseph Johnston

Union veterans tirelessly strove to commemorate the battle, believing they received little credit for great sacrifice.[26] Veterans believed Pickett’s Mill was just as, if not more, important, than any previous engagement, especially regarding casualties. Sergeant Major Gleason of the 15th Ohio summarized his comrades’ opinions when he wrote, “The battle . . . was decidedly our bloodiest so far. . . . This is surely not war, it is butchery.” Regimental historian Alexis Cope of the 15th Ohio admitted the battle was only one in the great Atlanta campaign but contended,  “the losses, in some of the regiments of our brigade, were heavier than in any battle during their entire service.” This, Cope concluded, demanded that it be “treated fully” in history.[27]

Cope’s comrades concurred. They could not understand how Pickett’s Mill slipped through the cracks or suffered misidentification. Gregory McDermott recalled that his division lost over 1,400 in less than an hour and somberly reflected, “I don’t believe we ever suffered as much as we did in that hour.” Similarly, J.T. Gibson of the 78th Pennsylvania noted that casualties from his regiment totaled “more than half a hundred men.” Gibson emphasized that the ratio of killed to wounded “was much larger than in any other battle in which we were engaged.”[28] Surely, Union veterans felt, this engagement was more than a footnote.

Pickett's Mill map courtesy of the Civil War Trust.

Pickett’s Mill map courtesy of the Civil War Trust.

The 49th and 41st Ohio regiments also suffered severe losses and compared Pickett’s Mill to more “memorable” engagements. W.S. Franklin of the 49th Ohio noted that: “Fifty per cent of our men were numbered among the killed, wounded, and missing,” making Pickett’s Mill “one of the most fatal” of any in the Georgia campaign. Years later, in 1895, the Springfield (Missouri) Democrat commemorated the 49th’s heavy losses noting that the regiment’s greatest losses occurred at Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, and Pickett’s Mill – the latter resulted in 754 killed and wounded, “over half the number borne on the rolls.” Kimberly and Holloway of the 41st Ohio likewise compared Pickett’s Mill casualties to other costly engagements, stating, “The killed and wounded at Shiloh were 38 per cent . . . at Stone River, 27 per cent; and at Pickett’s Mills, over 40 per cent. At the latter battle, one company (H) lost over 90 per cent of its men, and another (K) over 81 per cent.”[29] Men hoped these high percentages would win Pickett’s Mill reknown.

Nineteenth-century contemporaries set the tone for later oversight of Pickett’s Mill. Historian Phillip Secrist noted that many scholars disregard the fighting along the Dallas Line as a mere series of heavy skirmishes. Before Pickett’s Mill became a state park in the late twentieth century, the American public largely bypassed it. Beginning in the 1970s, the prospect of profiting off of the misfortunes of the dead drew hordes of relic hunters to the battleground, much to the ire of local residents. Individuals searching for bullets, buttons, grapeshot, bayonets, and even bones tore up the landscape, inspiring one local farmer to comment, “These folks come out here looking for bullets, and that’s exactly what they’re going to find next time I catch one of them.”[30]

Relic hunters ravaged the grounds soon after the state of Georgia purchased the land in 1973. Pickett’s Mill became a state park in 1992, and its website boasts that it is one of the “best preserved Civil War battlefields,” arguably due to its anonymity. The battle itself, however, has commanded scant scholarly attention, and is probably best known to “hard-core” Civil War re-enactors seeking “semi-immersive” events. Civil War buffs, hardcore re-enactors, and, perhaps, just the curious looking for something to do, came out for the 150th Anniversary re-enactment in late May 2014 – nearly 1,000 spectators attended the Saturday event.[31]

Spectators undoubtedly learned much about the events of 150 years earlier from the weekend’s living historians and guest speakers. But the most important lesson to gain from Pickett’s Mill, to paraphrase Sherman, is how both the experience and memory of war is hell.  Forgetting battles prolongs participants’ agony. Union veterans certainly would have agreed with Axl Rose’s lament in the song, “Civil War,” that wars go on with brainwashed pride for love of God and human rights, and “history hides the lies of our civil war.”[32]

Endnotes:

[1] Irving Buck, Cleburne and His Command, 357 as appearing in Frederick H. Bohmfalk,  “Cleburne’s Victory at the Pickett Settlement, May 27, 1864,” in Mauriel Phillips Joslyn, ed., A Meteor Shining Brightly: Essays on Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, with a Foreword by Wiley Sword.  (Milledgeville, Georgia, 1998), 230.

[2] Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/PickettsMillBattlefield.

[3] David B. Sachsman and David W. Bulla, eds.,  Sensationalism: Murder, Mayhem, Mudslinging, Scandals, and Disasters in Nineteenth-Century Reporting (New Brunswick, 2013), xxv; Gregory A. Borchard, Stephen Bates, and Lawrence J. Mullen, “Publishing Violence as Art and News: Sensational Prints and Pictures in the Nineteenth-Century Press,” in Sachsman and Bulla, eds., Sensationalism, 61; Charles Royster, The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans (New York, 1993), 238-239.  Total casualties: Shiloh – 20,000; Antietam – 23,000; Chancellorsville – 30,000; Gettysburg – 51,000. James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York, 1988), 413, 544, 645, and 664.

[4] Carol Reardon, Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory (Chapel Hill, 1997), 3.  The compendium’s classifications are: campaigns, battles, engagements, combats, actions, assaults, skirmishes, operations, sieges, raids, expeditions, reconnaissance, scouts, affairs, occupations, and captures.  Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (Des Moines, Ia., 1908), 582.  Accessed June 26, 2014.  https://archive.org/stream/08697590.3359.emory.edu/08697590_3359#page/n7/mode/1up.

[5] Matthew J. Grow, “The Shadow of the Civil War: A Historiography of Civil War Memory,” American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 4, No. 2, (Summer 2003): 82.  The Pickett’s Mill State Historic Site archive contains sources capturing Confederates’ memories. “Pickett’s Mill Archive – Confederate” accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/122189?ran=31743818.

[6] Nicholas Marshal, “The Great Exaggeration: Death and the Civil War,” The Journal of the Civil War Era, 4, No. 1 (March 2014): 4-5 and 10-11.  Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York, 2008); Les Sillars, ““Still Another Horror!”: Religion and Death in Nineteenth-Century American Newspapers,” in Sachsman and Bulla, eds., Sensationalism, 195-196; Christopher B. Daly, Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation’s Journalism (Amherst, 2012), 110; J. Cutler Andrews, “The Confederate Press and Public Morale,” The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Nov. 1966): 463-464.

[7] John F. Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order (New York, 1993), 268-269.  Stuart McConnell notes that soldiers remembered the war as national spectacle, not its disorder.  Franny Nudelman contends that war’s death is forgotten and masked with a triumphant narrative.  Stuart McConnell, Glorious Contentment: The Grant Army of the Republic, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill, 1992), 13.  Franny Nudelman, John Brown’s Body: Slavery, Violence, and the Culture of War (Chapel Hill, 2004), 3.

[8] Blight, Race and Reunion, 189.  This contrasts with Kevin Levin’s notation that enlisted men directed frustrations at the high command.  Kevin M. Levin, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder (Lexington, 2012), 23.

[9] Robert L. Kimberly and Ephraim S. Holloway, The Forty-First Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (Cleveland, Oh., 1897, Reprinted by Blue Acorn Press, Huntington, W.V., 1999), 87; George H. Putenny, History of the Thirty-Seventh [Indiana] Regiment.  P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123859?ran=1882598007; Ambrose Bierce, Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War.  Edited by William McCann (New York, 1996), 38.

[10] Arthur S. Fitch, “New Hope Church: How Sherman was Held in Check Eleven Days,” National Tribune (Washington, D.C.) May 27, 1886.

[11] The National Tribune was the principal Grand Army of the Republic newspaper.  In 1877, it encouraged common soldiers to submit articles or letters, which appeared in the feature “Fighting Over Them.” Blight, Race and Reunion, 181; A.J. Gleason, “Confusion as to Names: New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, Dallas.”  The National Tribune  (Washington D.C.) February 11, 1897. P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123523?ran=197285799.

[12] Gregory C. McDermott, “A Fierce Hour at New Hope: A Kentucky Man’s Story of What His Regiment Did.”  The National Tribune, October 28, 1897.  P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123581?ran=741850357.

[13] Stuart McConnell notes that Union veterans’ war memories “shaped and were shaped by a late Victorian culture that emphasized sentiment and high morality.”  McConnell, Glorious Contentment, xv; George H. Putenny, History of the Thirty-Seventh [Indiana], P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123859?ran=1882598007.

[14] Bell Irvin Wiley,  “Billy Yank and Johnny Reb On the Road to Atlanta.”  Civil War Times, Volume XLII No. 5, (December 2003), 80.

[15] Capt. David Power Conyngham, Sherman’s March Through the South: With Sketches and Incidences of the Campaign (New York: Sheldon & Co., 1865), 102.

[16] O.R., Series 1, Volume XXXVIII/1. “Extract of Payne’s Report,” P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123584?ran=1703001751.

[17] Noe, Southern Boy in Blue, 290.

[18] W.S. Franklin, “Letter to the National Tribune,” The National Tribune, May 27, 1898.  P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123531?ran=356607599.

[19] Putenny, “History of the 37th Indiana.” P.M.A.

[20] Noe, Southern Boy in Blue, 290-291.

[21] Faust, Republic of Suffering, 9 and 27-28.

[22] Kiene, Journal of Francis A. Kiene, 229-230 as appearing in Liles, “Joseph Aaron Liles,” 26.  P.M.A. On Site, Folder #8.

[23] Gibson, History of the Seventy-Eighth Pennsylvania, 147.  P.M.A. On Site, Folder #1.

[24] Dean, Shook Over Hell, 66; Noe, Southern Boy in Blue, 293; Franklin, “Letter to National Tribune.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Kevin Levin notes that as Virginians took most of the credit for the fighting at the Crater, soldiers from other states “grew increasingly frustrated as their contributions were ignored.”  Regarding Pickett’s Mill, soldiers felt slighted by Sherman’s ignorance.  Kevin M. Levin, ““Is Not the Glory Enough to Give Us All a Share?”: An Analysis of Competing Memories of the Battle of the Crater,” in Aaron Sheehan-Dean, ed., The View from the Ground: Experiences of Civil War Soldiers (Lexington, Ky., 2007), 234.

[27] Alexis Cope, History by Captain Alexis Cope,” P.M.A. accessed July 21, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/info/123525?ran=1576332006.; Sgt. Major Gleason’s Diary as appearing in “History by Captain Alexis Cope.”

[28] Franklin, “Letter to National Tribune.”; Gibson, History of the Seventy-Eighth Pennsylvania, 148.  P.M.A. On Site, Folder #1. Casualties included both killed and wounded.

[29] Franklin, “Letter to National Tribune.”; Springfield Democrat (Springfield, Mo.) June 5, 1895; Kimberly and Holloway, Forty-First Ohio, 123.

[30] Secrist, “’Awful Carnage,’” 5; “Historical Sites Hurt by Digging (AP),” Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.) July 5, 1975.

[31] Butkovich, Battle of Pickett’s Mill, 162; Kenneth W. Noe, “Somebody Blundered”: Marcus Woodcock, Ambrose Bierce, and the “Crime at Pickett’s Mill.” accessed July 16, 2014.  http://www.ambrosebierce.org/journal3noe.html; Pickett’s Mill Battlefield State Historic Site accessed July 16, 2014. http://gastateparks.org/PickettsMillBattlefield.

Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (New York: Vintage Books, 1999); “50th Battle of Pickett’s Mill: The 150th Atlanta Campaign Immersive Event.”  accessed July 16, 204. ahttp://armoryguardsevents.webs.com; The Authentic Campaigner accessed July 16, 2014. http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?3995-Pickett-s-Mill-AARs/page4; Facebook Friends of Pickett’s Mill Battlefield accessed July 16, 2014. https://www.facebook.com/PickettsMill.

[32] Guns n’ Roses, Civil War, “Use Your Illusion II,” Geffen Records: Released September 17, 1991. Title also from this song.

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9 Responses to “History Hides the Lies of Our Civil War”: The Forgotten Battle of Pickett’s Mill

  1. 14corps says:

    It was more typical of General Sherman to blame someone else for his mistakes. Here it appears that he just ignored the battle in his memoirs. His memoirs are full of deception.

    Your article is one of the best I have read on this forum. Please submit more!

  2. David Moore says:

    In general if a battle doesn’t involve Grant/Sherman-Lee/Jackson it tends to be overlooked. As far as Sherman is concerned Henry Boynton in the 19th and Albert Castel in the 20th gave a more complete and critical picture of his military career as opposed to what Sherman wrote about himself.

  3. Steve Reilly says:

    Maybe you better read Brad Butkovich book “THE BATTLE of PICKETT’s MILL”. Very well research and even listed the true number of killed in action, via the regiment books. Around 250 – 260 killed in action. Gen. Sherman wrote ONE line on the battle of Dallas, a major union win. He called Pickett’s Mill and others along the dead line a raid or a dash. Gen. Sherman did what he wanted to do, he went around the Allatoona Mountains. Also, the union only fell back a few hundred feet and dug in over looking Pickett’s Mill from the heights above the stream, per Brad Quinlin’s book “Duty Well Performed the 21 Ohio”, which had 6 KIA and 2 WIA per their regimental book. Also, read Hazen book and you see, the union kept the field until the confederate left for the mud line. The union may not have rolled up the southern line, but no major loss. What the union lost at Pickett’s Mill and New Hope Church, was made up by the southern attack in Dallas by Route 61 & 278. They ran righting the union cannon and Henry rifles. Also read Hood, he never wrote of Pickett’s Mill, only of near New Hope Church. All three engagements are in truth, the Battle of New Hope Church. Just like the three day battle of Gettysburg. Its best, always to take a trip to the National Archives in Washington and pull the official records and not go on hear say. The official regimental records lists the names of wia and kia. For the record, I walk Pickett’s Mill Battlefield three days a week, when it is open, Thursday, Friday & Saturday and a member of the Kennesaw Camp Sons of Union Veterans and the Cobb County Civil War Round Table.

  4. Frank Varney says:

    Excellent work. This is informative, balanced, and well written. Thank you for this contribution.

  5. josepharose says:

    It’s a very well-written article. I hope that Dr. Zombek will write a book about Pickett’s Mill after finishing her current manuscript. General Sherman was a great hand at omitting some unpleasant facts and distorting others that he couldn’t ignore. He was also tactically inept.

  6. samhood says:

    I agree with Ed Bearss’ assessment of Sherman’s generalship. He didn’t win battles; he won campaigns.

    • josepharose says:

      Mr. Hood, with all due respect to both you and Ed Bearss, Ed’s assessment is overly simplistic and misleading. Because of Sherman’s own and Grant’s memoirs and the writings of their whole crowd and their later supporters, a multitude of Sherman’s blunders and bad decisions have been covered up. If you drill down and look at Sherman’s generalship in fine detail and with a critical analysis, it’s fairly evident that he’s one of the American Civil War’s most overrated generals (if not the most overrated of the chief commanders).

    • David Moore says:

      Albert Castel probably knew more about Sherman’s campaigns than anyone. His essay Prevaricating Through Georgia shows that what Sherman said he did and what he actually did are often at odds with each other.

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