Ghosts of Kennesaw + Why

Another link between Atlanta and NYC: Two identical names get a lot of public use. Robert Fulton (steamboat inventor) and Johann DeKalb (Lafayette’s protégé, a German who fought in George Washington’s Continental Army). Both of these last names get barked out by countless municipal employees and traffic reporters in New York and Atlanta: Fulton and DeKalb counties in Georgia, Fulton Street in Manhattan and DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn…

…William Tecumseh Sherman, commanding three armies, marched south from Chattanooga, Tenn., bent on wreaking destruction. The war had entered its fourth year. The pre-war South no longer existed. The city of Atlanta had grown almost four-fold since 1850, full of sweaty factories cranking out the war machine.

Uncle Billy
Uncle Billy: 43 years of age, under the command of the highest ranking U.S. military officer since Washington, 41-year-old Ulysses S. Grant.

One hesitates to refer to this duo as the Two Towers, a la Sauron and Saruman. But without question the Union command stood united in the spring of 1864 like it had never been.

Can we imagine these two stony, understated, and straight-talking generals–a new breed, really, with no courtly trappings to speak of–can we imagine the two of them having a mutual understanding between them: “Okay. Enough. Let’s finish this thing off for the old ape” (the president).

Joseph Johnston, Leonidas Polk, John Bell Hood, and Co.: They had no thought of prevailing against Sherman’s armies. Outmanned and outgunned more than two-to-one.

But, imagine this! ‘If we can only hold them until the presidential election in the fall. If we can only get Lincoln knocked out of office, then it’s a whole new ballgame.’ (American politics hasn’t changed too much in 37 election cycles.)

Anyway, Polk (our old friend the Bishop-General) baptized Johnston and Hood as Sherman made his way south towards them. Grim? Fatalistic? No. Praise God. We all die, after all.

Johnny Reb had been renewed and rejuvenated by Johnston’s attentions to him, especially when an extra whiskey ration came down the line following a huge early-spring snowball fight…

…Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park attracts more visitors than any other Civil War site, 200K more per year than Gettysburg. But a lovely morning reveals that the Kennesaw count may be inflated by Cobb-county soccer moms slipping away to get some exercise on the short and scenic trail up the mountain.

This sunny Atlanta suburb, though, has a lot of ghosts.

I beheld that which I cannot describe, and which I hope never to see again. Dead men meet the eye in every direction…To look upon this, and then the beautiful wild woods, the pretty flowers as they drink the morning dew, and listen to the sweet notes of the songsters in God’s first temples, we were constrained to say, ‘What is man, and what is his destiny, to do such a strange thing?’*

The Fighting Bishop breathed his last here, felled by a shell as he reconnoitered. The battles on the mountain and in the nearby plains came to a draw. But Sherman kept out-maneuvering Johnston and backed him up to the Chattahoochee. Jefferson Davis did not like Johnston’s “retreat,” nor his lack of a clear plan. So Richmond suddenly put Hood in command instead.

…Taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming, I now provide, for anyone interested, an explanation of the four reasons why I love the Civil War (special hat tip to the dearly departed of Smith Mountain Road)…

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