Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tracking George in Georgia

During our travels through Georgia we decided to concentrate on family --- dead ones, that is! You see, Jerry's great grandad, George Begle, was in the Civil War. He was a soldier in the 91st Indiana Infantry from 1862 to 1865. We knew from his military records that among other battles, his regiment participated in the "Siege of Atlanta," May-Sept, 1864. We was shot in the left leg with a minie ball resulting in the amputation of his leg at the knee. This took place at the battle of Utoy Creek on August 3, 1864, just outside Atlanta. So, if we were going to take our "history tour" to Georgia, it had to include a look inside this episode in the life of the man Jerry has nicknamed, "Peg-Leg Begle."

On the western edge of Atlanta flows Utoy Creek. We located this historical marker on the side of Cascade Avenue in Fulton County, within a heavily developed residential area.

The terrain has changed somewhat. But just imagine for a minute: George was a wagoner, or teamster. He would have been driving a team and wagon with ammunition and supplies through dense woods filled with outcroppings of stone while trying to avoid artillery and rifle fire. The Union troops were trying to take over the stronghold of the train supply lines leading to and from Atlanta. Eventually, we all know that the Union army did take Atlanta and points east.

Stepping just a few weeks further back in time, on June 22- 27, 1864, George's regiment and the entire Army of the Cumberland to which he was attached, was involved in the Kennasaw Mountain Battle near Marietta, about 20 miles north of Atlanta. There is a National Battlefield Park on the mountain where this bloody conflict occurred, so we made that our last history stop in Georgia.

Fortunately, the day we chose to visit there was an encampment of re-enactors in the park. These Confederate soldiers did a nice job of taking us back to 1864. We learned first hand from the soldiers about the rigors of their lives, how they used their weapons, and the stories of the Kennasaw Mountain battle. They fired their muskets and demonstrated bayonet usage. The color guard displayed the regiment's battle flag for us.

One unique presentation was by the bugler. He related to us the role of the bugler in each movement of the troops, from the time they awoke, assembled, marched, fought and rested. There are 150 different bugle calls used to relay the officers' commands. And the bugler is always at the side of the officer. The calls used for these commands were the same for Union or Confederate troops. It was interesting to hear his story of how buglers created a special call for their own regiment to sound before each command to try to avoid the confusion that happened on the battlefield.

As the name depicts, the battlefield is basically on a mountain. So part of our tour was the ride to the top. The canon placements on strategic precipices going up the mountain make it clear how difficult it would have been to take the entrenched Confederates. It rained steadily on them for a week. But both Federals and Confederates bombarded each other day and night. By the end, the Union forces withdrew and this was a victory for Confederate General Johnston's forces.

At the conclusion of the presentation the flag bearer carried out the Stars and Stripes and everyone stood. The soldier ended by stating that the reason every soldier fought, regardless of their loyalty, was for 'freedom', that which we all enjoy today in this country. After all the explanations and disagreements about the reason for the Civil War, I think he said it best.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful write up. I agree that Freedom is what they all fought for....Jerry isn't the only one with a colorful history. My Great Great Grandsomething was a King ( of the smallest country you ever did want to see). He was so bad he was kicked out of his own country. I am not so sure I would want to visit there :-)
    Virtual Hugs, Diana and George


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