This column by Bill Kinney appeared in 03/09/03 Marietta Daily Journal. It is used here with permission.
Staff photo by Damien A. Guarnieri Local historian and Sons of Confederate Veterans.
It can be viewed along with a photograph on the Marietta Daily Journal website.
MEDAL REJECTED, BUT COLLIER´S EXPLOITS HONORED AT MUSEUM
Heroism has been common in America´s wars, and rarely was that
more true than during the Civil War. The recent reopening of the
museum at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a good
occasion to recall a little-known historic episode from that
war, one that actually took place during the battle for the
mountain on June 21, 1864.
The hero was Sgt. Isaac Peter Collier of the 5th Regiment
Georgia Volunteer Infantry, a native of Upson County. Collier´s
regiment was part of the division of Confederate Maj. Gen.
William H.T. Walker and was dug in south of Burnt Hickory Road
in west Cobb.
Trench works of that era were four or five feet deep and were
topped by what was known as head logs,’ tree logs propped a
foot or so off the ground atop the side of the trench that faced
the enemy. The logs provided protection for the heads of the
trench´s occupants while they fired their rifles between the log
Collier was in such a trench when a Union artillery shell
whizzed through the space between the trench and the head log,
nicking the log sufficiently to slow the shell and cause it to
fall into the trench.
What happened next was described by Collier´s immediate
commander, Brig. Gen. John King Jackson, in his official report
of the battle.
While the fuse was still smoking, and the men were flying from
the danger of the apprehended explosion, Sergeant Isaac P.
Collier & seized the projectile and threw it out of the ditch.
In the judgment of the brigade commander, this is a case which
calls for the exercise of the power of appointment for ‘acts of distinguished valor,´ which is vested in the
Corroborating testimony was given by seven fellow Confederates
who witnessed the incident, all of whom said Collier had saved
their lives that day.
No one was hurt in the incident, and Collier turned down the
offer of a battlefield promotion to lieutenant, preferring to
remain in his company. His heroic act took place just two days
after the death of his brother elsewhere on the Kennesaw
Mountain Line. But Sgt. Collier survived into old age and died
in 1887. Among his descendants is a great-great-granddaughter,
Cathy Lipsett of Marietta.
Collier´s bravery was such that local amateur historian Larry
Blair, a lieutenant commander of the Kennesaw Battle Camp No.
700 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, submitted an
application for the Confederate Medal of Honor in Collier´s name
to the national SCV. That is the only organization that awards
posthumous heroism medals to Confederate veterans and has
awarded only 46.
Blair was stunned, however, when the SCV turned down his
request. He based the request on the fact that Collier´s act:
n Was above and beyond the call the duty, being that it would
have been more reasonable for him to run from the trench rather
than risk picking up the projectile
n Put his health and life in danger
n Was unselfish, since he accomplished it rather than run for
n Was not motivated by thoughts of gain, as illustrated by his
rejection of the promotion offer afterward
n Successfully saved the lives not only of Collier himself, but
However, the SCV committee rejected the application, without
stating much of a reason, other than implying that a soldier
would have had to die during his act of heroism in order to
qualify. So Blair decided on another way of gaining recognition
for Collier, and persuaded Kennesaw park officials to include a
small display on Collier´s heroism in the new, expanded museum.
It can be found along the Exhibit 13’ timeline, the part of the
museum that focuses on the combat at the mountain. It includes a
wide variety of weapons carried at the fight and uniforms worn
during the battle, as well as more personal soldier artifacts
like hats, socks, eating utensils and the like.
Collier´s act of bravery is written as accounts of the day
described them,’ Blair said. How proud we can be, for if we had
not of fought this long and hard fight, then Sgt. Collier would
not have received any credit here in Marietta at our new museum.
Although he did not have the highest level of honor that he
deserves, he is at the least honored by our Park Service, which
probably did all they could have done. And well done it is!’
Indeed. If you haven´t yet, you should go visit the park and the
museum. And a big thanks to Blair and his SCV compatriots for
doing their part to bring to light the forgotten heroism of Sgt.
Bill Kinney is Marietta Daily Journal associate editor. His column also appears on Saturday and Tuesday.
Marietta Daily Journal On-Line
From "Confederate Veteran," Vol. XXXII, No. 2 (February, 1924), pages 45-46:
"From Gen. J. H. Harp, Commander Florida Division, U. C. V., Crescent
In the last days of May, or first of June, 1864, while we were in the
trenches to the left of Kenesaw [sic] Mountain, Ga., there was
continuous heavy artillery firing on our lines, making it necessary for
us to stay in the trenches, though the frequent heavy rains had made the
trenches damp and muddy. One day a time-fused 12-pound shell struck our
earthworks below the headlog, and its velocity was so impeded that it
fell in the trench right among the men at that point, the fuse burning
and spluttering, just ready to explode. Of course, we sprang our of
that trench at once, but while the fuse was still burning and
spluttering, Sergt. I. P. (Pete) Collier, of Company K, 5th Georgia
Regiment, jerked up that shell in his hands and tossed it out of the
trench. It fell into a puddle of water and the fuse was put out, so the
shell did not explode. I think that was a cool, brave act, and for it
Pete Collier was offered a commission as lieutenant in Company E, but he
would not leave his old Company K, the Upton [sic] Guards. When the
shell struck the puddle of water, we sprang back into the trench without
waiting to be told to get back. I wonder how many of the old 5th
Georgia who witnessed that scene are living now. Comrades, speak up!"
Jim Hunke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I.P. Collier holding family Bible on his lap, and his wife, late in
Collier Family Cemetery
Isaac Peterson (Peter) Collier
Co. K, 5th GA Regt. C.S.A.
(born July 7, 1831 - dod unknown)ca 1887
(son of Charles Vines Collier)
(Charles Vines Collier's first wife was Rebecca Owen)