Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 17, 1864

May 17, 1864


---Battle of Spotsylvania, Day 9:  Deciding that today may finally allow him to move troops on fairly solid roads, Grant wants to continue the countermarch to attack the Confederate right.  But, realizing that Lee probably knows about his movement already, he instead orders Hancock’s II Corps and Wright’s VI Corps to attack the Mule Shoe salient once again, thinking that these lines would be weakened.  However, Lee is not caught by surprise in the least.  As the Federals attack, their lines are shredded by well-placed artillery, and finally the attacks are called off. 

Modern-day reenactors commemorate the battle.

Adairsville, Georgia:  The Confederate cavalry fights an effective rearguard action as Johnston’s Army of Tennessee moves southward, looking for a good place to deploy on the defense.  At Adairsville, he stops, and Gen. Thomas readies a force to attack his position.  There is maneuvering and skirmishing, and some all-out combat between troops from Howard’s IV Corps Federals and the gray-coats of Hardee’s corps.  But that night, Johnston decides that the position is untenable and moves on.  Near Cassville, further south, Johnston stops and sense an opportunity to hurt Sherman’s juggernaut.

---Kate Cumming, a nurse with the Confederate army, in Georgia, writes in her diary about the ongoing campaign, and the efforts to help the wounded:

May 17.—There has been fighting near Dalton for some days. Our army has left that place, and is moving down, drawing the enemy with it. We are told that the enemy are suffering severe losses. I went to Atlanta on the 15th instant, in company with some ladies and gentlemen of this place. . . . That morning was one of the gloomiest I ever passed. It was damp and cheerless; and, look which way I would, the prospect was dreary. Hundreds of wounded men, dirty, bloody, and weary, were all around us. And when I thought of the many more which were expected, I was filled with despair, and felt like humbling myself in the dust, and praying more earnestly than ever before, that God would send us peace. . . .

We remained nearly all day in an old car, expecting to get on to the front. There was a relief committee, from Lagrange, in the same car with us. I observed that several such committees were in Atlanta, from every part of Georgia. The good people of Newnan had supplied us with quantities of every thing. In the afternoon, Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Barnes, Mrs. Auld and myself went to the cars, on their arrival from the front; and O, what a sight we there beheld! No less than three long trains filled, outside and in, with wounded. Nearly all seemed to be wounded in the head, face, and hands. I asked some one near me why this was. They replied, because our men had fought behind breastworks.

There were ladies at the depot with baskets filled with edibles of all kinds, and buckets of milk, coffee, and lemonade; and I noticed many had wines. I observed a number of old gentlemen assisting— the only manner in which they could serve their country. I noticed one in particular, an aristocratic-looking gentleman, who wore a white linen apron.

The ladies in Atlanta have been doing this work ever since the commencement of the war. They have had tables set at the depot for the benefit of the soldiers. Our party went to the distributing hospital; there we found plenty of work. A number of the Atlanta ladies were there before us, dressing wounds. I commenced to dress one man’s hand, which was badly wounded. (Strange as it may seem, this was the first wound I had ever dressed. I had always had plenty of other work to do.) Just as I had got through, Dr. Jackson, who had gone with us from Newnan, requested me to come and assist him. We were in an immense hall, crowded with wounded; some walking about, others sitting on the floor—all waiting to have their wounds dressed. . . .

It was a bright, moonlight night, and there were some folks who came into the hospital with provisions for the men. Dr. Wellford and a number of us took them and went all over, to see if we could find any in want, but nearly all had been supplied.

The men were lying all over the platform of the depot, preferring to remain there, so as to be ready for the train which would take them to other places.

I was informed that there were about seven or eight hundred wounded who had come in that evening. . . .

I kept my first promise, and as Mrs. H. did not feel very well, I went to the hospital by myself. While crossing the depot I met my friend, Mr. Gribble, and he accompanied me to it. On arriving there I found that no more wounded had come, but there were many there already, for whom I made toddies.

The scene which presented itself to me in the large room where we had been the night before was sickening.

There was pile after pile of rags, just as they had been taken from the wounds, covered with blood and the water used in bathing them. All of the attendants were too much exhausted to clean up. . . .

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