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Producer: Brandon Wickey
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A Soldier's Life
Back in 1861, Michael Shuffett of Green County put on a blue U.S. Army uniform and joined the 13th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry to fight against the South in the U.S. Civil War. Today, his great-great-grandson is telling his story.
Dave Shuffett and the Kentucky Life crew retrace Michael Shuffett's service in Civil War, traveling to Shiloh in Tennessee, where the 13th first saw combat, and then to Resaca and Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia.
The 13th was organized in December 1861 at Camp Hobson here in Green County. They soon found themselves fighting in Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. Park Ranger Chris Mekow helps Dave trace Michael's movements through this battleground, where more than 23,000 were wounded, missing, or killed—more casualties than America had suffered in all previous wars.
As the war dragged on, the regiment eventually ended up in north Georgia, where Michael Shuffett experienced trench warfare as the Confederates dug in at the Battle of Resaca, May 14-15, 1864.
Some historians say the Union effort at Resaca was hampered by a drunken Brig. Gen. Henry Moses Judah, who led an ill-timed attack on the Confederate line, losing over 700 men. Michael Shuffett was among Resaca's wounded.
Resaca was among the many engagements in Gen. William T. Sherman's march toward Atlanta. Dave also visits Kennesaw Mountain, site of some of the heaviest fighting in the Atlanta campaign. Over 4,000 soldiers were casualties here on June 27, 1864, one of the bloodiest single days in the four-month campaign.
Although Michael Shuffett survived the war, he died shortly afterward, from disease he caught in a crowded Army camp.
To discover what the war was like for his great-great-grandfather, Dave takes part in a battle re-enactment at Camp Wildcat in Laurel County, joining the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a Union soldier. This group, which mainly portrays a company from the famed Confederate Orphan Brigade, also re-enacts as the Union's 13th Kentucky. Re-enactors Shannon Jefferies and Bryan Taylor, whose ancestors fought in both units, teach Dave the ropes of being a Civil War soldier.
The 13th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment, formed with 861 men, had only 400 men left when the war ended.
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