57th Georgia Regiment Pt. 2: March to Battle
In March eighteen sixty three Christiana Vinson received a letter from her brother in Law William two months earlier the fifty seventh Georgia regiments company commander had sent her terse this note informing her that her husband's right had died of smallpox she had hoped William could give her some explanation or at least an assurance that writes last days had been comfortable but William didn't know any more than she she did. He wrote Chris. I can't tell you how he was treated. After he was into the hospital I done all that I could to get to go. Wait on him but they would not let me Chris. It hurt me very bad to think that he had to live air and die without any of us with him Chris. You wanted me to fetch him home. When I come if I could if I can I will be sure to do it for I don't want any of my folks to be left in Mississippi? I oh I do hate it worse than any place I have ever been at yet but I am in hope that he is in a better world than this where there is no more war nor troubles. I want you to kiss Charlie for me. Tell him to be a good boy till I come. I'm home and I will bring him a present nothing more only this remains. You're loving brother until death W._d.. Vinson Right Vinson's body would never be brought home to Georgia. He was among the thousands of men abandoned in unmarked graves across the confederate south falling off the historical record with an absent or presumed dead marked on the company roster but his brother William didn't get to disappear just yet he he had to survive until the war was lost. Welcome to survival a podcast original. I'm IRMA BLANCO and I'm Tim Johnson every Monday. We'll take you inside incredible true stories of life or death situations. This is our second episode on the Fifty Seven Th Georgia Infantry Regiment last week we follow the Grueling First Year of the regiment's service through the eyes of the two Vincent Brothers this week will follow William Vinson his comrades the Braswell brothers and other members of the regiment as they made increasingly desperate attempts to survive the civil war at podcast. We're grateful for you our listeners you allow us to do what we love. Let us know how we're doing reach out on facebook and Instagram at podcast and twitter at Park as network and if you enjoy enjoy today's episode the best way to help us is to leave a five star review wherever you're listening it really does help we also now have merchandise so depar- cast dot com slash merch for more information in May of eighteen sixty two roughly thousand men reported for duty in the confederate army's fifty seven th Georgia infantry regiments for the next year they marched in endless circles around the south narrowly avoiding every major battle of the civil war along the way they lost hundreds of soldiers to disease exhaustion and desertion among them was twenty-three-year-old private right Vinson who died of smallpox in January eighteen eighteen sixty three without having fired a single shot in battle his twenty five year old brother Corporal William Vincent didn't even have time to collect his body from the hospital before the troops were ordered to March out to Vicksburg Mississippi Mississippi marching with them with sixteen year old private Robert Braswell the youngest son of an old plantation family from Fort Valley. Just a few miles south of the Vincent's farm his older brothers billion Samuel. You were in Mobile Alabama with the first confederate infantry and Robert needed a good battle story to tell when he saw them again. Luckily after year of endless marching the fifty seventh Georgia was finally about to see some combat on May fourteenth eighteen sixty three the union captured Jackson Mississippi and continued east towards Vicksburg nearby confederate troops were stationed at champion Champion hill halfway between the two cities to stop the unions advance during the moonlight hours of May fifteenth the Thirty Fourth Thirty Six and thirty ninth Georgia infantry regiments made their way up the slope slope of Champion Hill the fifty sixth and fifty seventh however were instructed to stay with the artillery at the base of the hill at an intersection known as the crossroads because of the relatively short range and inaccuracy of nineteenth nineteenth century weaponry soldiers were typically positioned in long straight rose intended to meet the enemy head on however if the opposing troops were able to approach from the side they could easily surround the end of the line and inflict flicked serious damage before the rose could reorient themselves. Thus strategic manuals dictated that the flank of each line should be protected either by fortification a natural barricade or another regiment of soldiers in in this case the all important artillery at the crossroads would be guarded by the fifty sixth and fifty seventh Georgia but there were no other troops left to guard them once they were in position the Georgians look to their left and right and saw nothing they were completely defenseless from every direction they were as the infantry called it cannon fodder General Ulysses s this grant arrived to personally command the Union offensive at ten o'clock the next morning luckily for the fifty seventh Georgia rather than advanced towards the crossroads the Yankees crept silently up the hill from the opposite side hidden among among the dense forest and lock their sights on the row of confederate troops lining the crest of the hill at eleven thirty a M. They suddenly suddenly opened fire. The southerners were caught completely off-guard. Not a single shot had given away the enemy's position in the forest. The confederates barely had time to fire off a single volley before the nine union regiments were storming their ranks battering them with bayonets and daggers due to poor planning and confusion on the part of their commanders. The confederate line at the top of Champion hill was bent at a right angle into sharp L. shape instead of the straight line that was preferred for volley fire tactics to make matters worse. There were giant gaps left where the fifty sixth and fifty seventh Georgia regiments should have been they were outnumbered unprepared repaired and at a severe tactical disadvantage their only option was to fall back one by one each regiment gave up the fight and fled down the hill down at the crossroads Robert Braswell saw a swarm of gray uniforms streaming down the slope. Just a few hundred yards away chased by a stampede of blue-suited Yankees. This was not the kind of glorious battle he'd imagined leading the charge which was the twenty eighth Iowa which was nicknamed the preacher's Regiment since almost all of its members were clergymen but these preachers were the fire and brimstone type shooting off bullets as they ran at the bottom of the hill the fifty seventh commander Colonel William Barclay Lou shouted instructions to fire his assistant officer. Thomas Dyson let down from his horse and waved his hat signaling for the men to get ready then he was struck by a bullet and fatally wounded braswell took cover behind a rail of the wooden fence within seconds the man next to him was shot through the thigh then the man next to him was cut down instantly. We killed and a bullet grazed the face of another soldier nearby blowing the tip of his nose clean off the fifty seventh. Georgia didn't have time to reload their rifles before the fighting priests had completely overrun them. The regiment did the only thing they knew how to do retreat. They made a dash for General John pemberton's headquarters six hundred yards south of the crossroads Pemberton was an accomplished general with decades of battle under his belt. But because of his abrasive personality and northern heritage few of his confederate officers trusted him he had spent the morning riding from camp to camp trying to convince a couple of unruly generals to obey his orders the Georgia the brigade running scared from the battlefield was the last thing he wanted to see when he looked out the window when the soldiers reached the house Pemberton stepped out to meet them he rallied them with an impassioned and speech the exact words have been lost to history but it struck either inspiration shame or fear into their hearts within minutes the rag tag young men of the fifty seventh Georgia Regiment had regrouped and but charging back into battle by the time they made it back to the crossroads they were finally flanked by the reinforcements Pemberton had been trying to pull together all morning but the fifty seventh was still in the center of the Fray Ray surging ahead through the middle of the union line. The spirit of battle rallied them forward by two thirty pm the confederates had pushed the enemy back up the hillside and retaken champion Hill but they they'd taken heavy losses in the process. The fifty seven Georgia had gone into the battle with only four hundred fifty men and left a trail of bodies behind them. It was their first taste of war and then the excitement they were stampeding eating right into the middle of a firestorm with no strategy and no regard for their own safety. The regimens color bear was shot down almost immediately after returning to battle another soldier grabbed the flag bag from his fallen comrades hands but soon he was cut down to the third soldier to pick up the colors was also almost instantly killed still the rest of the men kept pushing forward by late afternoon noon. They were within sight of General Grant's Union headquarters at the champion House. The Yankees were shocked that the men who turned their backs and ran just a few hours earlier. We're now putting up such a spirited fight but as they got closer to the champion House they were greeted by three more Brigades of Union soldiers with sixteen cannons pointed right at them. The union had seemingly unlimited reinforcements -dorsements the confederates were decimated. There were short on ammunition and even shorter on soldiers. There was no way they could outlast grant's forces as night fell general pemberton ordered a retreat the men staggered back over the hill picking up their wounded along the way when the fifty seventh Georgia made it to safety they called role to tally the damages twenty seven dead one hundred and four wounded sixteen sixteen taken prisoner fifty missing and presumed dead of the four hundred fifty men who'd gone into the battle only two hundred fifty three were left to fight the next morning General Joseph Johnston sent Pemberton attend a message. If you are invested in Vicksburg you must ultimately surrender under such circumstances instead of losing both troops and place we must if possible save the troops however Pemberton decided to disregard the order logic be damned he was determined hold firm and defend his post his troops assembled around the perimeter of Vicksburg dug into trenches and waited for the next attack attack the fifty seventh Georgia both because of the heavy losses they'd taken and because of their general lack of fighting skills was told to stay back and guard the southern front at halls ferry road where no attack was expected this prediction proved correct Vincent and Braswell hunker down and waited listening to the distant barrage of artillery through the thick forest to the north at first it was just a faraway echo by May twenty second second it had inched closer. The Yankees were assaulting the square fort just a mile to their left but after a four hour bombardment the noise suddenly stopped it had become clear here to general grant that getting through the confederate defenses in into Vicksburg wouldn't be quick or easy rather than risk more of his men's lives in another firefight he decided to cut off confederate supply lines and outlast ask them until they surrendered he ordered his troops to surround the city dig trenches and settle in for a long siege by the time night fell the fifty seventh Georgia was standing face to face face with four regiments of Union soldiers camped just a few hundred yards down the road over the next few weeks the Yankee trenches kept zigzagging closer while their artillery fired off shells around the clock. The term MM shell shock was coined during World War One to describe the symptoms caused by constant artillery explosions the physical and emotional stress of being exposed to loud repeated blasts can cause anxiety confusion uson nightmares headaches and fatigue as if that wasn't enough one unlucky man from the fifty seventh Georgia peaked over the top of his trench to scope out the scene and was shot in the head by a sniper so the union was employing sharpshooters to kill anyone who showed any movement between the constant cannon fire and the threat of being shot in the head. The men of the fifty seventh were expecting death at any moment if the sharpshooters didn't get them hunger dysentery or malaria would the trenches had stockpiles of bullets but no food or clean water William Vincent started to wonder whether he'd go the same way as his his brother a slow quiet death buried in an unmarked hole somewhere in the wretched state of Mississippi by the end of June half the confederate troops had been pulled out of their entrenchments and taken to the hospital for the few healthy men who remained the food supply was so low the rations were reduced to one biscuit and a piece of rancid bacon each day without adequate food anything and everything everything was being used as sustenance dead horses and Mules stray dogs even shoe leather an official statement went out from the Richmond Headquarters on June twenty eighth the major general recommends to the troops that when a mule is maimed by the fire of the enemy soup is perhaps the most palatable form in which the flesh can be used Robert braswell against all odds had grown another three inches in the past year at a towering six foot four he was now one of the tallest and youngest members of the regiment since bigger bodies naturally require more energy to function and younger people tend to have faster metabolisms This meant that Robert's body would be burning through its fat stores more quickly than his older shorter comrades this put him at an increased risk for the physical and mental effects of starvation including apathy unstable moods and decreased brain function Asian those side effects may have been a factor in his risky next move after a few weeks in the trenches Braswell and a few friends slipped out of their foxhole crept through the sharp shooter infested woods and strolled right into town like the confederate soldiers the civilian residents Vicksburg were also trapped in the city without supply lines as such they weren't overly friendly towards troops who came foraging for food there was always at least one citizen Standing Guard at night to keep wandering soldiers away from their vegetable gardens but one woman sitting on her porch took pity on the starving young boys strolling by she stepped inside and returned with the home baked meat pie still warm from the oven Braswell and his friends gobbled it up in seconds. He thanked her and said that there's the best pie I ever ate ma'am. The woman replied glad it is that's the first rat pie I've ever baked with. Even the townspeople sustaining themselves on Rodents General Pemberton realized he was running out of time. It was clear that the Yankees were willing to stay put until every single. Confederate Starve to death. The only way to survive was to surrender on the afternoon of July third after six and a half weeks in the trenches. The confederates waved a white flag flag of truce pemberton grant met under a tree halfway between their two lines to negotiate the terms of surrender taking all thirty thousand confederates prisoner would be monumentally time consuming and expensive sensitive so instead the troops would be paroled that is they were allowed to go home under the condition that they wouldn't return to duty until an equal number of union soldiers were released in an exchange the next morning on the fourth of July eighteen sixty three the two hundred or so men still standing from the fifty seven Georgia lined up to surrender their arms and colors the ultimate disgrace some of the other regiments had cut up their flags the night before to avoid the dishonor of turning them over to the enemy but the fifty seventh marched forward with their heads held high and their bullet riddled confederate flag billowing in the morning wind one one last time William Vincent had gotten what he wanted he was going home and in one piece but as he laid down his rifle and unclasping his sword belt the relief must've been tinged with disappointment there regimen had lost more than half their men since arriving in Vicksburg and for what nothing was gained not even glory Robert Braswell had finally seen the combat he'd been dreaming about and it ended in failure and shame and when he got home he would have to tell his older brothers all about it coming up the men of the fifty seventh Georgia Georgia go home and almost immediately called back into battle. If you've ever owned a pet you know how costly it can be when they get sick or injured with embrace pet insurance you you can get comprehensive health insurance for cats and dogs. Don't worry about networks visit any vets and get reimbursed up to ninety percent of the bill for less than the cost per day of your morning coffee. You can ensure your pet head to embrace pet insurance. It's dot com slash survival answer a few quick questions to get your personalized free quote and just seconds you can even adjust your pets quote to fit your budget plus. Every policy comes with a thirty day money back guarantee one in three policyholders submit Mitt claims in the first year so don't wait you can also sign up for wellness rewards. It's embraces optional preventative care plan use it for everyday expenses like routine veterinary care grooming and training. Get your free quote at embrace pet insurance dot com slash survival right now embraced pet insurance dot com slash survival embrace pet insurance is underwritten by American modern insurance group terms and conditions apply see website for details <music>. We are so appreciative of you spending the time to listen to our show and as a thank you we want to do something special for you. Hard cast shows are teaming up to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark season in American Erkin history. The summer of nineteen sixty nine for three weeks were diving deep into the summer America hit a boiling point with twenty three special episodes across sixteen different podcast originals surviving on earth is one thing but what about surviving in space on my other podcast extraterrestrial bill and I investigate the Apollo missions in May of nineteen sixty nine as the Apollo ten astronauts passed over the far side of the moon. Their radios videos picked up strange music. It didn't come from ground control. Was it a simple malfunction to hear all of the fascinating summer of nineteen sixty nine episodes search for and subscribe to summer of nineteen sixty nine on spotify or anywhere else you listen to podcast shows and don't forget to tune into my other show extraterrestrial to hear more about surviving the Apollo missions now back to the story <music> on the fourth of July eighteen sixty three the fifty seventh Georgia regiments surrendered at Vicksburg Mississippi at the end of a forty seven day siege after they signed their parole agreements they were sent home until they could be officially exchanged with union prisoners and return to duty when the train rolled into Fort Valley Georgia the starved and dirt cake soldiers were given a hero's welcome. The crowd of enthusiastic friends and neighbors apparently hadn't heard how total their defeat had been Robert Braswell pushed his way through the excitement and found his mother. They barely hugged each other. Hello before she dropped the bad news his grandfather Williamson mims was on his deathbed Williamson. mims was one of the richest plantation owners in the area when he died roberts immediate family stood to inherit hundreds of acres of land and Dan the few dozen enslaved people who worked at it may not have registered in his mind but unlike many of his poorer neighbours Roberts livelihood was directly tied to the war's final outcome meanwhile William Vincent Jason made the Fifteen Mile Journey from Fort Valley back to Crawford County his family would be full of questions his little brother had died on his watch and now he had to tell the tale to his grieving parents to little charlie okay who just turned two and would grow up without a father and to Christiana widowed at age twenty three he couldn't even tell them that right had died in the service of a great cause anyone who had been on the battlefield could see the confederacy was doomed. He wasn't alone all over Fort Valley. The men of the fifty seventh were dodging questions about the war combat veterans often avoid talking about their experiences for a variety of different reasons for those who experience P._t._S._d.. It can be painful to recount traumatic memories for others. According to author and Iraq war veteran David W peters many times they feel the story would be too much for their loved one to here but there are deeper reasons veterans. Don't talk about it. We know any story we tell cannot capture what really happened over there and what really happened inside of us after a few months of rest the troops were called back to Savannah in mid October eighteen sixty three the prisoner exchange with a union still hadn't officially happened but the confederate leadership didn't see that as a problem the rank and file soldiers beg to differ if they were captured in battle or otherwise found out by the Yankees they could be executed for breaking the terms of their parole. When the fifty-seven Georgia regrouped in Savannah they were hit with of yet another blow to their morale their trusted commander Colonel Bark Lou was gone on sick? Leave William Vincent had been in Barclays Regiment for two years ever since he first enlisted in the state troops if their unfailing leader could make it through all hope was gone soon after arriving the fifty seventh was assigned to guard Fort Bar tow three miles east of Savannah since there were only about two hundred men left after their regiment this meant every soldier had to stand watch at the picket line every single day without being relieved true standing in silence at camp was better than crouching in the trenches but it bread boredom boredom it gave them time to think time to dwell on their inevitable defeat and after a few months the entire brigade had had enough of the civil war in January eighteen eighteen sixty four the fifty fourth Georgia which was stationed at rose do island on the coast of Savannah began plotting a mutiny on the night of the twelfth they would grab their arms and ammunition and March right out of camp. Damn they planned on moving through Savannah picking up their fellow soldiers and bowl you and white bluff and meet the fifty seventh at their camp at Fort Bardo from there the brigade would make their way across the country. Stopping at every fort in their path and convince the rest of the confederate army to abandon their posts and joined the march home the soldiers knew they were fighting a losing battle and the surest way to survive vives was to surrender the low ranking men didn't have the authority to formally surrender but if the entire army refused to fight it would in effect in the war before more lives were lost. It's unclear exactly how how many men were involved in the plot but they seemed fully confident that the rest of their comrades would be willing to join them and at first it looked like they were right a petition circulated throughout at least three camps in the brigade collecting getting the signatures of men who pledged to participate but just days before the mutiny was scheduled to begin one still loyal soldier in the fifty fourth Georgia revealed the plan to his officer who passed the news onto the brigade commander Brigadier General Raleigh e Colston. The ringleaders of the plot were promptly arrested. There was no proof that any men from the fifty seventh Georgia were involved but since the entire higher plan relied on their participation the regimen couldn't escape the blame in his official recommendations after the incident Colston asked the regional commander too kindly remove the fifty seventh from his brigade. He wrote in the spirit of this regiment is bad. The impression prevails probably with good reason that they will not fight if brought before the enemy they are demoralized by the influence of home to which they are to near the fifty seventh knew they had to do something to redeem their reputation or they'd lose their relatively comfortable post in savannah and be thrown back onto the marching trail on March seventh eighteen sixty four the men collectively actively published a statement in the Savannah Republican. It read resolved that the fifty seventh Georgia Regiment unconquered by their toils in Kentucky or the misfortunes of Middle Tennessee and Mississippi are determined never never to lay down our arms until truth and justice be crowned with liberty in the glorious independence of our beloved country resolved that nothing has yet occurred to shake our confidence in the ability of the south finally to achieve her independence. The lofty rhetoric did absolutely nothing to change their commanders opinion but luckily before Colston could punish them too. Severely their ranks were reorganized once again. Colston was reassigned to the garrison in Petersburg Virginia and the fifty seventh Georgia was sent to defend Atlanta. They join a new brigade under the firm hand of fifty seven year old General Hugh W Mercer on May Twentieth The regiment stepped off the train at Altoona station just north west of Atlanta. They only just marched into camp. When Robert Braswell heard a familiar voice calling his name he he turned to see his two older brothers Billy and Samuel? It was the first time they'd seen each other in two years and Robert Barely recognize them. They were so thin and weary billy now twenty four I had lost the patriotic spark in his eyes he'd been promoted to master sergeant and keeping his brigades spirit up was a heavy burden to bear Samuel at twenty years old wasn't looking much better just five five days earlier there regiment had seen their first heavy combat at the battle of Saka and hundreds of their men had been killed but now all three braswell brothers would be fighting side by side in the same division. At least they could be miserable together. There was one other familiar face among the crowd Colonel Charles Olmsted the once commander of Fort Pulaski in the two years since the siege at Polaski Olmstead had matured from green first time commander to an accomplish twenty seven year old warhorse his regiment the first Georgia volunteers had just been reassigned to join Mercer's Brigade Olmstead recognized a few of his Old Georgia state troops at the Camp Robert Braswell William Vincent now he'd finally get to see them in action. The greenhorns who'd earned their stripes the boys who had become men or for the bright eyed youngsters who had become the most forlorn regiment in the confederate army olmstead must have been surprised by the starry state of the fifty seventh Georgia they'd only ever participated faded in one battle but they had lost three quarters of their men and the few who remained were starved sickly and utterly devoid of hope he soon found out the reason Mercer's Brigade was part of a reserve division which meant they were forced to wander all over to support whichever confederate division needed assistance the fifty seventh as we know was used to this by now but olmsted and his first Georgia volunteers had had thus far spent most of their time stationed in Savannah joining the reserve ranks was a rude awakening. The Brigade was roused from their beds at all hours of the night for sudden movements up and down Kennesaw Kennesaw Mountain Olmstead recalled the memory of the night marches is like a nightmare to me horses and men wearied and exhausted stumbling along through red clay mud and darkness ordinarily on the March the men were lively and good natured often breaking into songs but these night tramps were generally made in Moody silence the next two months past as expected a series of minor skirmishes his and retreats a few weeks in the trenches and absolutely no progress toward pushing the Yankees back no matter how many union soldiers they killed more and more troops arrived to replace them by the beginning inning of July. The weary confederates gave up the only thing left to do was retreat regroup and prepare for the inevitable battle for Atlanta. The order to retreat came down at about eleven pm on July Second Mercer's Brigade was once again roused from their slumber to march through the darkness behind them. The peaks of Kennesaw mountain burned read as cannon fire fire set the trees ablaze Olmstead sat on his horse nodding off in sleep then suddenly his I snapped open. He had the feeling of being somewhere familiar they were marching across the campus of the Georgia Georgia Military Institute where Olmstead had gone to school he remembered watching the mountain burn once while he was a student not from battle but from a brushfire Olmstead took one last look at the dorm where they'd spent so many nights dreaming of the future he knew that in a matter of days every brick would be turned to rubble when they made it to their camp outside Atlanta the next morning olmsted received even more demoralizing news the brigade's commander Hugh W Mercer had fallen. Ill olmstead would be replacing him. He kept his expression steady and accepted the command. He couldn't show his superiors any hint that he was reluctant. As he lined his men along the city's northern perimeter at Peachtree Creek olmstead remark to Captain Wallace Howard that they were nearing the point where the great battle must be fought thought Howard replied candidly. I don't know it looks to me like the beginning of the end while Mercer's Brigade or now homesteads brigade assumed position along the southern side of Peachtree each Tree Creek Union troops were forming their line right across the water. Even though they were standing nose to nose there was an unspoken agreement among both sides that they would hold their fire since their firearms took longtime to reload the most effective strategy was to attack in one sudden coordinated charge firing off stray shots before the action officially commenced was considered a serious breach in protocol so. The men stood on their respective sides of Peach Tree Creek for over a week waiting for the order to shoot with the war on pause. The mood was positively friendly. They shouted jokes across the water calling calling each other Yank and Johnny Rabb the Union troops had luxuries that were unheard of in the confederate camps like coffee and sugar occasionally the soldiers would swim out to meet each other and trade tobacco for Food Food Olmstead didn't see a problem with this but he was ordered to put a stop to it still when he looked across the river in the cold rainy morning and saw the Yankees carrying around their pots of steaming hot coffee he he couldn't help but feel paying of jealousy after ten days of waiting homesteads orders finally came down on the morning of July twentieth. The union was crossing Peachtree creek the the battle was about to start coming up the fight for Atlanta begins now back to the story on July twentieth eighteen in sixty four confederate troops lined up along peachtree creek ready to defend Atlanta from the union soldiers just across the water when Robert Braswell took his position on the riverbank he looked over to see his brother's others billion Samuel standing just a few hundred yards away the fifty seventh Georgia and the first confederate infantry were stationed side by side at four P._M.. They charged Olmstead had led his brigade through the patch of dense swampland and broke out into the clear fields to find absolutely nothing their division had aligned themselves too far to the right and homesteads instead brigade missed the union line entirely instead the brunt of the enemy attack was met by the regiment directly homesteads left the first confederate infantry in the confusion a portion of homesteads brigade gade including the fifty seventh Georgia had been pulled to the left following the first confederate right into the Hornets nest they cut through the trees and found themselves surrounded by an entire division of union in troops alone and unexpectedly under fire from all sides. The confederate infantry had no hope of winning this battle or even surviving it their commander General Clement Stevens Wins Road Out to the front of the line and ordered his men to fall back as he was speaking he was shot in the head and instantly killed the fifty seventh. Georgia didn't need to be told twice they did did they did best scattered and ran Robert Braswell ducked through a hail of gunfire choked by clouds of smoke leaping over the fallen bodies in his path he climbed through the woods and over the banks the creek without looking back all but sixteen members of the fifty seven Georgia made it out safely and met up with the rest of their brigade but as the Sun said news trickled in from the battlefield the first confederate unfettered infantry had been decimated at least a third of their men were dead Robert's mind flashed with visions of the body's heat crawled over on his way to safety his brothers could have been among the pile he he slipped through the ranks to find what remained of the first confederate bandaging their wounds by the last light of dusk there Robert heard the news billy and Samuel Braswell were both dead their our bodies had been abandoned on the battlefield along with hundreds of their comrades Robert Wood. Remember this as the defining moment of his life the separation point between the before and after he'd seen hundreds of his fellow soldiers friends and neighbors die in the past two years of losing his brothers was different. The youthful idealism that had once marked his perception of war was now completely extinguished over the next few days the battle for Atlanta fell into unmitigated chaos while the Georgians were marching into position on the morning of July twenty second their divisional commander under General William Walker was suddenly shot from his horse by a single bullet and fatally wounded general mercer. The former leader of the Mercer Olmstead Brigade was chosen to replace him almost immediately mercer made the decision to send two of the divisions three brigades into battle against a much larger union force. They were both promptly pulverized leaving homesteads brigade as the only only unit left while the leadership was debating their next move a stray shell exploded a piece of shrapnel hit instead in the head knocking him unconscious for weeks Colonel Bark lieu of the fifty seventh Georgia took his place leaving the only brigade of the entire division before evening fell bark. Lou literally checked out and headed to the hospital quote exhausted by the fatigues of the day he was replaced faced by Lieutenant Colonel Morgan rawls before the troops even had time to process the change in leadership roles was critically wounded. He was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Cincinnati's. S Guidon who who just a few hours earlier had been the second in command for the fifty seventh Georgia at this point guidance battlefield reports stated the Brigade was in the utmost state of confusion as regarded. It's organization I immediately ordered ordered in advance but the men could be induced to go no farther as darkness set in the Mercer Olmstead Barca Lou Rawls Guidon Brigade decided to hunker down in their trenches and call it a night when the sun rose the next morning the confederates raised their white flag and negotiated a truce during only a few days of battle the confederate forces had suffered somewhere between five thousand five eight hundred and eight thousand casualties Mercer's Brigade had lost nine hundred twenty nine men more than a third of their original force standoffs and skirmishes continued until the beginning of September when the confederates withdrew from Atlanta Entirely Union General William tecumseh Sherman held Atlanta as his headquarters for the next two months forcibly evacuating all of its cities residents then in November eighteen sixty four he moved his troops out burned what was left of the city and began his infamous march to the sea throughout November Union soldiers has marched South East from Atlanta to Savannah leaving a trail of smoldering ash in their wake entire cities were burnt to the ground not just military forts but homes and private land Sherman an employed a scorched earth policy believing the war would only end if the confederacies infrastructure and economy were completely destroyed he burned civilian property rail lines and businesses he even pull all data from the eighteen sixty census to target areas with the most agriculture his troops foraged for crops stole horses and wagons and then set farms ablaze under direct orders to enforce a devastation shen more or less relentless in January eighteen sixty five the mercer Olmstead Brigade traveled across Georgia on their way to North Carolina as they pass through their hometowns hundreds of soldiers slipped away way to find their families never to be seen again seeing the complete destruction of their homeland. The men knew there was no use in fighting anymore. Even olmstead admitted there was little hope for the confederate cause us and I was about to enter another campaign from which there might be no return with the confederacies defeat so imminent the threat of legal punishment for desertion no longer carried much weight and with most of their towns. Hounds already burnt raised unoccupied helping their families survive seemed more urgent than defending whichever faraway basis that were still standing the safest strategy was indeed to go home and wait for the war to be over by the time they arrived in North Carolina so many men had deserted that Olmstead had to travel back to Georgia and place advertisements in the local papers asking the members of his brigade to return to duty he eventually pulled together about five hundred soldiers. William Vinson dutifully came back as did Robert Braswell since neither man had children to support they might have felt obligated needed to keep up the fight while their fellow soldiers headed home to look after their families or they might have felt that after everything they'd lost they might as well stick it out to the end. The handful of survivors from the fifty seventh Georgia Asia were consolidated into homesteads original regiment. The first Georgia Volunteers Olmstead recalled they made a regiment that any man might be proud of and I was proud but it never fired another shot for the war war was practically at its end on April ninth eighteen sixty five generals Lee and grant met at Apple Matic's courthouse to negotiate a surrender on the twenty six word word came down to homesteads camp that the documents had been signed the civil war was finally over some of the soldiers were furious. They screamed and swore refusing to surrender others cried faced with the reality that all of their sacrifices have been for nothing. Most were just relieved to finally go home. Charles olmsted had mixed emotions he recalled. I was weary three of war and of the long separation from my wife and children I was thankful to that life had been spared and that a new career could be begun yet. Nevertheless it was impossible to avoid a deep feeling of depression Russian as memory brought back the high hope and courage with which we had entered the war of the thousand men who would originally formed the fifty seventh Georgia Regiment in May eighteen sixty two only one hundred hundred seventy remained as they turned over their arms in April eighteen sixty five as a small consolation. The survivors were allowed to keep their colors. The troops marched back to Georgia with with their battle flags flying one last time the destroyed railways forced the men to make the two hundred thirty mile journey from Greensboro North Carolina to Augusta Georgia on foot put when they reached Augusta in early May the regiment disbanded after three years of living and fighting together it was the last time most of them would ever see each other Charles Olmsted now twenty ninety eight and war-weary was ready to go home and see his family for the first time in years his wife had given birth to a baby son and olmstead still hadn't seen him but before he could start the journey home he received two pieces of devastating news confederate officers and their families had been banished from Savannah after Sherman occupied the city his family was taking refuge with his mother in law in Milledgeville and as for the baby he had died in infancy olmstead would never get to meet him. Robert braswell returned to Fort Valley is the only living son in his family he was eighteen now. Now hardened man little remained the spirited young adventurer who'd boarded the train to Savannah for years earlier. One thing he was sure of was that he would never leave for valley again. When William Vincent made at home he learned that writes wife Christiana had died of unknown causes the previous year Charlie who was about to turn four was being raised by relatives while no records remain of what happened happened to the Vincent Family Farm we can assume that like the rest of Georgia's farmers they were struggling between the damage that had been sustained during the war and period of particularly bad weather crop harvests had fallen drastically mystically by the end of the war in eighteen sixty five the annual cotton yield was less than a tenth of what it had been in eighteen sixty beyond the fields? The rest of Georgia's economy and infrastructure was in shambles else. Homes and businesses have been turned to ash the short lived confederate currency was now completely worthless and the states four hundred sixty thousand newly emancipated slaves found themselves thrust west into the middle of the chaos in an attempt to reintegrate the former confederate states into the Union Congress passed the first reconstruction act in eighteen sixty seven placing the south under U._S.. Military occupation former confederates were barred from voting or holding office and the Georgia state government was dissolved until they agreed to ratify the fourteenth amendment and give full citizenship and voting rights to its black residents Georgia Georgia quickly complied but the forceful federal tactics only exacerbated political and racial tensions the political conflicts and widespread destruction of the civil war which shape Georgia for the rest of its history story although the institution of slavery had finally come to an end a new era of racial violence and economic instability was just beginning for better or worse life would never be the same for the soldiers soldiers and civilians who survived the war after the dust of the civil war had settled Charles olmsted went onto a quiet career in life insurance shipping and banking although he never never met his only son he and his wife Florence raised three daughters he died in Savannah at the age of eighty nine Robert Braswell true to his word never left Fort Valley again. He married his childhood hood sweetheart and raised seven children on the farm land he inherited from his late grandfather but over the years nearly all the land was sold to keep the family afloat in the turbulent economy in his later years Robert became known around Fort Valley as a war hero and a local historian. There's no record of what happened to William Vincent between his surrender in eighteen sixty five and his death in nineteen sixteen at the age of seventy-nine nine as for right in Christiana Son Charley he eventually moved to make and found success as a farmer Charlie was still an infant when both of his parents died all he had to remember them by was the bleak letters. Write had sent home from the battlefield and a photograph the couple had taken before the war even decades later Charlie's daughter recalled seeing him stared down at the photo with Tears Rolling Rolling from his is trying to piece together the lives of the forebears who didn't survive to tell their stories. Thanks for listening to survival for more information amongst the many sources we used we found hell's broke loose in Georgia survival in a civil war regiment by Scott Walker extremely helpful to our research. You can find all of our casts shows on spotify and anywhere you listen to podcasts if you enjoy the show the best way to help is to leave a five star review and don't forget to follow us on facebook and Instagram at podcast and twitter at podcast network. We'll see you next time. Survival was created by Max Cutler is a production of cutler media and as part of the podcast network it is produced by Max and Ron Cutler sound design signed by Michael Eisner with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Paul Moller Additional Production Assistance by Carly Madden and Maggie Admire Survival is written by Kate Gallagher and stars Irma Blanco and Tim Johnson. Don't forget to check out my other show extraterrestrial as it looks into the Apollo missions plus. You can check out all the other episodes of podcasts summer of sixty nine event haunted.