John J. Hight.

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

. (page 18 of 47)
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 18 of 47)
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Wednesday, November 18. — Signal Hill, Chattanooga.
The 58th went on picket ; I remained in camp. We had one
of the heaviest fon-s I ever saw. It was so thick at ten a.


m. that an object could not be seen a few Awards off. At
twelve m., Cameron Hill could not be seen. When the fotr
passed, a hazv atmosphere of Indian summer prevented us
from seeing objects very distinctly. The 57th Indiana
worked on the trenches near mv tent ; thev labored faith-
full v. I was requested, last night, to call on a wounded
man in the hospital. I did so this afternoon, according to
promise. Thev were just laving him out as I arrived at his
cot. If the Savior was as slow to come to his relief as I
was, his soul is lost.

Thursday, November 19. — Rumors thicken of a battle.
I am expecting one every da}'.

Saturday, Novenber 21. — The whole army had orders
to march this morning, with eighty rounds of ammimition.
It is generally thought we will go up the river and attack
the rebel right. Sherman is passing up that way on the
other side of the river. Order to march countermanded.
Rations are exceedingly scarce ; relief must come soon, or
we will be starved out.

Sunday, No\'ember 22. — In the afternoon, I preached
before the 125th Ohio. The congregation was large, and
the hour favorable. Fort Wood was thundering at the rebels
while I spoke. There was considerable cannonading b\' us
to-dav. The rebels make but little replv.

Monday, November 23. — Time wore awav as usual until
about twelve m., when we were ordered to "fall in." The
Regiment moved from Signal Hill, prepared for a battle.
In the rear of General Wood's headquarters we joined the
remainder of the Brigade. The Brigade was led by Gen-
eral Wagner, assisted bv Colonel Wood, of the 15th Indi-
ana. We moved out by our old camp, leaving Fort Palmer
on the left. Between Fort W\)od and Fort Palmer was the
I ith Corps, commanded bv Howard. "^J'heA- make a tine
appearance. Just as we came up, they were moving as sol-
diers do when thev pass before a commanding General, at a
magnificent review. Being well dressed, and many of them
sturdv Germans, thev presented a grand sight.


Looking to our right, as we crossed the raih^oad, there
mijiht be seen the arand army, movinpf in h)n' columns, or
falling into line in camp. It was the grandest pageant I had
ever witnessed, and I spoke to many officers and men about
this grand sight. Thev all declared they had never seen its
equal. Advancing in tront of Fort Palmer, our Brigade
Ibrmed in line on the hill, where the National Cemetery has
since been located. The array of battle was advancing as
far as sight could reach. Our lines were in the shape of a
•'\'," our Brigade being at the point. The marshalling of
the hosts grew in increasing splendor. Away to tiie Ten-
nessee on the right and left were the long lines of moving
men. There was a solemn realit}^ about this array. Here
was no empty display — there was no shouting rabble.
There was no swellinp; strains of music to create artificial
feeling — the stillness of death reigned throughout the long
lines. Naught was heard save the heavy tramp of armed
men, ami the clear, shrill voice of command. Every order
was obeyed with promptness and precision. The movement
of an army on the eve of a battle is always solemn and
impressive, but the grandeur of this afternoon's display was,
perhaps, never surpassed on earth. It was a lovely day.
The sun shone in glory, as is his wont in autumn time.
Qiiiet beauty reigned through forest, and over valley and
mountain. Amid scenes such as these, and on this lovely
autumnal afternoon, the glory and pride of America came
forth to battle. Walden's Ridge, Sand and Lookout
Mountain, and Missionary Ridge, looked quietly down on the
scene and were glad, for they knew they would soon be
freed from the traitor's unhallowed tread.

Just before us are the rebel pickets. They are walking
their beats uneasih'. But little time passes until, just upon
our left, the tront line of sentinels of Wood's Division are
reinforced by their reserves. These form' a line of skir-
mishers, and no sooner was the line formed than the order
was given to "trail arms," and advance on the "double
quick." I am pretty confident that the first gun was fircnl

1 1.


bv the rebels, an hundred yards to the left of an open field,
in which there was on old lime kiln. But the ""Yankees''
had the second pop. "Bang — bang — bang," with increas-
ing rapidity, was heard along the advancing lines. "Lie
down," commanded Colonel Moore. The order was read-
ily obeyed, but we were not in the range of the guns, and
all were soon up and looking. The rebels gave way rap-
idh'. Wood's men pressed them sharply. The musketry
increased to a roar, in the woods towards Orchard Knob.

,„™™,T,„M.^.. At this time Carl

wSchurz' magnificent
Division of Germans
wheeled away, accom-
panied by the whole of
the I ith Corps, and
t(jok position to the letl
of Wood's men, and
extended the* line of
battle. Sheridan ad-
vanced to keep his
lines connected with
Wood. Of Wagner's
Brigade, the 57th Indi-
ana acted as skirmish-
ers, easily driving the
rebels. Soon Wood's
men gained the summit
o{ Bald Knob — the grand object of the magnificent charge.
A wild cheer of victory rose from our brave men as they
paused on the crest of the hill, in full view of Missionary'
Ridge. Musketry ceased, except some occasional guns.
The ax and tiie s]:)ade were soon busih' engaged, securing
what we had gained. I'he rebels continued a heav\- lire ot
artillery from the Ridge, at Bald Knob, until afier dark, but
little injury was done by them. Qiute a number ot men
were wounded and some killed by the musketry. All these
were of Woods Division, excejit loiu" troni the ^olh Indiana.


A large number of prisoners were captured, includino- almost
an entire Florida Regiment. Thus glorious was fought and
won the battle of Chattanooga Valley. Amongst the great
battles of the war it is not to be named, but it stands high in
the catalogue of minor contests. It has a sublimitN' not
attached to many greater battles. It was well planned and
daringly executed. Ev^ery patriot's heart in the valley beats
high with exultation to-night, but terrors disturb the rebels'
broken slumber. After dark I return to camp. None of
the 58th were hurt, but they remained on the field.

TiTESDAv, November 24. — I rose long before dav, antici-
pating a renewal of the contest at dawn. Dav dawned as I
was riding out to the lield. It was cloudy and rainy, occa-
sionally breaking up a little. When I arrived at the front I
found the lines in the same place, but the sSth had moved a
short distance to the left. \"erv respectable works had been
constructed during the night. Early in the morning we
bepfan to hear iirintr over in Lookout Valley. Hooker was
evidently paving his compliments to the rebel left. The
musketry continued to increase, and by noon it attracted
general attention in the center. A large company collected
in the rear of the line of battle, at a place where Lookout
could be seen. The troops were in the woods. Unfortun-
ately there was clouds and fog on this day. A battle was
evidently raging on the mountain just before our eyes, and
it the day had been clear a grand sight would have been
opened before us. As it was, we could only catch a glimpse
of the combatants as the clouds would part. Hooker fought
above the clouds to-da}'^, but unfortunately we were below
them. At one time I saw a long line of our men, led by an
officer mounted on a white horse ; others saw the rebels run
into a house on the mountain side, and rescue several flags
which they had hanging there. Men of excellent imagina-
tion could see a great deal. At times cannonading from
batteries on Moccasin Point is terrible. It slackened up
considerabU^ as our men turned the mountain brow, as it
was then difficult to pfet the ranjie of tlic rebels without


wounding our own men. The musketry was chiefly from
iho skirmish line ; sometimes it would increase to a roar as
the line of battle became engaged.

We had but little flghting on the center, but tiiere were
m.i:iy cheers given by our men, waiting there, for Hooker's
success. I was slow to believe that our own men were get-
ting the mountain, as there are always so many unreliable
tales afloat in time of battle. Somebody is always whipping
the enemy in flank or rear. But for once these tales were
true. The battery near us let oft' occasionalh' at the rebel

Ai":er dark I returned to camp, the troops remaining in
the field. The firing still continued on Lookout Mountain.
In Chattanooga there were rumors of great success on the
part of Hooker; a man ^^•ho came tVom the valley to-day
says he saw a Brigade of rebels who had been captured on
the mountain. The rain and clouds are gone, the air is
clear and sharp. Whatever doubts I may have had of Gen-
eral Hooker's success, I can be unbeliever no longer : there
around the brow of Lookout are the Yankee camp fires I
The rebels never make fires like our men. We came from
the Xortli and our men are industrious, and have no scruples
about the wood. The rebels are laz^•. There is no mistak-
ing that long line of bright tires. It was never then- during
the rebel reign. And look, away oft' on the left, on the far-
ihi'r end of Missionary Ridge, those are tlie Yankee camp
fires I Yes, Sherman is there ; he has crossed the Tennessee
and is taking position for the fight. This has been a day of
splendid success,- to-morrow we expect war in earnest.

Wednesday, November 25. — I did not get off so early as
on yesterday. As I go out, an occasional gun could be
heard on our lett, but they were a long way oft' and some
distance apart. The firing continued to increase. The
most remarkable feature of the forenoon was the continual
stream of rebel troops passing on the summit of the ridge to
our left. Our batteries occasionally paid their respects to
them, Init with little eftect. We coidd distincth- see infanlrv,


cavalrv and artillery. At one time we might see a rebel
General accompanied by his stat]\ It was a loyely day, and
objects were distinctly yisible at a long distance. Early in
the at'ternoon our skirmish line became slightly engaged.
We were then in the second line of battle. General Wood's
Diyision being in front, the flanks oyerlapping tor a short
distance. Besides the response from tiie rebel riflemen, the
guns on the ridge flred seyeral shots, some of which came
so close that we all took to the ditches. I sat yery con-
tentedh' on some leayes in a trench, just between the 58th
Indiana and the 26th Ohio, but this cannonading vyas not
yery dangerous. About 2 p. m. our lines adyance. Wood's
men withdrew to the left to giye the others room. The line
of battle in our rear moyed forward and occupied the
trenches. The moyements proyoked quite a liyely little tir-
ing from the rebel guns on the ridge. I tarried where I was
until this tiring lulled a little, when I rode oyer the brow of
the hill, and stopped at a line of rifle pits which had been dug
for our skirmishers. The 58th was just a little in advance,
lying flat on the ground. The rear line of battle now^
advanced and lay down just in the rear of the front. The
15th Indiana was behind the 58th. Wood's men continued
to move oft' towards the left. My impression at this moment
was that w^e were relieving some of Wood's men, for the pur-
pose of sending them to the support of our left under Gen-
eral Sherman. While these thoughts were in my mind, the
regular battery, wdiich had been with us in the former line,
came dashing up and took a position in the open space, lo
the left of the 58th and the 15th, which was outside of the
works. I distinctly heard the order given them to respond
lively if the rebels opened on them, but the rebels were very

It began to be w^hispered around that an advance was to
be made. Dr. Adams came up and shared my pit. At
length I heard some one in my rear give an order to an Aide
de Camp, at a little distance, to tell some one to advance and
take the works at the foot of the ridire. I did not distinctly


hear all the words, but caught part of them, and inferred that
there was hot work ahead. Major White, of the 15th, rode
up and down the line of that Regiment, telling them to stand
tirm, if the first line gave way, to pass tiles to the rear and let
them go, but not to go with them. General Wagner had
called his Retrimental commanders a few minutes before and
gave them some instructions. Colonel Wood, of the 15th,
seems to have misunderstood the order, which was to take
the works at the foot of the ridge. He understood it was to
take the ridge. Accordingly he came to Colonel Moore and
told him that the order would be soon issued to take the
ridge. Said he, "Have 3'our men hx bavonets and move
slowh- to the top of the ridge." But Cjcnerals Grant and
Thomas desiijned to take nothini>- but the foot, and neither
dreamed of the army moving right on from Piedmont to
Altamont.* At length the signal gun was hred from
Orchard Knob, and long lines of men rose tVom the grass
and began to advance. In a few moments the 58th received
orders to hx ba'S'onets. At this time the front line of Wag-
ner's Brigade was composed of the looth Illinois, 58th Indi-
ana and 26th Ohio. The 57th was on the skirmish line, the
15th Indiana, 97th Ohio and 40th Indiana were in reserve.

* Lieutenant-Colonel J. S. Fullerton, Gentral Granger's Chief ol" Staff,
in an artiele in the Cc?i/in-v ]\'

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 18 of 47)