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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former we ftfund several of our men and took them to our
own hospital. We then went to Reynolds and Davis. By
this time the battle was already raging. I had hoped that
tiie quiet of the Sabbath would not be broken.

When I arrived at our hospital, I made out a list of the
killed, wounded and missing, as far as I could gain the nec-
essary information.

Soon wounded men from our Brigade began to arrive.
All reported that our men were being driven. None of the
58th were brought in.

Two pieces of artillery, which were at the brick house,
near Crawfish Springs, were taken to the left. The cavalr\'
went out and retvu'ned. About eleven a. ni. the cayalr\-
formed immediately in front of tiie hospital, thus indicating
that Gordon's Mills had been abandoned by our infantry.
It was plain that the cjav was lost, utterly and irretrievabh-
lost. What must I do? If I remain with the wounded, and
tall into rebel hands, I can not hope for proper treatment,
for the rebels utterly despise Yankee preachers. As for
leaving, I could not think of doing so without orders, unless
I went to the Regiment, and they were driven I knew not
where. So I saddled my horse, and "w'aited for something
to turn uji." I suppose that it was about twelve m. when
Doctor Phelps, of (jeneral Crittenden's stafl', rode u)") and
ordered tlial (•\er\- man and thiuLr. that could be, should he


moved towards Chattanoojjra h\ tho hill road. It was ]-)ilirul
to leave our brave and suffering men in the hands ot' rebels.

"You are not going to leave us, are \ou? ' asked the
silent and suffering Captain Davis, of Compan\' A.

"Can \()u not get an ambulance and take us?" said Ser-
geant Keeler, of Company- B, meaning himself and the old
sharpshooter, Gilbert Armstrong.

I went to see, but never returned to communicate the neg-
ative. I never expected to see either of them again. All
w^ho could walk w^ere sent forward. The wasfons were
loaded up and the train started. Doctors Holtzman and
Downe^•, Steward Burch, Anthonv Lindsey and John A.
Baldwin remained to care for our wounded. The cavalry
left our front and took up the vallev, parallel to the hill road
and next Lookout Mountain.

It was a motlev train and crowd that moved along the
hill road between Crawtish Springs and Missionar^' Ridge.
There were M. D.'s in abundance. There were musicians
carrviuL!" drums and saxehorns, with tlie usual red rao- to tell
the tale of their devotions to the w'ounded. There w^ere
parsons, with straight coats and sad faces. Of negroes there
were everv shade and size, but the accustomed sfrin was
gone I The order w-as "Close up I Close up I" Vn\\ the
long train moved slow, like

"That iiimimerablc caravan tlial moves
To the pale reahns, where each
Shall take his chamlier in the silent halls of death."

Inhere was no haste and no confusion. You might hear
almost anvthing 'S'ou pleased. All kinds of tales were float-
ing along the line. It was said at first that we were "going
up here to a vallev, where water was plentv. " But we
continued on our winding wav until we reached Chatta-
nooga. It must have been midnight when the remains of
our hospital sought rest on the ground near the Brown hos-

liut let us retiuMi lo the records ol" the 5(Sih Ivegiment for
the dav.


During Saturday niyht the pickets were twice driven in
and several shots \\'ere tired by and at the Regiment. But
no casualties on our side.

At two o'clock a. m. the Regiment moved to a new posi-
tion about a mile and a half to the left. Here thev took a
place in tlie reserve, and before the dawning of the day the
weary soldiers prepared some coffee and partook of a frugal
meal, the tirst they had enjoved for nearly twenty-four
hours. There had begun to be a feeling that there would
be no fighting to-day, but this idea was soon dissipated.
Even before all had finished their coffee, orders came to
move. The Regiment formed in line and advanced a few
hundred 3'ards tow^ards the front. By this time the sun was
well up and the atmosphere w^as more pleasant. No sound
of a renewal of the battle yet, but it was not long after they
got into position until the sounds came echoing over the
hills from the left, telling that "the battle was on once

The intention was to issue rations to the Regiment here,
and the work had partly begun, w^hen orders came to move
on up to the line ot battle in our tVont. In the meantime,
details were made from each Compan\^ to draw the rations
and follow on after the Regiment. This they attempted to
do, but failed on account of a disaster that fell upon that
part of our lines shortly alter. As it turned out the rations
were lost and some of the detail were captured. But this is

In obedience to ordt^rs, (jeneral W Oods I)i\ision moxiul
up and took j^osition in line of batlU\ filling a phun^ thai had
been occupied bv (xeneral Negle\"s Division. A teniporar\'
breastwork of rails and logs had been constructed ah)ng the
edge of a woods, overlooking a field and a woods beyond.
We took a position behind this rude detence and threw out
a line of skirmishers. It was not long until they developed
the enem\-. lie was across in the opposite woods in large
numbers. Vov some time heavy liring betwecMi oui" skir-
mishers and the rebt'l line was ke]")t up. but no achanee was


made. Away to the left, General Thomas' Corps was seri-
ousl}' engaged, as was evident from the roar of artiller}'^ and
mvisketry. News came that Thomas was heavily pressed,
and all available troops were sent to his assistance. Still
evervthing was comparatively quiet in our front. But our
time was coming. After an hour or so of desultory skir-
mish firing. General Wood ordered the Brigade to follow the
Division in a movement to close up on Reynolds. This
move was in obedience to a written order from General
Rosecrans, but it was given by the commanding General
under a misapprehension of the facts. It was a serious mis-
take, as we shall see.*

Lieutenant Zack Jones, of Colonel Buell's statT, was sent
to the officer in command of our skirmishers with an order
to have them retire to the line of battle, and rejoin the Regi-
ment, which was then on the move. The skirmishers were
accordingly called in and started after the Regiment. But
this movement was observed by the enemy and they quickly

* Following is a copy of the order to General Wood:

Headqlarters Department of the Cumberland, )

September 20, 10:45 a. m. \
Brii^adicr-Gcucral Wood, Command hig Difisiou :

The General commanding directs that you close up on Reynolds as fast
as possible, and support him. Respectfully, etc.,

Major and Aid de Camp.

Concerning this movement, V'ati Homes History of the Army of the
Cumberland, \o\. i, page 347, says:

Regarding this order as too explicit in requirement, and too imperati\ e in
tone to warrant any discretion as to obedience. General Wood withdrew his
Division with promptness. Mis left was aligned with Brannan's right, and
he saw no wav to close upon Reynolds but to withdraw from line and pass
to the left, in the rear of Brannan. Having advised General McCook that
tiiis change would be made. General Wood moved his Di\ision rajiidly from
line. Brannan was not out of line, Reynolds was not under pressure, and
W^ood moved from line at the \ery moment of the enemy's attack. General
Davis threw his reser\e Brigade toward the wide vacant space, but the
heavy columns of the enemy were soon upon it, and Davis' two small Brig-
ades were speedily enveloped. His troops resisted bravely, but assaulted in
front, flank, and rear, they were lifted from position and hurled in fragments
toward Missionary Ridge. The attack and issue were too sudden for Lai-
boldt to move to his assistance, and the latter was quickly routed. Buell's
Brigade, of Wood's Division, the last to leave position, was severed as it
retired, and Brannan's was struck in flank.



took advantage of it. There was a gap in the line lett bv
Wood's Division moving out. When the skirmishers
reached the line the enemy was close after them. The few
scattering men attempted to hold back the great mass of
rebels that pressed onto them, but it was useless. Our lines
were broken, and the divisions on either side of tiie gap were
struck in the liank, and thrown into confusion. Imme-
diately the broken columns were thrown into a state border-
ing on a panic. In the rear of our lines there was an open

field, with a gradual slope
to the center and a grad-
ual ascent to a piece of
timber on tlie opposite
side. Across this field
our broken columns were
fiving, in utter demorali-
zation. There were men,
horses without riders,
sections of artillerv, and
the various other appoint-
ments of an arm\-, all
rusiiing in a contused and
indiscriminate race for a
place of safety. In the
meantime the rebels had
advanced their lines to
the ridge where we had
been, and liad turned
uj")on us the guns which
they had captured. vShot and shell, and cannister,
screamed and shrieked over the flving fugitives, making a
scene, and causing sounds in which ihc ver\- demons of the
infernal regions might well find delight. But it was a sad
and sorrowful sight for loval, union loving people. So far
as one could see who was in the midst ot it, the rout involved
the whole of General Rosecrans' magnificent army, and it

* Killed near ^'iIK'_varcl house. Se|>t. 19, 186^. I'or sketch see page 1S3.

C AI'TAIN CIIAS. 71. nRl^CE, CO. K .*


seemed our cause was lost. It was not a question of the
sacrifice of one life or many lives at such a time, but was
whether there was any sacrifice sufficient to stay the impend-
ing ruin.

But, Ibrtunately, things were not as bad as they appeared.
Things seldom are. Certainly they might have been worse
in this instance. The rebels might have followed on after
our broken and demoralized troops, instead of stopping on
the ridge, and contenting themselves with throwing shells
after them. Shells make a terrible noise and are somewhat
frightful, but thev are not dangerous, in proportion to
their size and sound. They serve a useful purpose, in
more thoroughly scaring a body of demoralized troops,
but a scared soldier is apt to be more useful than a dead one.

"He who fights and runs a\va_\'.
May live to fight another day.""

It was that wa^' in this case. The most of these were
ready to tight again, and much harder, and much more
effectively, this same day. By the time the}- reached the
edofc of the woods, on the other side of the field, the dis-
ordered troops had, in a measure, recovered from their
panic. As broken Regiments and Brigades found each
other, and regained their position in line, their old con-
fidence returned, and they were again read}' to meet the

For a time the 58th was separated from the other Regi-
ments of the Brigade, but there was never a time when the
organization was not in a condition for service, and under
proper discipline. There were individuals and parts of Com-
panies, who were for a time separated from the Regiment,
but in the main, it ma^' truthfully be said, the organization of
the 58th was intact during the day. After being caught in
the whirlwind that sent the great mass of our troops back
across that field, the 58th rallied on the opposite hill, and
took a position in the new line of battle that was there
formed. Here they held the rebels at bay and stopped their
mad progress in that direction.


The Regiment had some sharp engagements during the
time thev were on this part of the held. In one of these
Lieutenant Hugh J. Barnett, of Company F, was mortally
wounded. He was leading a detachment of the Regiment
in a charge when he fell. Poor Barnett lay where he fell
for five davs before death relieved him of his suffering, as
we afterward learned. At the time he was sliot he had
the Henry rifle, belonging to Gilbert Armstrong, wlio was
wounded yesterday. The rebels took the gun and all his
clothing and valuables, but did not render any assistance to
the wounded man. They did not even bur^' him after he
was dead, but left the body to decay above ground. There
is but one place where such heartlessness as tliis can be
properly rewarded .

Lieutenant Barnett was one of our best and bravest men.
He was full of life and fun, and did much to drive away the
despondency and gloom of a soldier's life. He was
known b^' every man in the Regiment and was well liked
by all. He was a moral, upright christian man, and active
in religious work in the Regiment.

Later in the afternoon, the 58th was tbrmed in a low piece
of ground, about a half mile from their former position.
They were ordered to ad\'ance in a line supporting a battery.
At this time there appeared in their front at least a Brigade
of men, dressed in dark clotliing, and with battle flags some-
what like ours. Thev came up in good order, bayonets
fixed, and guns at "right shoulder shift." A discussion
arose among our officers as to who these troops were,
whether friends or foes. Colonel Embree and another Col-
onel contended that they were enemies. Some of the
line officers and men thought they were friends ; but the
former opinion was correct, as was soon demonstrated.
The^■ proved to be a jiortion ot J^ongstreet's Corps, whicli
liad just arrived from \'irginia. Our men were not accus-
tomed to seeing their enemies in any otlier dress than the reg-
ulation butternut. 15ut the troojis under discussion soon con-
vinced everyone of their truf character by pomnng a Nolley


into our ranks. Many of our men were wounded b\- this
volle3% and two or three killed. Our men returned the tire
in a vigorous manner, but the enemy continued to press tor-
ward. Soon another force came up on our right flank, and
the position became untenable. The Regiment fell back
and rallied again on the colors, on a hill Rome\vhat to tlie
left and rear of our former position. In this movement a
part of the Regiment became separated iVom tlie others, and
on account of the confusion of the hour the detachments
could not be gotten together for some time. However, b\'
this time the contest on that part of the tield had become a
kind of a free fight, and there was no difficulty in a soldier,
who was so inclined, finding a situation w-here he could get
all the fighting he could attend to. It was a fact, that some
of the best and most effective fighting that was done that
afternoon, was by detached bodies of troops that liad
been separated from their commands. Some of the 58th
officers and men, that were thus cut off, did excellent service
in this w^ay. To these men, wuth others, who were tiius
engaged, is due a full share of the credit of saving tlie arm^'
from a greater disaster.

The Regiment rallied again and took position in a line
further to the left, on Snodgrass Hill. Here the remnants
of Wood's Division, and the detachments of the left wing,
joined the forces of General Thomas, and here, under tlie
command of that intrepid soldier, the rebel advance was
checked. It was between one and two o'clock when the
58th Regiment got into this position. At that time the right
wing was thoroughly routed. General Rosecrans was
caught in the whirlwind and borne back into Chattanooga,
as was also Crittenden and McCook. Such of the broken
Divisions as could do so, found their wav to join the left,
which was still being held by Thomas. Upon this position
assault after assault was made, but our lines could not be
broken. Some of the severest fighting of the two days' bat-
tle was done here, but the losses were heaviest with the


About lour o'clock, the ammunition of our Regiment was
exhausted. Colonel Buell started back with the Regiment
to hunt ammunition to replenish the cartridge boxes. He
was met by General Branham, who informed him there was
no ammunition to be had. Colonel Buell was ordered to
hold the hill at all hazards — even at the point of the bayonet.
By searching among the cartridge boxes of the dead, enough
ammunition was found to make about one round per man in
our Regiment. The guns were loaded, and the men waited
for the next attack ot the rebels. They were now read}' for
desperate work. They did not have long to wait. Soon
the enemy appeared in massed columns. They marched
boldly up the hillside, until they were within thirty yards of
our men. Not a gun had yet been tired by either side. A
demand was made by an officer in our Regiment Ibr the
rebels to surrender. A like demand came iVom the rebel
side, with the threat that if we did not surrender the}^ would
fire on us. At this, our men opened lire on them, pouring
their last round into the rebel ranks. This voile v did fear-
ful execution. The rebels retreated in great haste, leaving
many of their dead and wounded on the ground.

This about ended the lighting for the dav, so far as our
Regiment was concerned. By this time it was nearly dark,
and both sides were ready to quit, for, in reality, both sides
had had enough of fighting. The 58th was moved back a
short distance to the rear, awd then, under cover of the dark-
ness, the remnants of the Brigade was marched, througii
fields and woods, to their new position in the line, on the left
of Rossville. Here the men had an opportunity for a few
hours' rest and sleep.

During the night the entire army was concentrated at this
point, and were in good shape to give the rebels a warm
welcome next morning. But they did not come. All da\'
Monday we waited their approach, but only a small force of
cavalry showed an inclination to make us a visit. From
this fact, it was plainly evident that Bragg's arm\- liad no
disposition to renew the conflict.


During Moncki}' night Rosecrans' army was moved back
into Chattanooga. The 58th was left as a part of a strong-
line of skirmishers to cover this movement. It was fully
expected, b}' our officers, that this rear guard would be gob-
bled up by the rebels in the morning. General Wood
expressed surprise when Major Moore, in command of the
58th skirmishers, reported to him in Chattanooga next morn-
ing. Wood said he did not expect to see us.

Tlius it was that the 58th Indiana was among the tirst
Regiments on the held of Chickamauga, and one of the last
to leave it. Early in the engagement it was put into the
thickest of the hght and it remained there until the finish.
With its last round of ammunition, it assisted in repelling the
last charge of the enemy on Snodgrass Hill ; and it had the
proud satisfaction of being numbered with the troops, under
the command of George H, Thomas, ''the Rock of Chicka-
mauga," that saved the "Armv of the Cumberland," on this
Sunday afternoon.

Ovu" losses in the two davs' battle were as follows :

Officers Men Total

Killed 2 14 iC)

Wounded 5 116 121

Missing 1 24 2-:,

Captured 279

Total 10 161 171

The greater part of these losses occurred Saturday after-
noon, in the Regiment's tirst engagement, near the Vineyard
house. The captured officers were the two surgeons left
with the wounded at the hospital when the army fell back
on Sunday. Some of the enlisted men were captured at
that time and others were captured on anotlier part of the

Mention has been made of tiie killing of Lieutenant James
D. Foster, of Company B, in the first engagement of the
Regiment on Saturday afternoon. As a matter of fact, it
was not known certainly as to his fate Ibr some days after-
ward. No one saw him fall, or knew certainlv tliat he was


killed. For a time there was a lingering hope that he might
turn up among the wounded and missing. But he was
never seen or heard of afterward, and it is evident that he
died unknown, and hlls an unknown grave somewhere on the
field of Chickamauga, if, indeed, his bodv was honored witli
sepulture at all.

Lieutenant Foster was a most genial man, and a ver\- pop-
ular officer. He was always cheerful, and usually of a very
quiet demeanor. His home was in Fort Branch, Indiana,
and he was among the tirst citizens of his town to tender his
services, and his lite, it need be, in sustaining the Govern-
ment. Through his influence, many of the boys and young
men of his acquaintance were induced to enter the arm v.
He alwa3^s had a kindly, watchful oversight of these boys,
and thev are indebted to him tor much good counsel and
advice. He was an earnest Christian man, as well as a
brave and unselfish patriot. With him, to know a dutv,
either to his fellow man, his countrv or his God, was to do
that duty, so far as he was able. The loss of such a man as
Lieutenant James D. Foster to our Regiment was irrepa-
rable. But to him what a wondrous change I From the
horrid scenes of Chickamauga's bloody battlefield, to the
realms of bliss and everlasting peace, on Heaven's bright

— oOe«


Seige of Chattanooga — Falling Back from Rossville
— Evidences of Demoralization — Preparations
FOR Defence — Chattanooga will be Held — Re-
organization — Getting in Position — Rebel Dem-
strations from missionary ridge and lookout
Mountain — Short of Rations — A Battle at


ENTION has been made of the movements of the hos-
pital, and of the fact that I came with this department
of the army into Chattanooga, Sundav night. On Monday
I started out to see and learn what I could as to the situa-
tion. I found that great crowds of men, some slightly
w'ounded, and some stragglers, were on the streets, all mov-
ing toward the river. At the river I saw the pontoon bridge,
at the time, crowded with rebel prisoners crossing over. I
confess I was surprised at their number. Tow^ard noon
I went out to hunt the Regiment, then near Rossville. I
found them in a very good positi i and seemingly able to
hold it against the enemy, who w in force just beyond, and
making their presence known bv eavv cannonading.

Returning to quarters in Cha looga that night, I went
to rest, the tirst I had enjoved f several da vs.

Next morning I was surprisf o hear that the 58th was
in town. This information ^ discouraging to me, as it
seemed to signify the abando nt of our strong position on
Missionary Ridge. My v fears were confirmed on

going down town. Rose* ' entire armv was in and


alioiit Chattanooga. From what I could see there was an
effort being made to cross the river. I knew we could not
all get over on the one pontoon bridge. Soon I came upon
the 58th. Thev were just moving to the front and left, and
I went with tiiem. I supposed, as Wood's Division was on
prov'ost dutv in Chattanooga, that we were, probably, taking
a position to cover the retreat of Rosecrans' army across the
river, and we would have to take our chances to get
over after all the other troops had crossed. It was a gloomy
outlook, but all the signs tended to contirm it. The orders
were to move every wagon and all the wounded over the
river. The streets were crowded with a moving mass
headed toward the bridge. It seemed everybody wanted to
get over first : on the theory that all were going, and the
rebels would get the hindmost. If, at this particular juncture,
the rebels had thrown a few shells in town, I am sure there
would have been a panic, and, probably, some of the panic
stricken w^ould have plunged headlong into the river.

But, fortunatel}^, the rebel shells did not come ; and, more-
over, mv conceptions as to the meaning of the movements
of the army were not well founded. Rosecrans' army was
not going to abandon Chattanooga, just yet, but was getting
in position to stay there, indefinitely. While our hospitals
were being established across the river the fighting portion
of the arm}' was intrenching. They had, temporarily, laid
aside the gun for the pick and the shovel. There were two
uniinished forts, started bv Bragg's arm\- before tiieir evac-
uation. These were to be immediately completed and occu-
pied bv our men. Between these torts a formidable line of
rifle pits were being rapidly constructed. Every one who
could handle a tool, or move dirt, was at it this day and
night. This is an emergency in wliicii a soldier will work.

All day Tuesdav, the 22d, I^ragg's army was expected to
make its appearance on Missionary Ridge, but it came not.

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 16 of 47)