They All Wore a Star
In the Fight for the Four-Gun Battery During the Battle of Resaca, Georgia, May 15, 1864
By Robert G. Miller
Mauvaisterre Publishing LLC
A story of Civil War life and of a little-known battle, written by the soldiers themselves and told in quotes collected and arranged as if in a play by the author. It is a story of what soldiers endured, intertwined with how officers schemed and why plans go awry.
After Grant had taken Vicksburg and Meade had driven Lee from Gettysburg in July of 1863, Rosecrans and Thomas drove the Confederates out of Tennessee. But a disastrous defeat at Chickamauga left General Thomas’ army trapped in Chattanooga. Almost overnight Grant and Sherman from the west and Hooker from the east converged on Chattanooga and drove the Rebels out, to spend their winter in Dalton, Georgia. Then Grant went east to fight Lee, and Sherman planned a campaign to capture Atlanta. They began in May. Sherman and Thomas flushed the Rebels out of Dalton and cornered them in a two-mile long front facing the junction of two rivers at Resaca, with the intention of breaking up General Joe Johnston’s army and then charging down the railroad to Atlanta. After a hard fight at the north end of that front, Johnston had a surprise for Sherman.
Pursuit began as soon as it was discovered the entire Rebel army had escaped the trap overnight. No time for a Court of Inquiry though it was certainly warranted. Now the testimony is in this book, in the writings of 100 witnesses to the fight and its conduct. Arranged by time, they tell how the day evolved and why it ended as it did. As in all such events, there are multiple instances of heroism. At least one of infamy becomes clear as the testimony progresses.
This book began simply because the stories in writings of the soldiers were compelling in their own right, beginning with their enlistment in 1862. The author was following his great, great grandfather to his death in that battle. What they felt as they did and saw things of war remains the focus. But the telling of those experiences needs the context of why, which the soldiers did not always know—except that they were saving the country from ruin. So the why and how is told, by those involved, in their own writings. And they tell about officers, whose attitudes and abilities were much the reason things turned out as they did.
The author felt he could not tell the story better than the soldiers themselves and adds his own words only to connect and fill in, leaving the reader to better feel what the soldiers were telling, for the most part. Instances of editorializing are few, but heartfelt. Those who survived the terrible marches in Kentucky at the start of their service then endured freezing nights guarding railroads from guerillas, and eventually made the long march to Chattanooga to prepare for the Atlanta Campaign, knowing some would die in battle. Their first came May 15, 1864 at Resaca, the elephant for many.
All is not dismal, amid their trials and heroics, their humor and wit emerge, often in odd circumstances. Readers can try, in this book, to get an idea of what life was like for the soldiers in the Civil War.
A native of Morgan County, Illinois, Bob Miller graduated from Jacksonville H.S. in 1959 and is graduate of The University of Tulsa.
The website has a blog with updates and comments, detailed maps, the bibliography with links to original sources, and links for purchasing the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.