1862-1865 Illinois Infantry. 73d Regiment.

A history of the Seventy-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers : its services and experiences in camp, on the march, on the picket and skirmish lines, and in many battles of the war, l861-65. Embracing an account of the movement from Columbia to Nashville, and the battles of Spring hill and online

. (page 15 of 52)
Online Library1862-1865 Illinois Infantry. 73d RegimentA history of the Seventy-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers : its services and experiences in camp, on the march, on the picket and skirmish lines, and in many battles of the war, l861-65. Embracing an account of the movement from Columbia to Nashville, and the battles of Spring hill and → online text (page 15 of 52)
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miles by 2.30 P. M., when another halt was called.
We were soon on the way again, but we moved slowly
and rested often from the necessities of the case
until five P. M. By six P. M. we were bivouacked
for the night on the same ground we had- encamped on
during the night of September 8th. On this date
September 14th we marched twenty-four miles, a long
and fatiguing march, considering the heat and dust.
Colonel Jaquess was awaiting us at this point. Having
been absent from the regiment for some time, making
an effort to visit Richmond and Jefferson Davis, the
colonel was gladly received, and in acknowledgment,
made a short speech. We were twelve miles south of
Trenton. Had a fairly good rest the night of Septem-
ber 14th, but had to get up early on the morning of the
15th, to get ready to move at five A. M. The order to
march at five was countermanded, and we were directed
to hold^ourselves in readiness to move at a moment's
warning. Company C und ten men from Company G
went on picket at a station on the side of the mountain.
Before two hours passed, orders were hurriedly sent out


to withdraw the pickets, as the brigade had again
started on the march. The road followed was an
obscure one and little used ; the pioneers passed us
and went on, to remove fallen timber from the road.
We marched steadily and arrived at Johnson's Cove at
5.15 P. M., and bivouacked for the night. Colonel
Jaquess assumed command .of the regiment on this
date. Before dark Company C was sent one-third of a
mile to the rear to do picket duty on the road. Two
sentinels were put out. The train kept passing these
sentinels until it became too dark to see how to drive.
Train was corralled along the road, with many wagons
and teams outside the pickets. The medical wagon,
No. Thirteen, turned over and much damage was done
to the contents. At 6.30 on the morning of Wednes-
day, September 16th, Company C was ordered in from
picket and marched to the foot of Johnson's Cove, to
await the arrival of the regiment, which was rear guard
to the division train. At ten A. M. regiment started
up the mountain, leaving eight men with each wagon to
help the mules up the steep road with the train. It
required the putting forth of the utmost strength of
the mules and men to get the train over the most diffi-
cult places in the road. On getting fully half-way up
the mountain we came to a small field, an orchard, and
an old log hut. In the hut was a poor, helpless woman,
suffering from intermittent fever. She was lying on a
very scant and rickety bed, and had an army blanket
for her covering. There was no furniture in the house.
A part box of army crackers, some coffee and sugar had
been left by the passing soldiers, for the woman and her
two small children to subsist on. The husband and
father had been killed in the rebel army about six


months previously. The floor of the old hut being
partly gone, and some of the many spaces between logs
of the side walls, being not less than ten inches wide,
together with the suffering and poverty within, made
the picture a sad one to contemplate. Shortly after
twelve, noon, we reached the top of the mountain.
Had time for rest and coffee. A mail was also unex-
pectedly and joyfully received. Time being taken to
dispose of the mail, we did not get under way again
until 3.30 P. M. After making a jaunt of two miles,
we came to Stevens's Gap, on the way to Chattanooga
Valley. We made the descent to the valley two
miles nicely and in good time. The pioneers went in
advance and removed some of the obstructions from the
road. We bivouacked at the foot of the mountain in
McLamore's Cove, where we found part of General
Thomas's 14th. Corps. In the skirmish of Saturday,
September 12th, our side lost twenty-four killed, and
the rebel loss was still greater; the rebels gave way
and fell back. No fighting since to this date. Our
position, McLamore's Cove, was twenty-two miles from
Chattanooga, and nearly or quite that distance from
the main body of the enemy.

All the men were up by daylight of September
17th, Thursday. A cool breeze was stirring, making
the weather more pleasant. General Thomas's troops
moved out early in the day, going in the direction of
the enemy. A collision hourly expected. A report of
cannon single gun heard at 7.15 A. M. At 7.30
two reports, and at 7.45 three more guns were fired,
but no response came from the enemy. This demon-
stration was supposed to be twelve to twenty miles
distant. It was nearer, however, as subsequent events


indicated. The wounded of Saturday's skirmish were
sent to Chattanooga.

At 11.30 A. M. the 2d and 3d Brigades of Davis's
division arrived from the top of mountain, and halted
near us at noon. The bugles sounded the strike-tent call
at 12.15 P. M. Got ready, and marched immediately,
the 73d in front of brigade. After going nearly one-
half mile, we formed line of battle. At two P. M. had
orders to change front to the south, and support bat-
tery of the 3d Brigade. We formed immediately to
the rear in an open field, with our left touching the
woods; to our front was a field full of standing dead
trees. The 44th Illinois and the 2d and 15th Missouri
Regiments formed to our right, and to the rear of our bat-
tery. The rebels were reported to be intent on coming
through the gap. We remained in position during the
afternoon. All quiet to the front. Later, we changed
our position to the rear a short distance to pass the night.

Weather much cooler early on the 18th. There
was some rain and a strong wind. We were aroused
early, to draw two days' rations, peparatory to sending
the train to the rear. We were up at four A. M. to
watch for the enemy, and at six the train was to have
started to the rear, but the order was countermanded.
At 9.30 A. M. we had orders to move to the south-
east three miles, near Dug Pass. We moved at once,
and arrived there at noon. We went into camp in an
open field which had been occupied by the rebels only
the day before 17th. Weather quite cool ; a north
wind blowing. But little was done in arranging our
bivouac, and we hastily dispatched our suppers on
account of the reception of orders to march. The
bugles sounded " a ready," but we did not go until


all our train passed, which detained us until 10.30
P. M. The 44th and 73d Illinois were left behind as
rear guard. We marched very slowly in a north-east-
erly direction, making but five miles by two o'clock
A. M. of the 19th. Before this date the initial move-
ments and engagements immediately preliminary to the
great battle of Chickamauga had been made, and partici-
pated in, principally by the cavalry, on our part. This
being a regimental history simply, we shall try to follow
the fortunes of the 73d pretty closely through this and
a few succeeding dates. In order to not fail in this, we
shall copy almost verbatim from Captain Kyger's diary.
We put it all within quotation-marks, though we do not
use Kyger's language precisely, but adhere tenaciously
to his facts :

" Bivouac eight miles north-east of Stevens' s Gap, Lookout Mount-
ain, Ga., Saturday, September 19, 1863. Arrived here at two
A. M,; sleepy and dusty. There was heavy skirmishing on the
left yesterday. 6.30 A. M. Up, after having a short nap.
Orders to move at seven o'clock; cool. Orders countermanded.
Right wing of regiment on picket. 8 A. M. Heavy cannonading
heard away to the left. 10 A. M. Davis's division moved for-
ward ; also Johnson's. 11 A. M. We were ordered forward.
We marched out one-half mile ; heavy cannonading heard, appar-
ently five miles north-east. All moving toward it, both trains
and troops. 2.15 P. M. Arrived within twelve miles of Chatta-
nooga. Cannonading steady. We were halted at a nice point,
near to a school-house, and the largest spring I ever saw, flowing
out of bluff. General Negley's division is here, but when we
arrived it moved on. We remained until pretty well rested, and
then moved forward to the battle-field. After marching nearly
two miles, we arrived at the point where we formed in first battle-
line, at three o'clock P. M. We formed for the purpose of resisting
a flank movement. We soon left this position and moved one-half
mile farther to the front, and formed in line four different times,
and in as many places ; after which we moved to the left and
formed the fifth time, in the woods this time, immediately in


rear of the 3d Brigade of our division , which was already heavily
engaged. The 2d and 15th Missouri Kegiments were posted to
our front; the 44th Illinois in same line with the 73d. The
3d Brigade Colonel Bradley's made a charge to drive the enemy
from a point of timber he held. General J. C. Davis's division
was immediately to the left of our 3d Brigade, and failed to hold
its position, which caused 3d Brigade to receive a heavy flank
fire, compelling it to fall back with heavy loss. Company A,
25th Illinois in Davis's division lost two killed, George Staats
and Alex Blake ; and Bob Carney, Pleas West, Aaron Newlin,
Orderly Sergeant Newlon, James Hasting, John Milholland, Cy.


Bellus, and Henry Thompson, wounded. The 25th moved to the
rear ; was not engaged any more that evening. We continued in
line of battle without change of position until morning. There
was firing at intervals until 7.30 o'clock P. M. We have to fight
the combined forces of Generals Longstreet, Johnson, and Bragg.
The results of the day were considered rather in favor of the
"rebs." Heavy losses on both sides.

" On the battle-field of Chickamauga, Sunday morning, September
20, 1868. We were up at three A. M. Spent a very unpleasant
night. Frost. All seems quiet along the lines, except occasional
picket shots. At five o'clock A. M. we changed position, three


and a quarter miles to the rear and right, making the extreme
right flank of the army. Had a good position on a hill for our
batteries, and for infantry. Eleven o'clock A. M. the ball opened
on our center and to right of center. Charge after charge was
made by the rebs, with hideous yells, and at about 11.15 A. M.
they commenced to turn our left. We 2d Brigade were called
to support center ; moved down, took our position in front of
battery, the 44th and 73d forming the first line; 2d and 15th
Missouri in second line. Our position was in an open field, about
thirty rods wide ; then came a pine thicket, furnishing a fine pro-
tection for the rebs to advance through. At twelve o'clock M.
we were ordered to fix bayonets and charge across the field and
meet the advancing foe, coming eight lines deep toward us. On
reaching the edge of pine-grove, orders came for us to halt and
fire. This was amid a shower of balls flying from our front, right,
and left. Sergeant Lewis, regimental color-bearer, fell just before
we halted, wounded in the leg. I sent Sergeants Newlin and
Brown to carry him from the field. Neither of the three was
heard of after the battle. Art. Terrell fell dead within a yard of
me, pierced through the temples by a ball. Enoch Smith thought
to be killed, and John Bostwick wounded ; I ordered Sam Boen
to carry him off, but he did not get him, for before reaching him
Boen had to leave to save his own life. The flag was taken up
by one of the color guard, immediately after Lewis fell ; he soon
fell ; taken up by another ; he fell. Then a retreat was ordered.
I grasped the colors and carried them off the field. I was not
struck, only by a buckshot, and that lodged in my haversack,
checked by striking my tin cup. The regiment retreated " pell
mell ;" could not be rallied to be effective again during the charge.
The first man of Company C that I saw was H. H. Reagan, then
A. E. Lewis, S. J. Boen, J. A. Allison, Wesley Bishop, Jona-
than Ellis, Wallace Ward, and Abraham Jones ; these eight men
were all that stacked arms in Company C within three hours after
the engagement. The regiment had seventy-four privates, twenty-
four non-commissioned officers, and thirteen commissioned officers.
The regiment went in with twenty-three commissioned officers and
two^hundred and eighty-five enlisted men. Major Smith, killed ;
Adjutant Winget, killed ; also Captain Rice, of Company K.*
Captains Motherspaw and Ingersoll, and Lieutenants Lawrence

* Captain Rice was made prisoner.




and Patten wounded. Company C went in with twenty-nine
men, and at night there were ten missing that we could not
account for, Orderly Sergeant Smith, and Sergeants Brown,
Lewis, and Newlin among them. From the point where the
regiment re-formed after the charge we were taken by Gen-
eral Sheridan three miles to the rear, and then we were taken
three miles in the direction of the left wing of the army, to
support it if necessary. After reaching a point from which we

.could see the rebel camp-
fires, we found our services
were not needed, and we
returned three miles, and
halted at ten P. M., very
weary. Samuel Hewit came
up, slightly wounded in the
back. Lieutenant Moore,
from the 25th Illinois, came
to see us. His company was
badly cut up. We visited
the 125th Illinois; found it
all right. It was in the en-
gagement, lying behind a
battery to support it; was
not further engaged. The
army is all retreating, and
the greater part of it has
reached this point, which
is just in Tennessee, and
four miles from the battle-

" Bivouac, four miles from Chattanooga, Monday, September 1,
1868. At daybreak this morning I learned that General Rose-
craus's army had reached this point, on its way to Chattanooga.
Succeeded in getting the greater portion of the wounded off the field.
The loss was heavy on both sides. The reorganization of the dif-
ferent corps was immediately commenced, and a line of battle
formed for defense, until the missing ones as many as could
came up. We moved out to our position at twelve o'clock noon.
Slight musketry and battery firing commenced atone o'clock P. M.,
on the left, and continued during the afternoon. This was kept
up between the rebel cavalry and our skirmishers and a portion of



our cavalry. The 73d now had one hundred and twenty-four guns
in stack, and fourteen commissioned officers present. We changed
our position slightly, and remained during the afternoon and early
part of the night. Company cooks Joseph W. Reagan and Thomas
Judd came up at twelve midnight. No further account of the
missing boys. Rumors of the arrival of re-enforcements ; but I
fear they are not reliable. Farther retreat seems imminent. Sad,
sad time!

" Bivouac, four miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Tuesday, Sep-
tember 22, 1863. Three o'clock A. M. Up," and orders to fall back,
but did not start until 4.30. We were to the rear of all but the
cavalry and the reserve corps. We reached Chattanooga before
sunrise, and halted in a grove, but were soon called on for a detail
to work on the fortifications, which were already commenced.
Nat, Henderson, and myself went down town to look after our
wounded. Found Lieutenant Lawrence ; wounded in mouth, three
upper teeth knocked out ; not otherwise injured. Henderson Good-
win was in same room ; wounded in left forearm. H. C. Hender-
son was wounded in knee ; not seriously ; he was sent across the
river ; we did not get to see him. Met Cousin Charles Kyger in
hospital ; his health not good ; he was not in the battle. Returned,
and found the brigade had been sent to the front, to take position
on Chattanooga Creek, near a rolling-mill and a large tannery,
about one-half mile from the nose of Lookout Mountain. General
Granger's forces still hold the mountain. We are throwing up
earth-works. Some cannonadiug during the afternoon, but it did
not move our lines. ... I feel very sad and lonely.

" On Battle-line, near the Foot of Lookout Mountain, Wednesday,
September 23, 1863. Up, and under arms at 3.30 A. M. All quiet
during the night. Seven of the company on picket. Slight skir-
mishing along the lines during the day. Late in the evening the
rebels made an effort to drive General Granger's men from Look-
out Mountain, but were driven back with slight loss. The 3d
Tennessee (Union) lost one man killed. James T. Maudlin came
up. He had no reliable word concerning any of the missing ones
of Company C. General Rosecrans visited the lines after night.
He gave orders for Granger's men to come down off the mountain
and report to Colonel Lai bold.

" On Skirmish-line, near Chattanooga, Thursday, September 24,
1868. Up at 3.30 A. M., and under arms. Some firing at day-
light. In the afternoon the enemy advanced on left; were re-


pulsed. On the skirmish or picket line every five hours. A vig-
ilant watch for the enemy was kept up.

" On Skirmish-line, Friday, September 25, 1863. We were up
again at 3.30 this morning. Skirmishing still going on. An attempt
made by the enemy to break our lines. He fails. At 11.30 A. M.
enemy. placed a battery on the nose of Lookout" Mountain; at six
P. M. commenced shelling the old tannery. We were on the
skirmish-line. No damage done. It was a grand and terrific sight.
We expect an attack, either to-night, or early in the morning.

" On Skirmish-line, Saturday, September 26, 1863. Had a cold
time of it last night. Lieutenant Turpin was on the line with me.
There was occasional firing during the night. We were relieved
at nine o'clock this morning. We went back to the two lines of
rifle-pits, leaving the front line to be held by reliefs of fifty men
from each regiment in the brigade, every other day. But little
firing on the Hues ; no damage done to us."

We have copied from Captain Kyger's diary all the
entries from September 19th to 26th, both inclusive.
We omitted nothing. Some of these entries, and parts
of some others, have reference to the casualties in Com-
pany C. Aside from being the color-company, there is
no reason for supposing that Company C suffered more
than the other companies. Company C's " ups and
downs," mishaps and losses, were perhaps a fair average
for the regiment. We have no criticism to offer, and
no corrections to make, of the statements contained in
the several entries quoted. They are correct, as far as
they go, or intended so to be. A mistake as to direc-
tion, or distance, may have been made; the liability to
err in these respects being increased when movements
were hurriedly made, through woods, over hills and hol-
lows, early and late confusion and excitement all

For the two dates, Saturday and Sunday, September
19th and* 20th, we add a few statements, which may
prove interesting. Who of the 73d, that was present,


will forget the severe experience, " double-quicking "
along the dusty road, at 3.30 P. M., Saturday, the 19th,
with the rail-fences on each side, and the woods on one
side of the road, on fire ? The sunshine was warm
enough; but the fire made it hot, hotter, HOTTEST.' We
were thoroughly heated, and the sweat and dust made
us not only feel but look uncomfortable. On our
own account we would have preferred to feel and ap-
pear better, if not for the fact that many Confeder-
ates had come all the way from the Potomac to meet
us. This experience, doubtless, made us more suscep-
tible, or sensitive, to the very cool night-air only a few
hours later. At night our position was such, our prox-
imity to the enemy was so close, as to forbid fires, and
the supply of blankets was limited, all equipage not
absolutely needed having been stored and left in the
rear. The chilly night-air, and the lack of protection
against it, was not all that contributed to our discom-
fort. Under the circumstances, sleep was out of the
question ; we were located in the midst of thick woods,
which made the darkness almost impenetrable. To our
front, the cutting and slashing, the felling and chopping
of timber whether being engaged in by the enemy, or
by our own men made a terrible racket, and was
" ominous," besides, of serious work for the next day.
As suggested in the entry by Captain Kyger in his
diary, we were going to have the combined forces of
Longstreet, Johnson, and Bragg to contend with ; and
he might have included the force of Bolivar Buck-
ner, too, which had lately been called from East Ten-
nessee to. swell the aggregate of Bragg's army. The
rank and file of our regiment, as well as of most others,
had apprehended this serious fact; and the effect was


too great, in awakening our fears, and producing dis-
trust, to be counteracted by a report that Burnside
would arrive with a large force next day. There were
several circumstances fads, rather which tended to
create uneasiness and discomfort among our troops on
that memorable Saturday night. Our weariness, the
noise and confusion in front, and the ordinary, ever-pres-
ent misgiving, or apprehension, on the eve of battle, was
not all that troubled us; but in addition to these were
the well-grounded suspicion and conscious belief that
we were encompassed, or about to be, by vastly superior
numbers. Then there was no comfort to be had at
division head-quarters, which were established for the
night just in the rear of the 73d. Some extra guards
being required there, Company C was called on to furnish
them. Corporal Hasty later color-bearer and sergeant
and two or three men were sent to division head-quar-
ters to do duty for the night. After reporting, and
ascertaining what the duty was, getting his men posted
and thoroughly instructed in their duties, our corporal
began to watch for " straws," or listen rather, for it
was very dark. There was light in Sheridan's tent,
near the entrance to which our corporal stationed him-
self. From what he could see and hear, the corporal
could not fail to determine that a feeling of anxiety,
extra seriousness, pervaded the head-quarters, from the
general down to orderlies. It was not long until McCook,
our corps commander, arrived at Sheridan's tent. He
was accompanied by two, three, or more general officers
from the center and left of the army ; Crittenden and
Van Cleve, anyhow, from the left wing, were there, so
the corporal was told. The center was represented.
The meeting may have been previously appointed, but


it is thought not to have been; that it was rather sug-
gested, or necessitated, by an emergency, not altogether
unexpected, but ascertained, late in the day, to be fully
developed, and upon us an emergency, or predicament,
which had to be met, provided against, in some way,
not to be escaped from, or avoided. An animated and
somewhat protracted consultation was held. In the
course of the discussion, General Sheridan grew still
more restless and uneasy. He was greatly displeased
at the rough usage his 3d (Bradley's) Brigade had
received late in the evening ; and from the situation, as
disclosed at the interview, or from the necessities of the
case, or from the plan of operation as agreed on, he
was apprehensive that there would be more of the same
kind of usage for his two remaining brigades the next

The interview came to an end at a late hour, and
participants in it, except Sheridan, departed; then the
latter paced back and forth in his tent, and bewailed
the situation, past, present and prospective, especially
prospective, using language more emphatic than elegant,
as General Sheridan only could do. Three or four times
during the night the corporal returned to the company,
and reported the " signs of the times," which seemed
to indicate that we were going to have our hands full
have all we could possibly attend to, if not more. Burn-
side's force could not be counted on; was not expected;
had not been sent for. Granger's Reserve Corps was
all that could be reckoned as being within reach of the
battle-field, and able to re-enforce Rosecrans's army in
the expected hard struggle.

We were aware of the fact that our regiment and
brigade had not been engaged during the day. We


were also aware that most, if not all, the other brigades
had been engaged. So we could feel pretty thoroughly
assured that we should have a chance to "see the ele-
phant" in the morning. Having much to discourage,
and but little, if anything, is encourage us, it is not sur-
prising that Saturday night, September 19, 1863, WHS a

Online Library1862-1865 Illinois Infantry. 73d RegimentA history of the Seventy-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers : its services and experiences in camp, on the march, on the picket and skirmish lines, and in many battles of the war, l861-65. Embracing an account of the movement from Columbia to Nashville, and the battles of Spring hill and → online text (page 15 of 52)