Welcome to the Atlanta Campaign

James Walker, “The Battle of Resaca”

For most of 2022, I have been deeply immersed in the details and intricacies the Atlanta Campaign. My goal is to write a multi-volume series covering the entire operation from May 1 to September 7, 1864, with each volume covering roughly a months’ worth of activity. Admittedly ambitious, but I enjoy working on a large canvas, so to speak.

The process has been enjoyable. Along the way, I keep encountering incidents that make me laugh, or think, or reflect on the nature of loss and war. I have taken to sharing these items on Facebook. It also occurred to me that they would be well suited to the Emerging Civil War Blog, and so here I am.

I have decided to commence writing what I hope will amount to an irregularly regular (ahem) column of sorts, posted on Wednesday evenings.

Lieutenant Marcus Woodcock, 9th Kentucky Infantry (US)

The incident below definitely made me laugh. It took place in the camp of the 9th Kentucky Infantry (US) in late March, 1864 after a large snowfall. Boredom was ever an issue in camp; and even though they were soldiers embarked on serious business, they were also still boys, being boys:

Lacking much contact with actual Rebels, even guard duty could be turned to fun. In fact, noted Lieut. Marcus Woodcock, overnight picket duty became somewhat sought after, since “it afforded a relief for that day and the next from the irksome and monotonous duties of camp.” Woodcock related how a bored member of the 9th Kentucky, standing one of those night picket posts, discovered how young pines could be turned into impromptu catapults when the top of a five-foot evergreen broke off in his hands and launched “a splinter” at a fellow Kentuckian. “A ‘genius’ that was standing near,” wrote Woodcock, “instantly perceived the prospect for fun” and launched another such missile at the next picket post. “The ‘chunk’ flew with wonderful precision and told with much effect among the designated squad. This exposed the trick, and soon whole batteries were dealing out their missiles in their foes.”

More to follow in due time 

8 Responses to Welcome to the Atlanta Campaign

  1. James Walker, thank you for an excellent article! Dave Powell, I am so excited about what I expect this series to be. I first “got hooked” on this research endeavor in 1960. The Atlant Journal/Constitution had not yet begun their Civil War Centennial series in the Sunday paper. But, on the bank of an athletic practice field, at my school in Jonesboro, GA I found a dropped type 4 Williams Cleaner — of course it is still part of a display hanging on my wall. Thank you so much for beginning “The Atlanta Campaugn”!

  2. Oops, not only did I leave the “a” off the end of Atlanta, and mistyped a “u” instead of an “i” in Campaign; but I gave credit to a dead guy for the article! Sorry, Dave Powell!

  3. What do you suppose “a splinter” equates to in today’s parlance?
    (The thought crossed my mind that many of your FB posts would make a good ECW blog, albeit after reading dozens)

  4. For me, the story of the Union’s Atlanta Campaign boils down to three Western men from Ohio – Grant, Sherman and McPherson – who cemented their Leadership Team at the Bowman House in Jackson Mississippi on 14 May 1863. Success at Vicksburg was followed by success at Chattanooga; and then Grant was called away February 1864 to take command in the East, leaving the up-and-coming McPherson to work as right-hand man to the volatile, nervous ball of energy that was William Tecumseh Sherman. And during a crucial moment of the Atlanta Operation McPherson was killed, requiring a quick replacement, and then Sherman carrying on with his new team as if nothing remarkable had happened…
    Am looking forward to this latest interpretation of the Atlanta Campaign.
    All the best
    Mike Maxwell

  5. Dave, my book on the Forty-Fifth Illinois Infantry will be coming out next year. The regiment served during the campaign guarding Sherman’s supply line, first at the Etowah River bridge. If you need any assistance on writing about those who protected the supply line, please reach out at thomasbmack@gmail.com


  6. Thank God Grant and Sherman had George Thomas with them during various sequences of the Western Campaign. I always felt that McPherson looked better at a distance; or, to borrow a phrase from the Princess Diaries, looked good on a postage stamp. Sherman’s mediocrity as a tactician was more than offset by his logistical acuity. Always felt that the consistent underperformance of the Union cavalry hampered his ability to expedite the campaign. Can’t wait to read Dave on this campaign!

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