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In Their Own Words

July 22, 1864

Journal Recorded Death of Son in Battle

From Columbus, Georgia, John Banks (who had seven sons serving in the Confederate army) sadly recorded in his journal the loss of a son who was killed at the Battle of Reseca:

“Since the last entry I made in December, 1863, I have been in feeble health, and overcome with troubles, so much so that I have quit going to my office and stay at home… .

On the 15th of May, a battle was going on at Resaca on the state railroad. Our men were ordered to lie down in the trenches while the enemy was shelling them. A shell fell near my dear Eugene, (who was lieutenant of Willis’ company) and exploded, killing him so dead that he was not known to speak or breathe afterwards. The night following, Willis [another son] had the sad duty to perform of burying him in the night, which was near where he was killed in a garden. Had no coffin but put him in a grave and covered him with the dirt and hurried off, the enemy not far off. This was the earthly end of dear Eugene, about twenty-five years of age. He was a good, dutiful son, of fine person, near or quite six feet high, of pleasing manners and very popular. When the war broke out in 1861, Eugene belonged to Captain Sims’ Columbus Guard. He, with the company, in April went to Savannah, thence to Richmond and there in the Virginia Army he was in many battles and escaped unscathed. He was elected lieutenant in Willis’ company, and went on and joined the company. He was in the battle of Chickamauga when Willis was badly wounded, and other skirmishes from April 1861 to May 1864; three years and one month he was on duty. He loved him home but was denied the enjoyment of it. I had given him some land in Stewart County - built him a house (all new) - and eighteen negroes. Thus ends dear Eugene, which has caused many tears to be shed. Even to this day I often cry to think and speak of him.”

Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), pp. 30-31.