John J. Hight.

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

. (page 24 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 24 of 47)
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greatly improved since we last traveled over it, thanks to
Colonel George P. Buell and his Pioneer Brigade. The
wagon road is above the railroad ; sometimes we seemed to
hang just over the river. The Tennessee makes a beautiful
bend here. When within a few miles of the mountain, the
river turns south and hastens to do homage, by kissing the
foot of Lookout, Having performed this act of devotion,
she turns again to the northwest, and, passing through the
Little and Big Sucks, the Frying Pan, and Skillet, (which
unclassic names represent the gorges in the mountains,) bids


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Beginning of the Atlanta Campaign — Chattanooga
TO Resaca — Incidents Preliminary to the Mo\'e
— Breaking Stone — Organization of a Regimental
Christian Commission — Racket with Colored
Troops — Small-pox — Pontoon Train Starts for
the Front — Over Familiar Ground — Chickamauga
Battlefield — Sound of Battle on the Left —
Hurrying the Pontoons to the Front — Bat-
tle OF Resaca — Fight at Lay's Ferry — Crossing

ELS — Sherman's Army in Full Pursuit.

TIlERl'v are many rumors in camp now about a forward
movement. It is probable some of them are true. It
is certain that there is a great stir of preparation going on.
General Sherman is now in command of all the troops in
this department, and he is concentrating all the available
troops from other sections. For several days troops have
been passing through Chattanooga, going to the front.
Generals Schotield and Howard have come from East Ten-
nessee with the 23d and 4th Corps. General Hooker, with
the 20th Corps, has moved up from Lookout Valley. Gen-
eral Thomas, with the 14th Corps, has been in position
towards Dalton for some time. With General Sherman in
command of this grand arm^' we will be able to accomplish
something ; and it will not be manv davs until the work will
begin. This armv has never been equaled, in size,
equipments or valor, by any in the West. I have every
confidence in our Generals, and have greater confidence^ in
the Lord. I belie v^e that He will give us the victory ; not
so much because we deserve it, as a reward for our fait li ful-
ness and trust in Ilim. liut liecause il will be loi" His own



((lorv. It is ;i matter of deep regret that tliere is so much
wickedness in our army, especially among those in high
command. It is greatly to be deplored that there is so little
recognition of God, in the control of our arm\', and in national
affairs. But I hope that He will hear and answer tlie jirayers
of the faithful few.

Tuesday, May 3. — I went early this morning to yisit
Private William Bennett, who is very sick of pneumonia, at
general field hospital. I spoke to the surgeon about having
prayers in the tent. He gave his consent, but hesitated, and
looked around, as if he thought it might hurt something in
the room.

The following table exhibits the full strength of our
Regiment at the present time :


Field and Staff.

Company A

Company B.._

Company C

Company D

Company E ._ .

Company F

Company G

Compony H.. .

Company I

Company K











339 70 409












1 2 t^qq

I called on Chaplain Whitehead, of the 15th Indiana.
His Regiment has but forty-one more da3's to serve. Many
of the officers and men, of the three years' Regiments, will
feel badly after they are mustered out of the service, this
summer. I am oflad I am not one of them.


Wednesday, May 4. — General Thomas went to the front
to-day. Evidences of a pending battle thicken. A number
of troops came from the rear, on the cars.

Our brass band, after a long interim of lazy-do-nothing-
ness, is waking up and is now playing a few tunes.

Thursday, May k. — We had a meetinsf this evenina^ and
took preliminary steps toward the reorganization of our
Regimental Christian Association. We meet again next
Monday evening.

For two or three days the Army of the Tennessee, under
command of General McPherson, has been passing through
town, going to join the army under General Sherman, in
front of Dalton. News from the East is to the effect that
the Armv of the Potomac is advancinuf. With Grant in
command in the East, and Sherman in the AVest, we will
have some effective work.

The 58th has been furnishing a daily detail of two hun-
dred men, to break stone for macadamizing the streets of
Chattanooga. This is necessary and useful labor, no doubt,
but, to my mind, is a little below the dignity of a soldier.
This is the wa}^ the bo3^s regard it, too, and express a'desire
to adandon their job of stone breaking and go to the front.
They say they can break stone at home, or in the peniten-
tiary. But we will see enough of the front soon, if I
do not miss my guess. The pontoons are all loaded,
ready to move at a moment's notice, and we will go witli

Saturday, May 7. — Qiiite a difficulty occurred to-day on
the river bank, between some white and negro soldiers.
The whites began the row, but the colored troops came out
first best. Hugh Shaw, of our Regiment, seems to have
been the leader, and there were several others of the Regi-
ment engaged in the fracas. Shaw was badly handled and
lost his gun. Six companies of the 14th United States Col-
ored Infantry appeared on the ground to maintain order.
In the meantime, the offending fools had been arrested and
were put on fatigue dut\'. The day is gone, forever gone,


when colored soldiens in the United States Army can be
insulted with impunity.

Sunday, May 8. — Attended morning services at the Post
Chapel. Rev. Mr. Kincade, of the Christian Commission,
preached a good sermon, thirty minutes long, on Naaman.
There was a man in the congregation who responded too
often, too loud, and in the wrong place. Responding is a
good thing, but can be overdone, and wronglv done. He
said "Amen" to the triumph of the devil. He had entirely
too much steam for the amount of brains he possessed.

I preached in our Regiment at two p. m. to a large and
attentive congregation. There is an evident increase in
spirituality in the Regiment. This must be in answer to the
prayers of the people at home.

At 6:30 p. m., Monday, May loth, we met in front of
our Regiment and perfected the organization of a Regi-
mental Christian Association. Following is the constitution :



We, the undersigned members of the 58th Indiana Volunteers, professing
to be followers of Christ, who commanded us not to forget the assembling of
ourselves together, and believe it a duty which we owe to each other to meet
for prayer, advice, and instruction, that we may grow in grace and the
knowledge of the truth, do, for the purpose of obtaining concert of action
among ourselves, and building each other up in the faith, establish and agree
to be governed bv the following constitution:

Article i. The Society shall be known as the Christian Association of
the 5Sth Indiana Volunteers.

Article 2. Its officers shall consist of a Moderator, Clerk, and an Exec-
utive Committee of three, who shall be elected at the first meetings in Jan-
uary, April, July, and October.

Article 3. The Moderator shall open each meeting with prayer, and
preside while the Association is in session.

Article 4. The Clerk shall keep a book in which shall be recorded the
names and address of each member of the Association, with the church of
which he is a member. He shall also keep a record of the proceedings of
each official meeting of the Association, which shall be held at least once a

Article 5. It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to look
after the welfare of the Society, and if any of the members should be found
acting unbecoming a christian, to report the same to the Society.


Article 6. Any person may become a member of this Association by
renouncing his sins, confessing his faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and
obedience to His commandments.

Article 7. It will be expected that every member evince his conver-
sion to God by attending our meetings, taking a part therein, and by an
upright and holy life. Such persons shall be entitled to a certificate of mem-
bership signed by the Moderator and Clerk.

Article S. The death, discharge or removal of an\- member, shall be
entered upon the Clerk's book.

Article 9. The Association may have a meeting at any time the Mod-
erator and Executive Committee deem it expedient.

Article 10. The Scripture shall be the only rule of faith and practice.

Article ii. This Constitution may be changed or other articles
added, by a vote of a majority of the members, at any meeting of the

Article 1.2. Any person who is a faithful member of the society and
does not hold a membership with any church at home, may, at his own
request, be recommended by the Society to the church of his choice, for

The followintr officers were elected : Patterson W. Wal-
lace, Moderator; Henry W. Bryant, Clerk; Captain U. L.
Cain, Lieutenant Jacob Davis, William Clem, Executive

It was ordered that any persons desiring to join, hand in
their names, residence and church to the Chaplain. The
question of erectini^ an arbor Ibr public worship was dis-
cussed, and deferred on account of the uncertainty of the
continuance of our present camp. Appropriate resolutions
were passed in reference to the death of Jesse T. Alexander.

Larkin Montgomery has been sick for some days and the
surgeons determined to send him to the Brigade hospital.
When the ambulance came this afternoon, I followed Dr.
Iloltzman over to the quarters of Company D, to see Mont-
gomery put in the ambulance. When I looked in the Doc-
tor was making an examination of the patient. lie has the
small-po.x. I spoke a few words and came away. The pest
ambulance was sent for. Before it came, and whilt^ 1 was
writing in the tent, in company witli Drs. Iloltzman and
Patten, in came George W. Johnson, saying:

"Doctor, I have come to see what this breakino- out on
me is?"


The Doctor made an examination and discovered that lie,
also, has the small-pox. An hour or two afterwards both
are sent to the small-pox hospital. This disease has been
spread all through this country by Longstreet's men. They
scattered it through East Tennessee. Our men have caught
it and scattered it through the North.

Companies C and G, under Major Downey, are ordered
to go to Ringgold, Ga., in the morning and repair roads.
Thev take two wagons and an ambulance. No tents or mess
chests can go. Dr. Patten will accompany them. The
Regiment is to be paid to-night.

I turned over about three hundred Testaments to the U.S.
Christian Commission. Five hundred were sent out with us
by the Gibson County (Indiana) Bible Societ}', for our
Regiment. It took only about two hundred to supply our
men. Many of our soldiers still have the same Testaments
which they brought with them from Camp Gibson, wlien
they first entered the service. Others have supplied them-
selves or been recently supplied.

The Regiment left camp at about six a. m., May 12th, and
marched to the depot. We have three wagons, and carr\'
ten days' rations and forage. We take no tents, mess boxes
or valises. A large number of men are left behind. Charley
Fullerton, the large, lazy and trifling leader of the band, is
unnecessarily excused by the Surgeon. The Colonel then
excused all the band. This cuts us off from music.

It was about eight a. m. when we left the railroad depot
and started on the Rossville road. First was Colonel Buell
and staff. Then came Colonel Moore and six Companies
of the 58th. Then came the Pontoon train, with several
companies of Ponton iers scattered along. Company B, of
our Regiment, was about midway, and Company F formed
a rear guard.

The Pontoon train was very long. At first I could not
believe that there was any pontoon about it, as I saw nothing
that had any semblance of a boat. I saw nothing but trestles
and boards, as it appeared to me. But then there were two


wagons loaded with oars, and what did they want oars for
if they had no boats? We, who were not posted, had consid-
erable discussion about this matter, as is usual with ignorant
p'^ople. After awhile I learn that the boats were to be made
of canvass and were nicely rolled away. The trestles I saw
were the frames on which the canvass was stretched.

All the old fencing which was standing when last I trav-
eled this Rossville road (September 21, 1863,) is now gone.
We rested a few moments at Rossville, and moved on
through the gap on the road to Lee and Gordon's Mill.
The trees in the gap were well marked with rifle balls, made
on the day last named.

We moved on through the woods rendered famous bv the
battle of Chickamauga. Different spots call up various
reminiscences to the men, and there were constant recita-
tions of tragic events along the line. Especial interest was
taken in instructing the recruits in the historv of certain roads,
hills and fields. These listened with attention, and gazed
wiii marvel on the well scarred trees. In some places the
timber was very much torn. A cut fifteen feet long from
some of these might be quite an attraction at a fashionable
Sanitary Fair, but might not make a good argument for
enlisting. I rode off to the left of the road and saw where
tiie breastworks had been, where the 58th stood on Sunday
morning of the battle. These have been destroved by fire.
1 saw the old fields through which the enemy advanced later
in the day to meet our men. And, in the distance, was the
hill on which the 58th fought all day Sunday. I rode
through the woods where tiie rebels, bv the aid of our bad
movements, broke our lines. But in no place were the
graves so numerous as where the 58th charged on Saturday
afternoon. The little woods was full of them. Here a
number of our men were killed and others lost. We could
not identify any graves, as strangers had buried them. But
the men, in many cases, could point to the very stumps and
trees which sheltered them. Captain Cain saw tlie bones of
poor Zeke Boren, just wiiere he died, behind the rail breast-


works. There was a strong smell of decaying bodies in
these woods and fields.

We bivouacked just before reaching the mill. We lay
about two hours resting and eating. I did not go to Craw-
fish Springs, as it was too far from the command.

The march is resumed and the Chickamaufja is crossed,
just below the mill-dam. The mill is running for the citi-
zens, but they have little to be ground.

After we had left the mill a mile in the rear, we came vipon
ground which the 58th had never trod before. The fences
were nearly all standing, and the people were making some
efforts to farm. One farmer and his famil}^ met us at the
gate with buttermilk, and many smiles, professing Unionism.
I have no doubt that there are many Union people in North-
ern Georgia, but it requires a more extensive acquaintance
than a single trip along the road to distinguish them.

We bivouacked for the night at Rock Spring, eighteen
miles from Chattanooga. We had heard distant cannonad-
ing during the after part of the day, in the direction of Dal-
ton. We heard nothing definite from the battle. Strong
pickets were put out around our camp, and every precau-
tion taken to prevent a surprise.

Friday, May 13. — We were up at three o'clock, and an
hour later we marched out on the Lafayette road. We were
all out on the road before day. There were but few indica-
tions of an army on this road. We met a few couriers, and
heard heavy cannonading early in the day. Lafayette is a
small village, now nearly deserted. There are a few good
houses. The scenery about is very tine. To the left is Pea
Vine Ridge, and to the right Pigeon Mountains. Catoosa
Creek flows by the town.

We turned to the left and went through a pass in Pea
Vine Ridge. Passing on, we bivouacked for dinner at the
foot of Taylor's Ridge. This ridge is a mountain. It
required several hours for the long train to reach the svim-
mit. Here were rifle marks upon the trees. Indeed, from
this time we saw on every side the evidences of war. We


soon came upon the cavalry videttes of the grand armv. It
was not long after, passing through some gap, that we came
to the cavalry and wagon trains. Colonel Wilder was at a
little cross-roads, Bivilla bv name. As there was a demand
toi- the pontoon in front, Colonel Buell hurried on. After
marching twenty-five miles more, we camped, about ten
p. m., in Snake Creek Valley. This was a very hard day's
march. It is wonderful that we succeeded in marching so
many miles over such roads, and with such a long train.

Saturday, May 14. — At 12:30 a. m. the camp was
aroused, and, in midnight gloom, the march was resumed.
Our progress was slow, owing to the roughness of the wav
and the darkness of the night. As day dawned on us, we
came upon large trains parked in the mouth of Snake Creek
^"alley. Here was a good position and heavy entrench-
ments. We turned out into a little field in Sugar Valley, by
the roadside, about seven o'clock, for breakfast. There was
cannonading in front, and an occasional shot from a skir-

After an hour's rest, we were hurried oft' to lay a pontoon
bridge over Oostanaula River. We were ordered to Lay's
Ferry, but the Colonel, having no guide, went on the Cal-
houn Ferry road. Several hours were spent, and our weary
soldiers still more exliausted, in wandering about the dense
torests. At last we paused, a mile from Lay's Ferrv. The
pontoons were hastilv put together. The 58th and Ponton-
iers were supported b}' a Division ot the i6th Armv Corps.

Soon the storm of deadly battle was heard on the plains of
Oostanaula, far to our left. The battle raged northeast of us.
It continued far into the night. It was impossible to tell the
result Irom the sound. No coiu^iers bring us any informa-

In the afternoon the 5(Sth took the boats and put them \n
the mouth of Snake Creek. Soon after, they were floated
down into the Oostanaula. About four hundred of General
Dodge's men were ferried over by the Pontoniers. A
charge was made up the other bank. One flag and tliirty


prisoners were captured. The rebels were driven from the
bank. It was a man in the 66th Indiana who captured the
flag. It had been deserted by the enemy. He swam over
and took it. He has been promised a lurlough to carry it to
Governor Morton.

After we had hiid down and fallen asleep, we were
ordered up to move. It was about nine o'clock. The pon-
toons were taken from the river. This order awakenetl
considerable misgiving with main' of us. We feared that
the battle of the afternoon had gonc» against the left, and we
were to move back a little wa\\ But soon the order came to
"unhitch, unharness, and go to bed." I suppose that the
order for moving was a mistake, originating tVom an order
to take up the pontoons.

In the flght this at'ternoon the rebels poured in the shells
very lively into our ranks. One would have torn oft' Cap-
tain James M. Smith's legs, had he not moved them in time.
Alonzo Stewart, of Compan^' B, was severelv wounded in
the hip by a fragment of shell. I was in exact range of the
battery, but sought shelter behind the large pines and oaks.
One Pontonier was killed, and Ave or six wounded.

Sunday, May 15. — The men were ordered to lay a bridge
at the ferrv. It was completed bv noon. But little opposi-
tion was made bv the enem^'. Our men tired on the rebels,
but they made no replv. The battle was not resumed verv
heavily on the leit. There was skirmishing and some can-
nonading. We all remembered the Sunday's fight at Chick-
mauga, and expected something of a repetition, but we were
happily mistaken.

In the afternoon a severe skirmish occurrc^d beyond the
ferr^■. Our skirmishers moved out and met a stroncr resist-
ance. Our men were driven to their works, hut rallied and
charged on the rebels. They were repulsed, and left their
dead and severely wounded on the field. A\'(' must havt> had
about fifty men killed and wounded in this afiV;n-.

After this firing had ceased, I rode down 10 \hv ferr\-.
Our men were busy as bees, laving a second pontoon. ]")lant-


ino- o-uns, and throwing up earthworks. This is a verv tine
point for crossing an army. The river bends on the right
and left of the ferry, coming from and going to the enemy.
This saves the ferry from being flanked, while our men hold
this bank. Ju-;t below, Snake Creek empties into Oostan-
aula. This aflbrds a flne cover for launching pontoons.
Just over the ferrv, the countrv is level, and part of it
cleared. On this side tlie ground rises. Here our guns are
placed, commanding the other side. On this bank of the
river the ground swells just at the water's brink, aftbrding a
natural protection for infantry. Hence, although the 58th
was on the ground this afternoon, participating in the fight,
not a man was injured. I sat for a time on the bank, watch-
ing with interest the progress of the work. War involves
every species of labor. Every kind of talent is called into
requisition. E/ery art and science must be practiced. It
taxes man to the utmost. Not onlv does it demand his time,
his industry', his talent, his acquirements, his propert}^, but
his life.

Yes, for here are the fruits of war, crossing on the stretch-
ers over the bridge — wounded and dead men. It is no won-
der that Wellington said to his staff', "Gentlemen, ours is a
damnable profession."

Passing over the bridge, I viewed the works which are
being constructed for holding the ferrv. Another and
stronger charge of the enemv is anticijiatcd tliis afternoon.
But it is not made, and could not have been successful.

Many stragglers are passing out even beyond the skir-
mishers. They are bringing in meal, flour, meat, etc., from
a rich rebel's house, just 3'onder in the edge of the woods.
An ofllcer passes with some Greek and Latin works, which
tell of the classic taste of the now fleeing Southerners.

Monday, May 16. — About eiglit o'clock orders were
issued for marching, with our surplus pontoon, to Resaca,
eight or ten miles to the left. Companies A and K were
left at Lay's Ferry in charge of the two bridges constructed
yesterday. By the time the train began to collect at the


cross-roads, a mile from the ferrv, the troops and trains
from the left were rushing for the river. A new move was
evidently on foot. The battle last night was the enemy's
last struggle on the north bank of the Oostanaula. Ris posi-
tions are this morninof evacuated. General Sherman is
making a new disposition of his army to meet the enemy's
new movements. Such an occasion is always one of

"Hurrying to and fro,"

as described bv Bvron. We lay nearlv an hour at the cro.'^s-
roads, awaiting the arrival of the remainder of our train from
the ferrv. We then moved to the left. The roads were
crowded with wagons, going the other wav. These were
turned hastil}^ out of the way to let the Pontoon train pa'^s,
as we have the right of way over everything else. We also
met some troops of the i6th Corps coming the same way.
These were also turned out of the road. We passed the
spot where the men killed at Lav's Ferrv were being buried.

We passed General Logan sitting on his horse by the
roadside. It was m}' first sight of him. His complexion is
dark, and he wears a heavy, villainous mustache. Now, that
I have seen the man, I honor him the more for standing firm

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 24 of 47)