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History Mystery at Pickett's Mill: Why Did William T. Sherman Omit This Rare Nighttime Georgia Battle from His Memoirs?
When Pickett's Mill Battlefield State Historic Site in Paulding County, GA, celebrates the May 27 anniversary of one of the few nighttime battles of the Civil War, the park will be filled again with the sounds of cannon, artillery and marching troops. Demonstrations and special events are scheduled on May 27, from 10 am to 4 pm, on the 159th anniversary of the conflict on the Union's march toward Atlanta.
If you want to brush up on the history of this battle and battlefield, you can check out our blog, The Forgotten Battle at Pickett's Mill. (The site contains advertising that generates revenue for the website and author.)
But you won't find any mention of Pickett's Mill in the memoirs of Union general William Tecumseh Sherman. While Sherman was a prodigious writer and produced a two-volume autobiography of nearly 900 pages, he completely omits his last lost battle at Pickett's Mill.
So why did Sherman ignore Pickett's Mill from his detailed accounts. His biographers and amateur historians suggest two possible reasons:
Firstly, the Battle of Pickett's Mill was a relatively small engagement compared to Sherman's larger campaigns. While on the road to a major strategic prize, Pickett's Mill was a minor battle compared to battles like Vicksburg and Atlanta.
Secondly, Sherman may have omitted the battle from his memoirs because it was a Union defeat. Sherman tended to focus on his successes in his memoirs and may have felt that including a defeat would detract from his overall narrative.
There's another suggestion that Sherman may have simply overlooked the battle when writing his memoirs. However, since it was a rare night battle and the last lost battle of his Civil War career, this seems the least likely explanation.
Since there's no record of anyone inquiring about this of General Sherman, we may never know the real reason.
As to the May 27 anniversary event, it will feature enactors for cannon firings, musketry, military drills, period crafts and soldier camp life. At 10 a.m., rangers will unveil a rare U.S. flag finial found in the ravine in 1963, now on display at the site’s museum. Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site also offers four miles of hiking trails, picnic spots, ranger programs, a pioneer cabin and earthworks, all of which will be open during the anniversary weekend.
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