The Fraid of New Hope Church



STORIES of THE WAR How a Modest country church became famous

The FRAID of NEW HOPE CHURCH How which made a soldier mad – queer breastworks on both sides- an interesting batch of stories for Sunday reading. For the Constitution

A little over twenty years ago there stood by the roadside, In Paulding County, a modest country church – a plain framed structure, wherein country people went on Sunday, to hear the gospel of peace proclaimed. Across the road was a quit graveyard where the rude forefathers of the hamlet slept. One day a great transformation came. Joe Johnston’s batteries were planted in the graveyard and New Hope Church was torn down and put into confederate breastworks. And Sherman came over the craggy paths with glittering bayonets and brassy cannons reflecting the rays of the sun; with banners waving thick almost as the leaves of summer time and thousands upon thousands of troops marching to martial music. And the quiet graveyard shook with the reverberation of cannon and the ground round about was dyed with blood until the out of the way spot was fit to be famous and historians could write of the great battle of New Hope Church, Today the new church stands on the spot, a handsome building than the old the graveyard is as quiet as it was before Johnston batteries disturbed its repose, and day by day the wrinkles made by war are growing fainter and fainter.

The Fraid of New Hope Church

Have you heard of the “Fraid” of New Hope Church? The night was dark as the troops of Hardee’s corps, four abreast, and stretching for a mile marched along the highway from one part of the memorable battlefield to another. It was ten 0’clock, The stillness was broken only by the tramp of innumerable feet and the rattle of canteens against bayonets. Suddenly the air ten feet overhead, burst the crashing and clashing of a cavalry battle. In midair was the sound of rushing chargers, the cling of saber meeting saber, the roar, the din, everything save the shouts and groans. It was a veritable battle of spirits fought in the darkness just above the confederate column, and quick as a flash terror seized Hardee’s men. The great line parted in wild confusion, the soldiers dashed into the woods, pursued by visions of Death on the Pale Horse, until weak from fright many of them sank to the ground. The horror of those brief seconds! It was not the crash of shells and the rattle of musketry as men met men in daylight, but the unseen battle of spirits in the air! It was clash as ghost met ghost. No wonder faces blanched and knees smote each other as ears heard what eyes could not see. After a time the noise died away, the officers rallied the men and the march was resumed. The soldiers called it “The fraid of New Hope Church,” and speak of it to this day as one of the most awful experiences of the war. It is thought the “fraid” was caused by some unusual commotion somewhere along the line, and the cavalry battle was the echo of clashing scabbards. Curious Breastworks “M Quad,” whose “Field, Fleet and Fort” is one of the most interesting war books ever written, tells an interesting story of a strange breastwork. It is of how the Confederate General McCulloch in 1863 attacked the federals at Willikens bend. Six hundred mules were secured and each soldier advanced behind a mule, thus sheltered by a living breastwork. As soon as the mules came under fire they reared, plunged and kicked so that they were a source of danger instead of safety. The mules were a failure as breastworks. The federals thought the mule business was a very good joke on the confederates, but here is one to match it. At New Hope Church some military genius conceived the idea of breaking the confederate line by driving a big herd of beeves against it. One night about ten o’clock, when it was very dark, the beeves were massed and the federals who were to follow got ready to move. The confederates ” caught on” as the Arabs say, and opening their line, allowed the beeves to pass through and then closing devoted themselves to holding the federals in check. In that the were entirely successful. The confederates enjoyed the federal beef and were willing to take more at the same price.

Which Made Him Mad.

During the New Hope Campaign a Confederate soldier was captured by several federals, and as the confederate had been fighting furiously, he was not in the best of humor. He chafed to think he was a prisoner, and chancing to ask several questions was invariably met with the monosyllable “which,” and would have to repent his questions. The federal habit of saying “which” every time the confederate made a remark nettled the prisoner until in a fit of exasperation, he exclaimed: ” Look here! I don’t mind being a prisoner, but I’ll be —-! if I intend to be taken away by any —-! —-!! Yankee —-!—-!—-! who every time I say something, says “which!””which!” With all his strength, the prisoner knocked the “which” man over end, and breaking into a run, escaped before the federals could recover from their surprise.

The Tree of Death on New Hope Battlefield was a tree upon which the soldiers nailed the inscription “Tree of Death,” Seven federals were killed behind the tree by confederate sharpshooters. The tree was in advance of the federal line and was about three hundred yards from the confederate works. It was used by federal skirmishers who would stand behind it and load and then step out and fire. Confederate sharpshooters went along the confederate line for nearly a mile in each direction and then being so far from the side of the tree they could see behind it, by a cross firing made it dangerous to stand behind the tree as to stand in front of it. Seven federals were killed behind the tree, and it became known as the Tree of death.

Hell Hole at New Hope Church


1. STORIES OF THE WAR.: HOW A MODEST COUNTRY CHURCH BECAME FAMOUS. The The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945); Jan 2, 1887; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Atlanta Constitution (1868-1945) Page 16


3. The “Hell Hole” – Battlefield of New Hope Church, from Barnard’s Photographic Views of the Sherman Campaign 

4. Original Caption: Battlefield, New Hope Church, Ga., 1864, showing Confederate entrenchments.
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 111-B-535
From:: Series: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, (Record Group 111)
Photographer: Brady, Mathew, 1823 (ca.) – 1896 Coverage Dates: ca. 1860 – ca. 1865
Subjects: American Civil War, 1861-1865 Brady National Photographic Art Gallery (Washington, D.C.)
Persistent URL:
Repository: Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001. For information about ordering reproductions of photographs held by the Still Picture Unit, Reproductions may be ordered via an independent vendor. NARA maintains a list of vendors
Access Restrictions: Unrestricted
Use Restrictions: Unrestricted



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