Camp Chase Gazette

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Nash Farm: The Battles of Jonesboro and Lovejoy

Posted on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm

They knew the Federals were on their way. Walls had been hastily erected and trenches dug. Infantry lined the trenches behind wooden barricades as artillery pieces filled each gap, waiting to rain destruction upon their opponents. Officers and medical corps stood on the ridge slightly above the trench scanning the horizon. Then, a wall of blue appeared over the ridge, marching straight toward the entrenched Confederates. Cavalry charged the wall, intercepted by the Confederate cavalry.  As the Rebel cavalry attempted to counter and stop the Union assault, the Union mounted and infantry soldiers continued their thrust on the Southern line.

Officers shouted orders, countering the movements of the men in blue and the orders of the Union officers that floated gently through the air to the opposite line. “Fire by file!” the right wing commander shouted. The repetitious musket fire answered his order, shortly echoed by the left wing. The Yankees replied with their own line of musket fire. “Fire at will!” The exchange continued as the Union army inched ever closer to the entrenched Confederates. Soldiers began to fall, musket balls finding their targets. Cannon fired their revenge at the oncoming line. Representatives from the medical corps attended to the wounded and removed them from the line to the rear, attending to their wounds, one of which proved to be fatal. As the medical corps worked, and fire continued from the trenches, the Union cavalry pressed the left wing. They were beaten back, only to be reinforced by the Union infantry. Assault after assault impacted the left wing, as the Confederates rushed to reinforce it. One portion of the line weakened, and suddenly a burly redheaded Federal Lieutenant breached the wall, his company rushing in after him. The line was compromised, the fighting becoming hand-to-hand in some places as the Confederates rushed to pull back and regroup.

The next day found the Confederates entrenched once again. The Federals wanted the high ground, but the Confederates were determined to hold it and make them fight for every inch. The Federal companies spread out in a single line, clearly visible in the valley from the vantage point of the Confederates on the hill. Their movements were defended by Federal artillery, hurling its deadly munitions over their heads. Though they were barely in range, the Confederate infantry opened fire on the advancing line. The Federals quickly took a knee as their officers barked orders. “Fire by file!” floated across the wind to the ears of the Confederates as the perfectly timed musket fire erupted down the line. Confederate officers barked orders and moved troops as the Federals changed positions. A major assault straight down the middle had the Confederates rapidly moving men down the trench and countering the assault.

“Sir! To the right!” The call alerted the Lt. Colonel of a Federal company moving around to the Confederates weakened right flank during the confusion. He called quick orders, moving a Company to repel the attack on their flank. A constant din of noise rose from the weakened flank and the middle of the line as the Federal assault continued. The Federals attacked valiantly three times, and each time they were repelled. With the beginning of a fourth assault, the Confederate Colonel ordered an attack. The right wing ferociously cleared the trench, rapidly advancing toward the Federal left wing. The Federals pulled back, some men finding themselves in hand-to-hand combat, quickly going down under the advancing Confederate force. Minutes later the left wing cleared the trenches and joined the assault toward the Federal line. Soldiers fought bravely until they were struck down. Some lifted their wounded bodies, attempting to maim or kill the oncoming soldiers before they could reach their line, only to be bayonetted or run through themselves. The Confederate medical corps tended the wounded on the field. One Federal soldier broke through the advancing line and rushed toward one of the medical corps, poised for destruction. He was taken off his feet by a bear of a man in the Confederate infantry. The Federals attempted to flank the Confederates, but with a quick maneuver, they were repelled. Finally, the Federal Lieutenant and Confederate Lt. Colonel came face to face, surrounded by Confederate infantry. The Lt. Colonel accepted the surrender of the Federal Lieutenant’s sword. Federal prisoners were rounded up and placed under guard. The battle of Lovejoy was a Confederate victory.

The reenactment at Nash Farms in Hampton, GA is an annual event. It is a favorite within the Georgia Volunteer Battalion because we have the opportunity to fight on the very battlefield of our ancestors. Due to valiant work by the Nash Farm staff and the Georgia Civil War Commission, the majority of the original battlefield has been preserved. Approximately 200 reenactors participated this year including those representing infantry, cavalry, artillery, medical, and civilians, which is down from previous years. This was largely due in part to the cold weather and burn ban, which was in place countywide in response to the forest fires raging in north Georgia and Tennessee. With no fires to warm oneself by, it made for a more challenging event. Approximately 150-175 observers attended on Saturday for the Battle of Jonesboro, and roughly 100 audience members on Sunday for the Battle of Lovejoy/Nash Farms, due to a decline in the weather.

In addition to the battles, a ball was held on Saturday night for all the reenactors and period dances were executed to music of the time. A ladies tea was held and the presenter, Debra Adams, discussed letters from the war, complete with examples of original letters that have since been published. This was done in conjunction with the re-launching of the 1860s postal service. During the tea, ladies wrote letters to their brothers, husbands, fathers, and sweethearts. Each letter was secured with wax and seal as was the custom, and then turned in to the Postmistress. These letters were handed out during mail call at Sunday morning parade, and were very well received by the soldiers. Soldiers on both sides stated what a difference it made, how surprised and delighted they were to receive them, and replies have already begun. We hope to keep this as a permanent component of our maximum effort events.

On Sunday, Chaplain Joey Young conducted a period church service, and several people made professions of faith or rededicated their lives to the Lord Jesus. In addition to these events were competitions, a few sutlers, blacksmith demonstration, a prison wagon, and both Confederate and Union camps open to the public. Many questions were answered, and the reenactors were often stopped for pictures. We hope that you will all consider joining us October 13-15th, 2017. For more information, please contact Timothy Knight at 770-910-0307, or knight30thcoe@yahoo.com.

-By Rachel Holland