I came upon today’s story by happenstance ~ much like the citizens who fought and died there.
In 2011 I visited Marietta Georgia and its National Cemetery. Most of the federal soldiers interned there are from 1864 and Sherman’s campaign to capture Atlanta; many fought in the Kennesaw Mountain battle and, specifically, at Cheatham Hill, also known as “Dead Angle,” and the map indicated a monument to Illinois ~ my home state.
The above photo’s perspective is from the top of Cheatham Hill; on the morning of battle, 27 June 1864, this would have been the Tennessee/Confederate line (the sun is to the northwest ~ an afternoon photo). The Federals were in the forest background with the hill to their front. They were mostly citizen-soldiers from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in infantry regiments; they would soon rush across that field and up the hill to assault the Tennesseans.
What are a citizen-soldier’s sentiments at such moments? Prayer for sure … and probably shouts of ~ “There’s Hell boys!” or “Here comes Hell boys!” ~ depending on one’s perspective.
At 9:00 a.m. Federal skirmishers and a human wave of blue moved out of the forest and up the hill to assault the Confederate breastworks …
Because we can, let’s pause the assault for a moment and give some thought to the carnage that is about to take place; let’s even ponder such things as: why are citizens from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio assaulting Tennesseans on a Georgia hilltop? Or, more clearly, what part of our Constitution failed: Madison’s theory of representing We the People according to our numbers or the lack thereof?
Since we just paused war for a moment, we might as well keep going and call in a couple of founding spirits ~ Benjamin Franklin (anti-slaver) and James Madison (slaver) ~ for an imagined-yet-real constitutional dialogue:
Ben Franklin: James, they didn’t use the blueprint and representing We the People at the ratio of one Representative for every thirty Thousand.
James Madison: I know Benjamin ~ they got caught-up in slavery and the three-fifths clause.
Franklin: By 1860, the last Census before the Civil War, the representation ratio had risen to 119,000 citizens per Representative [Brickner: Article the First page 100]. Obviously, that is un-representation and not our design for We the people of the United States Republic.
Madison: I know ~ it’s Plato’s Republic …
Franklin: … Which doesn’t work.
Madison: They’ll learn ~ we had too as well.
Yes, We the People still hold the Unrepresented “not yet” card. It’s the Constitution’s Article 1 Section 2 Clause 3: “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative.”
Okay, back to the assault. If the Illinois, Indiana and Ohio citizens have to charge (orders you know) and the Tennesseans, under the command of Benjamin Franklin Cheatham and Patrick R. Cleburne, have to obey orders and hold the line … you can see what’s about to happen. There’s no room for maneuver ~ nowhere to go. The Illinois citizens want the hill so they can take Atlanta (only 20 miles away) and go back home; the Tennesseans want the hill to save Atlanta and go back to a home.
So the assault happens … now the photo looks different; suddenly it’s a nice picture of a citizen-killing zone. Soldiers often say similar things ~ how peaceful Nature can be and feel … and then Hell breaks out.
“Cheatham’s Hill was one of the memorable battles of the war. The Federals and Confederates faced each other there for six days and six nights, their lines being so close that the soldiers were in ordinary speaking distance. They fought from the 27th of June to the 3rd of July, 1864 and on the last day the Confederates withdrew because of a flank movement. It was well they did so, as the Federals had constructed a tunnel far into the hill, had placed explosives under the Confederate position and intended to touch off the mine on the 4th of July.”
The tunnel is still visible today … and war continues its flanking movement.
The day after the monument's dedication, 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austrian throne is assassinated by an “unrepresented” subject of the empire (an anarchist); this singular event, seemingly a world away from Marietta and Cheatham Hill, would lead the European Empires into World War I ~ a war that would soon touch Georgia and all the other states in the Union.
Perhaps stated in terms of We the People of Europe, WW I (like our Civil War) was caused by a failure to represent ~ account for ~ The Unrepresented.
We’ll pick-up there tomorrow with Empires Crumble and Others Build, part 3 in the War Cry Heal Union series.
Bryan W. Brickner