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  • Writer's pictureDerrick

"The Boys Care No More for Bullets and Shells"

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

The month of July 1864 was another interesting month for Captain Sam Cox and the 17th Kentucky, as the Atlanta Campaign neared its climax in August. Cox frequently mentions the heat that sapped the energy out of the men in July, and the endless marches and building of breastworks, even while being under fire. The regiment continued to serve as skirmishers and had multiple brushes with Confederate skirmishers and rear guard. They were not involved in any major fighting like much of the rest of the army, and I'm sure the men were okay with that fact.

The 17th was a part of Beatty's Brigade, which was under the command of Colonel Frederick Kneffler, and Wood's Division of O.O. Howard's Corps, the well known one-armed general from the Eastern Theater.

Before reading July 1864, you may be interested in reading his previous entries from the Atlanta Campaign. It might help this make more sense.

Operations around Atlanta, Summer 1864

1 July

Some cannonading on some parts of our line. Weather very warm.

2 July

Another quiet day, have been sick today. Feel some better this P.M.

3 July

Enemy evacuated last night. This morning we gave pursuit. Our Corps passed through Marietta at 10 AM. Our Regiment detailed to guard supply train.

Report of Colonel Alexander Stout, 17th Kentucky Infantry

"The enemy evacuated their works again on the night following the 2d day of July, and on the 3d we possessed the town of Marietta, and encamped about five miles south of it for the night, and on the 4th went into position in front of the works of the enemy on his right. On the night succeeding that day he evacuated his works, and on the 5th the brigade moved to the north bank of the Chattahoochee, and near Vining's Station, and after remaining there until the 10th moved about seven miles up the river to Power's Ferry, and on the 12th crossed it, and remained in camp at that point until the 17th..."

4 July

Decidedly dull day for 4 of July. We rejoined our Brigade this afternoon from the train, found it on front line as usual.

5 July

As the enemy evacuated their line of of works last night, we moved forward this AM. Skirmished with their rear until we reached Chattahoochee River at Pace's Ferry when we pressed him so close he could not burn the pontoon.

6 July

Orders today to pitch tents in regular camp order. The possibility is that we will remain here some time.

7 July

Our Brigade moved to the right today about 1/2 a mile to fill the gap between the 4th and 16th Corps. Very heavy cannonading in our Corps about 9 PM. I don't know what the cause was.

8 July

Everything quiet in front of our Corps. On duty as Officer of the day.

9 July

Nothing worthy of note has transpired today. The enemy still hold their lines of works on their side of the river.

10 July

Enemy moved across the river last night. Gen. Schofield crossed yesterday some 8 miles above the bridge. Our Corps struck camp at 10 AM to support Schofield. This has been the warmest day of the season.

11 July

The Corps in same position as yesterday. Still very warm.

12 July

Moved across the Chattahoochee River today, built breastworks and expect to hold our position.

13 July

Weather continues warm. Moved tonight about 1/2 mile where we are building a line of works.

14 July

Visited 11th Kentucky Infantry and 12th Kentucky Cavalry today. Dined witih Billy Noland and Pete May. Had orders to move at 5:00 AM, but for some cause or other was countermanded.

15 July

Weather continues warm and disagreeable. Nothing of interest today.

16 July

We are still enjoying our much needed rest, how long it will last I do not know. Saw the redoubtable Sherman today viewing his lines.

17 July

Our Division moved this morning at 5 o'clock down river to clear the way for the 14th Corps and met a little opposition; the Corps came across in an hour after our arrival, as the pontoons were laid in double quick time.

18 July

Struck camp again this morning and moved forward with our Corps, the 2d Division in the advance. Considerable skirmishing and some artillery practice.

19 July

The 1st Brigade and ours (3d) were ordered to move forward on a reconnaissance this AM. Came on the enemy at a creek. Skirmished heavy until late in the afternoon, when our Brigade succeeded in crossing and driving the enemy from his works. Captured some 90 prisoners.

Skirmishing at Peach Tree Creek, Harper's Weekly

Report of Colonel Alexander Stout, 17th Kentucky Infantry

"On the 18th the brigade moved to a point near Buck Head, and there encamped. On the 19th the brigade made a reconnaissance to Peach Tree Creek and drove a force of the enemy, consisting of one brigade of infantry with artillery, from the crossing, built a line of works and was there relieved by the Second Brigade, Third Division, Fourth Army Corps, and then returned to the camp of the previous night. On the 20th and 21st the regiment participated in several movements of the brigade, the last of which was building a line of works under fire. Loss, 1 man killed and 2 wounded. During the night of the 21st the enemy evacuated his works, and on the 22d the brigade moved forward and found the enemy in his works around Atlanta. Strong works were at once constructed, this regiment being in the front line of the enemy, the Twentieth Army Corps on the right of the Fourth, and Twenty-third Corps on the left of the Fourth."

20 July

Struck again this AM and marched some 4 miles to the left. Heavy skirmishing along the whole line, late this afternoon very heavy fighting on our right said to be 2d Division of our Corps. The supposition is that the enemy will have to make a desperate fight to get out of his present position whole.

21 July

Advanced about 1/2 mile this AM and threw up works immediately under guns of the enemy. One man killed and 2 wounded in Regiment. We are about in 150 yards of the enemy's skirmishing line which is strong.

Peach Tree Creek

22 July

The enemy evacuated their position last night and retired to their inner line, about one mile distant, and two miles from Atlanta, I am told. We threw up works today in sight of their lines. Gen. McPherson said to be killed.

General McPherson killed by Confederate Infantry.

23 July

The loss on yesterday was heavy on both sides. We lost 4 guns and some few prisoners. The enemy lost heavy in killed and prisoners. Gen. McPherson was surely killed. Our Regiment has been shelled all day. No casualties so far; the boys care not for bullets and shells than they do for raindrops.

24 July

The enemy continues to shell us but so far no damage done. We are strengthening our line of works and most respectfully ask the Johnnies to charge them. Gen. Sherman visited our lines today and pronounced it impregnable.

General William T. Sherman

25 July

Nothing worthy of note today except the enemy continues to shell us. We could enjoy and appreciate this rest were it not for the shell and the occasional stray bullet from the skirmish line.

26 July

Everything stands as yesterday, some few shells this afternoon; no casualties so far, the loss on 20th inst. was as follow: Union loss, 1733; Rebel loss (killed) 1113. Seven stands of colors. 22d inst. Union loss 3500 and 10 pieces of artillery. Rebel loss (Killed and wounded by our forces) 2142, prisoners 320 and 18 stands of colors. Think the official report, 15th Corps estimated 700 killed.

27 July

Nothing of interest to record today. The Army of the Tennessee (Gen. McPherson's command) moved to the right this morning. Our Corps Commander (Gen. Howard) took command of the Army.

28 July

Visited the 11th Kentucky today in 23d Corps, saw the city of Atlanta. Very heavy fighting on the right this PM. Said to be Gen. Howard's command. Suppose they are striking for the Macon RR. Our shells set houses on fire in city tonight.

29 July

Considerable shelling today. Two men wounded from the right today in the skirmish lines. Gen. Howard gave the enemy a decent thrashing on the right yesterday. Have not heard whether or not he reached the railroad.

30 July

This has been a remarkably quiet day in our front. The enemy hasn't sent but 2 shells during the whole day. Considerable cannonading on the right, however, the supposition is that the enemy will be compelled to leave.

31 July

"Another month has come and gone and is now numbered with the countless ages that have gone on into the might past." Through long and wary months we have been campaigning, since which time we have fought over some 100 miles; and, you might say, have been under heavy fire the whole time. We are now facing the city of Atlanta and before many days it will be in our possession, at least this is my opinion. Saw today, recorded in the columns of the Louisville Journal, the death of Mrs. Florence Maxwell, wife of Colonel Maxwell, 26th Kentucky Infantry. I was truly sorry to read the fact. Another ornament of society has been called to a far better and happier world than this. A bright eyed little boy is left together with his father and dear friends at home to mourn her loss.

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I want to apologize for being so late with this post. A few weeks ago I was named the James Madison Memorial Fellow for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Since this enables to begin my graduate work in history, I've had to quickly get things together to be able to begin classes this fall. This includes taking the GRE, a sample research paper, and a myriad of other things. Also, my oldest son turns four this week!

It always seems like this time of year and these last few weeks of school are always super busy and jam packed. This weekend's post may also show up in the middle of the week again. I work for a catering company that is owned by one of my old college professors on the side every now and then, and I'll be working a wedding this Saturday, and then have my son's party on Sunday. Plus I need to mow. Hopefully this summer I can write a enough articles to post throughout the fall since classes will undoubtedly take a lot of time.

Hopefully I can also send in my manuscript as well! I think I've done all that I can do on it. The funny thing is, is that once it gets published, if it gets published, I will never read it again. I would end up looking for mistakes or notice things that I would change! I'm ready to move on to other things, and there are some Civil War topics that I would love to dive into.

That's about it on the home front. I hope everyone has a great week!


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