July 22, 1864 saw one of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Atlanta, beleaguered as it was by Sherman’s advancing army, was still the hub for railroad transportation for the Confederacy. It was vital for the Confederacy to keep control and equally as vital for the Northern armies to capture the city. Southern generals put everything they had into protecting the small city – only 7000 residents at this time. T
Two second cousins of ours in the Mississippi branch of the Wilkinson family via North Carolina and Scotland took part in the portion of this battle that took place on the eastern side of Atlanta.
The area of battle was where Moreland Avenue and 285 intersect today. There is still a slight rise which at that time was called Bald Hill as it had recently been timbered. Surrounding this hill were farms and woods.
John C. Wilkinson was a colonel and his younger brother Daniel was his adjutant. Colonel Wilkinson’s troops were exhausted, no sleep for days and very little food. Anyone who has visited Atlanta in July knows it is terribly hot and humid. Mosquitoes, gnats and chiggers thrive in these conditions, and must have tormented the troops hidden in the woods.
Imagine the despair of Colonel Wilkinson as he prepared once more to lead his men into what would be for many certain death.
Brave to the last, he led the charge, only to be shot down. His brother Daniel rushed to his side to offer him a drink, and he too was shot. He fell across his brother’s body, and the two dead young men, one 38 and the other 26, were carried off the field on the same litter.
They rest today in the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, GA.