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 25 of 47)
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by the Union, although it was in opposition to his political
faith. It is a wonderful triumph over the old man within and
the mean man without. General Logan's record during this
war is one that any man might well be proud of. His troops
— the 15th Corps — were waiting by the roaddde to go to
Lay's Ferry and cross. The woods and fields are tuU of them.
The 15th and i6th Corps are under General McPherson.

We now came upon the hosts of General Palmer — the I4lh
Corps. The guns were stacked and the l^a^•onets gleamed
brightly in the morning sun. The men were lively. Several
bands were discoursing good music. The tide of battle was
now turned the other way. Men were rushing towards
Resaca. It was with great difiiculty that the Pontoon train
w^as forced through. Colonel Buell displayed great energy
and some tact, in clearing the way and hurrying forward the


A great change for the better has been wrought in Colonel
Buell. lie has gained wisdom by his experience in the
arniv. He had faults, but he was free from one prevailing
fault, among manv army officers — he did not drink whisky.
His swearing was only to the extent of saying, "dod dern
it," which was a very mild expression, compared with some
used bv many officers. But Colonel Buell is now popular
with the Generals and witii his men. He is an excellent
Pioneer commander. He pushes his work through


We soon began to pass the tbrtitications used by our men
in the recent battles. Here are two graves in an orchard on
the right. We pass a valle}^ where the trees are marked
with cannon and rifle shots. We came to the strong line of
entrenchments, just in front of Resaca, evacuated by the
rebels this morning. The main battlefield is farther to the
left. After resting a few moments at the entrenchments we
moved through Resaca to the river bank. A large quantity
of meal and salt, and some tents, and a few dismounted can-
non, were captured at the depot. Tiiis is a strong position
and difficult to be flanked. There is only one weakness about
the position. It is the hill from which our men had com-
mand of the railroad bridge. The 36th Georgia was cap-
tured here this morning, destroying bridges. The pontoons
were destroyed, except a few boats, and they were
sunk. A weak wagon bridge, though fired, was saved, and
the army was crossing on it. Five men passed over this
bridge, when our army first entered the place, and cut the
railroad trestles on the other side. This saved a long trestle

No sooner did we reach the bank than the men went
busily to work, putting together the pontoons. It was
twelve m. when the labor began. By the middle of the
afternoon the troops and wagons were crossing on it. In
thr meantime a bridge had been constructed on the ruins of
the raih-oad bridge, just at the water's edge. Two brigades
ot' Stanle\"s l)ivisi(m went over there.


Progress of the Atlanta Campaign — From the Oos-

tanaula to the chattahoochee crossing the

Etowah — Johnson's Position at A l l a t o o n a
Flanked — About Burnt Hickory — Skirmishing
ALL Along the Line — Repairing Bridges — Pon-
toons AT Etowah Station — Incidents of the For-
ward Movement — Acworth — Pine Mountain —
Kenesaw — Marietta — Fronting Rebel Rifle Pits
Across Chattahoochee.

GREAT activity characterizes every movement of the
army, now. Pontoons are laid and the troops are
rapidh^ passing over. The telegraph repairing corps is
keeping up with the advancing arm^^. A train of cars came
up, almost before the smoke of battle cleared away, bringing
timbers, already framed, for the repair of the railroad bridge.
An occasional gun tells of the presence of the enemy in ovu"

The most of the trains, and all of the troops, designed to
cross the river at this point, having passed, by noon of the
1 8th, we moved over the battalion and began taking up the
bridge. This being completed by the middle of the after-
noon, and a company of Pontoniers having been detailed to
construct a permanent pontoon, we move on. A few miles
out we came to Calhoun, almost entirely deserted. There
were some rail works runnino- throujrh the suburbs of the
village. The rebels made a stand here last night. Calhoun
has been a pleasant town, betore the war. There is a monu-
ment to one General Nelson, of whom, perhaps, I am to
blame for never liaving heard. I suppose him to have been


a "cornstalk GeneraF' of the old State militia times — "the
better days of the republic,'' as croakers imagine.

Here we overtook Company K and one of the bridges
recently laid at Lay's P'erry. A mile from Calhoun we
stopped for supper at Bailey's Mills, on Oothcaloga Creek.
After an hour's rest we moved on, designing to go ten miles
to Adairsville. The moon shone brightly and the night was
lovelv. But an officer never gains anything by marching
his troops at night, when there is no emergency. We have
not gained an inch by night marching since leaving Chatta-
nooga. Long before reaching Adairsville we all lay down,
exhausted, bv the roadside, and went soundly to sleep.

Near Adairsville, next morning, we passed, a point where
there were more bullet marks than I ever saw, in so small a
compass. On the left, a little strip of medium sized oaks
were scarred in innumerable places. On the right, there is
the hull of an old shop, pierced through many thousand
times. Just beyond, on the left, there is a plank fence, the
narrow boards of which are perfectly riddled. The ruins of
a fine Georgia mansion are smoking, a few steps farther on.
Two lines of temporary field works are still standing. The
Loyalists occupied one and the rebels the other. The com-
batants have passed on, and these marks and desolations,
and a few soldiers' graves, are left to tell the tale to the pass-
ing Pontoniers. Here the 4th Corps is said to have fought,
and some of Hooker's men did noble execution.

We soon came to Adairsville — desolate, like all the towns
we come to. The citizens imagine that it is patriotic to
leave their homes and entwine their destiny about the pillars
of the Southern Confederacy. Many of them will be
crushed beneath the ruins, when this house, founded on the
sand, falls.

After an hour's rest, we move a sliort distance trom the
village and bivouacked in a dirty woods, by the side of a
sluggish creek. It was a fine day for sleep, and in its soft
embraces, the soldier, that day, forgot his toils and battle
scenes. A gentle breeze, soft as a mother's lullaby, fanned






his wcarv boch'. Many dreamed of home, but awoke
toward nightfall, to find themselvCvS soldiers, in the sunny
South, Thus glides the soldier's life. The night is often
his day and the day is often his night.

Friday, May 20. — This morning we left Adairsville and
resumed our march. We soon came to the wagon trains,
the cavalry moving to the rear, and the infantry lying b}^
their guns. The grand armv seems 10 be resting on its
laurels. After remaining a lew moments in Kingston, we
move a quarter of a mile out and stop for orders.

I caught a glance of a Major-General, standing in a hall
in Kingston. It was only a glance. I had never seen him
before. lie was tall and slender, and had the look of a
classic teacher. At home, with a black coat on, I w^ould
have guessed him the pastor of an old fashioned Presby-
terian Church, who taught Greek and Latin through the
week. Farther I will not go until I see him again. I was
afterwards informed that it was General Sherman.

After lilting our dinner of pickled pork, crackers, and
colTee, we were informed that the army was to rest until
IMonday, the 23d, by order of General Sherman. Turning
east, and crossing the road, we camped about a nice frame
mansion, owned b}^ one Clayburne. The house is deserted.
The proprietor is banking at Atlanta. The farm is sterile
but the water is superior, and the scenery fine, without being
grand. The Regiment is placed in the orchard and tiie
horses in the front yard. Tiie house served for Brigade
and Regimental headquarters.

Saturday, May 21. — The Armies of the Cumberland,
Tennessee and Ohio rest in quiet to-da', . I am sick. Have
IxHMi in bed all da v. I felt a little lietter towards night.

^\'sterday afternoon we learned of tlie death of (jeorge
Kalian, First Lieutenant and (^lartcMMnaster of our Regi-
ment. AV'e had left him, sick, at Decherd, l\Minesset\ on
oiu" march irom Nashville. He was taken to Nashville.
Was very sick, but recovered somewhat. He afterwards
relajised and died, when or how, I am not informed.


He was a native of Scotland, and "his speech betrayed
him." His business qualifications were of the tirst order.
He was industrious, living much of the time in the saddle.
He was an excellent penman and book-keeper. Few men
could get up a neater or more correct report. He had
traveled extensively and read many books. In short,
he was a highly gifted young man, with fine conversa-
tional powers, rare musical attainments, and polished
manners. His was one of the brijxhtest minds in the Reo -

Monday, May 23. — The rest of the grand arm\' was
broken to-da^'. We early left our camp, and moved south
from Kingston. We crossed Two Run Creek near the
town. We travel along a blind path, through a desolate
land of tall pines. The soil was covered with a carpet of
wild strawberries.

We met the head of the 20t]i Corps, led b}' General
Hooker. He is a popular man among the soldiers.

We reached the Etowah, at Milam's Bridge, The oppo-
site bank is occupied by a few of our cavalry. One bridge
is completed in an hour and twent}^ minutes. Immediately
the 20th Corps began to pour over. The troops are followed
by their trains.

The 4th and 14th Corps are passing a few miles farther
down the river. While this is ffoinp- on, the enemy is look-
incr for us in vain, at Etowah Station.

It is very interesting to look on while an army is crossing
a pontoon. It is a great place to study human nature. In
the military world, everybody is impressed In' his own
importance. Even mule drivers are liighly offended whiMi
the guards tell them to drive slow. The guards themselves
are impressed with their otlice. Thej' take peculiar delight
in dismounting passing officers.

Tuesday, May 24. — The 20th Corps having crossed yes-
terday and last night, the 23d began passing early this morn-
ing. This Corps is from Knoxville, plus six new Indiana
Regiments, under General Hovey.


About the middle of the afternoon, the 23d Corps was all
over. Colonel Buell immediately took up the pontoon.
Rumor said the position was to be evacuated, and even the
railroad given up to Resaca. Sherman designs to swing
around to the right, that he may turn the position of the
enemy at Allatoona.

It was dark by the time the pontoons were taken from the
stream. A furious rain storm prevailed while the loads were
being adjusted. I lay on the floor of an old house. Here I
found shelter and some sleep. At nine o'clock we moved
south. It was dark, and the roads were horrible. After
traveling about two miles, we were effectively stopped b}'
the trains in advance. The fields on either side were fallow
ground. We put down some rails for a bed. After walk-
ing three-fourths of a mile to get a drink from a filthy
stream, I lav down and finished mv sleep. Fence rails
make a good bed.

Wednesday, May 25. — As soon as the preceding trains
moved, we followed. We soon passed beyond the bounds
of fertile lands, and entered upon a desolate region of pines.
Occasionally we would, hnd a little hut and a patch of cleared
ground. Most of these were without occupants.

We stopped an hour for dinner. Soon after this, we came
upon a part of the 23d Corps. They had been in camp
but were falling in, to march towards Burnt Hickory. We
followed them, and encamped for the night near that
place. This is on the old Carolina and Kentucky stock
road. Forage for the stock was scarce in early times, and
is yet. There stood here a hickor\^ tree. At its base the
passing travelers kindled their camp fires. Thence the place
took the name of "Burnt Ilickorv." l^ong after the tree
had fallen down and been destroyed, the name is retained.
There are a few houses scattered up and down the
road, but Burnt Hickorv can not even boast of being a

About dark the mail came, and the rain began to fall.
JBefore this the sound of battle came from the front. While


the rain fell, and we were trying to open the mail and read
our letters in our open tents, the sound of musketry contin-
ued. It soon hushed, and all was still.

We occupy a little line of temporary works, constructetl hv
our men last niij^ht. We are on the extreme left, save a few

The next morning dawned in comparative quiet. Some
skirmish tiring was all we lieard to-day.

In the al'ternoon we moved about three miles to the right.
The road was encumbered with troops and trains, and there
was considerable difficulty in getting our people along.
Major Downe\^ had quite a difficulty with a Colonel in
Baird's Division. The Major savs the Colonel was drunk.
I know the Major was. The Colonel stopped the train.
Colonel Buell reports him to department headquarters.

Some of our high officers are possessed with the strange
conceit that their wisdom rises with their rank. I have often
known them to be informed of some fact b\' an inferior in
rank. Many of them can not bear this. Many officers
study secretiveness, and, by great reserve, pretend to know
more of the movements than those below. I am a Chaplain,
and am not in the line of promotion. I stand where I did at
home. I am sometimes not a little amused at the pretended
military acquirements of some men, whom, at home, I knew
were not smart, and in the army never study. Some of these
fellows, who were not known bevond their immediate neigh-
borhoods at home, can scarcely find room in their bodies to
hold their own importance. We have thousands of men in
the ranks who have wealth, or talent, or reputation. Most
of our officers, however, are worthy, humble and capable

Friday, May 27. — The marcli was resumed. At the lirst
road on the right, we were joined by Company A, and the
pontoon detachment, left at Lay's Ferr}-, on the Oostanaula.
Lieutenant Behm, in command of the Company, is sick in
the ambulance. The remainder of the command is in tine
health and spirits.

:]()i5 CIIArLATN IIKillT'S lIlSTOlfV OF TllK

Company A has liad a -somewhat different experience
from the others, since leaving Resaca. The}- were left
in charge of the two bridges at Lay's Ferry, and, after
all the troops had crossed over, they took up the
bridges and marched to a point opposite Rome, where the}^
put down another bridge, upon which General Jeff. C.
Davis' Division crossed and took possession of Rome. This
was a rich depot for the rebel army, and they had not been
able to get all their stores away on account of the suddenness
of their flight. Large quantities of salt and meal were cap-
tured by our men.

When Colonel Streight's command was captured, near
this place in 1863, and brought into Rome as prisoners, they
were subjected to man}^ indignities, by the proud and haughty
rebel citizens. A just and righteous retribution now over-
takes them, in the burning of tlieir houses by indignant sol-

One-half of the Rome newspaper was found struck ofl',
giving a flaming account of Johnson's success against Sher-
man. " The sun would not set behind the Catooga hills,"
the editor said, "ere the whole Yankee armv would be cap-
tured." But things did not turn out that way. Before the
other side of his paper was printed, the editor, himself, found
it necessary to flee behind the hills to avoid capture. Our
boys took possession of his sanctum and immediately began
the publication of a tri-weekly paper, of loyal sentiments.

While in this place, Dr. Patten fell into an argument with
one of the natives, an old man, who owned one slave, on the
irrepressible slavery question.

"Slavery could not be put down," he said, "because
niggers always had been and always would be slav^es. For
the Bible says of Cain, 'his har shall be kink}', his skin black,
and a sarvant of sarvants shall be all the da3^s of his life.' "

"Where is that passage in the Bible?" inquired the

"Wall, I cannot exactl}- tell, but if Mary was here she
could lind it ."


The Doctor got a Bible, and turning to the history ot Cain,
asked the old man to read it, but discovered that he was
unable to read. So the Doctor read the story and explained
its meaning. He was making quite a t'avorable impression
on the ignoramus, and was encouraged to believe that he
would instill some sense into him, when Lieutenant Mur-
phy, who loves a joke, spoke up and said to the old man
that this scripture had been changed b}^ Abraham Lincoln.
Of course the Doctor could do no more with his subject alter
this. The ignorant slave-holder went away horror struck,
at the wickedness of Abraliam Lincoln.

The people of Rome were much alarmed lest Colonel
Streight should visit them. Our men took great delight in
spreading the report that Colonel Streight was to be placed
in command of the post.

We camped near Pumpkin Vine Creek, after marching
about four miles. We are as near the front as is advisable.
The sound of the musketry and cannonading can be dis-
tinctly heard a few miles in front.

The Pumpkin Vine is a sluggish stream, whose waters
look as if they might poison the land through which they
pass. There are hills about us. Where the battle is, the
ground is rolling, and forest dense.

General Grant is still successful against Lee, and Sherman
against Johnson. If Richmond and Atlanta are captured,
and the rebel armies driven back, what then? Evidentl}^
Lee and Johnson will attempt to concentrate. If thev suc-
ceed, it would be almost impossible to save one of our armies
from defeat. Nothing but a retreat on Chattanooga could
save Sherman's army. If this was once accomplished, com-
binations could readilv be made to meet the rebel army.
But some time would be consumed in these movements.
There would be a great fluttering at home, and "there, now,
I told you so," abroad. Gold would go up and greenbacks
down. The war would be prolonged. Hence, it is neces-
sary to prevent a concentration of the rebel armies. Can it
be done by Grant and Sherman pressing their opponents


severely? No, for the rebels have the railroad, and can
leave the Yankees behind. But if, after passing Atlanta and
Richmond, heavy cavalry expeditions are sent out to destroy
the railroads between Lee and Johnson, and at the same
time, and all the time, Sherman flanks to the left, and Grant
to the right, rebel concentration can not take place. But it
will require great energy and watchfulness. Our rations
must be kept up. Our teams must be fed well. Reinforce-
ments must be constantly coming forward. Small expedi-
tions must be abandoned. With the single exception of a
vigorous campaign beyond the Mississippi, all else should be
abandoned, save tiiese two grand movements now in pro-

What folly to have forces in Florida, or South Carolina,
or Texas, when we can gain nothing by staying, and lose
nothing by going away. It would be pleasant, indeed, to
occupy all our land. But we must first conquer the rebel
armies, and then we can occupy the rebel country with ease
and safety. To over-run is not to conquer a countr\'. It is
the men,- not the land, that rebel.

Our authorities are becoming impressed with this fact, and
are acting accordingly. \"ictory, and an early peace, must
be the result of tiiis improved policy, provided the blessings
of God are upon us. Otherwise, we must be defeated.
May He favor the right.

Satukuav, Mav 28. — The road crossing the creek passes
east from our camp. Out on this road, or apparentU' a little
to the south of it, lieavy musketry was heard last night.
This morning heavy skirmishing is heard along that part of
our lines. A general engagement is anticipated. All our
army is now in position. On the extreme right is the 1 stii
and i6th Corps, under General McPherson. Then comes
General J. C. Davis, 2d Division of the 14th Corps. Next
is tlie 20th Corps, under General Hooker. Tlien we have
the 1st and j,d Divisions of the 4th Corps. Then comes the
1st l^ivision, under General Johnson, of the 14th Corps.
Then we have the 2d and 3d Divisions, of the 23d Corps.



The 3d Division, General Baird, of the 14th Corps, and the
1st Division, General Hovev, of the 23d Corps, are in the
rear, guarding trains.

The skirmishing of the morning does not increase,
but seems to die awav. In the afternoon, in company
with Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, Surgeon Holtzman, and
Lieutenant and Acting Qiiartermaster Torrence, I rode
towards the front. When I heard the tirst ball whizz I
stopped with Dr. Holtzman. As I had no business, nor
even curiosity in reference to the extreme front, and had
seen fighting and heard balls whizz many a time before, I
did not think it necessary to crowd into useless danger, that
...™^ I may be called brave. When

I die I want to be at the post
of duty. Men often expose
themselves through sheer cow-

We found many graves in
the woods. Most of them are
Hooker's men, killed in the
engagement of the 25th. It
seems that there was but one
Division of the 20th Corps
engaged. They must have
fought well, for thev drove the
enemv and lield their ifround.
Our lines have been advanced but little, as Hooker found
the enemy's entrenchments on the night above named.
Skirmishing is going on all the time. Wounded men are
constantly coming back to the hospitals. The number of


Company D.

* Was mustered in as Qj\arterniaster- Sergeant. November 12, 1S61, pro-
moted Second Lieutenant CJonipany D, April 13th, 1S63. to First Lieutenant
November 4, 1S63, to Captain March i, 1S65. After his army service he
returned to his old home in Xenia, Ohio, and engaged in mercantile business.
He served a term as Recorder of Greene county, and was for some time
Chairman of the Republican Central Committee of that county. Captain
Torrence vvas a prominent and influential citizen of his native town and
county, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. His death, which
occurred September 16, iSSi, was a cause of profound sorrow to his manv
friends and comrades.


men killed and wounded during the 25th, 26th, 27th, and
to-day, is very large. Wood's Division was repulsed yes-
terday. From an inspection of the grounds, and from the
statements and opinions of men on the held, I am impressed
that we have gone as far as we can, even by charging. A
flank movement of some kind should now be made. The
works might be taken by storming ; but suppose we were to
fail, what then? I can not believe General Sherman will
trv it. We had a good prav^er meeting in the evening.

We all anticipated a quiet Sabbath. No assault on the
enemv's stronghold, on this day, was anticipated. In this,
we were not disappointed. But we were not permitted to
remain quietlv in camp, as we were ordered to Burnt
Hickory, about the middle of the forenoon. As all the
trains seemed to have similar orders, it was three p. m.
before we began to move. Even then, we passed thousands
of vvai*'ons standin

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 25 of 47)