In Battle With Yankees

Thursday, April 1979 - The Newnan Times - Herald

Hymn Book Saves Soldier's Life

Joseph T. Nolan

(This article was written by my great grandfather)

Jeanette Wilson Cuthriell

 (Daughter of Cleo Myrtle Nolan Wilson)

This is another in a series preceding Confederate Memorial Day depicting the experiences of Confederate soldiers from Coweta county as recorded in an old Memorial Book in the possession of the Newnan Chapter, Newnan, GA.

Joseph Thomas Nolan,

Co. B, 30th Ga. Regiment

I volunteered in May, 1862 as a recruit in Co. B, 30th Ga. Regiment. Was in camp at Thunderbolt below Savannah, Ga. We were there guarding White Marsh and Dutch island more than a year. We were ordered to Jacksonville, Fla. The officers thought the Yankees were going to land a strong force there. The Yankees seeing they were outnumbered left. We started back to Savannah, Ga. The way we went, we marched by Monticello to Grover Station. We had a large creek to cross and some of our boys had a hard chill on them at the time, so the ordinance master put the sick men in his wagon and as they crossed the creek a sleeper broke and dumped all the guns, ammunition and boys in the creek. This cured the sick with chills.

We reached Savannah without any more trouble. We were ordered to blockade the channel six or eight miles below}}Savannah by cutting live oak trees and sinking them in the channel.

We were next ordered to Wilmington, N. C. The Yankees did not land their forces. We did not stay long at Wilmington. We were ordered back to Savannah, Ga. The next order we received was to go and relieve the besieged city, Vicksburg, Miss. We landed at Jackson and marched to Yazoo City. While there a number of our boys went in bathing. Some of the cavalry came down to water their horses. The river being up, one horse with his rider went over the wharf. The soldier sunk for the third time when my brother, J. R. Nolan, rescued him and brought him safe to land.

We expected to reach Vicksburg the next day, but the city had surrendered and the enemy met us at Big Block River. We turned back to Jackson, skirmishing along the way. One of the most shocking sights I saw in Mississippi was a man shot, charged with desertion.

After we reached Jackson and formed a line of battle, we were ordered to stack arms and rest. While at rest a minnie ball struck one of our men and killed him instantly and no one heard the gun fire. I was detailed with four other men and sent to guard the commissary. It was not long until the Yankees were shelling the city and soon had it on fire. We built our breast works of bales of cotton. When we left we set the breast works on fire.

One hot summer day we were on a forced march, passing President Davis' home. His wife and daughter had a number of barrels filled with water and placed by the roadside for us to drink and fill our .canteens. We marched one day through the rain and mud was shoe deep. We camped in a low place and late that night the water rose under us three or four inches deep. We did some shuffling to get out of the water.

Our next move was a long one. We came from Mississippi to Chickamauga Creek. We reached Chickamauga on Friday evening and crossed the creek after night. We had to wade the creek knee deep. A heavy frost was on the ground. One of my lieutenants gave me half of a dollar to carry him across the creek on my back. After we crossed the creek, we formed a line of battle and stacked arms. In a short while my company was ordered back to guard the ordinance train across the creek. When we got back to join our command it had gone into battle. Our captain asked Gen. Ector to let us attach our company on his left, and go into the fight. The Yankees charged their artillery on top of the hill, our company fired on them. The General said we cut down every horse and man save one. He fired one gun and I was wounded and sent to Newnan to the hospital.

While in the hospital I witnessed my first military funeral. A man was killed and his body sent home for burial. When the guns were "fired over his grave, his wife screamed and said that is what killed my husband. I was in the hospital for three weeks and then returned to my command.

After the Yankees went back to Chattanooga we went to Dalton and remained all winter. Next spring we had a fight at Missionary Ridge, Tunnelhill, Resaca, Pine Mountain and Marietta. We crossed the Chattahoochee River, formed our line around Atlanta Ga and fortified our line. A shock came to us. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was removed and Gen. Hood put in his place. This did more to defeat our army than all the Yankees north could do.

Our next battle was on Peachtree Creek and Decatur. The Yankees flanked us on our left, then we marched to Jonesboro. The battle was a hard fought one. I was in three miles of my wife and baby. My brother, J. R. Nolan and self, after the battle went home and drove our stock out of the way of the enemy. Gen. Hood then commenced his march into Tennessee. We struck the railroad near Resaca. We tore the railroad up, piled cross ties around telegraph poles, laid rails on top and set them on fire. Next we crossed Sand Mountain and met the Yankees at Decatur, Ala. We had a hard fight there. We went to Florence, crossed the Tennessee River and marched to Franklin. There we had the hardest fight of the war. The loss of life was appalling. The Yankees fell back to Nashville. We went across the country to Murfreesboro, there we had another hard fight. I was wounded, two of my ribs being broken by an ounce ball. If it had not struck a hymn book in my pocket, the ball would have killed me. I was carried to a log fire in the woods where two other wounded men lay. We were left to freeze, as it was snowing and sleeting. An old gentlemen lived down the hill a short distance from us. He saw us and came to our aid. He carried us to his home, gave us a warm supper and dressed our wounds. We stayed there one day and two nights. We were then carried back to Franklin. Orders came to cross the Tennessee River, if we could, and by hard walking and much pain, some of us did get back across. We were sent to Columbus, Miss. I reached home earlier by getting a transfer to a Georgia hospital.

I was never able to go back to my command. For six months I never drew an easy breath. I still have the hymn book that saved my life, and the ball that would have killed me.

J. T. NoIan, Newnan, Georgia, recorded 1910