150 Years Ago Today: November 15th, 1864

November 15th, 1864:
     The March to the Sea began this morning.  The right wing and Kilpatirck’s cavalry move southeast along the railroad towards Jonesboro.  Slocum’s 20th Corps, part of the left wing, moved east toward Decatur and Stone Mountain.  Sherman, along with the remainder of the left wing and the rear guard of the right wing, stayed in Atlanta.  Sherman supervised the last details of loading the wagon trains and the final destruction of Atlanta.  In the late afternoon of the 15th the orders were given and the torch was put to Atlanta.  An enormous fire soon erupted and began to consume the city.  Artillery shells and other explosives had been placed in some structures and as the fire raged, they began to explode, sending debris and shell fragments through the air in all directions.  Some soldiers remarked that they could not sleep because the light from the fire was too bright.  Sherman remarked to a staffer that he thought the fire could possibly be seen as far away as Griffin, nearly 40 miles away. 

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150 Years Ago Today: November 14th, 1864

November 14th, 1864
     General Sherman and his staff moved south from Marietta, towards Atlanta.  Along the way the roads were nearly impassable due to the numbers of soldiers marching south to the city.  The railroad had been completely destroyed.  They pulled up the rails and then made fires with the cross ties.  The rails were placed onto of the fires and the rails were heated red hot and then bent or twisted into an unusable shape.  Sherman and his staff crossed the Chattahoochee River on a wagon bridge near the railroad bridge that had been destroyed earlier in the day.  When General Sherman reached Atlanta, he established his headquarters at the Lyons House.
     By the end of the day, nearly all of Sherman’s army was in or on the outskirts of Atlanta.  They had been organized into two different wings.  The Left Wing and the Right Wing.  The Right Wing was commanded by Major General O.O. Howard and was composed of the 15th Corps, commanded by Major General P.J. Osterhaus, and the 17th Corps, commanded by Major General F. P. Blair.  The left wing was under the command of Major General H. W. Slocum and was composed of the 14th Corps, commanded by Major General Jefferson C. Davis (not to be confused with Confederate President Jefferson Davis) and the 20th Corps under the command of Brigadier General A. S. Williams.  Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick was in command of a Cavalry Division that was to operate as a separate unit operating independently and in support of the two wings.
     Having sent all the sick and injured, as well as nearly all the non combatants. Sherman fielded and army that consisted of 55,329 infantry, 5,063 Cavalry, 1,812 Artillery.  A total of 62,204 soldiers.  They carried all they needed with them and were to forage off the surrounding country side.  This is such an impressive number of men and material to move in coordination with each other, on foot, horseback and by wagon.  Many accounts exist of how well fed everyone was during most of the march due to the region being fairly untouched by the war until now.  Some accounts report that by the end of the march in December, that their livestock was in better condition than when they started out from Atlanta. 

150 Years Ago Today: November 13th, 1864

November 13th, 1864
     Sherman and his staff continue on toward Atlanta.  They move south from Allatoona and pass through Acworth.  All but a few home in Acworth were destroyed.  Major Connolly described it as “a heap or ruins”.  Many officers were unable to or perhaps unwilling to stop the destructive and plundering nature of the soldiers under their command.  As Sherman and his staff approached Marietta, they passed through some of the earthworks that had been abandoned during the summer.  As they traveled they were able to see large, black columns of smoke coming form Marietta.  General Kilpatrick and his cavalry were in the town.  Guards had been posted to prevent Arson and looting, but were not able to do so.  Some officers were greatly disturbed by the unauthorized burning of the town.  While in Marietta, Sherman reviewed General Kilpatricks command.  He rode past and reviewed 5000 cavalry and at the end he took up a position to watch as they all road past cheering their General.  The business district of the town around the square had been burned and destroyed. 

150 Years Ago Today: November 12th, 1864

November 12th, 1864
     General Sherman and his staff departed from Kingston on the morning of the 12th and began their journey to Atlanta.  They reached  Cartersville around noon where they sat on a porch at the telegraph operators to rest.  Sherman received a dispatch from General Thomas in Nashville.  Sherman replied with “Dispatch received-all right”.  As Sherman ended his message the telegraph line linking him to Chattanooga and the remainder of the Federal Army, was cut.  Sherman and his forces were now cut off and on their own until they reached the coast.  Just below Cartersville the stopped to watched the last trains cross the bridge over the Etowah River, and then crossed the river and continued south.  They traveled about 20 miles for the day and camped near Allatoona. 
     The Federal troops in the outpost the had been protecting and garrisoning location throughout North Georgia were ordered to march toward Atlanta as quickly as possible and to destroy the railroad and make the country “untenable” for the enemy.  Bridges, mills, homes, barns, and other buildings were burned and food as well as livestock were taken.  What they could not carry, they destroyed. 

Happy Veterans Day!

Thank you to all who have served and continue to serve this great county.

This history of Veterans Day is from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

History of Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” which stated: “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.”

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts 

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.
In 1958, the White House advised VA’s General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee’s chairman.
The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.
Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

150 Years Ago Today: November 10th, 1864

November 10th, 1864
     General Sherman sent word via telegraph to General Corse, who was in command of the garrison at Rome.  Corse, who had distinguished himself in early October at the Battle of Allatoona Pass, was to begin destroying anything in Rome that had or could have military value to the Confederates.  The most important items of military value were the Noble Foundry and the Rail Road.  The Foundry was destroyed with explosive charges and the remainder of the majority of the city was put to the torch.  While many buildings were not designated as being of military value, some were set on fire by over zealous soldiers and others burned because of their proximity to military targets.  By morning there were very few buildings still standing.  The ones that survived were isolated from the main part of town that burned.  The Federals destroyed two train depots and a warehouse as well as a livery stable still containing horses.  As Corse and his men moved south to rendezvous with the remainder of Sherman’s Army, they began to destroy the railroad.
     In Atlanta, Sherman’s Chief Engineer, Capt. Orlando Poe, was busy at work destroying anything of military value and was focusing much attention on the railroad and its related facilities.  Poe had built a battering ram with an iron bar that was just over 21 feet long and suspended from a ten foot tall wooden suspension system.  This was used to destroy the round house and depot.  Some buildings were also rigged with explosives to be set off upon their departure.  In five days, as the Federals leave Atlanta, it will be nothing more that a smoldering ruin.

150 Years Ago Today: November 9th, 1864

November 9th, 1864
     After playing cat and mouse with General Hood in North Georgia during October, General Sherman stopped the chase and established his headquarters in Kingston Ga.  From here, he was in a position to lash out at Hood if he reentered North Georgia, and he could also direct and finalize the logistical components of his March to the Sea.
     Sherman had ordered the removal of all civilians in Atlanta and had also directed that all military personnel not going on the March to the Sea, to return to Chattanooga and other parts north.  Civilians not wanting to travel north were, transported to Rough and Ready where they were transferred through to the Confederate lines.  Sherman also ordered all the excess equipment and unnecessary war material to be sent back to the Federal lines in the north and that anything that could be of any possible military value to the Confederates was to be rendered useless and destroyed.  Once the last train had left Atlanta, the railroad was to be destroyed as well as the telegraph lines.  This would completely cut Sherman off from any support until he reached the coast and could be resupplied by the Federal Navy.