This Week in Georgia Civil War History
Apr. 6, 1862: The Battle of Shiloh began in Tennessee. Some Georgia troops were involved in this battle, and one of the corps commanders was native Georgian William J. Hardee. This battle was the first of what would become many extremely bloody battles, with many men killed and wounded, which would so shock both the North and South. Leading the Union forces were Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman; other Confederate commanders were Leonidas Polk (who would be killed in the Atlanta Campaign two years later), and Braxton Bragg (who would lead the Confederate forces at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863). The overall Confederate commander was Albert Sidney Johnston, who was killed in this battle.
Apr. 7, 1862:The Richmond Times Dispatch published a letter from their correspondent in Savannah; he expected attack on Fort Pulaski soon - and he was right; it would come in three days.
The Battle of Shiloh concluded with a Union victory. Both sides had over 1700 killed and over 8000 wounded; an appalling number to most observers. Unfortunately it would get much worse in future battles.
Below is the discharge order for a Georgia soldier who suffered from both typhoid fever and pneumonia for 40 days.
Courtesy of the Georgia Archives
Apr. 8, 1862: The Southern Recorder of Milledgeville offered some editorial words of warning to Southern "Tories," anyone who might consider selfishly looking for gain instead of patriotically supporting the Southern cause.
The Southern Federal Union, also of Milledgeville, reprinted two items which showed the shortages affecting the South - and suggestions to remedy them - one by melting down church bells to make cannon, and another to use rawhide to make shoes.
Click here to see the discharge order for a Georgia soldier who suffered from typhoid fever for 35 days.
Apr. 9, 1862: The Southern Watchman of Athens published a resolution passed by the planters of Clarke County - in which they pledged to plant very little cotton, instead planting provision crops. The committe of planters was chaired by Young Harris.
The Southern Confederacy of Atlanta printed a letter from their correspondent serving in Tennessee, in which he mentioned native Georgian John C. Fremont.
Apr. 10, 1862: The Civil War truly came to Georgia on this day. Union General David Hunter demanded the surrender of Fort Pulaski (defended by 389 men) from Confederate Colonel Charles Olmstead. When Olmstead refused, Union forces began a heavy bombardment of the fort. Their polite correspondence:
Headq'rs, Department of South, Tybee Island, Ga., April 10, 1862.
To the Commanding Officer, Fort Pulaski:
--I hereby demand of you the immediate surrender and restoration of Fort Pulaski to the authority and possession of the United States.
This demand is made with a view to avoiding, if possible, the effusion of blood, which must result from the bombardment and attack now in readiness to be opened.
The number, calibre and completeness of the batteries surrounding you, leave no doubt as to what must result in case of refusal; and as the defence, however obstinate, must eventually succumb to the assailing force at my disposal, it is hoped you will see fit to avert the useless waste of life.
This communication will be carried to you under a flag of truce by Lieut. J. H. Wilson, United States Army, who is authorized to wait any period not exceeding thirty minutes from delivery for your answer.
I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
Major General Commanding.
Headquarters Fort Pulaski, April 10, 1862.
Major-General David Hunter, commanding on Tybee River.
--I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date, demanding the unconditional surrender of Fort Pulaski.
In reply I can only say that I am here to defend the fort, not to surrender it.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
your obedient servant,
Chas. H. Olmstead
New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Fort Pulaski.
Apr. 11, 1862: Union forces continued the bombardment of Fort Pulaski, causing extensive damage to both the exterior walls and the interior of the fort. At 2:30 PM, Colonel Charles Olmstead surrendered Fort Pulaski to the Union; his entire garrison was taken prisoner. Writing back home to his wife, he described what had happened:
"I address you under circumstances of the most painful nature. Fort Pulaski has fallen and the whole garrison are prisoners. Early yesterday morning a flag of truce came over from Tybee Island conveying a demand for the surrender of the fort. Of course, i could give but one answer, that I was here to fight, not to yield. We instantly made all our preparations and at 8 o'clock precisely the enemy fired upon us. We replied slowly at first but increasingly in rapidity as we got the range. It soon became to my mind that if the enemy continued to fire as they had begun that our walls must yield. Shot after shot (of rifled cannon projectiles) hit immediately about our embrasures. Some came through, dismounting our guns, wounding one man very severely and flaking off the bricks in every direction.
"On taking a survey of the fort after the firing had ceased, my worst fears were confirmed. The angle immediately opposite to the fire of the enemy was terribly shattered, and I was convinced that another day would breach it entirely. I went to bed . . . in my clothes but could not sleep, the excitement of the day, the heavy responsibility resting upon me, and the many grave doubts I felt as to the ultimate result all combined to banish sleep from my eyelids.
"At half past 11, the enemy opened fire again and kept it up at intervals of ten or fifteen minutes during the night. We did not answer, however, until 6 o'clock in the morning, when firing became general again and continued until about half past 2 o'clock in the afternoon, when it was reported to me that our magazine was in danger. I found that the breach in one wall had become so alarmingly large that shots from the batteries of the enemy were passing clear through and striking directly on the brickwork of the magazine. It was simply a question of a few hours as to whether we should yield or be blown into perdition by our own powder. Our position was now as follows: several of our barbette guns had been rendered useless, our traverses giving away, the west side of the fort a complete wreck, and the southeast angle so badly breached as to permit free access of enemy shot to our magazine. I conferred with my officers and they united in advising me to surrender at once to avoid any further and unnecessary bloodshed. Their advice chimed with my own views and I gave the necessary orders for a surrender.
"Oh, my dear Wife, how can I describe to you the bitterness of the moment! It seemed as if my heart would break. I cannot write now all the details of our surrender, it pains me too much to think of them now. But I must tell you of the kind feelings evinced for me by my men. They crowded around me and endeavoured by every means in their powers to show me that they were willing to share whatever fate might be in store for me. . . .
"The Federal officers who have been in the fort have acted in the most courteous and gentlemanly manner toward us. I am assured that we shall have every privilege granted us consistent with the discharge of their duty. . . .
"I am still in the dark as to where we will be sent, though I believe New York is our destination. The money I have with me will be useless at the North, so I enclose it to you, something like $90.00. And now darling, I must say good by."
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), "Dear Mother: Don't grieve about me. If I get killed, I'll only be dead." (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 111-12.
Fort Pulaski Exterior After Bombardment
Fort Pulaski Interior After Bombardment
Look here for both contemporary and more historical photographs of Fort Pulaski.
New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Fort Pulaski.
The Georgia Weekly Telegraph of Macon carried several items mentioning the attack on Fort Pulaski.
Apr. 12, 1862: Union spy James Andrews, along with 19 other disguised Union soldiers, stole the locomotive The General at its Big Shanty stop. Their plan was to take the locomotive north to Chattanooga, destroying as much track and burning as many bridges as possible along the way. They also cut telegraph lines to prevent word of their deeds from being sent ahead. Railroad workers and Confederate soldiers were soon in pursuit and, after a long, exciting chase, Andrews and his men were stopped and captured shortly before reaching Chattanooga. While the episode - which became known as Andrews' Raid or The Great Locomotive Chase - was a failure (damaged tracks were quickly repaired and rain prevented any bridge burning), it became immortalized in "A Daring Adventure," part of Joel Chandler Harris' Stories of Georgia. Andrews and seven other men involved in the chase, would be hanged for their crimes.
Click here for a detailed account of the raid and chase.
Image from Deeds of Valor
Photographer unknown,courtesy of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History
This was also the first anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, and the Southern Confederacy looked back on what had happened, and looked forward - still confident of victory.
This week's edition of Harper's Weekly printed a Tennessee battle map, which also showed the extreme northern portion of Georgia.
Image Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
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