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Chapter IV

"Through Alabama and on to Georgia"

Although they had retreated and left the state of Mississippi there must have been a significant amount of loyalty left in those men. Since 12 March 1864 the soldiers of Loring's Division re-enlisted -- every one of them -- to serve until the end of the war.

On 2 April 1864 Loring's Division was ordered to march to Montevallo, Alabama. The movement was in response to a feared Yankee cavalry raid on north Alabama. The Yankee raid never came about and the men engaged in routine camp life at Montevallo. Supplies must have been adequate since Pvt. Dunn wrote to Stumpy that he had "plenty of Bacon & Bread" and that he did not want to use the socks she had sent him because, "one pair of the socks you sent me by Bob I think are too fine for camp. I hate to wear such socks every day in mud and water. It looks like extravagance - I can get clothers here whenever I need them."

Although camp life at Montevallo was placid and safe the war had not stopped. Gen Joe Johnston had taken command of the Army of Tennessee in north Georgia and was facing the Yankees under Gen W. T. Sherman. On 23 April 64 Gen. Braxton Bragg in Richmond requested Gen. Polk to send Loring's Division to Dalton, Georgia, to join the Army of Tennessee. Gen. Polk was reluctant to make the move but the situation for the Army of Tennessee was getting worse. It was obvious that Gen. Sherman was going to advance against Gen. Johnston in an attempt to capture Atlanta -- the rail junction for all connections between the eastern and western Confederacy. Atlanta also contained vital factories and foundries engaged in war production. On 4 May 1864 President Davis personally ordered Gen. Polk to "move with Loring's Division, and any other available force at your command, to Rome, Ga., and there unite with Gen, Johnston to meet the enemy." On Saturday, 7 May 1864, Pvt. Van Kees noted in his diary, "We left Montevallo, 7o clock a.m. went to the Depot. Got on the cars 2 p.m. run until one that nite, got off at blue Mountain, lay there until day."

From there the regiment marched to Rome, Georgia, and again took the cars to get to Resaca, Georgia.


It is unlikely that the men of the 33rd Mississippi knew very much of the situation they were getting into. Gen. Sherman faced a strong Confederate defense line at Dalton and knew that repeated frontal attacks would be both time consuming and cost him many men. A better plan would be to outflank the Confederates by sending a force southwest of Dalton through Snake Creek Gap toward Resaca. This would place Union forces in both front and rear of Johnston. Union Gen. James B. McPherson led his Federal Army of the Tennessee to the outskirts of Resaca on 9 May 1864. Polk's leading division of 4,000 men under Gen. James Cantey was already in Resaca and was constructing a defense line. It was late in the afternoon when Gen. McPherson finally saw the defenses for himself. He was impressed by the Confederate defenses and did not press an attack. He was unaware that he outnumbered the Confederates by 5 to 1. McPherson then retreated to Snake Creek Gap and missed his opportunity to put Gen. Johnston's army between his own troops and those still with Gen. Sherman north of Dalton. Sherman was upset but his comment to Gen. McPherson the next time he saw him was, "Well, Mac, you have missed the opportunity of your life."

On the 9th of May when McPherson was pulling back from Resaca the men of the 33rd were still marching toward Rome, Georgia. They took the railroad from Rome to Resaca and arrived late on the night of the 11th. On the 12th they moved close to the rail depot and formed a line of battle. Resaca sat on the rail crossing of the Oostanaula River and was almost due south of Dalton. If the Yankees could have taken the town and the railroad bridge then they would have been between Johnston and Atlanta. It was on the 11th that Johnston finally realized his danger and began frantic efforts to get troops to Resaca. On that morning he excitedly wired Polk to "Send all of the troops you can to Resaca with dispatch. Go in person, the enemy are close upon it."

On 13 May 1864 Johnston and his army reached Resaca. The slow moving Federals were just beginning to move out of Snake Creek Gap toward Resaca and the fight was on. Featherston's Brigade was used as a reserve force and spent the day shifting from one threatened spot to another. Although they were under what one soldier described as a "galling fire" all day. Pvt. Van Kees said it was just constant "skirmishing." On the 14th the skirmishing continued and rose to the level of a regular engagement at one point according to Pvt. Van Kees. The constant shifting of position and skirmishing continued until the 16th when Union Gen. Thomas Sweeny outflanked the Confederate left and crossed troops at Lay 's Ferry on the Oostanaula River south of Resaca. Although the movement across the river was very brief it convinced Gen. Johnston that his position at Resaca was insecure and he ordered a retreat south to Cassville.

Retreating Through Georgia

Johnston planned to send the bulk of his forces to Cassville and part to Kingston with the plan being for the Kingston forces to then turn and rejoin the Cassville forces. Johnston hoped to have the Federal forces split at Adairsville with some following the Confederates to Kingston and some following the Confederates to Cassville. He then hoped to have the two Confederate forces reunited at Cassville and attack the Federal force there before the Yankees who had gone to Kingston could rejoin their compatriots at Cassville. It was a good plan and Gen. Shermen played his part (unknowingly) by splitting his forces at Adairsville just as Johnston wished. Gen. Johnston put his troops into a commanding position south of Cassville. According to Johnston the position was, "the best that I saw occupied during the war." The 33rd Mississippi occupied their spot in the line after digging their entrenchments. But Gen. Sherman had learned the value of the flanking movement and he managed to place artillery to the west of the Cassville line in a position to fire down the Confederate defenses and enfilade the right-center of the Confederate position. It was a bitter decision for Gen. Johnston but on 20 May 1864 the Confederates were again in retreat of the south.

The next stop was at Allatoona Pass and was a very strong defensive position. But Gen. Sherman knew this as well as Gen. Johnston did and had no intention of attacking there. He was off on another flanking move. His target was Dallas, about 15 miles southwest of Allatoona Pass. He planned to force the Confederates out of Allatoona Pass and then to resume his march down the railroad to Atlanta. Gen. Johnston responded quickly by moving southwest and establishing his line from 1 mile south of Dallas to 4 miles northeast of Dallas at a Methodist meeting house named New Hope church. They were in position by 25 May 64. The 33rd was about 3 to 4 miles from the church when the Yankees under Gen. Hooker attacked Confederate Gen. Hood's men. The weather was awful with rain falling in sheets, and lighting and thunder competing with the sounds of battle. The 33rd did not take part in the fighting that day but formed in reserve in the churchyard of New Hope Church. The regiment remained in reserve on 26 and 27 May while fighting continued in their front. Late on the night of the 27th the 33rd moved to the front and occupied the trenches. Many good men of the regiment would never leave that place.

New Hope Church

On the 28th of May Federals launched yet another assault against the Confederate lines. The 3rd Mississippi was on the picket line and Pvt. Sharkey of that regiment described the fight:
"We stood the charge-shooting from our little improvised breast works either of trees, logs, or rockes on the hillside. Our force was reinforced by Co. K of the 3rd under Capt. O.H. Johnson. We then concluded to drive back their line, but as they had been reinforced also we did not do it, but they again charged our line. When two companys from the 33rd came to our assistance Major McRea of the 3rd was placed in command as Capt. Johnson was badly wounded. For some reasons not known to us, Major McRea was sent back to the main line behind the skirmishers and Major Drake (afterwards Col. Drake) of the 33rd put in command. We again changed them but they were reinforced to double our number & we failed. The 33rd sent out two more companies & the 3d sent Co. C to the line and skirmishers fought without a charge from either side till dark. Only one officer was left (Major Drake) when the last reinforcement came and one third of the skirmishers who were on the first line as pickets were left. Many of the reinforcing companies were killed or wounded. At night the dead & wounded between the lines was removed by each side and not a shot was fired at the ones removing the injured though no orders to cease firing was given by our side nor we suppose by the Yanks. At daylight the skirmishers again began their daily practice of human targets. We cannot determine the loss to the enemy but judging by our own this was as deadly [a] picket fight as ever occurred during the entire one hundred days [of] battle from Dalton to Atlanta. Only the picket line in front of Featherstons Brigade was in this fight though the pickets of other brigades did their regular Heads down shooting.

On the 28th, 29th, and 30th of May there was continual skirmishing all along the line held by the 33rd Mississippi at New Hope Church. Pvt. Van Kees reported that C.N. Jordan of his company C was killed. On the 31st of May men from the 33rd and the 3rd Mississippi were sent forward against the Federal lines. An unknown member of Featherston's Brigade wrote a report of the fight for the Corinthian Appeal of 4 June 1864:
Our line was thrown into a fever of excitement on the morning of the 31st ult., by an order from the commanding General for our picket lines to be advanced. General Featherston having reinforced our line of skirmishers to the number of four hundred, placed them under command of Lt. Col. John Harrod, of the 33rd Mississippi, on the left, with orders to advance upon the enemy in double-quick time. The orders was no sooner given than with a shout our boys rushed forward, and in less time than it takes to write this, the Yankee skirmishers were scattered like chaff before the wind, and our forces had possession of their outer works. The ardor and enthusiasm of the men were not satisfied with this. Scarcely waiting to breathe, they charged upon the enemy's main line, but with such an inferior number could not, as might be expected, effect much against the fearful odds they met, and were ordered to fall back, which they did in good order, halting in the first works they had captured until nightfall, when, by order of Gen. Loring, they took a position within fifty or sixty yards of the enemy's breastworks, which they still occupy."

The desperation of the charge may be inferred from the fact that out of the four hundred men engaged, ninety-eight were killed and wounded. Lieut. Col. Harrod was mortally wounded early in the action, leaving the whole command in the hands of Col. McRae, who discharged his responsible duties ably and efficiently. In Company A of the 33rd Mississippi there were three Wiggins brothers. Their fourth brother was still at home at the age of 12. On the 31st of May sixteen year old Archie Wiggins was killed and his older brother George lost half of his right hand to a Yankee cannon ball that hit a log breastworks just as George was pressing his hand against the log to change to a better firing position. John and George Wiggins buried Archie on the battle field in the blanket made for him by their mother when he had joined the regiment at Canton back in November of 1863. John would be wounded in the knee two months later and would spend the rest of the war at home with George in Neshoba County trying to recover from their wounds. The 33rd had lost Lt. Col. John Harrod in the battle but had recovered his body. He was buried in the cemetery at New Hope Church. His marker still stands there today. On 1 June 64 Gen. Sherman realized that the Confederates could not be dislodged from their Dallas-New Hope Church line and he again began his flanking maneuvers. The battle was called "The Battle of New Hope Church" by the Confederate command. The Yankee foot soldiers called it "The Hell Hole."

"Pine," "Lost," and "Kennesaw Mountains."

Gen. Sherman had shifted his troops eastward to the railroad again and was now centered around the small village of Acworth. Gen. Johnston's engineers had laid out a new line about 10 miles south and to the east of New Hope Church. The new line ran from Lost Mountain to Pine Mountain and then crossed the railroad about 5 miles north of Marietta. Johnston was not entirely satisfied with this line and began moving his troops around.

On 14 June 1864 Gen. Johnston was on an inspection at Pine Mountain along with Gen. W. J. Hardee and Bishop General Leonidas Polk. Less than a mile away Gen. Sherman was also on inspection of his line. Gen. Sherman could easily see the Confederate inspection party and was irritated by their presence. "How saucy they are!"he growled, and then ordered Capt. Hubert Dilger's Ohio battery to send them a few artillery rounds. The first salvo missed but sent Gen. Johnston and Gen. Hardee running for cover. Gen. Polk began to leave but moved more slowly. Capt. Dilger's second salvo was accurate and Gen. Polk died instantly as a shell fragment tore through his upper torso. The Federals did not know who the Confederate officers were until later when they occupied the mountain. There they found a pine board in a small cabin which said, "YOU Yankee sums bitches done killed our Bishop Polk."

Gen. Johnston soon found this new line was too long to be held and besides that, his nemesis Sherman was flanking him again. The skirmishing and movements were constant. The rain seemed almost constant and the ground was a vast mud hole. The new line extended from east of the railroad through Kennesaw Mountain and ended near Kolb's Farm, about 3 miles southwest of Marietta. The men of Featherston's Brigade occupied the northeastern slope of Big Kennesaw Mountain.

On 19 June 64 the 33rd began building breastworks and finished their fortifications on 22 June. For the next 5 days the armies engaged in skirmishing and small scale probes against each other. The 33rd engaged in this skirmishing when they drew duty in the picket line. On 27 June 64 Gen. Sherman again decided to make a frontal assault on the Confederate positions. The main assault came at other sectors of the Confederate line but the men of the 33rd met the enemy that day as well. Gen. Featherston reported his action in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain resulted in 5 men killed and 14 wounded. He estimated Federal losses at over 1000. One officer in the 3rd Mississippi Infantry described the fight by saying, "The skirmish was hotly contested for 3 hours but as soon as night threw her mantle of shade over the space intervening between the hostile lines in such close proximity, they were more willing to get away than they were to advance." Sherman's overall losses had been heavy, somewhere between 3000 to 6000, depending on whose book you are reading, but he would be able to replace them. The Confederate losses were much lighter, about 600 according to Johnston. But the heavy fighting in the center of the Confederate line had exposed the Confederate left to a flanking march and Union Gen. John Schofield had already exploited the weakness. He had moved two of his brigades around Gen. Hood's left and was behind the Confederate lines. Because of the mud, Gen. Sherman was unable to make much movement immediately after the battle and both sides stayed in place. A truce was called on 29 June 64 in order to bury the dead. Dead men and animals decaying in the hot Georgia sun made for an atmosphere too offensive for either side to endure.

On the night of 2 July 1864 the orders came down to Col. Drake to move the 33rd out of their trenches on Kennesaw Mountain and retreat into a new line just north of Smyrna, Georgia. They were unable to remain in this position long due to the nature of the ground and soon fell back to the Chatthoochie River. The spires of Atlanta's churches were visible from the banks of the Chattahoochie. From the Chattahoochie River line Pvt. M.A. Dunn wrote to his wife Stumpy:
"Chattahoochie River Near Atlanta ga July 6th 1864 Dear Wife. I avail myself of the present opportunity to convey you a few lines as I know you are nearly crazy about me. I expect my delay causes you to think that I am either dead or have forsaken or forgotten you. But when I explain to you the cause, I hope you will pardon me - I have heard that all communication was Stopped. That is not letting in, and Seeing letters from the County occasio;nally and none Speaking of any of you getting letters, caused me to believe that the letters were Stopped at Atlanta. I wrote to you by Bro Shirk, though a very hasty letter, which I Suppose you have received. I have received none from you since the 20th of May - So you imagine my feelings - Though I have heard from you Several times indirectly - once through Peter, and once through a letter from Julie to Clem - I have been looking for a letter from you every day as there is nothing to prevent your letters from coming to me by mail -I wrote you a long letter about the time we left Monte Vallo and Sent it to you by Mr Arick Wilson, but I heard that he lost the whole mail -I also Sent Some resolutions by him to be published in the Advocate relative to the death of our Braave and Christen Soldier C.B. Strawn - also a copy of the Same to his Sister, Mrs. Fanny Maxey. I Supose (sis)all were lost which I regret very much. I was Secretary for the committee - I have enjoyed good health considering what I have endured. This is the Sixty first day Since we Started on this Campaign. And there has scarcely been a day during that time but what Some portion of the army has been engaged with the Enemy - And Some as hard fighting as we have had Since the war began. But our army has been greatly blessed. Wh have repulsed the Enemy every time they attacked us. But Still they force us to retreat by flank movements - all we ask of them is to meet us Squarely . But they avoid that whenever they can. I don t know how it will terminate, But one thing I feel Satisfied about, that is General Johnston will manage the affair as well as any other General- I think he is doing all he can to prevent Sherman from reinforcing Grant in Virginia. Citizens may feel alarmed at his manovers by not knowing all the particulars. But he knows what he is doing. I think he has it within his power to cut off the Enemy Supplies at any time if he would. But he don t wish it for Some reasons best known to himself.We are Capturing more or less Prisoners every day. Our loss in the Regt. Has been in Killed & Wounded about 80, during the whole Siege - One from my mess killed (Josiah Lee) and one wounded (J.C.Wilkinson) I have run Some narrow escapes, but for Some cause or other, I am yet Spared -We have great reasons for thanking God for his blessings during this Siege - For never did an army endure more in every respect than we have which the History of this war will Show to those of us who live to See it. Our Corps Commander (Gen Leonidas Polk) who was killed on the 14th of last month, Said that he had never been on Such a Campaign as the present one. His death Seemed to throw a gloom over the whole army, especially his Corps. I think he was a true Christian as well as a good Commander.The death of little Alick Dunn was a Solemn thing. He lived for a few hours after he was Shot, and talked to the last, advising his friends to prepare to meet death, and for them to write to his Mother, not to grieve after him as he was fully prepared for death. He plead with his Brother to be a Christian that he might when he come to die, feel as he did. His Parents Should not grieve for him but Should feel proud that they raised Such a Son. But poor Tom McElvie never knew what killed him as he was torn all to pieces by a Shell. And I am afraid that he was not as well prepared as Some others. But I must quit telling you of the horors of war, as I expect you are in very low Spirits anyhow - but you can See the great necessity why a Soldier Should be a Christian. Tad wrote me Some time before he joined the Church that he could See that Christians made the best Soldiers, which is certainly true, as they would not fer the consequences after death as others would - I have not seen Tad in about three weeks, but I presume he is all right or I would have heard it. Our Lieutenant Colonel was shot through his hand and leg, the latter being amputated afterwards. Our Major was wounded in the arm in the Same fight. Captain Jackson was Slightly wounded on the ankle. But he never Stopped doing duty. He is now acting as Lieutenant Col & Capt. Powell, Major. Capt.Jackson will be our Major I think. The news from Virginia is encouraging and I do hope and pray that our two armies which are now engaged with the Enemy will be Successful in the end. If So I think we may expect an early Peace. If not I will dread the result, As our defeat will have a great bearing on the minds of the northern People in the approaching Elections. Whenever we are forced to evacuate our fortifications we only require 24 hours to make necessary preparations again. But they came on us once before we were prepared (I mean in the way of Fortifications) and they boasted as they came up that they had us from behind our Breastworks, when we pitched into them and when we quit them, we had an old field covered with dead and wounded Yankees. They gave the old field a blue Cast. They bring three or four lines against us every time they attempt to charge our works, but So far, their efforts have proven ineffectual. The Scene would be frightening to one who is not a true Lover of his Country . We have Prayer meeting occasionally on our lines when Mr Sherman wil allow it. Stumpy , I am taxing you wdith a long letter, I reckon you will not grumble -And what I have written u can Show to your friends, as I withheld all Secrets and Soft talk on that account. But I may Slip Something in this that you would not wish all to See. I have heard from a good Source that Lem & Veturia are to be married Soon. I was expected it as I heard that She was complaining of living a very lonely life. You may always listen for Something when you hear a Widow talking in that way - But I was thinking that the Calvalry was company enough for all those who were living Such a lonely life. They are great Company for the lonely in many portions of our country - But I Supose (sic) it is not the case in amite now since Scott has taken command. So the old Widowers have a better Showing - I heard the Cavalry were pressing all horses that are worth any thing in the country, but I hope it is not So bad as that. I was glad to hear the Leatha had taken the School, though from the way Laura and Dink were progressing, I would Supose (sis) that Vick was a good Teacher. I hope Leatha can keep the School. I hear She had about 30 Scholars. Tell her that I Saw a letter from Willie a few days ago and he was very well, he was at Ololona, Miss. He had traded his horse for a fine mare - I Supose (sic) you have had a great deal of rain which I expect has put you all very much in the grass - I receivd a letter a few days ago from Mrs Wilkinson in answer to one I wrote her by Bro Shirk-relative to the Situation of Mr. Wilkinson, which I felt was my duty as a mess Mate of his. She Stated that crops were very grassy and that they had had too much rain on the low lands - My letter Seemed to give her great relief and She Seemed very thankful to me for the favor I had done her. I had all of Joe Lea( s) little pocket tricks Saved to Send his Parents and Sent them a lock of his hair. I would like to hear from Porter, it was reported here once that he was dead, but it never caused me any uneasiness as I Knew better. Andrew is fatter than you ever Saw him. He Stays at the Commissary and helps to cook for the Regt. As it Saves a Soldier and he is in a Safe place and is properly cared for. He comes in every few days and brings my Clothes. He keeps my Clothes in good order. When any of the mess need any clothes he lets them wear his until he washes theirs as many of the boys only have one suit. And the Negroes get more Clothes than want. He met with Tad one day but never knew him for Some time. Veturia wrote to Clem and Stated that Celia looked as Sweet as ever She Saw when She was baptized, and closed by saying that She was in hopes that Jimmy and her could make a match Someday - but Jimmy Says he never Studies about the girls. I would like to See her marry as good as Boy as Jimmy. Tell Tody that her Beaux is all right yeat and is making a Splendid Solder. I must close as it is about night, but if I am permitted I will continue it tomorrow. I expect I will Send this by Antony Faust as I understand he is in Atlanta on his way to the 7th Miss Regt to See Hiram. I think he has come up after John Wilkinson. If I cant write more I will close with the hope that God will bless you and our dear little ones. You must pray for us and our Success. Yours as ever M.A. Dunn"

"July 7th" My Dear according to promise I will proceed with my letter. I am blessed with good health this morning as usual, Clem has just received a letter from Julia of the 26th June She Sent me word tht you were all well - I am glad that She thinks So much of me as She writes to Clem regularly and it enables me to hear from you. I f you write I never receive your letters, but I think you certainly write - Julia wrote that Bro Shirk was very Sick which I was very Sorry to hear. I would hate to hear of his death. She also Stated that Nora McElwie had joined the church. And tht they were expecting to hear of Such, though it would be a greater pleasure tome if I could be with you to attend them, But God only knows when I will be permitted to enjoy that privilege (sic) again -She Spoke of Crops looking fine but grassy - I am anxious to hear of your crop and all the news generally I Supose Lem & Veturia have got things all right - I would like to know how you come out as regards your tax in kind - as I Suppose it is being collected - I reckon you will soon have watermelons and Peaches. I have not Seen a ripe Plum nor a watermelon in no Shape nor form this Season. We getting green apples occasionally - this is a great fruit country but it will not do us no good as a large army destroys every thing within reach. How I wish that I could be with you avobout two months to get Milk and Butter, Vegetables etc - We are getting plenty of cornbread & Bacon and Sometimes a few Vegetables and Coffee. The Soldiers are nearly Starved for Vegetables. They cook Polk Pursley, May pop leaves and other weeds as Substitutes for greens - Andrew tried to buy me a cabbage head a few days ago but he was charged eight dollars for one head. Irish potatoes are $40.00 per Bushel. My Dear you have never felt the effects of this was as Some have you know nothing of its horrors - Therefore you Should be cheerful and consider yourself greatly blessed - and I pray God that you may never See what I have - Tell Sis to write to me and Lizzie also, and let me know the news of the neighborhood. Tell your Pa to think of me if he should ever get a Soft-Shell turtle. Tell Uncle billy to take good care of you, especially when the Cavalry is about. Tell Laura and Dink they must learn fast and let me know how his puppy is getting on and his name - Tell the Darkies to keep all things Striaght. Tell Levi to eat Some catfish for me - Respects to all. Let Ma hear from me. Direct to Atlanta Ga and your letters will come by mail - kiss the little ones, and may God bless you all, and we meet again on earth is the prayer of yur husband. Good bye my darling. M.A.Dunn Give my best respects to Julia - I will try and Send you a paper. Let Levi read it when you get through with it."

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History of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry is copyrighted by S. W. Bondurant