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The Battle of Allatoona, October 5th, 1864   By:

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WAR PAPER No. 17.

MICHIGAN COMMANDERY,

LOYAL LEGION.

THE BATTLE of ALLATOONA.

OCTOBER 5th, 1864.

A PAPER READ BEFORE THE MICHIGAN COMMANDERY OF THE MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE U. S.

BY WILLIAM LUDLOW, Major Corps of Engineers; Brevet Lieutenant Colonel U. S. A.

AT DETROIT, APRIL, 2D, 1891. DETROIT, MICH.:

WINN & HAMMOND, PRINTERS AND BINDERS. 1891.

ALLATOONA.

Companions and Gentlemen:

It appears strange to me that an action which all who mention it and they are many agree in characterizing as one of the most brilliant exploits of a war as thickset with deeds of gallantry as a rose bush with its blossoms, should not long since have had its adequate historian and monographer.

The contest was so famous, the issue so glorious, the recollection of the day still must be so vivid in the minds of the survivors, that I could not anticipate any lack of material wherefrom to procure data to formulate a reasonably satisfactory narrative of such a gallant feat of arms, and in such detail as to give it life and color. But of all the war papers that have been written on affairs great and small, none that I know has had Allatoona for its special subject, and from the sources of information at my command, I have found it quite impracticable to construct an account that is not in some respect at variance with others made by authority. The official reports, while giving the general features, of necessity exclude most of the minor but equally interesting details, and the omissions, inaccuracies and discrepancies, not important in some particulars and material in others, for the purposes, at least, of a fully detailed and authenticated narrative, cannot at this time be corrected. And even the numbers engaged on each side, and of those who fell as victims, are not known with certainty.

This paper, therefore, can pretend to be no more than an outline sketch, which an abler hand must put itself to filling out and completing. When the war records shall have been made fully public, as they will be presently, and at least all the official material be available, the historian of Allatoona, by extended research and correspondence with survivors, should address himself to the task of preparing an authoritative narration in order to preserve to posterity the record of a memorable and typically American event.

For an event it was; a vital one, as it would appear, to the full success of Sherman's campaign, and with the "March to the Sea" hung in the balance and awaiting the issue.

The importance of a given moment in the world's history is not of necessity to be estimated by the numbers occupying the stage at the time, nor even with the degree of activity or turmoil with which their parts are playing.

Much labor is wasted in the lives of men, and mountains of effort result often in mere noise or discomfiture, making no real history. The center of gravity of two worlds may be an immaterial point, and the earth itself revolves upon a slender axis. So a turning point of history may be concentrated upon a comparatively narrow field, while the reverberation of its potency shall resound forever, as the silent nod of Jove lets loose the thunders of Olympus to shake the earth and change the fate of nations.

Some preliminary remarks are in order, explanatory of the general situation and its relation to the Battle of Allatoona.

THE GENERAL SITUATION.

It was the fall of '64. The fiery comet of secession that, blazing out in '61, for three long years had scorched the firmament, spreading death and pestilence over all the land, was waning in its course; doomed presently to disappear forever in Chaos, but emitting malignant emanations to its latest spark. The structure of the Confederate Government, practically a military despotism, founded on the enforced servitude and sale of human beings, reared and upheld by the lives, the fortunes, and the constrained or misguided energies of a deluded and chivalrous people, to feed the vain ambition of an oligarchy, was toppling to the ruin that six months later overwhelmed it... Continue reading book >>




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