John J. Hight.

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

. (page 20 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 20 of 47)
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went, in company with several oflicers, to see Fort Sanders.
We first went into the woods and fields where the enemy
massed and formed tiieir forces lor the deadh- charge.
How many a brave man's heart was filled with sad misgiv-
ings, on that fatal night, as he took his place in the line I
IIpw many fond memories crowded upon the throbbing
brain I Home, and all its lo\-ed scenes and inmates, come
before the mind as Heaven's richest blessings, perhaps never
more to be enioved.


With many, these painful tears were realized. For here
on the hillside are the graves of man\' of these poor fellows.
Their bodies are scarcely hid. Indeed, here is one man
with his h\g toe sticking out of the grave I The profane and
thoughtless deliver themselves of many jokes at iiis expense
— "jokes," as they suppose, but blasphemies in truth. "At
his expense," as they imagine, but really at their own.
Judas tliought tliirtv pieces of silver the price ot Jesus. It
was the price of his own soul.

But, to return, here is another with his face exposed I
The rebels seem to care little about bvu^ying their dead, and
nothing about their enemies. Farther up towards the fort
are seen remnants of clothing, old hats and pools of blood.
In the ditch itself these indications of the deadly strife are
numerous. We went into the fort. Here we learned some
items of the deadly conflict. These belong to history.

At two p.m. we had meeting at the quarters of Companies
A and F. The attendance was very poor. I preached
about Satan, and gave him no good name.

Monday, December 14. — The weather is becoming raw
and w'intry. We are tentless, and poorly clad. Some of
the men are barefooted. Some have no blankets. But tew
have overcoats. Some are in their shirt sleeves. There is
not, in all probabilitv, a sound pair of socks in the Regi-
ment. The men clamor for Chattanooga.

General Wagner has obtained permission to quarter his
Brigade in the East Tennessee University, in Knoxville. He
told Colonel Moore that on yesterday, he walked the floor,
chewed tobacco, and swore all day, on account of the condi-
tion of his men. Well, we marched in to occupy our zc/n-
ter quarters — as we supposed. The buildings were very
much crowded. A part of the 40th Indiana occupied the
third story of the eastern wing,- and tlie 58th were to have
the remainder of the building. But many of the rooms are
occupied by the sick and hospital attendants. These can not
be moved at once. Hence, many of the men can not be
quartered in the house to-night. The soldiers clamor tor


"the woods, the woods." So long have we lived in the for-
ests that the men are almost wild. As for the field and staff,
they are to stop in a private house. Colonel Neff, of the
40th, and Colonel Moore, of the 58th, had succeeded in
thrusting themselves into a house. The owner thereof is a
good Union man — so he says. But he is kind enough to
take his carpet off the floor, carry away the mattress from the
bed, remove the table and chairs, and furnish no wood.
To-night I will have the pleasure of sleeping on his dirty
floor. This is better than I am accustomed to. But, some-
how, I have contracted a kind of contempt lor this kind of
a "Union" man, from ^^■hich I fear I will never recover.
He says he attended the East Tennessee Universitv six
years. But I am certain of one thing — he iias not learned
the first and simplest lessons of good manners.

About noon, Tuesday, December 15, rumors began to
thicken of marching. I believe them, for it is in exact
keeping with our destin}-. The 58th Indiana are certainlv
"pilgrims and strangers here below." Soon the orders
came. Hurried, but incomplete preparations were made.
All sorts of orders were given and countermanded. Things
generally were mixed. Many men were left because the}^
were sick, or shoeless. Finally, near night, we were put on
board of the cars. I sent my horse in care of a servant bv
the dirt road. I took mv place in a crowded car. Tiie
locomotive could scarcely move the train. About eight p. m.
we were put oft', opposite Strawberry Plains, about seven-
teen miles from Knoxville. On one side of the track we
found rails. We made a fire and soon had supper. As the
night was cold and bedding scarce, we removed the fire
and laid down on the hot earth. It is an excellent plan.
Try it some night when you are destitute of sufiicient

Wednesday, December 16. — We did not march early,
but we marched. Instead of crossing the river, as I thought
we would, we went up the river. I went trudging along,
with mv two woolen, and c^ne trum, blankets. It is a hard


thing to soldier on foot. The boys seemed to enjoy my
walk more than I did. They laughed heartily to see me
sweajt and hear me blow. But, for my own part, I did not
see the joke. We soon overtook our train, which had
come through during the night, and I mounted my horse

We did not advance farther than the bridge on the Knox-
ville road, when we met a wagon train on the way back to
Knoxville. As we passed along this train I noticed an
unusual number of men. I soon became convinced that
they were stragglers. Somebody was evidently scared in
front. Rumors of lighting began to prevail. Longstreet
had been heavily reinforced. He was advancing and driv-
ing our men. So the stragglers said. We went about four
or five miles from the Plains and went into camp. The
stream of wagons, stragglers and natives continued to flow
by us all day. There must have been two thousand of these
miserable skulkers, chiefly cavalry. It did our boys great
good to tantalize them.

"Hurry up, hurry up !" our men would say, "we will tr}'
and hold them back until you get to a safe place." "Give
way and let the cavalrv pass to the rear."

When the facts all came to light, it turned out that there
had been a cavalry fight at Bean's Station, and our men had
run off", leaving a train of coffee, sugar and great coats in
rebel hands.

The Regiment remained in this vicinity for several weeks,
duriuij which time there was a monotonous scarcitv of
rations and wearing apparel. But we varied the monotony
of this daily lack by an almost dailv moving of our camping
place. This kept the boys busy fixing up and tearing down
their rude huts, and served to make them forget their other
troubles. It also served to show a lack of decision and good
judgment on the part of our commanders.

Christmas day was spent in camp, about five miles above
Strawberry Point, on the banks of the Holston river; we
had just moved here the day before.


Tuesday, December 26. — The 26lh Ohio has re-enlisted
as veterans, and Lieutenant-Colonel Young has gone to
Chattanooga to complete the arrangements. A few even-
ings since, General Wagner called the Regiments into line
and explainecl to them the veteran cjuestion. There are
quite a number of men in tiie 58th who are anxious to
re-enlist. In mv opinion this veteran movement is all
wrong. I think it would be better for the Government to
enforce the draft and bring new men into the service. Let
the Government save its big bounties.

Thursday, December 31. — Another vear has passed
away ; 1863 is gone. This, to me, has been one of the most
eventful years of mv life. It opened on the dead and
wounded of the hrst dav's tight at Stone River. Next dav
was Friday's deadly fight. At Murfreesboro we had com-
parative quite and good times generally. Chickamauga and
Mission Ridge are great events in 1863. My health has
been good all year. For this I am very thankful, as I was
sick much of last vear. God has wonderlulh' blessed me
in every respect. Thanks to the Great Giver of every good
and perfect blessing.

Dr. Samuel E. Holtzman, Assistant Surgeon of the 58th,
reached the Regiment Fridav, the 8th. He was captured
at the Wood's Division Hospital, near Crawfish Springs, on
September 20tii, 1863. He remained there thirteen days, in
charge of our wounded. Li compan\- with the other Sur-
geons he was sent to Ringgold and jiul on the cars. He
was taken to Riciimond and put in the lamous Libby prison,
where he remained until Novemlier 24th. With the other
Surgeons he was released and sent Xorlh. He visited
Washington, New York, and various other cities of minor
importance. He returned with less flesh tlian wlien he went

WED^■^:sDA^^ JAXUAK^■ 13. — I'hree men. who were
wounded at Chickamauga, came up to-day. Thc-y are
George Cjasawa\', of D: IL>mbre(\ ol" ]•>, and Rock, ol (i.
They came with a supph' train from Chattanooga.


The following m^n were mustered in to-dav as veterans,

for three years, from January i, 1864 :

Company B — ^J. N. Endicott, W. A. Duncan, Nathan Bigham.
Company C — Lewis Field.

Company D — Larkin Montgomery, James M. Cunningham, Albert
Brewster, Adolphus A. Floor.

Company II — John W. Vierling.
Company' I — Robert Lemmon.
Company K — Wm. II. Young.

This is one-third of the unconditional veterans of the 58th.
The remainder are to go home in two future installments.
These are ordered to hold themselves in readiness to go
home at a moment's warning. This is the iirst time I ever
heard that order given in the arm^'.

Lieutenants Samuel Sterne and Wood Tousev have been
commissioned Captains. Both will make splendid officers.
Captain W. A. Downey, recently acting as assistant surgeon,
now on his way trom Libby Prison, having been captured
with the hospital at Chickamauga, has been recommended
for Major of tlie Regiment, zvcf Moore, promoted to Lieu-

Thursday, January 14 — This forenoon the long expected
train came up, twenty-two da^-s from Chattanooga. One
wagon caine for the 58th, containing a few knapsacks and
shelter tents for the men, bedding for officers, and a miser-
able lot of old trash for Regimental headquarters. Just as
the train was coming in orders came to prepare the coinmand
to move over the river. The wagons forded the stream.
All the Regiments were transported over in two little flats.
Our Regiment did not go. About sixtv men came up for
the 58th from Chattanooga.

Friday, January 15. — The Veterans, spoken of da\'
before yesterday, started for home this morning.

We moved at daylight. The morning was chilly and
damp. We passed over the Holston and camped on the
other bank. After remaining there until about noon we
marched through the hills over a glassy road. We crossed
the railroad about four miles from Strawberr\' Plains. A


short distance from here we went into camp in a woods to
the right of the main road. Dr. Holtzman and myself put
up a tent, which had been assigned to us. So I slept under
a wall tent for the tirst time since we left Hillsboro, in
August .

Saturday, January i6. — We marched early, towards
Berry's Mountain. The roads were very slick. The horses
were so poor and foot sore that they could scarcely stand,
We crossed Beny's Mountain, about live miles to the right
of Mossy Creek Station. This mountain is about as high as
Missionary Ridge. The road is good and free from rocks.
From the top the mountains of North Carolina could be seen,
rising in grandeur before us. The descent was very gradual.
Just at dark we entered Dandridge, twenty miles from Straw-
berry Plains. As we drew near w^e heard the sound of light-
ing before us. Harker's Brigade had gone into camp and
then went to the front. We remained on a hillside during
the night. Things looked like a battle. There is a great
deficiency in ammunition and rations. W^e are in a mis-
erable condition for fighting. And if we were to fight there
must be immense suffering; amontrst the w^ounded. We
have but few surgeons, and they are utterly destitute of

Sunday, January 17. — This morning opened warm and
pleasant. I took a walk through the town. In better days
this must have been one of the pleasantest nooks in all nature.
Few streams are more lovely than the French Broad. It is
clear and pure. The current is fast. Northeast of the town,
about ten miles, rises the mountains of North Carolina.
They rise before the beholder like an enchanted view. The
hills and valleys about Dandridge are fine. I noticed a lew
good churches and school houses.

Returning from a visit to the 2d Indiana Cavalry, I met
one Regiment of cavalry going out. There was increased
firing all along the line. My Brigade was falling in as I
reached camp. They were formed on an adjacent hill.
The firing increased to a roar all around the lines. There


was great confusion amongst the troops. They were mov-
ing here and there. Evidently there was a sad need of a
Genc7-al: One of our wagons had been placed in the Holston
for a bridge. The other could not hold the baggage. We
moved ot^', leaving the baggage to come up under charge of
thirty men, detailed, and tiftv stragglers. We thought that
we were going over the French Broad to take a position still
farther to the right. But we went out on the same road we
had come in on. We went silently, wonderingly along.
Sad surmises and idle rumors were told in whispers, but
complaints were loud and ol'ten sworn out.

It was a long and weary tramp over the hills and moun-
tains. Night was made for rest, for sleep, and ill betides
the man who uses it lor other purposes. It is very weari-
some to march at night. Instead of stopping when we had
crossed Berrv's Mountain, we kept on until we were within
three miles of Strawberrv Plains. Here, we stopped, just at
the dawn of day, in an old corn held.

Next dav we crossed the Holston at the Plains, on the
railroad bridge, which had been iinely planked. We went
out a mile and stopped in the woods for dinner — it proved
for a longer time. Towards night the wagons came up.
Some of the tents had been thrown out.

Tuesday, January 19. — We remained all dav in camp.
Rumors came thick and fast of Hardee moving on our line
of communications, of Longstreet crossing the French Broad,
of our retreating to Knoxville, cannon went down on the
cars. The sick were sent oft\ Rails were hauled and piled
on the bridge.

Bob Skelton came in this evening. He was detailed on
Sunday, during the fighting, to go beyond the French
Broad and run a mill. Two men went with him. He
crossed over two branches of the stream, and was overtaken
by night on an island. Here he learned that the mill was in
the possession of the rebels. Harker and his bridge was
gone. A negro took them back over the river. Here the} -
were informed that the Yankees were srone. He was


warned by a negro woman to tiy. He heard the clanking
of rebel swords. A path too narrow lor horsemen had been
pointed out along the banks of the French Broad. This
was followed until within six miles of Strawberry Plains.
They then came across the countr\'.

Wednesday, January 20. — About the middle of the after-
noon, as I lay asleep, I was aroused by the blowing of the
assembly in an adjoining Regiment. We were soon on the
way, taking the railroad track, towards Knoxyille. I was a
little exercised by the absence of my horse, which had been
sent out foraging, but I was more exercised by the retreat.
I was satisfied that to the front miorht be I'ound yictory,
honor, safety and abundance.

We went to the twelfth mile j-»ost from Knoxyille, and
then turned off to the right. We unexpectedly stopped. It
seemed a tine position for a battle as far as I could see. I
was in hope it meant fight, but it didn't. We were not
hunting a fight, it seems.

Thursday, January 21. — Reveille at 4:30 a. m.
Alarched at six a. m. Troops took the railroad, and trains
the dirt road, to Knoxyille. I arrived there in advance of
tht-' column. We passed tlirough the cit^^ crossed the river
on the pontoon, and stopped near our old camp, two miles
on the Sevierville road. Rumor says we go there to-mor-
row. "Rumor" tells many tales. We hear but little that is
reliable, hence "rumors" abound. It is said that there has
been fighting to-day at Maryville ! It is said that Richmond
is taken ! Tliere is no end to tin* thousand idle tales that
iloat through the camps. And no tale is without its believ-
ers. I believe that if I uere to declare myself commis-
sioned from Heaven to declare a new (jospel tliere would
be some believers.

h'kiDAY, January 22. — It had been so long since we had
been permitted to send out any mail, that I determined to
take tiie letters to Knoxyille this morning, though we march.
All was in readiness to march when the orders were coun-
ti'rmanded. I determiiu'd to

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 20 of 47)