The cloudless sky was a beautiful clear blue, the temperature holding in the 80s as the Federal Army marched its way into Resaca. Their objective was Atlanta, and to leave a branded scar in the landscape of the South so that the rebellious Southern states would never forget that General William T. Sherman and the Federal Army had been there. Their goal was to remove all resistance to the Union and cripple the Confederacy once and for all.
The Confederate Army was already there. They dug in as the Federal Army approached. But as the armies of blue and gray faced each other across the battlefield, it quickly became apparent that the Confederate army was far outnumbered. Brigade after brigade of blue stood in opposition to the army in gray, outnumbering them six to one. Suddenly, the sound of steel crashing rang through the air as the cavalry clashed with each other. Cannoneers quickly repositioned their cannon and loaded them as the Federal cannon blasts split the air.
The Confederate Army had the high ground, but the Federals had the numbers. Volley after volley exploded as the Confederates moved to hold the wall. Half of a Federal brigade fell, but the rest continued to advance, seemingly angered by the resistance. The Confederates fought valiantly as the artillery continued their deadly exchange. The Federal army pressed forward, being driven back slightly at times, but continuing to press the line. As they neared, the Federals directly attacked the center of the Confederate line at the wall with hand-to-hand combat, aggressively breaching the line. Confusion reigned as the lines intermingled and continued their fierce hand-to-hand combat. Eventually, the Confederate army had to retreat toward Atlanta, leaving dead and wounded on both sides and no definitive victor. A nearby field hospital staffed by one surgeon and four nurses treated the wounded. These were the events of the battle on May 22, 2016.
The battle of Resaca reenactment was quite a success. The weather was the most pleasant it has been in nearly a decade. Over 500 reenactors attended the event including Confederate and Federal infantry, artillery, cavalry, medical, and civilian reenactors. The audience numbered between 300-400 each day. Sutlers came from all over the country with wares including uniforms, ladies clothing and accessories, camp supplies, military supplies, and food.
Events of the weekend included a reenactor yard sale, a Memorial Service at the Resaca Confederate Cemetery, a tactical battle, a ladies tea, a medical demonstration each day, a cavalry competition, a grand ball on Saturday evening in which participants executed Victorian dances to music performed by a live band, and a battle each day.
On Sunday, two church services were held, one by the Federal chaplain, and one by the Confederate chaplain Joey Young. A truce was called during church and men and women from both blue and gray gathered to sing together and worship the Lord at each of the open-air services.
Historically, the battle at Resaca was the second major battle of the Atlanta Campaign and a turning point in the war. No clear victor was determined, but the Confederates were unable to stop Sherman’s troops from advancing toward Atlanta. However, they did leave a lasting impression on General William Tecumseh Sherman and the Federal troops. It is said that the fury of the Confederates at Resaca affected Sherman profoundly enough that it would be five more weeks before he would try another full assault on entrenched Confederate troops. But an even greater turning point was in military tactics. The Confederates had set the stage for trench warfare, something that would not become widely known and used until the Great War, fifty years later.
The battle of Resaca was the best we have seen in weather and attendance in many years. The battles were well executed, and one could feel the fury of the Confederates as well as the ire and determination of the Federals. Two of the nurses (who are nurses in real life) treated several of the soldiers during the event and all recovered. The historic battlefield had been officially dedicated just one week prior to the reenactment. We hope that all will attend the battle in 2017 and continue to keep the history alive. To find out more information, check this website closer to the event: http://www.georgiadivision.org/bor_reenactment.html
-By Rachel Holland