Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Booknotes: The Damnedest Set of Fellows

New Arrival:
The Damnedest Set of Fellows: A History of Georgia's Cherokee Artillery by Gary D. Fisher and Zack C. Waters (Mercer UP, 2020).

Fisher and Waters's The Damnedest Set of Fellows: A History of Georgia's Cherokee Artillery "tells the story of one of the finest artillery batteries in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Fighting in almost every major battle in the war's Western Theater, their first baptism of fire occurred at Tazewell, in East Tennessee. Later, they battled at Champion Hill in the Vicksburg Campaign, at Missionary Ridge and Tunnel Hill near Chattanooga, and throughout the Atlanta Campaign. Later, they fought upon the snowy fields of Nashville, and finally at Salisbury, North Carolina..."

Resaca is probably the first battle that comes to mind for many readers when the Civil War service of the Cherokee Artillery (aka Van Den Corput's Battery) is mentioned. There they were deployed well forward of the Confederate main line of defense and were swamped by a Union assault. Unmanned and stuck in no man's land when the attackers withdrew, some of John Geary's men dug through the lunette's earthwork embrasures during the following night and dragged away the guns (4 Napoleons) with ropes. According to an online piece from Stephen Davis that I read to refresh my mind regarding this episode, these were the only guns lost by the Army of Tennessee under Johnston in North Georgia. The unit demoralization from this event led to a rash of desertions, but in less than two weeks the battery received a new complement of Napoleons and was back in the fight for the rest of the war.

The book also covers the postwar activities of some of the men, and a detailed roster is included in the appendix section. Western Confederate battery histories are rare birds, and I'm looking forward to reading this one.

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