James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 34 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 34 of 125)
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down the embankment and escaped. On learning
the facts, Gen. Slocum, by order of Gen. Thomas,
ordered Col. Ketcham to go down into Lincoln
county with his regiment (the 150th) and the 13th
N. J., and collect from the inhabitants living within
ten miles of Mulberry, $30,000, of which $10,000
was to be sent to the families of each of the three
men thus murdered. Col. Ketcham executed the
order, taking from some of the people cotton
instead of money, at a value it would certainly
bring, and shipping it to Nashville. Anticipating
that his collections would exceed the authorized
amount by $5,000 or $6,000, he announced to
certain of those on whom the impost rested most
heavily that he should recommend the redistribu-
tion of the surplus to them. But on the return of
the regiment February nth, George Lovelace and
John E. Odell, who had charge of the Colonel's
and Surgeon's horses,, and were a few rods in
advance of the regiment, were shot dead by "bush-
whackers" at a turn in the- road about eight miles
from TuUahoma, and the horses hurried away,
though the latter were recaptured by the cavalry
connected with the command. In consequence of
these murders, Col. Ketcham recommended that
the surplus, instead of being returned, be paid to
' the families of the murdered men, each of whom
received $2,500. The regiment and its Colonel



received the thanks of the commanding officer for
the prompt and efficient manner in which they exe-
cuted this trust.

About a hundred guerUlas were captured by the
regiment at different times while guarding this road.
Among them were the leaders of the gang and the
principal men of the locality, about sixty of whom
were shot.

In the spring of 1864, a re-organization of the
army was effected. Grant having been appointed
Lieutenant General and taken charge of the Army
of the Potomac, Sherman was assigned to the
command of the Military Division of the Missis-
sippi, comprising the armies of the Ohio, Tennessee,
Cumberland and Arkansas. In this change the
150th was brigaded with the 2d Massachusetts,
13th New Jersey and 27th Indiana.

April 26, 1864, the 150th marched to TuUahoma,
and thence on the 29th through University Place,
across the Cumberland Mountains, encamping
May ist between Nickajack Cave and Shell
Mound. The march was resumed on the 2d
over a very bad road, "most of which was cor-
duroyed during the winter with dead mules," to
Whiteside Station, passing around the point of
Lookout Mountain on the 3d to SomerviUe, near
Chattanooga. On the 4th it marched to Gordon's
MiU, on the old Chickamauga battle-field, and on
the 5th to Taylor's Ridge. On the 6th it sent
back its extra baggage and prepared for action.
Thence it foUowed the movement of the army in
its detour through Snake Creek Gap, by which the
strong position of Dalton was turned and its evac-
uation compeUed on the 12th.

Sherman then directed his forces against Resaca.
There was heavy skirmishing along the entire front
on the 13th, and at i p. m. on the 14th an attempt
was made to break the enemy's^line and force him
from an elevated_position in the immediate front.
The effort, though bravely made, was futile. At 3
p. M., Johnston, in an effort to turn Sherman's left,
made an impetuous attack, which was at first suc-
cessful; but, re-enforced by Hooker's corps, the
Confederates were driven back about dusk with
great loss. In this movement the 150th was
marched from the extreme right to the extreme
left of the line. Its timely arrival prevented the
loss of a battery which the enemy had well nigh
taken.

The battle was renewed on the 1 5th. The 1 50th,
which, in the early part of the engagement, was held
in reserve, was ordered to take position on a com-
manding eminence on the extreme left, toward



THE WAR OF THE REBELLION, THE 150™ REGIMENT.



161



which the enemy were seen to be moving. Their
experience at Gettysburg taught them the advan-
tage of an intrenched position, and the rails from
an adjoining fence were quickly appropriated.
Even this meager protection doubtless saved them
many men in the heavy fire to which they were
soon after subjected. The remainder of the bri-
gade were hotly engaged on their right a half mile
distant. Soon eight regiments were seen to
emerge from the woods in their front into an open
field, across which they advanced in splendid order.
The 150th reserved their fire till the enemy had
advanced to within three hundred yards, when a
murderous volley was poured into them with deadly
effect. So destructive was this fire, that Col. Cal-
houn, (now Mayor of the city of Atlanta,) who
commanded the regiment on the extreme right of
the advancing foe, afterwards admitted to Gen.
Smith, then Major of the isoth, that his regiment
never had a roll call afterward.

This terrible and unexpected fire caused the
enemy to move off by the left flank and seek pro-
tection behind a fence which ran nearly at right
angles with the line of the r5oth. From that po-
sition they kept up a scathing fire, which, within
fifteen minutes from the time they opened, had cut
down every stalk of corn which had partially con-
cealed the 150th, and plowed the garden in their
front as thoroughly as with plow and harrow. One
could not place his hand on the little house which
stood in rear of the regiment without covering a
bullet mark. Notwithstanding the great disparity
in numbers the 150th held its position immovably
through the day, without being re-enforced or re-
lieved ; yet with singularly light casualties, having
only one officer ajid eight men wounded. The
wounds mostly proved fatal, as the regiment, from
the want of vegetable food, was suffering from
scurvey. But Lieut. Stephen Van R. Cruger,
then Adjutant of the regiment, who was most se-
verely wounded, recovered and rejoined the
regiment in time to take the march with Sher-
man to the seaboard. He is now Colonel of the
1 2th Regt. N. G., S. N. Y. in New York City, and
the agent of the Trinity Church property.

Johnston withdrew his army from the defenses
of Resaca during the night of the isth. He was
closely pursued and forced across the Etowah.
After a rest of three days, from the 3oth to the
22d, (the only one the isoth had during the Atlan-
ta campaign of about a hundred days,) during
which Sherman forwarded supplies to his army,
Johnston's position at AUatoona Pass was turned



by a circuit toward Dallas, Hooker having the ad-
vance, and having some sharp encounters at New
Hope Church, in which the 150th was again
engaged.

On the 25th of May, the regiment having
marched from Cassville, its resting place, through
Euharlee, Stilesborough and Huntsville, towards
Dallas, was reached by an Orderly and directed to
re-cross Pumpkin Vine Creek to re-enforce General
Geary, who was hotly engaged on their left. The
brigade to which the isoth belonged, then com-
manded by Thomas H. Ruger, the late commandant
at West Point, advanced in splendid order, the 27th
Indiana being on the right of the isoth, and the 3d
Wisconsin and 107th New York on its left, the
extreme left resting on the New Hope Church
road. The brigade advanced to within a few rods
of the enemy's works, and held its position from
4 P. M. till midnight. Several attempts were made
to relieve them with other troops, but none suc-
ceeded in retaining a position in front of them.
The casualties of the 150th were six killed and
thirty-six wounded. Lieut. Mabbett was wounded
by a spent grape shot, which passed over his head
while lying down, and struck him in the back.
Sergt. Story, of Co. C, deserves honorable men-
tion. He fell while commanding and gallantly
leading his company. Sergt. Blauvelt, of Co. E,
who was one of the best sergeants in the regiment,
was mortally wounded and died in a few days.
The rsoth was favored by its position, having
passed the crown of the hill, so that the enemy
could not depress their guns sufficiently to reach
them. The regiment upon its right was driven
from the field, and those upon its left suffered in
casualties four-fold. The 150th covered the guns
of the enemy so thoroughly that six in their front
were silenced. The regiment retired from this line
at midnight in a drizzUng rain, and received the
congratulations of Gens. Hooker and Williams,
the corps and division commanders, for their noble
conduct.

The regiment participated in those movements
by which the turning of Allatoona Pass was com-
pleted and the railroad at Ackworth reached, being
almost continually under fire, which was at times
of great severity, and for three days awaiting orders
for an assault, for which every preparation had been
made. On the i ith of June, while the movements
in front of Marietta were in progress. Corporal
Henry L. Stone, of Co. A, was killed by the ex-
plosion of a shell while engaged in constructing
breastworks. This same day a shell from Battery



l62



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



I, which the isoth was supporting, killed instantly
the rebel Gen. Bishop Polk, (a brother of the ex-
President,) who, in company with Gens. Johnston
and Hardee, was reconnoitering Sherman's posi-
tion.*

June 2 2d, while Sherman was slowly advancing
his army on the enemy's entrenched position on
Kenesaw Mountain, the iSoth, with the command
to which it belonged, was moved to the right of the
army. At noon the regiment reached the edge of
an open field, which extended on the left to the top
of Kenesaw Mountain, four miles distant. It was
soon evident from the angry mutterings on the
skirmish line posted in the ravine in their front,
that a battle was imminent. Hood's corps, with
detachments from the others, sallied and attacked
at 4 p. M., the blow falling mostly on WiUiams' di-
vision of Hooker's corps and a brigade of Has-
call's division of Schofield's corps. The iSoth
took position on the right of Battery M, ist N. Y.
Artillery, its only protection being a winrow of
rails, formed by pushing in the corners of a rail
fence and allowing it to fall. At 5 p. m. the rebel
Gen. Stevenson's brigade, said to be from 6,000 to
9,000 strong, emerged from the woods opposite
them, full three-fourths of a mile distant, and ad-
vanced in splendid order across the open field,
though terribly cut to pieces by the federal artillery,
which, for nearly four miles on the left gave them
a raking fire, while Battery M in front dealt
most severely with them with grape and canister,
and the regiment of infantry gave them a terrific
enfilading fire. Still they advanced through the
ravine and formed four hues of battle, the foremost
of which was not distant fifty paces ; but the deadly
fire compelled them to retire to the ravine, where,
and in the gullies leading to it, a large number of
the enemy were taken jjrisoners the following day.

This battle cost the isoth one of its most valued
officers— Lieut. Henry Gridley, of Wassaic, then
commanding Co. A. He was directing the fire of
his men, and a color-bearer in the front of the
enemy was shot down by his direction, by one of his
men, named GoUenbeck. His last words to his
comrades were : " Give it to them, boys ! Take
dead aim ! " The enemy were repulsed, though
opposed only by a single, unsupported line of
battle.

June 27th two assaults were made on the rebel
lines simultaneously, one by McPherson, on Little
Kenesaw Mountain, the other by Thoma s, a mile

" * From the Diary of Gen. A. B. Smith, of Poughkeepsie. Draper,
{Ifistmy of the A merican Civil War., III.., 284, ) says this event trans-
pired on the 14th of June.



farther south. Both failed, and Sherman therefore
resolved to turn the position at Marietta, and that
movement was commenced on the night of July
2d, by McPherson. A feint, in which the isoth
took part, was made to cover it. Johnston aban-
doned Kenesaw the following morning and was
driven across the Chattahoochee. Sherman forced
the passage of that stream and posted his army in
proximity to Atlanta, on the general line of Peach
Tree Creek, and across the Augusta Railroad.
Here, on the afternoon of the 20th of July, he was
attacked in force by Hood, who had superseded
Johnston in command of the confederate forces in
Georgia. The blow was unexpected and its weight
fell mainly upon Hooker's corps, which was un-
protected by works, and fought in comparatively
open ground. The attack was repulsed after a
severe engagement. ®

In this battle the isoth again met the enemy.
The division to which it belonged deployed under
the immediate eye of Hooker, and bursting through
the enveloping lines of the enemy, gained its
position in the line, thus connecting its right and left
portions. Companies E, H and B, of the 150th,
under command of Major Smith, were sent to re-
enforce the front line, which was held. The 150th
lost two men killed, and two officers and eight men
wounded. The officers were Lieuts. VanKeuren
and Barlow, the former of whom is now captain of
one of the Poughkeepsie Transportation Com-
pany's boats.

Having failed to prevent the passage of Peach
Tree Creek, Hood next endeavored to turn Sher-
man's left flank, and for that purpose made furious
assaults on the 21st and 2 2d of July. But his
success was only partialand temporary. The at-
tempt was repeated, for the last time, on the 28th,
but with far more disastrous results to the Confed-
erates. Sherman spent some days in investing the
defenses of Atlanta, and extending his army by the
right flank with a view to reaching the Macon
railroad, by which supplies and ammunition
for the Confederates reached Atlanta. But owing
to the difficulties attending the project with the
forces at his command, he resolved to abandon
the siege of Atlanta, and strike at the enemy's
communications with his whole army. The exe-
cution of this movement was coriimenced on the
25th of August, and the isoth, which had been
engaged in the meantime in the trenches before
Atlanta, moved back with the 20th corps to Chat-
tahoochee, where they entrenched to protect Sher-
man's line of communication and hold the railroad



THE WAR OF THE REBELLION, THE isoth REGIMENT.



163



bridge across that stream. The subsequent move-
ments of Sherman in the development of his plan,
but in which the 150th did not directly participate,
necessitated the evacuation of Atlanta by the Con-
federates on the night of Sept. 1-2, 1864. Before
leaving the city. Hood destroyed a vast quantity of
military stores, said to have aggregated in value
$19,000,000, besides locomotives, cars, machine-
shops, store-houses and depots. These explosions
were heard by the forces on the Chattahoochee,
and a reconnoisance on the 2d revealed the
cause. The city was entered by the isoth at 5 p.
M., of that day.

Sherman remodeled the works at Atlanta so
that a smaller force could defend them. The isoth
was among the troops which remained in the city
for that object, and furnished a heavy daily detail
to work on the fortifications, which covered about
six acres in the heart of the city. These duties
were varied by occasional foraging expeditions and
reconnoisances. Col. Ketcham, who had been de-
tailed at the head of a court-martial, left the regi-
ment in command of Major Smith on the isth of
October, and returned home to be elected to Con-
gress.

Sherman, having received permission from Grant
on the 2d of November to execute his plan of
marching his army through the Confederate States
from Atlanta to the seaboard, at once began prep-
arations for that movement, for which he retained
four corps, including the 20th, to which the isoth
belonged. On the 14th of November his army was
grouped about Atlanta, which was thoroughly de-
stroyed, with the exception of its churches and
houses. Having effectually destroyed his line of
communication, and left Gen. Thomas at Nash-
ville to watch the movements of the rebel General
Hood, he set his army in motion toward the Atlan-
tic, living on the country as he went and marking
his course by a line of desolation.

The isoth was the first regiment to report at
brigade headquarters after the order to march was
given, and led the 20th Corps out of Atlanta on
the isth of November. It reached the Savannah,
at the crossing of the railroad from Charleston to
Savannah, on the loth of December, having had
several sharp skirmishes with the enemy, and,
among other acts of destruction, burned on the
26th of November, a very large quantity of bridge
timber, which was framed and ready to be put to-
gether and designed for the use of Hood's army
in its anticipated raid into the Northern States.
Dec. 13th Fort McAllister was taken, and commu-



nication opened with the fleet. On the 16th the
isoth was sent with a part of the brigade to Ar-
gyle Island, and thence into South Carolina, to
threaten Hardee's only hne of communication or
means of escape from Savannah. On the evacua-
tion of Savannah on the evening of the 20th, the
regiment re-crossed to Argyle Island.

Colonel Ketcham rejoined the regiment Dec.
17th, and on the 21st was badly wounded through
the thigh. He was never afterward in command
of the regiment. Having been elected to Con-
gress, he resigned, and the command devolved
on Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, who was promoted
to Lieutenant- Colonel, September 6th, 1864, and to
Colonel, April 24th, 1865, having previously been
breveted Brigadier-General.

The isoth went into position on the Savannah
River, north of the city of Savannah, and remained
there, while Sherman was refitting his army, till
Jan. 1 6th, 1865, when orders were received to be-
gin that memorable mid-winter march of toil and
suffering through the Carolinas, which were marked
by a track of desolation, as Georgia had previously
been. The regiment was inspected, and left
Savannah on the 17th, crossing the river on pon-
toons in the lower part of the city. The march
was fraught with incident, fatigue and danger, and
being at right angles to the water-courses, much
difficulty and delay was experienced in crossing
the numerous streams, some of which, swelled by
the continuous rains of a wet season, had to be
crossed by the men in water waist-high, and often
chilled nearly to the freezing point. The army
subsisted wholly by foraging, and on several occa-
sions the food of the regiment for a week at a
time consisted wholly of dried corn. On the 4th
of March the regiment bivouacked near Sneeds-
boro, on the Great Pedee River, in the south edge
of North Carolina. Over the fence from their camp
was a graveyard, old and neglected, but contain-
ing what appeared to be several new graves side
by side. These attracted the attention of a sol-
dier, and explorations made by thrusting a ramrod
into them aroused suspicion as to their real nature.
With the consent of Col. Smith, the fresh turned
earth was removed, and more than 500 bushels of
corn in the ear found to be buried there.

The regiment had some skirmishing en route
with the enemy, and on the nth of March, made
a forced march of twelve miles in three hours to
the battle-field near Fayetteville, N. C, but did
not participate in the action. At 8 p. m. on the
isth, after a most fatiguing march over bad roads,



164



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



the regiment was ordered out and marched four
miles— about the most severe march the regi-
ment ever made — to support Kilpatrick's cavalry,
who encountered Hardee's forces near Averys-
boro, at the narrow neck of swampy land between
Cape Fear and South Rivers, on the direct road
between Fayetteville and Raleigh, where that Gen-
eral hoped, by disputing the passage of Sherman's
army, to delay it sufficiently to gain time for the
concentration of the scattered fragments of the
rebel army, which was then being collected by
Johnston, who had recently reheved Beauregard of
the command of that department. He was, how-
ever, pressed so hard that he retreated during a
stormy night, over dreadful roads, toward Smith-
field.

Leaving a division to make a show of pursuit,
Slocum turned to the right with the rest of his
army and moved towards Goldsboro. The isoth
supported the cavalry at dawn on the i6th, and
came, upon the enemy in force. The advance was
made in line of battle and the enemy was soon
driven from their front, not, however, without suf-
fering severe loss — the regiment having one killed
and fifteen wounded. The former was Lieut. Sleight,
a son of Peter Sleight, a well known citizen of La
Grange, and one of the best officers in the regi-
ment. Among the wounded were Sergeants Wat-
son, Wilkinson and Bell, the latter two losing each
a leg. This was the last engagement in which the
150th took part. The 20th corps fought the
battle of Bentonville, but the r5o"th was guard-
ing roads in the rear and took no part in that
action.

March 13th, the 150th was reviewed, after
marching seven miles, by Gens. Sherman and Slo-
cum. On the 23d of that month, while on the
march towards Goldsboro, which they reached at
1 1 A. M. on the 24th, the regiment first came in
sight of colored troops, whom they almost rivaled
in blackness. At' Goldsboro they met their old
commander. Gen. Ruger, who had been attached
to the 23d corps, and had occupied Savannah
since Sherman's army left there ; but they were
not under his command after the fall of Atlanta.
April 5th they were reviewed by Gen. Mower, who
then had command of the 20th corps. April 6th
the corps learned of the fall of Richmond, and
rent the air with their cheers, that the western
troops might know that, they rejoiced in the vic-
tory of the Army of the Potomac, with which they
were still proud to have been connected. April
7th the regiment received a box from home,



through the Chaplain, and a clean towel and
"comfort bag " was issued to each man.

April glh, Sherman, who had finished resting
and reclothing his army about Goldsboro, received
orders from Grant to "pitch into Johnston and
finish up the job at once," and at daybreak on the
loth all the heads of his columns were in motion
against the enemy. The 150th broke camp at
4.30 A. M. of the loth, and after a march of about
26 miles, crossing Little River and Moccasin
Creek, reached Smithfield on the nth. The
march was resumed at 6 a. m. on the 12 th, and on
that day the news of Lee's surrender was received.
The regiment reached Raleigh at noon of the r3th
(Johnston having left that city in the morning,)
and encamped near the Lunatic Asylum. Orders
had been received to resume the march on the
15th, but on the t4th Sherman received a request
from Johnston for an interview, and the order to
march was substituted with one to prepare for re-
view.

At that interview negotiations for the surrender
of Johnston's army were commenced, though they
were not completed, and that act consummated
till the 26th of April. On the 17th of that month
the 150th received the appalling news of Lincoln's
assassination. On the 24th it was reviewed by
Gen. Grant, and on the 25th marched fifteen miles
in the direction of Jones' Cross Roads, where, on
the 28th, the news of Johnston's surrender was re-
ceived, and the regiment returned to Raleigh.
April 30th the 150th started for home, marching
through Melville and across the Tar, Roanoke (at
Taylor's Ferry) and Big Nottaway Rivers to Rich-
mond, near which they encamped on the 9th of
May. Here Col. Smith purchased crape for the
colors to commemorate the death of President
Lincoln. On the roth they had an opportunity to
view Libby Prison and other places of interest in
the rebel capital, through which they marched on
the nth, passing through the malarial swamps of
the Chickahominy and over the memorable battle-
fields of Spottsylvania, Chancellorsville and Bull
Run, on the way to Washington. At Cloud's
Mills, a few miles south of Alexandria, where they
arrived on the 19th, they were visited on the 20th
by Gen. Ketcham, their former Colonel, and other
friends.

On the 24th the regiment participated in the
grand review at Washington, and went in^to camp
east of the federal city to prepare for muster out.
Here books and baggage which were left at Chat-
tanooga and had not been in possession of the



THE WAR OF THE REBELLION, PREPARATIONS FOR THE DRAFT.



i6s



regiment since May i, 1864, were forwarded to it.
This regiment was one of the few which were per-
mitted to return home to be mustered out. It
arrived at Poughkeepsie about midnight on Satur-
day, the loth of June, and marched to the armory
in the vicinity of Vassar Row, on Main street,
where arms were stacked, and the men dismissed
and allowed to go where they pleased till Monday
morning, when they were mustered out.



Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 34 of 125)