Welcome to the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University. We provide quality programming that reflects academic inquiry and a greater understanding of the causes, nature and effects of the bloodiest conflict in our history. So much of what we continue to grapple with today can be traced to the events leading up to and emanating from the conflict of 1861-65. The Civil War Center also leads tours of historic sites and provides the historic underpinnings for the Kennesaw Mountain Staff Ride for Executive Leaders program. We hope that you enjoy all our website as to offer.
Captain James H. Ward of the United States Navy is killed off Mathias Point, Va., as these units spar with Confederate shore batteries.
Heavy fighting continues around Richmond as Lee presses forward with attacks meant to drive the enemy from the Confederate capital’s doorsteps and McClellan reacts to his opponent’s strikes. Now, acutely aware of the danger he faces, Porter pulls back toward the bridges over the swollen Chickahominy River that will connect him to his comrades. The Federals craft a powerful defensive position near Gaines’ Mill and Cold Harbor that is protected in part by Botswain’s Swamp. The heat of the day matches the hot fighting to come as Confederates surge again into the teeth of a strong Union position backed by artillery. At approximately 2:30 in the afternoon, Maxcy Gregg’s South Carolinians lead the way only to be engulfed in a torrent of Union fire. A lethal combination of cannon fire and infantry volleys decimate these advances as they occur through the day, the stubborn defenders laying a murderous fire on the attackers that drives them back. Both sides send reinforcements as they can and finally, at about 7 P.M,, Brigadier General John Bell Hood and Colonel Evander Law unleash a general Confederate advance and, at last, break a portion of the Union line. Porter can only hope to withdraw relatively intact from the blood-soaked ground he has defended. Lee has a hard-won victory, but at the terrible price of 8,750 casualties. While, McClellan now looks for a means of extracting his army, now with 6,837 less men of their own as a result of this combat, from the grip of what he believes to be a much larger opposing force.
Not often thought to be grandiose or romantic in his statements, General Lee informs President Davis:
“Profoundly grateful to Almighty God for the signal victory granted to us, it is my pleasing task to announce to you the success achieved by this army to-day. The enemy was this morning driven from his strong position behind Beaver Dam Creek and pursued to that behind Powhite Creek, and finally, after a severe contest of five hours, entirely repulsed from the field. Night put an end to the contest. I grieve to state that the loss in officers and men is great. We sleep on the field, and shall renew the contest in the morning.”
Cump Sherman displays his sense of the reality of the war to his wife:
“You must not suppose this war is at an end or any thing like it. If McClellan take[s] Richmond which I believe he will it will be another great feat. Still they have a vast country and a determined people.”
George Gordon Meade assumes command of the Army of the Potomac, replacing “Fighting Joe” Hooker, who has failed to contain Robert E. Lee.
Sherman writes his wife Ellen of the state of affairs at Vicksburg:
“We cant show a hand or cap above our rifle pits without attracting a volley. But, of course there must be an end to all things & I think if Johnston do not make a mighty effort to relieve Vicksburg in a week they will cave in.”
The Union general notes the stalwart approach of some of the Southerners he has encountered with a grudging admiration, mixed with the cold calculus of war, especially toward those he had known prior to the conflict:
“I doubt if History affords a parallel of the deep & bitter enmity of the women of the South. No one who sees them & hears them but must feel the intensity of their hate. . . . Vicksburg contains many of my old pupils & friends. Should it fall into our hands I will treat them with kindness, but they have sowed the wind & must reap the whirlwind. Until they lay down their arms, and submit to the rightful authority of their Government, they must not appeal to me for mercy or favors.”
On this day, Sherman will try to shorten the campaign to take Atlanta by breaking through the stout defenses at Kennesaw Mountain. Planning the assault for 8:00 A.M., he expects a feint or demonstration against Big Kennesaw, while a thrust is made at Pigeon Hill and the main attack directed at what will become known as Cheatham Hill. A bombardment opens the action, with minor initial successes against the pickets at Pigeon Hill, but that attack soon bogs down against stiffened resistance. Although the Confederate line features a salient at a critical point on Cheatham Hill, the position is hardly weak or vulnerable and the men of Ben Frank Cheatham and Patrick Cleburne pummel the attackers with heavy and persistent fire. Despite his losses, Sherman considers continuing the offensive, when George Thomas insists, “Another such attack will use up this army,” and Cump relents.
President Lincoln notifies members of the Committee of the National Union Convention:
“The nomination is gratefully accepted, as the resolutions of the convention, called the platform, are heartily approved.”
Young Emma LeConte is experiencing the twin elements of the Union presence in South Carolina, with one Union officer exhibiting the rule by letter and another more philosophical in his treatment of a defeated people:
“Gen. [Alfred S.] Hartwell is in town again, the vile, miserable tyrant. He came up here not long ago. I suppose he thought things were going on too smoothly and comfortably under [Colonel Nathaniel] Haughton and he needed to stir up a fuss and make the people realize their position. . . . The first thing he did was to take possession of Mrs. Bausket’s house, which she had left for a short visit to her plantation, and there he established himself and proceeded to hold his orgies. The next thing he did was to go to Church. After the service he wrote a note to Mr. Shand saying he observed the omission of the prayer for the President of the United States, and that Mr. Shand would be pleased to use it hereafter or he would be under the unpleasant necessity of closing his Church. . . . A few days after he left for a week or two. Mr. Shand went to Col. Haughton about it. The Colonel told him he was very sorry, but since the thing was brought before him officially, he was compelled to carry out his orders, ‘I have,’ he said, ‘abstained from going to Church ever since I have been here because I understood the prayer was not used and I did not wish to interfere with your religious worship.’ The next Sunday Col. Haughton went to Church and the prayer was used. . . . Mr. Shand hurried through it as if the words choked him, and at the end not one amen was heard throughout the Church, not even from the minister who was assisting at the altar.
Yesterday we had a little piece of beef—a luxury indeed—the first we have tasted since Sherman passed through. . . . The Yankees are issuing rations but they are only drawn by people in actual need or who have no self-respect.”
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