By William E. Welsh The guide shook uncontrollably when the gray-clad general pointed his pistol at him in the backwoods of central Georgia on the evening of July 21, 1864. Disgusted with mill worker Case Turner’s various explanations and convinced that the guide was deliberately leading them astray, Maj. Gen. William H.T. Walker threatened to shoot him on the spot. A member of Walker’s staff, Major Joseph Cumming, intervened on the guide’s behalf, and Walker reluctantly lowered his pistol. The long, gray column that Turner was leading through the undergrowth on the fringe of Mrs. Terry’s millpond three miles east of Atlanta once again lurched forward in search of the enemy, already in place less than a mile to the north. Walker’s division, in Lt. Gen. William “Old Reliable” Hardee’s Confederate corps in the Army of Tennessee, had embarked on an exhausting, 12-mile flank march after receiving orders from General John Bell Hood, the new commander of the 60,000-man army. Instructed to launch a sledgehammer attack on the enemy at daybreak, Hardee had fallen nearly six hours behind schedule, at which point Walker pointed his gun at the guide’s head. "He'll Hit You Like Hell, Before You Know It" Walker’s act reflected the combined sense of desperation and frustration facing the Confederate forces in the wake of the Union advance into northern Georgia that spring and summer. When the Federals moved into the Peach State, they were organized into three armies


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in