…So after, “hearing the trains coming into Atlanta from Jonesboro”, General Sherman knew that his next movie would have to be sending a portion of his army to the south side of town to cut off the last supply line. And if he played his cards right, capturing the Confederate Army that was encamped from Atlanta to Jonesboro.
The first 25,000 Union soldiers to reach Jonesboro moved from west to east across the Renfroe Plantation and there encountered “Aunt Prissy” a house slave (along with another male slave named Pork) who refused to run away as the Union Army made its move toward, ‘the spires of the churches in Jonesboro”. These soldiers dug in along the high ground of the Flint River basin overlooking the town as they waited for the attack they were sure would come from the Confederates moving to counter their march on the railroad. On August 31, Confederate General John Bell Hood (from his command post in Atlanta) ordered General Hardee (in Jonesboro) to commit his command to “drive the Yankees into the Flint River at the point of the bayonet”. The attack awed the 25,000 Union soldiers but left 3,000 of them dead on the field.
As the Colonel of Tenth Tennessee lay mortally wounded on the field, the Chaplain (a Catholic Priest) rushed to his side to deliver “last rights”. As the good father raised his hands to the heavens a Union cannon ball took off his head, and that night he and his Colonel were buried side by side in the front yard of the Holliday’s home near the Jonesboro courthouse (Margaret Mitchell’s cousins). Union General John A. (Black Jack) Logan watching the Confederates attack his position observed, “it was a shame they were my enemy, I was so proud of them”.
That night as the Confederates withdrew into Jonesboro they dug in to put themselves between the Union Army now Under Sherman’s personal command (he arrived late in the day of the 31st) and the last rail line bringing supplies to the beleaguered city of Atlanta some 15 miles up the tracks. As they dug in they received a message from General Hood in Atlanta ordering half of their number to move north up the tracks toward Atlanta to cut of activity there (Hood not knowing that the battle was in Jonesboro and thus every man was needed there). So at midnight as half of the army oved out they left behind approximately 12,000 Confederates to hold the line against the 65,000 that would attack the rail line the next day.
As the day ended, the people of Jonesboro were streaming east and south to stay clear of the two armies fighting for the town. A young lady named Haines later wrote of that day, that as a little girl she and her mother and baby sister fled and that night sought shelter in a ditch on the side of the road. As Confederate soldiers moved past their position a young man from Tennessee stopped to share the fire and talk of home. When he asked their names he was surprised to hear her mother say the babe in her arms, “had no name” as she waited to notify her soldier husband of the birth and decide together the baby’s name. The young Confederate said he understood about family and hoped to one day get back to Tennessee and marry, “Laura” his sweetheart and start a family of his own. At that moment Haines mother made the decision to call her youngest Laura and thus she was named after the sweetheart of a young Confederate fighting to defend their homes. He promised to write to them after the war and let them know that he had arrived safely and married his sweetheart, but they never heard from him again. The young lady ended her story by saying, “we assume he sleeps with the dead of Jonesboro”.
The next day, September 1, 1864 will see the last of the fighting of Jonesboro. But that is a story for another day.
NOTE: These tales can be found in Peter’s first book, Lost In Yesterday.