Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana


Throughout the war when Union troops came upon an area abandoned by the rebels, they would find the boxes and crates used for rebel ammunition and war materiel. Most were marked "Made in Atlanta." Many of the southern railroads used for military and commerce went through Atlanta. It was the geographic, business, manufacturing and supply center for the south. It had to be taken and taken by Election Day November 1864. McClelland was running against Lincoln on a platform of allowing secession. He was getting a lot of interest and would likely win in November if the war were not turned around.

Gettysburg was a valiant defense. Petersburg was a site of heavy battle. But the Union was not winning the war and the sentiment from England and Europe had gone sour due to their need for the south’s cotton. What does this have to do with our hero Pvt. Williams? Everything. The 91st is now needed to help carry out the capture of Atlanta. No more skirmishes so much as full out war between large Corps with Sherman against Gen. Joe Johnston. Johnston is outnumbered but he is determined to resist Sherman to the best of his ability.

While the 91st is fighting in the Gap, Sherman is marshalling his Army of three main Corps to move on Atlanta down the railway starting in Cleveland outside Chattanooga Tennessee near the Georgia border. The plan is then to push Johnston back south. This would mean fighting their way into Georgia through the cities of Ringold, Dalton, Resaca, Rome, Kingston, Cartersville, Acworth, Kennesaw, Marietta and Smyrna just to get to the outskirts of Atlanta. If the Western Atlantic railroad could be kept intact, it could support a long supply line down to Atlanta and to the sea.

The 91st arrives in Cleveland on Sunday May 22nd by railroad from Knoxville via Sweetwater and Athens. Stayed three days. Holder writes, "It is a rite purty town, and I received a letter from home." On that same Sunday, religious services are held on both sides. In the headquarters of the rebel armies, Gen. Polk puts his bishop’s robe over his uniform and preaches to a large assemblage that includes Johnston and Hodd, two recent converts. Sherman stays in his office where he hears a Kingston church bell ringing—he has the ringer arrested.

The 91st proceed by rail 28 miles to Dalton in Georgia where a hard battle had been fought 10 days earlier. And it is not many miles from the bloody Chickamauga battleground. Then to Resaca 17 miles below where earlier Union casualties totaled 3000. Then they arrive at Kingston (of church bell fame) on the 26th where they went on "chain guard and heard cannonading to the south." They do not know it but on May 27th a battle line has formed at New Hope Church just south of them. And on May 28th the battle of Dallas Georgia is on. On May 30th and 31st the 91st "saw many wounded and 100 prisoners." They left Kingston and marched 14 miles to the front on June 1, 1864. "Pickets was attacked and 1 man killed and 2 wounded." On that same day a Sergeant Hager of the 20th Corps at the front line writes his wife, "We are exposed to sharpshooters all day and heavy firing at night….the boys are very much tired out. Few men can look on death with indifference …especially under such appalling circumstances." That June 1st day was another hot, sultry humid day like every day since the terrible thunderstorm of the night of May 25th. Also on June 1st , Gen. Logan’s 20th Corps arrives to Join Sherman’s forces. Also on that day Sherman’s cavalry secures the railroad all the way south to Acworth. On June 2nd it rains all day, heavy at times. It is relief from humidity. But later in the summer it will be their demon. It rains so hard that night that Gen. Cox periodically sticks out one boot and then the other as he rides to drain some of the rainwater out.

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Copyright © 2001 Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana