ON THIS DAY IN THE CIVIL WAR: July 16
“JEFFERSON JITTERY; JOHNSTON’S GEORGIA GENERALLY JUMPY
Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston’s assignment was straightforward, if not exactly simple: keep Gen. William T. Sherman’s army out of as much of Georgia as possible, and most definitely out of Atlanta. Unfortunately Johnston’s notion of how to accomplish this had so far consisted of retreating every time Sherman got close to him. (Sherman’s habit of maneuvering to flank Johnston’s line contributed a lot to this tendency.) Jefferson Davis was beginning to despair of Johnston’s ability to win, and telegraphed him today demanding to know, specifically, his plans. Johnston could only reply that his plan “…must therefore depend upon that of the enemy. It is mainly to watch for a opportunity to fight to advantage. We are trying to put Atlanta in condition to be held for a day or two by the Georgia militia, that army movements may be freer and wider.” The unemployment line loomed” (http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/This%20Day/thisday0716.htm).
Union Solider Recounts the Burning of Atlanta
A local boy said the smoke was darker
than the walls of a heifer’s ass,
but Gen. Sherman strolled
right through it as if molded
from soot. The haze
gathered behind him
like the Reaper’s cloak.
Hiking out, heat stabbed
our backs like bayonets;
Remember Atlanta boys,
the general barked.
Even hell’s on our side.
From then on I assumed
I was marching
behind Satan himself.
Sin or not, I was pleased as pie.