Many of my posts over the last few years have been about the events and times surrounding the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. This week that commemoration came really close to home. By close I mean right through my yard.
This week I thought about it a lot. More than normal. Because it was on my mind, I was able to visualize things that I normally don't think about. A quick trip to the store, driving to work, letting my kids play in the yard or an outing for ice cream and a walk along the river. None of these would be possible 150 years ago this week for fear of being harassed or captured by Union soldiers or perhaps even being caught in a deadly crossfire and killed...or worse, The carnage of war, the threat of collateral damage, and the destruction and confiscation of personal private property had reached my community. It wasn't in a newspaper or a letter from the front. It was in the valleys all around this area.
Sherman had arrived.
While Sherman himself was not knocking at the city gates, many of his subordinates were. Ironically led by Jefferson C. Davis, the Union force tried to outflank Johnston's retreat from Resaca. Their path carried them through Floyd Springs (where A.H. Stephens had spoken against secession just 3 1/2 years previous) and then, on May 15th, to Farmer's Bridge at Armuchee Creek. Davis had been told that this was an Oostanaula River crossing. He found it to be a creek crossing and that Georgia creeks can be a bit larger than what many folks call a creek. He also found Company G, 12th Alabama Cavalry, who had plans that didn't involve a Union creek crossing.
Company G, led by Capt. William Lokey, was comprised of about 50 men. Most of these men were newcomers and had seen little action. The Alabama boys ignored initial orders to retreat and held firm on the south bank of the creek. They fired upon 3 regiments of Union soldiers in what could be considered far more crazy than brave. Their courage is commendable but their attempt at Thermopylae wasn't much more successful than its predecessor. The vastly superior numbers would flank the Company by sending men well up and downstream and fording the creek. The Johnnies found themselves confronted on three sides. Capt. Lokey and nine of his men were killed, and six were captured. Three of the captured soldiers were wounded and therefore released. The other three were carried to Union prison camps where, predictably, they perished.
Company G would fall back to DeSoto Hill and then to Rome before all Confederate forces in the city were called to join Johnston in Cassville to oppose Sherman's lines there. Davis would reach DeSoto Hill on the 17th and then meet the token defense put up by Confederate forces. On May 18th, Jefferson C. Davis, with his musicians playing an arrangement of Dixie, marched across the bridge at 3rd Avenue and captured Rome. Georgia for the Union a year to the month after the attempt by Abel Streight was thwarted by Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Forrest had been reassigned to Tennessee after threatening to kill Braxton Bragg after Chickamauga.)
Davis would remain in Rome until the 24th when he would move towards Dallas in Paulding County.
Rome would remain in Union control for the remainder of the war. In November it would become the first city burned in the March to the Sea.
Casualties from Company G at Farmer's Bridge:
Killed in action, buried at Farmer's Bridge: Capt. William T. Lokey, Pvt. B. Brown, Pvt. A.D. Turren, Pvt. P. W. Ward, Pvt. J.J. Morgan, Pvt. Benjamin Garrett, Pvt. Cullen Porter, Pvt. Benjamin Porter, Pvt. W.H. Ellis, Pvt. Thomas Barnard,
Captured, died in U.S. Military Prison, Alton Illinois: Pvt. Joel Weems, Pvt. Edwin P. Morris
Captured, died in Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois: Pvt. Joseph B. Harper
Captured wounded and released: Pvt. J. Brown, Pvt. J.M. Robertson, Pvt. Marcus L. Formby
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire