J[ohn] H[amilton] Se Cheverell.

Journal history of the Twenty-ninth Ohio veteran volunteers, 1861-1865 online

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was excessively hot and dusty. When about two miles
from Gettysburg, we met ambulances returning with the
wounded of the First and Eleventh corps, which had
been engaged. Advancing a short distance, we found
still further evidence of the fight in the bodies of those
who had been killed in battle, and left beside the road.
Late in the afternoon the Twenty-ninth reached the
Union lines near Seminary Hill, and here batteries were
in position. The troops were moving, and the rapid
forming of lines gave evidence that a battle was 7iigh.

The Twenty-ninth regiment filed to the left of the pike,
and advancing about forty rods, took a position in a
wheat field, in line of battle, and here remained on arms
during the night.


During the day (July ist) the First corps, commanded
by General J. F. Reynolds, had a sharp fight, in which
Reynolds was killed. The Eleventh corps (Howard's)
was also engaged. Late in the afternoon the Nationals
were pressed back, and took a strong position a short
distance from Gettysburg, on Seminary Ridge, which
ended the battle for that day.

During the night we could hear the moving of confed-
erate troops and artillery in our front, while at the
same time the Nationals were coming onto the field, so
that in the morning of July 2d, the open field and
woods presented a solid mass of troops, artillery and
supply trains.

About 8 o'clock a. m., July 2d, the Twenty-ninth
regiment moved back to the pike, and moved with the
division to a position in the timber on a hill, near the
right of the line. Here breastworks were thrown up, and
skirmishing was almost continuous along the line during
the forenoon, and until about 3 o'clock p. m., when the
struggle was renewed on the left, and gradually extended
to the center. About 6 o'clock p. m., there was a lull on
the left, and the fight raged with renewed vigor on the
extreme, right and center, with Howard's Eleventh and
Slocum's Twelfth corps. Late in the evening the
Twenty-ninth, with the brigade, withdrew from the works,
and moved back about three-fourths of a mile, where it
remained during the forepart of the night, moving back
and forth, and constantly skirmishing. The entire army
appeared to be in motion the greater part of the night.

July 3, 1863, at the dawn of day, the Twenty-ninth,
with the brigade, moved back to, and took position in
the works left the night before, and about 4 o'clock a. m.
the conflict was renewed.

The rebels who had possession of our works were


quickly driven back, and, fifteen minutes after the first
gun was fired, the engagement become general along the
entire line, and for six hours the musketry was one con-
tinued roll, interspersed at intervals by the crash of the
artillery. The Twenty-ninth remained in the works ex-
cept when allowed to retire to secure ammunition, clean
pieces, etc. While thus securing ammunition the rebels
charged the line on our right, gained possession of the
works, and were advancing in force, when that gallant
officer, Colonel Hayes, ordered the Twenty-ninth to fall
in, fix bayonets, and advance to the charge of the rebels
in the rifle pits and advancing on our right. The regi-
ment made a half wheel to the right and advanced
double-quick, when the rebels gave way. An eastern
shore regiment took position next on our right, holding
the rebels in check. A battery was immediately placed in
position, a few rounds from which sent the Confederates
to the rear, leaving their dead and wounded thick about
our line of works.

The Confederates in our front were Ewell's corps, in-
cluding our old acquaintance, Stonewall Jackson's brig-
ade, which fought with desperation. The rattle of the
musketry, which extended from the extreme right to the
left center of our line, had now become continuous, and
about I o'clock p. m. General Lee opened a furious fire
upon our lines from over one hundred and fifty pieces
of artillery, to which more than one hundred National
guns quickly responded; some sixty thousand small arms
were heard amidst the roar of artillery. This unearthly
din continued until late in the afternoon, when the firing
ceased except at intervals, and this continued during
the entire night.

Brevet Captain George Hayward, of company E, pro-
moted for gallant conduct at Chancellorsville, was killed


in this fight. He was daring almost to rashness, always
at the front, unmindful of danger, while his tender
solicitude for his men endeared him to all who knew
him, and his death was sincerely regretted. The rebel
who killed him was concealed in the crevice of the rock
not more than twenty paces from our line. Upon again
exposing his person not less than one hundred rifles were
discharged at him ; he sprang backward, a shrill cry
rang out upon the air, and brave Hayward's death was

A little further down the hill lay the dead body of
Major Light, assistant adjutant-general on Ewell's staff,
who had perished in the morning assault.

Early on the morning of July 4th the Twenty-ninth
regiment advanced in reconnoissance over the battlefield,
and for the first time gained a full knowledge of the
fearful loss of life the rebels had sustained, full five
thousand of whom had answered to their last roll-call.
Still the mystery exists how any rebels escaped, as each
soldier of the Union army had, in the seven hours' fight,
fired two hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition, suf-
ficient to have annihilated the entire Southern army.

We moved forward to the base of Gulp's hill, and
thence left, to the creek near Cemetery hill, on the op-
posite bank of which were posted the gray-coated pick-
ets of the enemy. Rebel troops were moving through
the town, while a force was fortified on Seminary ridge.
Pickets were thrown out to observe their movements and
we retired to the main line.

During the day nearly five thousand stand of rebel
arms were collected from the field, in front of Geary's
division alone. Our fallen comrades were tenderly,
though rudely, transferred to the kindly embrace of


mother earth, while the wounded were collected at con-
venient points to receive the necessary treatment.

Whoever has followed the phases of the battle of
Gettysburg must have been expressed with the stubborn
valor displayed on both sides by the common soldiers.
The dauntless resolution exhibited in the attacks made
it a terribly bloody and destructive conflict, and the
unyielding and resolute front of the defence brought
victory. But there was no possibility of achieving on
either side such sweeping and complete triumphs as are
recorded of wars in other countries and in other days, in
a contest between two armies where the common soldiers
were of such a temper and m such earnest as were these.
It is a sad spectacle to see the manhood of two claiming
to be Christian peoples thus march out to a field, like
trained pugilists, and beat, and gouge, and pummel each
other until one or the other from exhaustion must yield.
It is revolting and sickening, and it is hoped that the
day will come when disputes arising among nations may
be settled by compromise, as two reasonable and upright
men would decide a difference, governed by the golden
rule, instead of resortmg to blows where right and jus-
tice must be subordinate to brute force. But in a great
battle like that which we have been considering it is not
the soldiers themselves who are responsible, but the
•parties who make the quarrel. Hence, while the mind
revolts at the scenes of destruction which the field dis-
closes, the immediate actors are not to be held account-
able. They go in obedience to the dictates of duty and
of patriotism, and while they may indulge no personal
hatred toward those who for the time they call enemies,
they must in battle inflict the greatest possible injury
upon them. In all ages the highest honors have been
reserved for those who have fought the battles of their


country — and this is right. For if there is any deed in
the power of a mortal which can sway the feeUngs or
soften the heart it is that of one man laying down his
life for another. The breast heaves and the eye is suf-
fused with tears at the spectacle of Pythias putting his
life in jeopardy only for his friend. There is a halo of
glory hovering about the profession of arms. It has its
seat in the sacrifice of self, which is its ruling spirit.

The man who stands upon the field of battle and faces
the storm of death that sweeps along, whether he merely
puts his life thus in jeopardy or is actually carried down,
in death, torn and mangled in the dread fight, is worthy
of endless honors, and though we class the deed with
the lowest of human acts, prompted by a hardihood
which we share with the brutes, and in which the most
ignorant and besotted may compete with the loftiest, yet
it is an act before which humanity will ever bow and
uncover. Who that walked that field of carnage and
beheld the maimed and mangled, and him cold in death,
could withhold the tribute of honor and respect ? For,
could he make that dying soldier's lot his own, or that of
his nearest and dearest friend, he would only then justly
realize the sacrifice. Our casualties in the fight were i
Killed, nine ; wounded, thirty-five ; missing, one. Totals



Return to Washington— Embark for New York— Return— Transferred
to the Western Army.

The pursuit of the retreating enemy was commenced
by the Twelfth army corps at i o'clock p. m., on July 5th.
At night we encamped at Littletown, Pennsylvania, and
on the foUowmg morning moved by the way of Frederick
to Antietam creek. On the 7th instant we marched
through Frederick, filed to the right, and passed by a
rebel spy that was hanging to a limb of a tree. We
moved a short distance, and halted, where we remained
all night. On the 8th we marched over the mountains
in the direction of Sharpsburg. On the 9th we passed
over the battlefield, and camped near Fairplay, Mary-
land. On the loth we moved through the town, and
camped for the night near Falling waters. On the fol-
lowing day we advanced to Fairplay, a small town to the
south of St. James' college, and the Twenty-ninth regi-
ment, with its customary good (.'') fortune, was thrown out
as skirmishers, and during the day exchanged frequent
shots with the enemy's cavalry, and at night resting in
position on the extreme front.

During the night rebel cavalry approached very near
our line, but our orders were positive not to fire unless
attacked. On the following morning we were relieved
and retired to the main line, where we assumed position
as support to Knapp's battery, which was hotly engaged
at intervals during the day.

On the morning of the 13th instant we rejomed our


brigade, anticipating an attack. Riflepits were thrown up
and due preparation made. The enemy are strongly
fortified between St. James' college and Williamsport,
some two miles distant, and on the 14th he was reported
as falling back across the Potomac. Heavy cannonading
is heard towards the river, and the First division of
General Williams advances in reconnoissance, the Second
acting as support. A dispatch states that Lee's army, in
full retreat, began crossing the river yesterday, continued
through the night and to-day. Our troops are hot]y en-
gaged with his rear guard, and we remain in position
until the morning of the i8th, when we move briskly for-
ward in pursuit of the fleeing chivalry, who were now
across the Potomac in Virginia. We marched via
Sharpsburg and Antietam.

While passing through the woods three men were shot
by Mosby's cavalry. A march of sixteen miles and we
halt within three miles of Harper's Ferry. At Sandy
Hook we remain until the morning of the 19th instant,
when we move forward via Harper's Ferry, to Hillsboro,

On the following morning we are early on the move,
advancing as far as Snickersville, near the gap of that
name, where pickets are thrown out and we bivouac for
the night. We remain here for two days, during which
time we muster and pass in review. Colonel W. T.
Fitch recently promoted, and who has been absent on
leave since March 28th, joined us here, and assumed

On the morning of the 23d we again moved forward,
passing through Upperville and on to Ashby's gap,
where, at a late hour, we go into camp. Having marched
thirty miles since morning sleep was sweet that night,
with mother earth for a bed, and only heaven's blue


canopy for a cover. At 3 o'clock on the morning of the
24th we march rapidly forward through the villages of
Markham and Linden, halting for dinner at Manassas
gap, then forward, changing direction by column to the
south-southeast, in the direction of White Plains.
Marching sixteen miles we halted for the night.

The next day we marched to White Plains, and the
next by the way of Thoroughfare gap, Haymarket, and
Greenwich, the latter a pretty little village, settled by
English people, for whose protection guards were sta-
tioned, as they were in fact in many instances for the
protection of rebel property. After a brief halt we
marched forward via Catlett's station and Warrenton,
where we jomed the First and Eleventh corps of our
army and encamped for the night, then forward again to
Kelley's Ford, on the Rappahannock, when, after a short
visit, the brigade took cars for Alexandria, Virginia,
under orders for New York city, to quell the memorable
draft riots induced by the Southern symi)athizers and

On August 23d we emj^arked on the steamer Baltic
and moved down the Potomac. When near its outlet
we went fast aground. This action occurred about noon
on the 24th, and three days elapsed before we were
again on the move. On the 28th, at 9:45 a. m., we
round Cape Henry and strike the swells of the Atlantic.
A rough sea soon sends many of the command to the
rail to — well, if the reader was ever seasick he will ap-
preciate the situation. It is not pleasant to linger long
upon this scene ; the recollection of it, even now, almost
destroys one's interest in sublunary affairs.

On the 29th we pass the narrows and enter New York
harbor, commg to anchor near Governor's Island at 12
o'clock M.


From our anchorage the view was grandly beautiful
with the immense shipping, Brooklyn on the right, New
York to the front, and Jersey City on the left. On the
left of Governor's Island Castle William (now used as a
magazine) stands out in bold relief. To its right is the
fort which protects the harbor. On September ist we
disembarked and went into camp on the island. The
men are in fine spirits and delighted with the change.

The troubles in the city having subsided we re-em-
barked aboard the Baltic, which, on the 8th day of Sep-
tember, heads towards the sea. When passing the nar-
rows the guns of the fort thunder a salute; soon Sandy
Hook is passed and we are again in the open sea, all
happy at the prospect of going to the front, the inactivity
of camp life with nothing to do having become tiresome
in the extreme.

On September loth we came to anchor in Chesapeake
Bay, where we remained one day, then passed on again
to Alexandria, disembarked, and went into camp to the
south of the town. Two days later and we again move
forward to Elk creek, where we encamp for the night.

September i6th, marched at 6 a. m., reached the Rap-
pahannock at noon, and here rejoined our old brigade,
moved forward to Raccoon ford on the north side of the
Rapidan. General Lee's forces are massed on the op-
posite shore of the river, and as we came up our ears
were greeted with the pleasing sound of rapid musketry
firing proceeding from the pickets of the two armies.
During the afternoon we witnessed the execution of two
deserters from the Seventy-eighth New York.

During the last of September we learned of the defeat
of the Western army at Chickamauga, and the Twelfth
corps was at once transferred to the Department of the
West, and without delay proceeded by rail to Washing-


ton, and thence via Wheeling, Columbus, Indianapolis,
Nashville, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where we arrived
October 5th.

After a few days' rest the regiment again resume the
march, passing Duck river, Bell Buckle, and Wartrace,
when the Seventh Ohio halted, while the Twenty-ninth
moved on to Normandy, on the Nashville & Chattanooga
railroad. Here it remamed m camp, with the usual
routine of camp and picket duty until late in October,
when the regiment and brigade broke camp, took the
cars for Bridgeport, Alabama, where it arrived on the
27th, disembarked, and camped for the night. On the
morning of October 28th the Twenty-ninth regiment
crossed the Tennessee river with the wagon train. Halt-
ing at Shellmound for dinner, marched until late in the
€venmg, and halted near White Sides, where all camped
for the night. About 1 1 o'clock p. m. artillery firing,
with heavy volleys of musketry, was heard in the direc-
tion of Chattanooga, continuing two or three hours.



Murfreesboro — General Greene — The Mule Brigade — Congratulatory.

While at Murfreesboro scouts reported that Wheeler's
cavalry was in the vicinity, and the Second division
(Geary's) was pushed forward to meet it, the First divis-
ion remaining to guard the post and railway communica-
tion. Geary moved forward in the direction of Bridge-
port, encountering Wheeler's force near the line of the
railway. A brief but sharp skirmish ensued, which re-
sulted in the repulse and hasty retreat of the rebels.- We
then advanced without delay to Bridgeport. October
27th the Second division, Geary commanding, with
Creighton and Greene in command of the First and
Second brigades, crossed the Tennessee, the object to
open communication on the south side of the river by
way of Wauhatchie valley and Lookout mountain for the
relief of General Thomas at Chattanooga.

Brigadier-general Greene, with three regiments of
infantry and four pieces of Knapp's battery, numbering
about fifteen hundred men, with a wagon train of provis-
ions; was sent to the relief of the famishing army at
Chattanooga, the balance of our command following as
fast as practicable with the immense supply train in
charge. After we had encamped for the night the signal
corps of General Greene informed us that his command
had encamped at Wauhatchie, within six miles of Chat-
tanooga. The knoll occupied by them derived its name
from an Indian battle fought there years before. It is
situated in the valley not far from the base of Lookout
mountain. Knapp's guns were placed in position facing


Lookout, and pickets stationed perhaps fifty yards to the

About midnight General Hood's division came down
from the heights of Lookout and quietly surrounded
General Greene's small force, and at once commenced
an attack. Greene's men, aroused from their slumber,
hastily formed line under a most deadly fire from all
sides, and one of the most desperate struggles on record
ensued. We were awakened by the sound of the distant
combat, and forming into line hastily advanced to their
rescue. When we arrived Hood's rebels had been
routed and were flying in all directions, intent only on
reaching their mountain stronghold. There was a regu-
lar stampede of the mules, which had broken loose and
were braying furiously. This, with loud shouts from our
men, must have induced a belief in the valorous rebel
horde that a large force of cavalry was charging down
upon them, and their fears and flight was indeed a grand
burlesque finale to a terrible tragedy.

General Greene had lost one-third of his force, killed
and wounded, his ammunition was exhausted, and order-
ing the mules cut loose, he made a desperate bayonet
charge to cut his way to freedom. The mules providen-
tially moved m the same direction, mingling the thunder
of their tread and their awful voices with the shouts of
Greene's men, and our own, to let them know that assist-
ance was coming. The effect was to throw Hood's rebel
army into a wild panic and put them to rout. Three
hundred prisoners and about one thousand stand of
arms were captured. Every man of Knapp's battery,
save one only, was either killed or wounded. Among
the former was Lieutenant Geary, son of General John
W. Geary. The ground was covered with the dead and
injured of both the blue and the gray.



While assisting the wounded and burying the dead,
Generals Grant, Hooker, and Thomas, with their re-
spective staffs, arrived from Chattanooga. The former
coolly remarked as he surveyed the bloody scene :
"Well, boys, you must have had a hot time of it, judg-
ing from appearances." There was silence among the
men, who knew that an army was cosily reposing but
four miles away, which could easily have averted the
terrible bloodshed, but were so completely disheartened
by the defeat at Chickamauga that they dare not venture
from their stronghold to the relief of gallant "Corporal"
Greene, who happily turned defeat into a heroic victory.

The following lines, composed by one of our com-
mand, fully relates the grand finale and

Half a mile, half a mile,
Half a mile onward.
Right towards the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.
"Forward the Mule Brigade,

Charge for the rebs ! " they neighed;
Straight for the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

■"Forward the Mule Brigade!"
Was there a mule dismayed?
Not when the long ears felt
All their ropes sundeied.
Theirs not to make reply ;
Theirs not to reason why;
Theirs but to make them fly;
On to the Georgia troops
Broke the two hundred.

Mules to the right of them.
Mules to the left of them.
Mules behind them

Pawed, neighed, and thundered.
Breaking their own confines.
Breaking through Longstreet's lines,


Into the Georgia troops

Stormed the two hundred.
Wild all their eyes did glare,
Whisked all their tails in air,
Scatt'ring the chivalry there,

While all the world wondered.
Not a mule's back bestraddled,
Yet how they all skedaddled;
Fled every Georgian
Unsabred, unsaddled,
Scattered and sundered.
How they were routed there

By the two hundred.
Mules to the right of them.
Mules to the left of them.
Mules behind them

Pawed, neighed, and thundered;
Followed by hoof and head
Full many a hero fled,
Fain in the last ditch dead;
Back from an "ass's jaw,"
All that was left of them —

Left by the two hundred.
When can their glory fade ?
Oh! the wild charge they made!

All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made.
Honor the Mule Brigade —

Long-eared two hundred.

Major-general George H. Thomas issued an order
complimenting the column under Major-general Hooker,
which took possession of the line from Bridgeport to the
foot of Lookout Mountain, for their brilliant success in
driving the enemy from every position which they at-
tacked. The repulse by General Geary's command of
the greatly superior numbers who attempted to surprise
him, will rank among the most distinguished feats of
arms of the war.

We moved forward the next evening, and threw up a
line of works on the site of this night attack.



Lookout Mountain — The Battle — The Regiment Re-enlist.

The line of General Geary's division now extends
along the foot of Lookout mountain, parallel with the
rebel line, and only separated from it by the creek along
Its base. For nearly ten days the commissary stores in-
tended for us have been largely forwarded to Chat-
tanooga, leaving us with scarcely anything to eat. When
on the skirmish line we often sent our reserves around
to the right of the mountain to secure corn from a field
in that location, held by the rebels, and quite lively little
fights would result. Our boys always returned with
corn, however, which we parched to allay in part the
bitter pangs of hunger. As with everything earthly our
long fast ended, rations came, and life began to seem
almost worth living, exchanges of coffee and tobacco
were almost hourly made between the Union and rebel
soldiers, each forgetting for the time the hate engendered
over the fight for corn. Our main line was being strongly
fortified, the rebels meanwhile keeping up an almost
continuous bombardmennt of our line from their bat-
teries on the heights of Lookout. Strong details were
employed in cutting away the forest on our front to en-

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Online LibraryJ[ohn] H[amilton] Se CheverellJournal history of the Twenty-ninth Ohio veteran volunteers, 1861-1865 → online text (page 5 of 17)