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 21 of 47)
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do/en was lacking to complete the riH|uired number — three-


fourths — to take the Regiment as an organization. But soon
thev came in, and it is announced that the 58th Indiana
would re-enHst. There was much excitement and hilarit}-
over this event.

Late in the afternoon orders came for our Regiment to go
over the river, draw rations and prepare to march to Chatta-
nooga in the morning.

Well, we got started on our return to Cliattanooga about ,
the middle of the forenoon, January 30. We were accom-
panied bv the 51st Indiana, of our Brigade, who have also
re-enlisted. The 40th Indiana and 15th Indiana are to come
on later. It was raining when we started, but the boys were
turning homeward and did not mind the rain.

Passing through Philadelphia, we turned up Sweetwater
Valley, then on through Athens, camping th'^ second day
near Riceville. The men were very tired when they arrived
here, as they had made a Sabbath dav's march of twent}?^
miles. Monday night we came to a point in the vicinity of
Cleveland and rested for the nio-ht. Another day's march
broup-ht us near the scene of our old battles. On Wednes-
day, February 3d, we reached the top of Missionary Ridge,
and Chattanooga Valley was opened out before us. It was
a grand sight. There was old Lookout Mountain, Walden's
Ridfje foi'minpf the backo-round, with Orchard Knob, Fort
Wood, Fort Palmer, and many other familiar objects in the
foreground of the magnificent picture. And here we are in
our old quarters, which we left last November to go on a ter-
rible cold winter's campaign. Here we found the veterans
of our Regiment who had preceded us on their wa^' home-
ward. Here, also, we found some of our comrades who
had been in hospitals, on account of wounds received at
Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. So we had a kind of
Regimental reunion, and it was a very pleasant experience,
alter so many months of separation and hardship.


Chattanooga and Vicinity — Wondenful Changes that
HAVE Taken Place and are in Progress — A
Stron(; Military Post — Preparations for An-
other Campaign — National Cemetery — A \^isit
TO Lookout Mountain — Relics of the Recent
Battle — The Re-enlistment Question Settled —
The Regiment Finally Gets Started Homeward
— Incidents of the Journey.

WHILE the Regiment is waiting here I will improve the
time by making some visits about Chattanooga, and
taking note of such things as seem to be ot' interest, noting
especiall}', the changes that have taken place since our army
came into complete possession of the place, and since our
hurried departure for Knoxville three months ago.

One of the first places visited, ver}^ naturallv, was the post-
office. Here I marked a decided change for the better.
Stamps are sold, and, I believe, letters are mailed. The
mail comes and goes every day.

Going down to the wharf, I observed that it was not so
crowded as during the siege. The artery to the heart of
Chattanooga does not run across the river as formerly. No
long lines of sluggish mule teams are seen wending their
way over the pontoon. Tiie brisk locomotive sweeps around
the face of old Lookout, bearing all that the army needs.
But other scenes no less important are enacted at the wharf.
A little steamer was upon the ways. Thus Uncle Sam is
introducing industry and commerce into these parts. But
look I What are those pens of wood being constructed in the


river for? They are the piers for a bridge. Chattanooga,
in all her years of peace and prosperity, never could boast
of this. Thanks to the Yankees ; they are doing some good
in this country ; even the vile rebels must admit that.

Passino; to the other end of Main street we come to the
railroad station. Here is an express office, doing an immense
business, greatly to the accommodation of the armies and their
own protit. The freight depot is full of rations. The mag-
niticent passenger depot, unsurpassed b}' any I have seen in
the United States, and whose tin roof had been torn off by
the rebels to make canteens, is now being tilled. Other
houses in the neighborhood are also being tilled. Great
preparations are making for the coming campaign. Exten-
sive sheds for horses were pointed out, and I saw a large lot
of mules.

In the church vard, near the depot, the dead soldiers were
being removed to the new cemetery near Fort Palmer. The
stench created was very offensive. Having no desire for
such sights, I did not draw near. It is verv praiseworthy
in the authorities, that they are collecting the remains ot our
worthy dead, and giving them honorable graves.

Thus far, I had never seen a colored soldier. This after-
noon my eves were gratified by the sight of four companies
of the 14th United States Colored Infantry. They are new
troops. They are fast becoming proficient in drill and I am
convinced they will make good soldiers. Thev will be
more willing to submit to discipline than white men. They
will take a great pride in military matters. Having been
accustomed to scant food and clothing and severe field toils,
they can better "endure hardness, as become good soldiers,"
than many ^^oung men of my own race, who have been
reared in luxurv. As for courage it is a mere thing of cul-
ture. We are all natural cowards. We must learn to be
brave. The negro can learn as well as any one, this lesson.
The fields on which his valor has been tried, during this war,
are proof suflicient of his bravery. There are other fields
where his heroism is vet to be seen, and where the persecut-


iiiii" iiii(l dominant race will be convinced that he is worthy
oftreedom. Worthy of freedom — aye, possibly, men may
begin to inquire in that day. Are nt^t these colored soldiers
better qualitied for citizenship, than those trifling white men
who have opposed the war and embarassed the Government?
Are not these colored men more entitled to vote under a con-
stitution, and in a Union which their valor sustained, than
the secret or open traitors with while skins? Let me write it
down here, to-dav, that the time will soon be here, w^hen all
men will be equal in rights, without distinction of color.
Men may sav what the}' please, but "the v.orld moves," as
said Gallileo of old.

The fortitications have been changed in many respects, to
suit, as I suppose, the idea of some new engineer. The
shovel is still busy, and scarp and counter-scarp, and para-
pet, and all these things, are slowly approaching perfection.
These Yankee rats must intend to remain here, from the wa}'
the}' burrow into the earth.

The Christian Commission should have been named imme-
diately after the post office. A little meeting was in progress
when we called. I was called on and spoke a few words.
After meeting I had a few moments of pleasant conversation.
The shelves were w-ell filled with good reading matter.
Long may the Christian Commission flourish.

This being Sunday I attended the 10:30 services at the
Baptist Church. Chaplain \^an Home preached. lie is
tall and slender, has a black beard, intermingled witli a little
gray. He shaves his upper lip. He dresses very neatly in
plain Chaplain's uniform, which is far more appropriate for
a clergyman than blue and brass. He wears a pleasant
smile while speaking. His sermon was very good. At two
)•). m. I preached to a small congregation in the open air. I
then attended the three o'clock services at the church.
Chajilain Ross, of the 13th Ohio, K'd the serxices. He is a
plain and solid man. He belongs to the United Presby-
terian Church. In the beginning he gave, out a Psalm for
the congregation to sing. In view of the \eterans going


home he announced as his text, "Go Home to th}^ Friends
and Tell Them how Great Thinsfs the Lord hath Done for
thee." Mark v:iq.

Amongst the spots which will be visited by pilgrims at
Chattanooga, with deep emotion, the National Cemetery wlli
be hrst sought. I remember well the hill when occupied by
our own and the enemy's pickets. The farther side was a
deep wood then. The side next the railroad had been
cleared awav. It was here that Wagner's Brigade was
formed on Monday, November 23, 1863, preparatory to the
tirst advance on Missionary Ridge. Here the first gun was
fired, on Monday afternoon. On this hill, and in its rear,
was the finest pageant I ever witnessed. Before this, it was
often under the thunder of our own and the enemy's guns.
The iiill is about half way between Chattanooga and Mis-
sionary Ridge, and between Lookout Mountain and Tunnel
Hill. Seventy acres have been set apart. The grounds are
being surrounded by a rough stone wall. The material tor
this is abundant on the ground. This wall is to be protected
by an osage orange hedge on either side. A small portion
of the stone fence is done. There are some hedges near,
which it is designed to transplant. The fence runs circu-
larly, or rather irregularly. Just inside of it a main avenue
is in process of construction. This is to pass entirely around,
next the wall, except on the side next P'ort Wood. Here it
is turned away iVom the fence by a large ledge of rock.
The portion of the grounds thus cut oft' is set apart for the
negro soldiers. Two of them lay there this afternoon in
their coflins, the first fruits of a might}" host of colored war-
riors who will be buried here. They were from the 14th U.
S. Colored Infantry.

There are to be main avenues leading up towards the
crown of the hill. A circle including about one acre is
reserved on top for some kind of a monument. Chaplain
\'an Home, who is in charge of the work, proposes a pyra-
mid, eighty feet square at the base, and eighty feet high. I
am not impressed witli the propriety of such a monument.


I see no need ot beincj in a liurr\' about monuments. Years
hence the people will seek opportunities to erect monuments
to the noble men who have died in these parts.

Besides those engaged in breaking stone and making the
fences, there were two squads of grav^e diggers and one of
stump removers. The stumps are being torn up and hauled
away from the grounds. One set of grave diggers were
burying the dead which are known, and tlie other the
unknown. All the dead which have been buried within the
lines since, our occupancy of Chattanooga, are to be removed
to this cemetery. Also the dead who fell in the severe bat-
tles in this neighborhood are all to be removed to these

It will take all of the present summer to put things in any-
thing like shape. I am glad to see a disposition on the part
of the authorities to provide a decent resting place for our
gallant dead. Rcquicscat ui face.

Tuesday, February 9. — This day the uncertaintv hang-
ing over our going home has passed away. General George
II. Thomas writes a letter to Colonel George P. Buell that
he designs to place the 58th in the engineers department, -
when it returns as a veteran volunteer Regiment.

Wednesday, February 10. — Doctor Holtzman having
obtained a pass from the I^rovost Marshal General, we
started early on horseback to visit Lookout Mountain. We
passed over Chattanooga Creek, at the same point that we
crossed wiien we first entered last September. A new bridge
had been erected since then. We passed over, showing oin*
pass, and stood on what was rebel territory during the siege.
We soon came to the rebel works, whicli are interior in every
respect to those they confront. When we came to Lookout
we went up the wagon road, on the eastern side. The whole
of the lower parts of the mountain has the appearance of
having fallen from'the rocky bights above. The stones,
both large and small, were evidently torn from the rocky
palisades which form the mountain summit. The road
passes a mile or two back bejbre it reaches the lop. It is


exceedingly difficult to get to the top of the mountain. At
several points there are ladders. On the western slope there
are not so many rocks. There were guards near the top,
but they did not halt us. On top of the mountain we found
a number of nice houses, called Summertown. This was a
famous resort of the chivalry in the olden time. Troops
were encamped on the mountain. Here is a splendid place
for a general field hospital, or convalescent camp. I regret
that we did not have time to go back southward on the
mountain. After arriving at the top, we passed along the
eastern edge, going northward. At several points we made
lengthy pauses, and "viewed the landscape o'er." There
was, standing just upon the verge of the precipice, an old
warehouse, which I remember to have seen from Gordon's
Mill, seventeen miles awa}^ just before the battle of Chicka-
mauga. We could see the fields of Chickamauga, Mission-
ary Ridge and Tunnel Hill. But the day was too gloomy
to permit us to see distinctly at any great distance. Chatta-
nooga looked contemptible at our feet, ■ I held m}' hand at
full arm's length and hid all tlie Yankee forts, camps and
' field works, as they were during the siege. The cars seemed
to travel almost at a snail's pace. If the works of man thus
look to the eyes of a mortal from a mountain top, how insig-
nificant must they appear to Him, who stands in the highest
heavens, and beholdeth all things at a glance ! Man build-
ing his famous works is as the mouse burrowing in the

We came to the spot where the rebels had planted a three-
gun siege battery, bearing on Chattanooga. I call distinctly
to mind the time when we used to see the smoke of the
explosion, and then hear the sullen report, as Lookout hurled
her iron words at us from this point. Farther on, we came
to Point Lookout. There are several ledges of rock pro-
jecting from the point of the mountain. The soil is gone.
Here a magnificent panorama rises on onfe's sight. Turning
towards Chattanooga, we see ourselves as others saw us.
On this point the rebels looked down from day to day on the


hateful Yankees. They could see the hurry on the streets,
the congregation gathering at the church, the working par-
ties digging on the forts, the drill and dress parade. Cam-
eron Hill, Moccasin Pointy Forts Wood, Negley, and all the
rest, could be seen from day to day. When these were com-
pared with the long lines of rebel works across Chattanooga
Valle}^ Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain and A^allev,
and Sand Mountains, all of which the rebels at one time
held, an earnest traitor could but think that the "Yanks"
were trapped at last. But the lion arose irom his lair, and
bade his tormentors away.

But let us pass from the past to the present. That long
Ridge on our right was named Missionary, because in early
times it was the home of the missionaries to the Indians.
Orchard Knob, a little hill that rises between the Ridge and
Chattanooga, is so called because it presented to tlie occu-
pants of Chattanooga, at the time of the siege, the appear-
ance of an orchard. Nearer to us, on another hill, is the
new National Cemetery. Over the way from tlie cemetery
is Fort Palmer, named in honor of General Palmer, whose
Division occupied these works. We could see our own lit-
tle camp on Signal Hill, so named because it was occupied
formerly by a signal station. Cameron Hill receives its
name from an English artist who dwelt on it before the war.
Rev. Mr. Smith, of tlie Christian Commission, tells me that
he was in Nashville at the time of the siege, and spoke in a
public meeting about having been on Cameron Hill, at Chat-
tanooga, a few days before. After the meeting he was
accosted b}' a gentleman and lady, who proved to be Mr.
and Mrs. Cameron.

"Can you tell me, Mr. Smith," inquired the huh', "about-
those trees of mine? What has become of them. ^""

"What trees? Do you mean those magnificent forest
trees? Well, they were all felled by order of the engin-
eers, to make way. for the works."

"I am glad," said Mrs. Cameron, "lliat neither the ax of
(he relii'l oi" \hc vandal ha^ laid them low I "


Moccasin Point is made by the bend of the river. It
resembles a moccasin in shape, and at certain seasons of the
year presents some of the variegated colors with which the
Indians are accustomed to adorn their moccasins. Walden's
Ridfje, which forms the northwestern ijatewav to these
regions, rises before our eyes like a huge wall of stone —
and such it is in fact. Away to the northwest there is a
gorge in the mountains, through which the Tennessee makes
its exit. On this side is the Sand Mountain, so named from
the sand stone, I suppose. It abounds in Lookout, and I
suppose does there. The rock in Lookout is a beautiful,
milk-colored sand stone, occasionally variegated with brown
and red. It makes a tine finish for a road paved with lime-
stone. It tills the rugged crevices in a short time, and looks
like a nice white carpet. Colonel Buell, with his Pioneer
Brigade, has made a thirtv-foot road around the nose of the
mountain, part of which has this tinish. Nearer than Sand
Mountain is Lookout Vallev, immediately to our left, and a
range of hills farther on along the river side. On these hills
the brave men of Hazen's Brigade landed, after floating by
Lookout, surprised and captured the rebel pickets, and laid
a bridge over the Tennessee. Just there, where the railroad
passes between two hills, is a part of the battle ground ot
Wauhatchie. The roar of this battle was distinctly heard b}'
us at Chattanooga, one night in last November. Up this val-
ley can be seen the very hill and the woods occupied by our
Division, on the Sunday before entering Chattanooga. And
these are the very rocks on which the women and children
of Summertown stood, on that lovely afternoon, looking at
the Yankees.

Every spot near is fraught with interest, and the distance
is filled with grandeur. It is said that from this point one
can see Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Car-
olina, Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama.

We found a rugged pathway lor our horses down the
western slope. When we reached Hooker's battletield, of
November 24, we turned our horses to the left. Here were


the old rebel camps and the rough stone walls thrown up b\'
them. At the turning point of the mountain is a little grave-
yard, where a number of our brave men are buried. No-
vember 26, is the honorable date of their deaths. A
little farther on we met Major General Hooker, whom I had
never seen before. He is a tine looking man. Here are
the ruins of the white house which we used to see from
Chattanooga. I took a drink from the hydrant and called
to mind the column of men, led by a man on a grey
horse, in the battle of Lookout Mountain. It was here
that Hooker "fought above the clouds." From Lookout
Point it seems almost on the same level as the country

We rode down the mountain and arrived at home before
supper time. I was verv tired. There are other items of
interest about Lookout which I would like to see.

Near the headquarters of General Thomas there is a large
brown bear, in a cage. It was at Knoxville when we were
there. It is large and well trained. At the command of
his keeper he showed how he killed men, how he rolled
down the mountain, how he lay doW'U to take his rest, etc.
He came from the Rocky Mountains.

I walked by some of the guns captured at Missionary
Ridge, near the headquarters. There are forty-nine pieces.
In the front row there are twenty-seven guns. Of these,
about four or live are of Union brand. These are twelve
pound Howitzers, captured from us b}- the rebels, and recap-
tured at Mission Ridge. The remainder were rebel make.
They were from New Orleans, Mobile, Atlanta and Macon.
The workmanship of the carriages is very rough. There
are two large, roughly finished, rifle iron guns, wiiich were
captured at Chickamauga Station.

In the afternoon of Sunday, February 14th, two hundred
of the 58th Indiana were mustered in for three years, to date
from Januarv 24th, at Loudon, Tennessee. We have a
number of recruits who desired to re-enlist, but were not per-
mitted. As their names were called the men answered


"here," stepped two paces to the iVont, moved off to the
right and formed in single line. Bringing their arms to a
"support," thev took, a company at a time, this oath :

'"All and each of \ou do j^olemnlv swear that \ on will hear true allegiance
to the United States oi" America, and that ^-ou will serve theni honesth' and
faithfully against all their enemies or opposers, whatsoever, and observe and
obev the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the
ofHcers appointed over yon, according to the Rules and Articles for the gov-
ernment of the armies of the United States, so help you God."

Were I an artist, I wound jiaint "The \^eterans Taking
the Oath/'

At night, to almost the entire Regiment, I preached. The
text is, "Go Home to th}' Friends, and Tell Them how
Great Things the Lord Hath Done for Thee." Mark 5 :ig.
Introduction: The circumstances connected with the text ;
the text chosen hecause appropriate to the veterans.

I. The great things done for you by the Lord.

1. T//C I /lings done yor you in common zvitJi all nicn.
(a) The earth created for you. (a) Man made moral and
intellectual. (c) Man given dominion over the earth, the
beasts, birds and fishes. (d) The gift of the Son ; (e) the
Holy Ghost ; (f) the Church ; (g) the Bible, and the (h) ,
means of grace.

2. T/ie thi)igs done for you in common -with all soldiers
present. (a) Your life has been preserved amid contagious
and camp diseases, in dangers by march and battle. The
battles of Stone River, Chickamauo'a and Mission Ridn'e
commented on. (b) A deeper interest has been awakened
in your physical well-being than in any other army. (c) A
deeper interest is felt in your spiritual welfare than ever was
manifested in behalf of any other army.

3. T/ie special favors s/io-wn. (a) Some have been con-
victed of sin. (b) Some have become better men without
being converted. The army is not as demoralizing as is
generally supposed. (c) Many of you have been converted,
joined the church, and received holy baptism. (d) Many
of you who were professors when you entered the army have
been enabled to maintain your integrity.


A. The great things done inid being done in prospect.
(a) The destruction of sectionalism ; (b) sectarianism, and
(c) slavery ; the six pounder iron gun, (d) Our nation is
being qualitied to spread liberty and religion amongst the
people of the world.

II. Telling the great things done for you at
HOME. (i) That they may be stirred up in behalf of the
Christian Commission, and (2) the Chaplains. (3) Speak
of your conduct. (4) During your veteran term maintain
your integrity.

Sergeant A. M. Bryant delivered an exiiortation after the

Monday, February 15. — There has been a clap of thun-
der from the clear sky I When Major Downey reported at
the proper office for transportation for his two hundred men,
as the Veteran 58th Indiana Volunteers, he was informed
that he did not have men enough to maintain the Regimental
organization ! We lacked sixty men I We have been run-
ning along blindh'. We did not know what number we had
to have three-fourths ol^ We presumed it was of those pres-
ent and eligible to go. But now, after the men are sworn
in, it turns out that we must have three-fourths of all present
or absent, except prisoners of war or absent sick. The men
who are now sworn in understood that they were going as a
Regiment. Most of them are unwilling to go any other
way. Besides this. General Thomas has promised to put the
Regiment into the engineers' department, when tiic}^ return
from home as a veteran Regiment. But this promise can
not be of any advantage to our two hundred veterans, if the
Regiment does not remain organized. Tiius our men are
badly deceived, if we are not permitted to go North. Great
figuring is going on at Regimental headquarters. The num-
bers are being placed this way and that, to see if we have
not three-fourths. Oiu" commanders liave received the
answer to the sum, but they are not competent to work it
out. They seem disposed to " force " the figures a little. I
do not mean that the}^ are disposed to do any wrong, but a


refreshing has come upon the minds of some. Perhaps

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 21 of 47)