A week and a half ago (Yes, I really am that far behind), I had the opportunity to venture to North Georgia, to one of those battlefields where Tar Heels bled and died. The occasion was the dedication of a monument to the 29th and 39th NCT regiments, and I was blessed with being able to present the keynote address.
Here are a few excerpts from my talk.
The 29th and 39th Regiment were often in the thick of things during the Atlanta campaign of the spring and summer of 1864. They were engaged at New Hope Church, Picket’s Mill, Smyrna, Peachtree Creek, the battles for Atlanta, Ezra Church, and the evacuation of Atlanta in September 1864. As Hood moved north toward Tennessee, his goal was to draw out Sherman and look for an advantageous position to attack. Hood also planned to cut Sherman’s supply line coming from Tennessee, making the Federal position in Atlanta untenable. Hood’s men struck the railroad at Acworth and Big Shanty. Next lay Allatoona, with its large storehouse of provisions. Capturing Allatoona was assigned to French’s division, containing Ector’s brigade and the 29th and 39th Regiments. The three redoubts protected about 2,000 Federals. The Confederates captured the railroad and its protecting blockhouse, before demanding the Federals surrender. They declined, and the Confederates attacked. The 39th Regiment did not actively participate in the attack, being sent to serve as supports for Confederate artillery and skirmishers. The rest of Ector’s brigade were placed in support during the initial attack. During the attack, the 29th Regiment advanced under fire through some thick woods, before discovering that they had lost contact with the rest of the brigade. Major Ezekial Hampton ordered the regiment to advance at the double quick. They stopped just short of the Federal works, dropped to the ground, and reloaded. Soon Hampton ordered his men up and advanced over the works. Three color bearers were struck before the flag of the 29th Regiment was planted on the Federal works. According to one historian, “the 29th ran into the Federal trench and fought ‘hand-to-hand with swords, bayonets, rifle butts, and rocks.’ The Confederates killed many of the enemy and captured 25 or 30 prisoners… no sooner had they taken the Federal works than Major Hampton ordered his men forward again. The 29th got within 20 yards of the Star Fort before their charge was stopped.” Before French could order his men to attack the final Federal position, he received word that the Federals were coming up in his rear. Fearing the he would be cut off, French ordered his men to retreat. Hampton, in his official report, stated that the 29th North Carolina took 138 men into action, losing 12 killed, 39 wounded, and 3 missing. Colonel David Coleman of the 39th North Carolina reported that his regiment lost only two men wounded.