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John A. Stacey, Edward A. Stacey, Thomas S. Stacey, John M. Stacey, Harrison Stacey

Sons of Amos Stacey and Elizabeth Kearley

By Steve Stacey

Prepared for a Sons of Confederate Veterans Program

 

In May 1862, Edward and Thomas Stacey, sons of Amos Stacey and residents of Perdue Hill, Alabama, traveled to Mt. Vernon Barracks in Mobile County and joined the Confederate Army. They were assigned to Company F, 36th Alabama Infantry Regiment. Companies F and G were comprised of men from Monroe County. Edward, a widower, age 29, and Thomas, age 28, were older than the average Confederate soldier in the early years of the American Civil War.

The unit was mustered into service on May 12, 1862 and the regiment joined the 18th Alabama, 38th Alabama, and 58th Alabama to form the 2nd Brigade, Western Division of Gulf Department. The 36th Alabama Regiment commander was Colonel Lewis T. Woodruff, the Brigade commander was Brig. Gen. Henry D. Clayton, and the Division commander was Brig. Gen. J.E. Slaughter.

The 36th's initial assignment was to erect forts at Oven Bluff and Choctaw Bluff on the Tombigbee River. The unit remained until April 1863 when Clayton's brigade, except the 58th Alabama, was transferred to the Army of Tennessee and assigned to Maj. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart's "Little Giant" Division.

The unit first saw action in light skirmishing near Liberty Gap, Tenn. in June 1863. In early September, the Union Army of Cumberland, led by Maj. Gen. Rosecrans, left Chattanooga to push back Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederates. The Union Army separated in the hilly country of northwest Georgia and Bragg attempted to attack before they could regroup. The attack did not go as planned and the opposing armies blundered into each other at Chickamauga Creek.

At Lafayette, Georgia on September 18, 1863, Edward Stacey failed to make muster and was reported as deserted. His appearance at the next muster, and Bragg’s reputation for not feeding his army, indicates he may have been foraging for food on the day before the battle of Chickamauga started. Edward Stacey was not court-martialed and stood muster on the 19th of September.

Held in reserve, Stewart's division did not see action until late in the afternoon on the first day, September 19, 1863. Ordered to support the right flank, Stewart sent his division against the Union forces as they came on line. Clayton's brigade was first in line and they came under intense fire from eight Union regiments that extended beyond both flanks. Clayton's advance was halted but the green brigade held its position until ammunition was exhausted and they withdrew in good order. Clayton lost 400 men killed and wounded, almost one quarter of his brigade. Less than two hours later, Clayton's brigade was ordered back on line and the assault was continued. Soon they were upon Brotherton Ridge and into the right flank of the 9th Indiana who broke and ran. Advancing steadily, the 36th engaged the 6th Kentucky (Union) who fled and, finally, attacked the 41st Ohio. They also fled. The rest of Clayton's brigade followed the 36th through the Union center. The line was broken and the Chattanooga road crossed. Had Stewart been able to exploit the gap, an early victory might have been possible but the units were hopelessly mixed and the commanders had lost control. The 36th was the first Confederate unit to break the Union line and cross the Chattanooga Road, the Union Army escape route.

The 36th suffered 16 killed, 133 wounded, and 3 missing according to War Records. Official reports indicate that Company F under Lt. Wiggins performed like veteran soldiers. Lt. Wiggins is William S. Wiggins who is buried at Hixon Cemetery near Fountain, Ala.

On the second day, Stewart's division was on the left of Polk's wing. At 11 a.m., the entire division assaulted the Union line with little result. Suddenly, Rosecrans made what is arguably the biggest blunder of the Civil War. Told by subordinates that a gap existed in his line, Rosecrans moved an entire division from a section where Gen. Longstreet had just ordered his attack. The southerners poured through the gap and routed the Union right. The Confederates were soon ordered to halt and the battle was over for the 36th Alabama.

Clayton's brigade had acquitted itself well. Clayton's report read: "I claim for my brigade that it was the first and last to encounter the enemy, the first in the army to pierce the enemy's center and the first to cross the Chattanooga Road." In the bloodiest two days battle of the Civil War, the 36th lost 152 men or 35% and Clayton lost 642 men or half of the brigade.  John Adville Stacey, wounded on September 20, died in a field hospital from a thigh wound on October 9, 1863. The Stacey brothers mourned his loss.

After Chickamauga, Rosecrans retreated to Chattanooga and Bragg's Army of Tennessee settled at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Colonel J. T. Holtzclaw took temporary command of the brigade reinforced with the combined units of 32nd Alabama and 58th Alabama. After the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Rosecrans was relieved. His replacement was Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant.

Clayton's brigade (now under Holtzclaw) held the extreme Confederate left with the 36th Alabama anchoring the flank of the Confederate line. Holtzclaw had orders to hold Rossville Gap, to the left of his position, and sent four companies of the 36th across the gap. They had no idea that just as they left their lines, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker was sending troops through the gap. The 36th came under severe fire and moved back to their original line. Soon, Hooker's entire corps was attacking the 36th. Leading the charge was the 9th Indiana, which had been routed by the 36th at Chickamauga. The Confederate flank was turned and now the 36th was fighting Union troops on three sides. Maj. Gen. John Breckinridge shouted, "Boys, get away the best you can."  The brigade is mentioned in two Union commander's reports:

“Moved with the brigade to the foot of Missionary Ridge... until 4pm on the 25th when the regiment moved forward in the grand charge made on the enemy's strong works on the ridge. The regiments taking 24 prisoners and one battle flag supposed of the 36th Alabama Regiment, which had been very badly torn up."

Colonel Cyrus E. Briant
88th Indiana Infantry Regiment

"When we encountered and captured the greater part of Clayton's rebel brigade, suffering but little in this engagement."

Colonel Curley
27th Missouri Infantry Regiment

This information is partially confirmed by the casualty reports of the 36th Alabama: 9 killed, 18 wounded, 120 missing or captured after the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

The rest of 1863 was spent in Dalton, Georgia where the 36th had 288 effective soldiers, less than half originally mustered in. The 36th had 136 rifles with 70 rounds of ammunition per man and one in four was shoeless.  Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston arrived in Dalton on December 27, 1863, and assumed command of the Army of Tennessee from Gen. Braxton Bragg.  His report to Secretary of War James A. Seddon stated:

"This army is far from being in condition to assume the offensive. It is deficient in numbers, weapons, subsistence, stores, and transportation."

Johnston set about the task of rebuilding the Army of Tennessee. Soon, rations were improved, furloughs granted, morale restored, and training programs implemented. Amnesty was granted those absent without leave. Some repeat deserters were executed.

One of the new recruits joining the 36th Alabama in January 1864 was Pvt. John Monroe Stacey, younger brother of Edward, Thomas, and Harrison Stacey. Monroe Stacey, aged 19, had served in the Monroe County Militia Home Guard under Capt. E. Mills until he was old enough to join his brothers in the 36th Alabama.

Gen. U. S. Grant was called to Washington and given command of all the armies of the United States. Grant recommended Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman as his replacement to lead the campaign to capture Atlanta.

A rigorous debate between the former commander Bragg, now serving as Military Advisor to Jefferson Davis, and Johnston on the best method to recapture Tennessee was ended when Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman moved towards Atlanta in May 1864. The Federals numbered 110,123 men and the Confederates had 54,500 men. Politics within the Confederate government would limit Johnston but he devised a brilliant strategy for the campaign. He forced Sherman to attack strong positions where he could unleash quick counter attacks. He planned to draw Sherman away from his supply depot at Chattanooga and enable Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry to raid his supply lines. Sherman, like many Union generals, had an extreme fear of Forrest but Jefferson Davis ignored his request. Johnston would wage a brilliant campaign against overwhelming numbers of Federal troops with little support from the Confederate War Department.

At 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, May 7, 1864, the 2nd Illinois Artillery fired the first shot of the Atlanta campaign. The 36th Alabama was aligned two and one-half miles away at Mill Creek Gap where Interstate 75 cuts through Rock Face Ridge just east of Dalton, Georgia. Clayton's brigade saw little action in the Battles of Rocky Face Ridge and Dug Gap fought from May 7, 1864 to May 12, 1864. On the night of May 12, Johnston moved his entire army to previously prepared positions north and west of Resaca, Georgia.

At Resaca, Stewart's division anchored the extreme right at the Conasauga River. The battle began on May 14 and when Confederate cavalry General Joseph Wheeler reported the Federal extreme left to be lightly held, Johnston promptly ordered Gen. John B. Hood to attack with the divisions of Carter L. Stevenson and Alexander Stewart. Stevenson was on Hood's left and Stewart on the right as they made a half wheel turn that brought them on the flank of the Federal IV Corps. The Confederates attack staggered the Union left and Hooker's XX Corps was rushed to support the flank. Hood's troops were forced to withdraw at dark. Johnston was so pleased with the results that a new attack was ordered for the next day.

The next morning, Hood renewed the attack as ordered but was then ordered to withdraw when Federals crossed the Oostanaula River and threatened the railway bridge at Resaca. Stewart's men were already committed in a half wheel turn used the previous day and suffered heavy losses during the withdrawal. Harrison Stacey was wounded at Resaca and sent home to recover.

After dark on May 15, Johnston silently slipped away and the withdrawal was so complete that a Union officer, Colonel Henry Stone, described the action:

"It is hardly possible to imagine a more successfully managed movement than that of Johnston. As late as 11 o'clock the skirmishers of both armies were within speaking distance of each other. Yet at the whole place was as deserted as though no soldiery had occupied it for a month. Not a box of ammunition, not a barrel of hardtack, not a wagon, not an animal, was left behind. The completeness with which Johnston had made his escape profoundly impressed everybody."

The retreating Confederate Army fought battles at Lay's Ferry Crossing (Oostanaula River), Rome Crossroads, Adairsville, and Cassville over the next several days. Johnston was setting a trap for Sherman in the withdrawing maneuvers since the Battle of Resaca. On May 18, Johnston baited the trap. He sent Hardee's Corps, with all the wagons and ambulances, southward from Adairsville along the main road to Kingston. He sent Polk's and Hood's Corps (including the 36th Alabama), two thirds of his army, in tight marching order over a less traveled, but shorter route across the Gravelly Plateau to Cassville.

Upon reaching Adairsville, Sherman was fooled by the evidence on the ground and sent the bulk of his army along the route to Kingston. Johnston's plan was to leave a delaying force along the Kingston road to allow his supply wagons to put distance between the Federal army. He placed Polk's forces astride the Adairsville Road at Two Run Creek and sent Hood northward along a parallel road to ambush the Federal flank. Hood was warned not to move too far right or he would not be able to move when the trap was sprung. When the Federals moved against Polk, Hood was out of position and employed against a relatively small Federal force that caused the ambush to be impractical. Hood then reacted to reports that the enemy was in his rear and he ordered Stewart's division to "change fronts." In front of Clayton's Brigade, the 2nd Indiana Calvary Regiment mounted a saber attack and captured 35 men of the 18th Alabama. Men of the 36th Alabama drove off the attacking Federals before all the skirmishers of the 18th Alabama were captured.

After the war, Hood denied blame for the failed ambush. Military historians agree that the Confederate Army and Johnston had lost their best opportunity to destroy the Federal army and prevent Sherman's march through Georgia. When Hood wrote ADVANCE AND RETREAT in 1880, he denied the plan to ambush ever existed and stated that he was being pressed by Butterfield's Division of Hooker's XX Corps. Official records of the war indicate that Butterfield was seven miles to the west of Hood's position. Hardee and Polk wrote in their memoirs that Hood was ordered to ambush and cautioned to be in position when the trap was sprung. After the war, Hood was vindicated somewhat by evidence that a small Federal cavalry detachment created the impression of troops in the rear of Hood.

Johnston withdrew to the Allatoona Mountains south of the Etowah River after the affair at Cassville and fortified a strong position where the Western & Atlantic Railroad cut through the mountain range. Hood's Corps was in place at Allatoona and Hardee's Corps were eight miles west towards Dallas, Georgia. Polk's Corps was between Hardee and Hood. On May 24, Sherman sent Hooker's XX Corps ahead of Thomas' Army of the Cumberland towards Dallas. Schofield's Corp was on Hooker's left and McPerson approached from the west. Johnston countered by sending Hardee to the high ground west of Dallas and Hood to a position in front of Elsberry Mountain. Stewart's Division was placed at a crossroads with a log church called New Hope Church. The 36th Alabama of Clayton's Brigade was aligned at the crossroads directly in the path of Corps of Thomas and Schofield.

Williams' 1st Division, with James Robinson's 3rd Brigade in the lead, was the first of 16,000 Federal troops to assault the Confederate line of 4000 troops and lost over 800 men in only a few minutes. Butterfield attacked and lost 418 men and was followed by Geary who lost 376 men. At the height of the fighting, Johnston sent a staff officer to ask if Stewart needed support. Stewart replied:

"My own men will hold the position."

Late in the afternoon, Hooker called off the assault even though reinforced by Howard's IV Corps.
A heavy rainstorm started at dark and the battle ended for the day. The next day saw minor skirmishing along the line but the Federals had been repulsed. Among the casualties were the 36th Alabama commander, Colonel Woodruff, and Pvt. John Monroe Stacey.  Woodruff was seriously wounded. Pvt. John Monroe Stacey would recover and later serve with the 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment. To get through Stewart's Division at New Hope, Sherman reverted to the flanking tactics he used during most of the campaign. He planned to move well east of the Confederate line and attack the flank but Johnston had anticipated Sherman's move and moved Hindman's Corps from the left of the Confederate line to the extreme right. Johnston then moved Patrick Cleburne's division from Hardee's position to a hilltop near Picket's Mill approximately one mile from the New Hope crossroads. Johnston had brilliantly moved his army without notice and Sherman was about to pay.

The Federal attack began at 4:30 P.M. and as they began the ascending the slope they found, instead of an unsupported rebel flank, the elite Cleburne Division waiting defiantly under their distinctive blue battle flags. By 6:00P.M, the Federals had lost 467 men of Hazen's unit. Next, Gibson's Brigade was sent forth and was repulsed with 681 losses. A third brigade was sent forth to cover the withdrawal of Gibson's Brigade and recover dead and wounded. The attack had ended at 7:00 P.M. but sporadic firing continued until 10:00 P.M. when Cleburne ordered Granbury to clear his front of the enemy. Granbury's Texas Brigade launched a bayonet assault and captured 232 Federals.

The Federals had suffered two major setbacks in three days and the morale of the Union Army was at an all time low. In his official reports, Sherman never mentioned the Battles of New Hope Church or Picket's Mill. After the war, Sherman failed to mention either battle in his "Memoirs".

The 36th Alabama was still in position at New Hope Church when the Battles of Picket's Mill and Dallas were fought on May 27 and 28, 1864.

By June 11, Johnston had established a line extending from Lost Mountain on the left across the Western and Atlantic Railroad to Brushy Mountain on the right. Hood's Corps was positioned on the right extending east of the railroad to Brushy Mountain. Wheeler's Calvary guarded Hood's flank. On June 13, Johnston and corps commanders Polk and Hardee rode to the top of the mountain to determine if Bate's Division could hold. The 5th Indiana Battery opened fire with a Parrot gun and Gen. Leonidas K. Polk was killed. Prior to the war, Polk was the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana and was greatly admired by his men. Bate's Division withstood the first Federal assault then withdrew from the exposed position. A soldier in Bate's unit left behind a note on the abandoned earthworks that was repeated in many northern newspapers:

"You Yankee sons of bitches have killed our old General Polk!"

Over the next several days, battles raged along the line at Gilgal Church, where Brig. Gen. Lucius Polk, Gen. Leonidas Polk's nephew, was severely wounded for the fourth time, at Latimer House, Kolbs Farm, and Kennesaw Mountain. At Kennesaw Mountain, Sherman decided to prove to the Confederates that he could fight as well as flank. Historian Wilbur Kurtz Sr. analyzed Sherman's decision as "a desperate attempt to break the stalemate of the early weeks of June, for the expert maneuverings of the Confederate chief, in the difficult terrain of Western Cobb County, had checkmated every move of the National forces."

The Federal attack, from the standpoint of military tactics, was made in the European or Heavy Infantry Tactic which massed the advancing brigades 200 yards along the front and only 10 feet between divisions. The final assault was made in mass formation, 10 to 12 yards deep. The Federals suffered staggering casualties and lost Brig. Gen. Harker and Col. Daniel McCook. The Federal losses were the highest of any engagement in the Atlanta Campaign.  During the assault, a fire started in the pine straw, leaves, and underbrush and many wounded Federal soldiers were in danger of being roasted alive. Col. William H. Martin, commander of the 1st and 15th Arkansas regiments, tied a handkerchief to a ramrod and mounted the parapet. He shouted to the enemy: "Come and remove your wounded; they are burning to death; we won't fire a gun till you get them away. Be quick."

The fighting stopped to extinguish the fire and Confederate soldiers helped carry the wounded Federals to safety. Both sides took their positions and the slaughter resumed. The point of attack would become known as "The Dead Angle" in newspaper accounts following the battle. Sherman was heavily criticized for the assault at Kennesaw Mountain. General Thomas advised Sherman: "We have already lost heavily today without gaining any material advantage. One or two more such assaults would use up this army!"

The 36th Alabama had been on the extreme left during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and had a good defensive position across Olley's Creek from the 129th Indiana.

After the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Sherman began flanking moves and by July 2, 1864 had infantry five miles in rear of the enemy left (Hood's Division including the 36th Alabama), ten miles from the key Kennesaw position, four miles from the Confederate railroad, six miles from the Chattahoochee River, and control of the Sandtown Road to the river. To counter this move, Johnston again moved to a prepared position astride the Western & Atlantic Railroad and the wagon road (today's Atlanta road) near Smyrna Camp Ground, about four miles from Marietta. This is known as the Smyrna Line and gave Johnston time to get his wagons of supplies across the Chattahoochee River. The Federals attacked in two places, the first on July 4th just east of the railroad resulted in heavy losses. This is called the Battle of Smyrna. Next, the Union attacked where Hood's Corps joined Hardee and suffered heavy losses. This was called the Battle of Ruff's Mill.  Stevenson's Division engaged the Federals at Ruff's Mill while Stewart's Division (including the 36th Alabama) was held in support.

When Blair's XVII Corps moved closer to Atlanta on the left flank than the Confederates at Smyrna, Johnston retired to the north bank of the Chattahoochee to a prepared position. The positions, designed by Brig. Gen. Francis A. Shoup, were years ahead of any fortification military men of that era had ever seen. Johnston never got to use the fortifications because the Federal army was crossing the Chattahoochee River in several locations and soon would be in Atlanta. Johnston retired to Peachtree Creek and was backed up against the city of Atlanta.

Johnston positioned his army perfectly at Peachtree Creek and waited for the Federals to cross. Johnston had correctly anticipated a gap would exist between Thomas' Army of the Cumberland and Scofield's Army of the Ohio. Johnston waited for Wheeler's Calvary to report the crossing of Peachtree Creek. Special Order 168 arrived from the War Department. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was relieved from command and replaced by Lt. Gen. John B. Hood.

The Confederates were outraged and indignation swept the ranks. One soldier wrote: "By this act the army was outraged! An older, experienced and successful commander relieved for one untried at this critical period in so important a campaign. It came like a thunder bolt to the army, so unexpected, so undeserved."

The Federal command was happy and Sherman wrote of the invaluable service the Confederate Government had done for the Union forces in replacing Gen. Johnston.

The battle plan for Peachtree Creek changed completely with Hood in command. Throughout the Confederate Army of Tennessee, command changes were occurring each day and the results would be some units commanded by inexperienced officers. Hood's Corps was commanded by Maj. Gen. Carter Stevenson for one day, July 18, and by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Cheatham from July 19 to 25. On July 27, Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee assumed command of Hood's Corps.  Maj. Gen. Alexander Stewart had replaced Polk, killed June 14 at Pine Mountain, and Brig. Gen. Henry Clayton was promoted to Major General and commanded Stewart's "Little Giant" Division.  Brig. Gen. James T. Holtzclaw assumed command of Clayton's Alabama Brigade.

Held in reserve for the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Holtzclaw's Brigade was pressed into action when the Federals moved to the outskirts of Atlanta in several positions. During the Peachtree Creek Battle, Sherman had flanked the Confederate positions and Hood was forced to sent Cleburne's Division to relieve Wheeler's dismounted cavalry. Stewart's Division (formerly Polk's) was ordered to withdraw to the main defense line on the north side of Atlanta. Hardee was under orders to move against the flank of Dodge's Federals but Hood underestimated the time needed for this maneuver and Hardee's attack was made against a well-fortified Federal flank. Walker and Bates Divisions of Hardee's Corps met Thomas Sweeney's 2nd Division of Dodge's XVI Corps in the vicinity of Memorial Drive and Clay Street and the Battle of Atlanta was begun. The 36th Alabama was positioned on the Confederate left, north of the Georgia Railroad and Decatur wagon road almost in the front yard of Widow Pope's house. They opposed the 53rd Ohio, 111th Illinois, 70th Ohio Infantry Regiments and the 2nd Missouri, 1st Iowa, and Batteries A, F, & H of the 1st Illinois Artillery. The battle site is located at the present day Cyclorama site in Grant Park, just east of Atlanta Stadium.

The Confederate left attacked at 4:00 P.M. The entrenched Federals were repeatedly assaulted by Stevenson's and Maney's Divisions and unable to drive the Federals out. Manigault's Brigade of Clayton's Division (formerly Stewart's Division) was able to penetrate through the railroad cut. The Confederate advance was slowed by the six Napoleons of Battery A, 1st Illinois Artillery. Men from the 10th South Carolina entered the Widow Pope's house and from the second floor was able to place Battery A under intense fire. The Confederates were realigned and mounted an assault, first capturing four of the six Napoleons of Battery A then striking the flanks of the 47th, 54th, 37th, and 53rd Ohio Regiments, which fled to the rear. The advance captured the Troup Hurt House and four Parrott rifles of Battery H, 1st Illinois Artillery, posted north of the house. The Confederate assault displaced four Federal brigades along a half mile front.

Sherman, located 1/4 mile away at the Augustus Hurt house, observed the breakthrough and ordered all artillery of the XXII Corps to open on the Confederates. Sherman then moved eight Federal brigades to restore the line. Manigault, whose forces led the assault, was incensed that support did not come after the breakthrough. By nightfall on July 22, the Battle of Atlanta was over and the Federal line was restored to the original position. The Confederates had suffered over twice the number of casualties as the Federals but had come very close to winning a spectacular victory.

After the Battle of Atlanta, Sherman decided against assaulting or laying siege to the city until he could sever all supply routes. During the planning stages, Sherman named Oliver O. Howard as commander of the Army of the Tennessee to succeed Gen. James B. McPherson, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta. This appointment caused Gen. Joseph Hooker to submit his resignation. Hooker was the senior officer in the entire Federal Army and, in the opinion of many, the logical choice. The Confederates were also experiencing troubles in the command staff.  Lt. Gen. William Hardee submitted his resignation in protest over the removal of Gen. Johnston and the manner in which Hood conducted the affairs of the command. Hardee was disturbed that Hood had not been on the battlefield at Peachtree Creek or the Battle of Atlanta and had directed the battles through intermediaries. The politics of command, pressures of constant battle, and egos of vainglorious men were problems in both armies.

The remaining supply rail supply routes were the Atlanta & West Point, which ran southwestward to Mobile and the Macon & Western, which ran southeastward to Macon. Both lines connected at East Point, just south of Atlanta and the railway junction was Sherman's next objective in his plan to starve Atlanta.

Hood's plan, identical to the failed attack at the Battle of Atlanta, with Gen. Stephen Lee, now commander of Hood's old corps, blocking Lickskillet Road and attacking the Federals right flank and Stewart's forces moving down Lickskillet Road to a point where a right turn would place them in the rear of the enemy.

Lee formed his line of battle centered, roughly, on the present day gate to Westview Cemetery on Gordon's Road. Clayton's Division was deployed on Lee's right. Holtzclaw's Brigade (including 36th Alabama) was deployed on the extreme right along today's Westview Avenue.  The Confederate left attacked first with Gibson's Brigade of Clayton's Division ordered to follow in ten minutes. A order to Gibson's Brigade was given by Hood's Inspector General, Lt. Col. Edward Cunningham, while Clayton was still positioning his extreme right. Gibson moved out with no support and the brigade was over run by an entire division. The Battle of Ezra Church was hopeless from the start as the two Confederate divisions were matched against two Federal army corps. Clayton's Division was forced to retire and the subsequent Confederate attacks were repulsed.

Gen. Alexander Stewart was shot in the head but not killed, Brig. Gen. Brown was wounded, Brig. Gen. George Johnston was wounded while commanding Deas' old brigade then replaced by Col. John Coltart, who was wounded and relieved by Col. Benjamin Hart, who was mortally wounded, and relieved by Col. Harry Toulmin, the fourth to command the brigade in a matter of minutes.

The Confederate losses were staggering and after the fighting ceased, a Federal picket called out across the lines:

"Well, Johnny, how many of you are left?"

A despondent Confederate replied: "Oh, about enough for another killing."

As in the previous battles, Hood was not on the battlefield but was visiting at the home of John and Margaret Thrasher on Ashby Street, over one mile from the fighting. Hood never addressed the use of a staff officer (Cunningham), with no military training, to convey battlefield orders. The men of Clayton's Division, especially Gibson's Brigade, paid a dear price for Hood's impetuous battle plans.

The 36th Alabama Infantry Regiment would participate in the Battle of Jonesboro on August 31 and September 1, 1864. Again, Hood made fatal errors in judgment by misjudging the size of the Federal force and by not communicating the battle plan. The Confederates attacked not one Army corps as Hood believed he faced but the entire Army of the Tennessee. The plan called for Cleburne to attack first and for Lee to attack when Cleburne's assault was well underway. Lee attacked on the first sound of Cleburne's guns and were repulsed. The Federal cavalry reached the railway and cut the line north of Jonesboro and Hood ordered Lee back to Atlanta leaving Hardee without support or a supply line.

After the fall of Jonesboro, Hood ordered the ammunition to be exploded and Atlanta was evacuated.

Hood moved his army towards Tennessee in an attempt to force the Federals to abandon the march through Georgia. The 36th Alabama fought in the siege of Nashville and helped hold off the Union army as the rest of the Army of Tennessee fled down the Franklin Pike on December 16, 1864.  At Nashville, Pvt. Edward Stacey was ruptured and after the war drew a small pension for his wounds incurred at Nashville.

In March, Holtzclaw's Brigade, including the 36th Alabama, was transferred to the Department of the Gulf and posted at Spanish Fort, Alabama on March 27, 1865. On April 8, Union forces attacked and breached the Confederate defenses. Pvt. Edward Stacey, wounded at Spanish Fort, was one of the 110 casualties in the last battle fought by the 36th Alabama Infantry Regiment.

On May 4, 1865, the 36th Alabama Infantry Regiment laid down its arms at Citronelle, Alabama.

The Stacey brothers, Edward and Thomas, had fought together until July 1864 when Thomas was discharged for sickness during the Atlanta campaign. Edward then followed the 36th Alabama to its end at Spanish Fort where he found his younger brother. Wounded at New Hope Church serving with the 36th Alabama, John Monroe Stacey had joined the 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment after recovering from his wounds and fought in the same battles as his older brothers. The 36th Alabama was part of Clayton's (later Holtzclaw's) Brigade and the 42nd Alabama was part of Baker's Alabama Brigade. Both brigades were in Stewart's Division. It is unknown if Edward and Thomas were aware that John Monroe was in the same division throughout the war.

Both Edward and John Monroe Stacey were discharged from the Confederate Army on May 10, 1865 in Mobile, Alabama. According to family oral history, the brothers walked barefooted to their home near Perdue Hill. Edward, Thomas, and John Monroe are buried near their parents, Amos and Elizabeth Kearley Stacey, in Polar Bridge Cemetery near the site of Manistee, Monroe County, Alabama.
 

E-mail the author: Steve Stacey


        Compliation of Monroe County, Alabama Confederate Soldiers

        Muster roll of Company F, 36th Alabama Volunteers

        36th Alabama Regiment's Muster Rolls

        DuBose History of Clayton's Brigade

 
Please contact me about corrections and/or additions. dabf@comcast.net
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