John J. Hight.

History of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 online

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Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 14 of 47)
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from the sparkling lountain for all the drinks of the most
fashionable saloon. His fare is rough, but then his appetite
is good, and he has not sickened over dainties. He lives a
life of toil, btit his muscles are strong and his heart is brave.
He exists amid dangers, but he heeds them not, for the
smiles of the fair, the prayers of the good, and the hopes of
the oppressed cheer him on. When he stands in battle, his
soul sinks not in tear, for above him is the tiag of the iVee,
and beneath the soil he would lie, rather than vield to
tyrants. The cannon's deadlv roar, the crash of arms, the
shout of the charge are his music. If victory comes, his
soul is filled with indescribable jov. If he falls, full well he

"Whetlier on the scaftold liigli,

Or in the battle's van,
The noblest place for man to liii.'

Is where he dies for man."


It" he perish, true hearted comrades will diu- his orave.
"No useless coffin will enclose his form ; he will lav like a
warrior, taking his rest, with his martial cloak around him."
Why need he dread death ? Is not the grave the common
receptacle of the young, the beautiful, the beloved? Let
not the brave then fear to die. His memory shall be cher-
ished bv those who love him. The mighty deeds in which
he bore an humble part shall live in the traditions of a thou-
sand generations — but, hush, n^v wandering thoughts I
Stillness reigns in camp ; 'tis time for sleep. Good night.

Friday, July 31. — Most of this dav I have spent in writ-
ing. I am fearful of foreign intervention in our national
affairs. We are hated by the tyrants of the old world, and
now, when the rebellion seems about to be overthrown, thev
are afraid that free government will succeed. For a time
thev were willing to leave us alone, hoping we would devour
each other. But now, being satisfied that the Southern
aristocrac}" will be overthrown and the Union established,
they seem determined to prevent so desirable a result. I
tremble at the prospect. My only hope is that God will
uphold the cause of liberty. The whole world may be
engaged in the contest before it is ended. "The Lord
reigns, let the earth rejoice."

Sunday, August 2. — The Regimental inspection at nine
o'clock. At ten o'clock we had church services, conducted
by Chaplain Crews. A large congregation was present. I
preached at the same place at 2 : 30 p. m., and at Ilillsboro
at 4 p. m. At the first services a few negroes were present,
A man belonging to the 58th had started to church, but when
he saw the negroes he refused to go, lest he should equalize
himself with "niggers." He said he "would not go ten
steps to hear Hight preach, because he was a nigger lover."
This same man went to the four o'clock meeting, in Hills-
boro, however, walking three-fourths of a mile through the
hot sun, when, great was his astonishment to see Hight get
up to preach. But he staid through the sermon, notwith-
standing his boast. How extremely ridiculous many people


make themselves on account ot" the netrroes. T always bear
with such, and pity tliem, for I know how easily ignorant
men are led astray by caste.

In the evening we had a most solemn. time, in the observ-
ance of the sacrament of the I^ord's Supper. Almost half of
the congreg-ation were communicants. At the close, three
of the 58th and two of the looth Illinois came forward for
church membership. The three were Lieutenant J. G.
Behm, whom I had known in Indiana as keeper of the Gib-
son countv poor house ; Benjamin Lilley, who was for a long
time cook at headquarters, and Lewis Beck, whose wife
latel}' made a profession of religion at her home in Indiana.
There is a deep religious feeling in the Regiment. May
God continue to send his Holy Spirit down upon us.

Tuesday, August 4. — The Regiment went to Murfrees-
boro to-day, leaving in camp Surgeon Adams, Ciiaplain
Ilight, Captains Whitman, Cain and Evans, Lieutenants
Snvder, Voorhees and Chappell. one non-commissioned
officer from each Compan\', Commissar\'-Sergeant Farmer,
the band, and most of the servants. The Regiment went as
a jjuard for two hundred wagons from our Division after
rations. I am under the impression that about next Monday
we will commence crossing the mountains, with twentv-tive
days' rations.

Colonel George P. Buell returned to-day iVom an eight
days' furlough. I learn that he has tendered his resignation.
If it should be accepted, we will lose a good officer. For
while I have not always been able to commend his conduct,
yet it must be said that Colonel Buell has been loyal to his
Regiment. He is not without fault, but he has man\" excel-
lent traits of character. He is, unlike so many other officers,
free from intoxication, and has always tried to suppress it
among those under his command. He always tries to main-
tain a high standard of discipline in the Regiment.

Thursday, August 6, was observed as a National Thanks-
giving by order of President Lincoln, in commemoration of
our recent victories. We had appropriate services in our


Recriment, but the attendance was not lar^e, on account ot'
tlie absence of the trreater part ol' our Reii-iment at Murtrees-
boro, and the heav\' details tor duty from the other Regi-
ments of the Brigade. Chaplain Crews preached a good
sermon on national affairs.

At two p. m. mv contraband school met. Some are mak-
ing great progress, some are getting along slowly. While
my class was reciting, a great number of soldiers gathered
around, as thev do more or less every day. They are all
disappointed ; those who hate negroes disagreeably so, at the
progress made bv mv pupils. The superior system ot
instruction, perhaps, lias something to do witli their rapid
progress, but more largely is it to be attributed to their
intense eagerness to learn. Chaplain Crews and Rev. Mr.
Pearson, of the Tennessee M. E. Conference, made some
encouraging remarks to the school. 1 think young Pearson
is getting his eyes open to the iniquity of slavery. 1 am
determined to prepare a few of the slaves tor freedom.

I had an introduction this afternoon to Chaplain Thomp-
son, of the 64th Ohio. He came only a few days ago, and
called to see me, in company with Lieutenant-Colonel
Brown, of that Regiment. He is a solid, hne looking man,
and belongs to the United Presb^'terian church.

The Regiment returned from Murfreesboro, Friday,
August 7, with their wagons loaded. They brought twenty-
five days' rations tor the Division, and had a very pleasant

In the afternoon of Saturday, August 8, I attended a
Union meeting in the Tucker neighborhood. Many soldiers
were present. Speeches were made by Lieutenant-Colonel
Young, Lieutenant-Colonel Palmer, Lieutenant J. L. Yar-
yan and others. The people were very green about the
transaction of business in a meeting of this kind. Only one
motion was put, and that was by Lieutenant Yaryan.

Monday, August 10. — Great preparation is being made
for marching. Colonel Buell has withdrawn his resigna-
tion, and has determined to stay with the Regiment. Quite


a number of general orders trom Division headquarters were
read, on dress parade this evening, promulgating decisions
ot" a court martial in ret'erence to several men in our Regi-

Wednesda\' 1 rode out into the countrv with Dr.
McGavan, of tlie 26th Ohio. We went out on the Decherd
road and stopped for a few moments at the house of a citi-
zen named Lans, who proved to be a miserable old fool and
secessionist. He said: "I never meddle with politics or
scripter nor swar any.'' He wished he was "sot down in
P'rance or somewhar," that he could be free. I was vexed
at the Doctor for exchanging a few words with such an
unpatriotic ignoramus. We went on and took dinner at the
Widow Call's, who lived between the Decherd and Win-
chester roads. It was a splendid dinner we had. On our
return, we called on an old lady by the name of Smith, who
was very sick. Her husband told me she was a "night
rider." I supposed he meant that she was subject to "night
mare," and was prepared to ofl'er my sympathy. But when
it was explained that "night rider" was the Tennessee des-
ignation for "midwife," I had to apologize for my igno-

Thursday, Aucjust 13. — I sent to Joseph Patterson,
treasurer, if 120. 75, the amount of our Regiment's contribu-
tion to the fund of the U. S. Christian Commission. We
liad a terrible rain storm this afternoon. Several -trees were
l)lown down in camp, but tortunateh- none of our Regiment
were hurt. Colonel Embree returned from a twenty days"
furlough, bringing man^• letters and packages for the boys.


O.N TO Chattaxoo(;a — Crossinc; Cumberland Moun-
tains — Sequatchie Vallp:y — A Fertile Spot —
False Alarm — Fruitless Expe:dition — Bob Whitp:,
the Union Spy — Crossing the Tp:nnessee — Nicka-
jACK Cave — First View of Lookout Mountain —
Reconnoisance — Chattanooga E\'Acuated — Wood's
Dix'isioN Occupies iiii; T{)^^•N.

UNEXPECTEDLY, the contemplated march began Sun-
day, August 1 6. We were not expecting to start
before Monday, but the orders came to break camp, and all
our arrangements tbr preaching services were cancelled.
The distance marched to-dav was only eight miles, but part
of the distance was so verv hot and dustv that some of the
men were prostrated. During the afternoon a refreshing
shower of rain fell, and made things more pleasant. Our
Brigade went into camp at the foot of the mountain ; Wag-
ner's Brigade, which was in our ad\ance, ascended the
mountain during the dav and night.

Monday morning we began climbing the moimlain. Om*
wagons were never so heavilv loaded. We had thirt\' days'
rations in them, besides necessary baggage, equipments, etc.
One-half the load of each wagon was left at the foot of the
mountain. At first the rise is very gradual, but as w^e
approach the summit tiie road is very steep. The teams to
the artillery and heavy wagons were doubled. Then there
were long ropes attached to the tongues of vehicles, and all
the men that could la}' hold of the ropes assisted the teams


in piillino- tlieir loads up the steep places. All dd\ , and tlie
look .

Xext dav after our arrival in the valkw, we were alarmed
h\ tlie report that 4,000 rel^els were coming. We got into


line in the best shape we could, and awaited the approach of
the foe with fear and tremblinij;. There w'ere some braver
than the others — as there always is — who said, "Let 'em
come." But these brave persons were as much relieved as
the rest of us were, when it was discovered that it was a false
alarm. It is a great deal more pleasant to lie around in the
shade and cat peaches than to be skipping about in tlie hot
sun dodafinp- rebel cannon balls and listenino- to the music of
their muskets.

To-dav a call was made ibr volunteers to go on an expe-
dition to a point on the Tennessee River, be^■ond Walden's
Ridge, to capture a steamboat, which was reported to be
stuck at that place. Four hundred men were wanted, one
hundred from each of the four Regiments, with Colonel
Buell in command. Tlie 58th easil\- turnished its one liun-
dred volunteers, and about the middle of the afternoon the
expedition set out. Thev marched over Walden's Ridge,
following blind roads and bv-paths, lead h\ a native guide.
About four o'clock next morning the^' came in sight of the
Tennessee River. But the steamboat was not there, and so
thev had their march of eighteen or twentv miles lor noth-
ing. There was nothing for them to do but return to camp,
which thev did, reaching there about eight p. m. Although
this expedition was fruitless, vet it demonstrated the pluck
and nerve of those who enlisted in it. It showed wliat
might be expected of men who would voluntarilv enlist in an
expedition involving so much hardship and possible danger.
On this trip the party passed the houses of man\' Union peo-
ple, wlu:) were greatlv delighted to see the ]lo^'s in blue.
One of the notetl characters who was seen on this mountain
expedition was Bob White, a well known I'nion sjiv. His
wife stavs at home, but Bob has not slept in his lu)use for
eight months. The rebels luive made e\'erN- elfort to arrest
him, but without success. lie goes into their lines when he
pleases, and does manv daring things.

Sunday, August 23. — Chaplain Crews prc:iched under
the shade of a chestnut tree in camp at ten a. m, on the text ;


*'What must I do to be saved?" It was a good sermon, a
great deal better than the one I preached at two p. m. at the
same place. At 5:30 p. m., Chaplain Crews preached at
Division headquarters. This is the first event of the kind
in this Divison since our connection with it. There is a
great change in General Wood, so far as spiritual matters
are concerned, and I hope he will vet become a sincere
Christian man. The services were held in the shadow of
the mountain, and I thought, how pleasant it is thus to wor-
ship Him, who was God, "before the mountains were
brought forth."

We remained in this camp until September ist, enjoving
life as only soldiers thus situated can. At seven o'clock
that morning we again took up our march, moving down
the valley. The road was verv dustv, and marching dis-
agreeable, but we made twcntv miles, nevertheless. We
camped about a mile from Jasper. Marion count^'. It is to
be noted that this is the tirst time we have had anv dust on
our marches for ten months. Hitherto our marches have
usually been attended with rain and mud.

Wp:dnesday, September 2. — Marched at six p. ni., and
crossed Sequatchie River alter dusk. Came to the Ten-
nessee opposite Shellmound. Our wagons were sent by
way of Bridgeport. During the night our Brigade crossed
the river, using some old flat-bottomed barges for that
purpose. Barker's Brigade followed ours. Camped near
Nickajack Cave. The rebels had extensive saltpeter works

During Thursda\- and h"rida\-. while our command resttnl
in this vicinity, nian\' of the bovs availed themselves of the
opportunity to visit the cave and inspect its many curiosities.
Some of them found, by actual experience, that the rebel
saltpeter of the cave was loo much for tiie tabric contained
in Yankee trousers. There were some inviting places to sit
down and r(\st, but those who indulged in such a rest found,
on rising, that tiieir jiantaloons were not in a condition to
pass inspection, esjiecialh' from the rear rank.


This cave was said to have been a great retreat for Indians
in the olden time. Some specimens of Indian crockery
were still found there. Shellmound is so called on account
of being a great collection of shells. This is also said to
have been the work of Indians, but tor wliat purpose I am
unable to learn.

Near the cave lives an old negro catcher and his blood-
hounds. He is ignorant, ugly and poor. He has never
been in the cave, a few feet Irom his door. He tells me he
can catch a "nigger anywhar.'' I never begrudge the Devil
such men.

About noon, Saturday, September 5th, we moved from
Shellmound toward Chattanooga. We passed between
Raccoon Mountain and the River, the road, for the greater
part of the time, followed along the bank of the river.
Then we turned off to the right, marching up a valley, and
passing bv where an immense bridge liad spanned a deep
ravine from tiie hinfh hills on either side. This bridge had
been completely destroyed bv our iViends tiie enemy. After
marching about ten miles we went into camp in a narrow
vallev by the side of a runnino- stream. By orders ot Gen-
eral Wood, no sounding of bugle or drum was permitted
here, as we were getting pretty close to the rebels. It was
our purpose, it seems, to tind out all we could as to what
thev were doing, and how man\' ot them were doing it ; and
to keep them in ignorance, as much as possible, as to our own
doings. Wood's Division was in the advance. Generals
Palmer's and Van Cleve's Divisions were following us.

Si'NDAY, Sei'TKMber 6. — About eight a. m. we resumed
our march, but the ambulances and baggage wagons were
left behind. If the rebels had been disposed to dispute our
advance the country was well adapted for such purpose.
But we saw no enemy during the morning. We crossed a
ridge, passed througli the little village of Whiteside, and
then hied into Lookout Valley.

In the village I saw a pretty little girl, nculh- dressed,
reading the Testament. She had a hue. intelligent face.


and seemed unconscious of the war watrini*- around. This
sight carried my mind back to those Sabbath scenes in which
I liad lound so much jov and satisfaction in other days.
Oh, when shall those peaceful Sabbath davs return again?
May He, who holds the destiny of nations in His hands,
iiasten the iuippv time.

From Whiteside I caught m\ tirst glimpse of Lookout
Mountain. It stood out in majestic grandeur across the
valley and seemed to be an impassable barrier to our army.
Further up the valley we could see the point where the
mountain peak towered high above all the s^urrounding
bights. It was a grand sight that nature afforded, but we
are not out looking at beautiful scenery this afternoon.
There is more serious business at hand. As we moved on
into IvOokout Valley our advance found the enemy. The
sound of musketry disturbed the quiet of the Sabbath after-
noon. But it was only the rebel outposts and they quickh'
ii^ave way.

About sundown we went into bivouac in line of battle at
Wauhatchie Station, having marched about eight miles
to-dav. The 58th held a position immediately on the left of
the station house, on a hill in the woods. In plain view was
the t'amous Lookout Point. Here \\as a rebel signal station.
We could see their signal flag busih' at work, telegraphing
all our movements. More than this, the ladies ot Sunimer-
ville, a resort on the mountains, came in their white dresses
and sat on the rocks looking at the ^'ankees. The^' re-
mained there until dark, expecting no doubt to see a battle.
I have not yet got near enough to an^■ ol these women to
ask them how the\' liked the looks of the Yankees.

About ten p. m. I was awakened hv an order to c^\'aciuitt>.
(rathering up all m\- traps and saddling nn" h()rs(.\ I moved
olfwitli the Regiment. '^Pht.' enemy, hearing thi' rattle ot
the artillery, beat the long roll and fell into line. 'l^heN' evi-
dently expected an attack. i^>iit we went the other wa\'
until we regained our position at the jilace where we entered
Lookout \'allr\-. Hei'e we finished our nights repose.


It is rumored in camp that there has been a little difterence
between Crittenden and Wood in ret'erence to the move-
ments of this day. It is said that Wood during- the after-
noon reported sharp skirmishing. He stated that his ''mili-
tary knowledge" taught him that his position in the evening
was a bad one, and asked permission to fall back. Critten-
den, after reflecting on the "sharp skirmishing," that
resulted in no casualties, and underscoring military knozvl-
cdgt\ gave Wood permission to fall back. This was very
unkind in Crittenden. He should remember that he holds
his position Irom the fact that he belongs to one of the first
families of the Blue Grass region, of Kentucky. Wood is


an old officer who has served his country long and well.
He was on the ground. Crittenden ought not to have
indulged in any petulence. Besides all this, W^ood \vas
right, according to Napoleon. "'Think often in reference
to your position," said the Emperor. "Ask yourself what
you would do in case of an assavilt upon an}^ part of your
forces. If you cannot answer the question, your position is
a bad one; chancre it immediately." In our front was a
large camp of rebels. Beyond the mountain, which the
enemy held, they had another camp. From this latter
they might pass in the night to our rear, and cut us off"
fVom our main army. It was therefore proper for us to
fall back to such a position that we would have them in
our front if they came down from the mountain. Wood
was right.

During Monda^" we remained in camp, waiting develop-
ments. On Tuesday Ilarker's Brigade made a retonnoi-
sance up Lookout Valley and had a sharp little brush with
the enemy, losing; one man. killed.

Wednesdav, September 9. — We have orders in our
Brigade to be ready to move on short notice. The intention
is to make another reconnoissance toward Lookout Valley.*

* To elicit the truth. General Rosccrans directed General Thomas to
send Colonel Atkins, of the y^d Illinois, to make a reconnoissance toward
Chattanooija 011 the mountain road earlv on the 9th, and instructed General


But before we start, word comes that the rebels are evacuat-
ing Chattanooga, so we move at once in tliat direction.
There is a grreat rush n(jw to jret to the front. There was
not so much of a desire to rush that wa\- awhile ago. Now
that the dog is dead, evervbodv wants to get in at the burial.
Infantry, artillery, and especial!}' the cavalry, are all in hot
haste to get there first.

About ten o'clock a. m. we entered the town, the few
straggling rebel calvarv clearing out as we approached.
We found a few inhabitants, only. Most of them had gone
out to the countrv to avoid the shells which had been fired
into the town from Wagner's batteries across the river.
These citizens returned after our occupancy of the town and
showed a desire to make terms of peace.

Chattanooga is admirably adapted for a militarv depot,
and is a situation easily defended. In the tov/n there are
numerous hospitals and large and commodious store houses.
Soon after arriving I took occasion to ride about the town.
War is sadlv written on ever^'thing and there is a desolate
and dilapidated appearance about the streets and iiouses.

We camped for the night on a high hill near the banks of
the river. Many of our bo^'s availed themselves of the
opportunity of taking a bath in the river. I slept that night
on a new door which I found at the planing mill near our
camp. Bv the wav, I have never yet found the soft side ol
a board.

Crittenden to send a Brigade up an almost impracticable path, called the
N'ickajack Trace, to Siimmertown, a hamlet on the mountain, to reconnoiter
the tront'of the mountain, and to hold the main portions of his Corps in
readiness to support the troops on reconnoissance, to prevent a sortie of the

Online LibraryJohn J. HightHistory of the Fifty-eighth regiment of Indiana volunteer infantry. Its organization, campaigns and battles from 1861 to 1865 → online text (page 14 of 47)