Death of Leonidas Polk-The “Bishop General”

Leonidas Polk was an Episcopal Bishop in Louisiana. A West Point graduate, he aligned his sword and Bible with the Confederate Army in 1861. Rising to the rank of Lt. General, he commanded one of Johnston’s corps in the Atlanta Campaign. Known more for his “Spiritual” abilities than his military talents, he was beloved throughout the South. Polk baptized General Hood while at Dalton. On June 14, 1864 General’s Johnston, Hardee and Polk rode to the summit of Pine Mountain to view the federal positions in the valley below. Dismounting their horses, the Generals drew a crowd around them. General Sherman was inspecting his positions when he noticed the crowd gathered on the mountaintop above. Irritated by their presence, Sherman ordered his artillery to fire at them. The first round was close and Johnston and Hardee took cover. Undaunted, Polk continued to stand in the open. The second round went through Polk then exploded on impact with a tree. Although still being fired upon, Johnston rushed forward and held the already dead Polk in his arms. Pine Mountain was abandoned that night. The first federal soldiers to reach the summit later found a handwritten note stating “YOU YANKEE SONS OF BITCHES HAVE KILLED OUR OLD GEN. POLK”. Polk’s body was taken to Atlanta where the funeral service was held at St. Lukes Church.

Narrative by Scott Jackson, GA