I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History center.
In mid-June, 1864, confederate General Johnston shifts his army southeast to a new line astride Kennesaw mountain – less than 25 miles outside of Atlanta.
Yet it is the best defensive position in north Georgia.
Here, advance scouts roam the picket lines and shoot at each other from dawn until dusk.
On June 13,union private Gilmer Watts of Illinois, father of two young children, writes his wife, Clara:
“During the last four days it has rained almost constantly. We were on limited allowance of food. Now we have all we want, hard bread, meat, coffee, and sugar. I trust that god will continue to spare my life.
The lord bless and guide you. Your loving Gilmer.”
At home in McLean county, Clara replies:
“I do so hope the war will be over this year, but oh how I tremble lest you may fall…God grant that we may all be spared to…spend a happy life together.”
Gilmer never reads her words.
On June 19, while patrolling the picket line, he is shot and killed.
Today, Gilmer Watts rests in the Marietta national cemetery alongside more than 10,000 union soldiers.
I’m Masud Olufani and this is week nine.