John J. Hight.

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

. (page 28 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 28 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

permitted to tear down, with impunitv, the poor man's cabin
and fences where we last encamped. "Yes, yes," said the
judge, "circumstances alter cases.

After supper I took a walk about Marietta. Tt is by tar
the finest tow^n that I had seen in the State. The people
never had committed the foll3% so common in the North, of
felling the native forests. The vards are large, and shaded
by trees ol native growth. Inhere are several long and beau-
tiful streets, with shady sidewalks. The dwelling houses
were not of the highest style of architecture, but large, airy,
with large columns in front.

There are a number of respectable churches in tlie \illag(.\
I noticed alr(\ui\' some of them are aj^jiroprialed h\ tiie med-
ical department. This is right, in times of emergency. l>ut
wlien tliese pass away, churches should be exclusively devoted
to the worship of God. There is a large number of empty
store rooms, which will be a great convenience to our lolks.

Fifty-eighth india^'a regimext.

We spent but a single night in this delightful town, and
under the ex-governor's line trees. The men, with com-
mendable zeal, fixed up snug quarters, and busy brooms this
morning freshened the green carpet. "We are going to
move," said the soldiers. And so we did. About the mid-
dle of the afternoon, we moved two miles, and camped near
the railroad. I paid a short visit to the militarv college
referred to in a preceding page. From Pine Mountain, it
looked like a magniticent building, but when vou come
nearer you Hnd it quite a tame aftair. The building itself is
three stories high, but is not constructed after any of the

orders of architecture
that I ever heard of.
The chapel, halls and
rooms are all emptv,
save a few benches,
and an air of desola-
tion pervades the estab-

By climbing to the
root", I had an enlarijed
siglit of the country.
To the rear, I could
see the Allatoona and
Kenesaw mountains.
Pine and Lost moun-
ains, and all the inter-
vening countr}', were
also in view. In front,
a vast panorama of liills and wt)()d.-; spread before my eyes.
On the lel't, an immense dust, and the smoke rising from the
occasional discharge of a cannon, told of the whereabouts of


Sergeant Company E.

* Was mustered in with tiie Regiment at Camp Gibson, and was with the
Regiment until the battle of" Chickamauga, when he was severely wounded.
After the completion of his three years' term of service, he returned to his
former home in Dubois county. His death occurred several rears after.
The gun shown in the cut is the Henry rifle, presented to him by some of his

The Pontoniers were hurried down to lay the bridge It
was a matter of great importance to have the bridge down
and troops over to support General Wood, as the rebels were
massing troops against him. Their movements could be
seen from Signal Hill, just in our rear, and it was a critical
situation that confronted us. As the 58th came down to the
river bank, to begin their work, General Wood was standing
on the opposite bank greath^ excited. He said that bridge
must be completed and troops must be crossing over to his
assistance within an hour to save his division from disaster.
It did not need much urging to get our men to work, as they
could all realize the necessity of haste. Never did a pontoon
bridge take shape as fast as the one put down across the
Chattahochee that afternoon. Men worked as if it was a
matter of life and death — as, possibly, it was — and before
the expiration of an hour the hnal lashing was made, the
bridge was completed and securely anchored. As soon
as the last plank was laid the head of the column of General
Palmer's Corps was at the approach ready to begin crossing.
Then began a steadv stream of troops — infantry and artil-
lery — of the 14th and 20th Corps, which continued for
liours after night, and the movement was none too soon. A
large force of rebels had been collected on the opposite side,
and thev opened up a sharp fight, soon after the crossing of
the first of our troops. But the rebels' attack had been
delayed too long ; our men were ready for them and held
their position.

Monday, July 18. — I rode over the Chattahoochee river
and a mile or two beyond. Our army is advancing on the
left of Atlanta. On this side of the river we have cavalry.
On the otlier there are the 20th, 14th, 4th and 23d Corps,
in the order named. It is said that General McPherson is
still further on the left. The country, as far as I went, is a
succession of abrupt hills, heavily timbered. But little can be
seen, except from the hill tops, and then, you only see more
liills and more woods. From the mountain near our camp
can be seen Lost Mountain, Pine Mountain, Kenesaw


Mountains, Allatoona Mountains, Stone Mountain, and a
number of others, whose names I have never learned. We
can see where Marietta is, and the steeples of Atlanta are
verv plain to the naked eye. I noticed large clouds of dust
rising in the direction of Stone Mountain. I could see the
rebel and Union camp smoke. Down the river one of our
guns was throwing an occasional shell over the river.

The Chattahoochee river is about four hundred feet wide.
In most places in these parts it can be waded. The bottom
is very rougli and rockv. It is wider, but not so deep, as the
Oostanaula or Etowah. The current is swift and the water
is ever yellow, owing to the sandy and yielding nature ol
the soil. At this season of the j^ear the banks are from six to
fifteen feet high. There are level bottoms along the stream,
but they are narrow. The knobs crowd close to the river.
There is nothing attractive about the Chattahoochee. It is
not navigable for boats. Man}^ of our pontoons were injured
at Phillip's and Power's ferries, b}' the sharp rocks in the
river. Any number of mills might be erected, for the* water
has considerable tail. But what is there to grind? There
was a paper mill on Soap Creek, which empties into the
Chattahoochee, at Phillip's Ferr}-. I can easily account for
the dirty color of the paper on which the rebels print the
weekly news, when I see their muddy streams.

But there is water, clear and good, in these hills. Near
our camp there are several springs of as fine water as any
man ever drank.

In the afternoon of the 19th I rode up on the mountain,
where I could see great clouds of dust that were rising from
Stone Mountain to Atlanta, and to the left of the mountain.
This dust is caused either by the movement of our troops or
the rebels. If it is our men there they are flanking Atlanta,
and will cut the Augusta railroad. If it is the rebels, they
are evacuatino- Atlanta. In either case the result must be
favorable to our armies.

It is rumored to-day (the 20th) that our forces now
occupy Decatur, five miles from Atlanta, on the Augusta


railroad ; that General Rousseau, with a few thousand cav-
ahy, has arrived on the West Point railroad, be3'ond Atlanta,
and that McCook's Brigade, of Davis' Division, was engaged
in a severe tight yesterday and came oft' second best, loosing
heavily in killed, wounded and captured.

To-day, a permanent wagon bridge was linished across the
river and the last pontoon was taken up at Pace's Ferrv.
A new switch and water tank, a bakery, the general iield
hospital, of the Army of the Cumberland, a depot of sup-
plies, etc., are now located at Vinings, which is the naine of
the railroad station near here.

We have additional rumors of the great battle of vester-
day. The rebels are said to have made some desperate
a""saults on the 4th, 14th and 20th Corps, and have been
repulsed with great slaughter. Emptv ammunition w^agons
are coming back to-dav. A lew ambulances loaded with
wounded are cominir in.

General Johnson has been removed tVom the command of
the rebel army. I suppose the same foolish notions prevail
amongst the Southern people -as amongst the Northern.
Johnson has done all man could do. He has displayed
great ability and courage, but then, people who have never
been in the army, sometimes think that there is some kind
of a magic way of wading through thick and thin, without
regard to consequences ; and so there is, but such strategy
always leads to defeat. Had General Johnson thrown his
army continually against Sherman it would long since have
been annihilated. He has made every resistance possible.
If iiis successor. General Hood, acts as public opinion will
demand, then in a few davs his armv will be slaimhtered
and Atlanta will be ours. We will soon learn whether he is
a fool or not. If the reports from yesterday's fighting be
true, I am impressed with the idea that he is attempting the
dash, such as is demandc-d b\' public sentiment, and is pvo-
ductive of public ruin. *

Friday, July 22. — About ten a. m. orders came to go to a
ferrv, about ten miles below ; at twelve m. the march began.


Wo ifot off tlic road twice by takiiiij roads towards the river.
We had no guide, and none of us had been this way before,
and, besides, there was considerable whisk}^ "aboard,"
as the phrase is. The whisky intended to be issued to the
men in rations, was freeh' used by a tew of the men and otli-
cers, resuhing in several drunks. I was on ahead, in com-
pany with Lieutenant-Colonel Moore and staff. By dark we
reached a camp about a mile be3^ond a nameless cross-roads.
I suppose we were on the Sandtown road. Unfortunately,
headquarters wagon, containing our baggage, had taken off
a by-way and went, none knew where ; no, not even those
with it.

About eleven o'clock the headquarters wagon arrived, but
as we were under orders to march at one o'clock in tlie
morning, it was considered improper to waste any more
time in putting up a tent, so I unrolled my blankets on the
rails and lay down to sleep. By this time Colonel Buell
arrived upon the scene of action. Numerous had been his
adventures, with his two orderlies, traveling this gloomy
night amid the Georgia hills and woods. He lost his way
and wandered on, he knew not where.

He was just in that state of mind when lie reached
his command to do something desperate. Some good

''On gracious errands bent,"

inilamed him against the whisky. He sent a Sergeant and
squad of men with orders to knock out tlie head ol the
whisk}^ barrel, as the women used to do in Indiana, in the
days of the temperance agitation. The vile poison gurgled
and splattered upon the soil, while the Georgia sand drank
greedily, as an old toper. But some equally ardent team-
sters, though it was midnight, crowded about with tin cups,
sharing the whisky with the dirt. Some Judas, no doubt,
asked in his heart, "Why was not this sold, and the money
given to the poor?" The Colonel declares that no more
whisky shall be brought to this Regiment. Good for the


I road in the papers tliat during the present summer
whiskv is to be a part of the rations. Ah-eady many of the
details ot the campaign have failed on account of wiiisky.
General Sturgis, with 9,000 well disciplined troops — infantry,
artillery and cavalry — is deleated at Tishomingo Creek by
half that number of cavalry. Cause: Whisky. I am not
posted about the amount of injury in the East by whisky, but
there have been blunders which it is hardly presumable
sober men would commit.

Saturday, June 23. — At one a. m. the reveille brought
our brief slumbers to an end. Some had not yet fallen
asleep. The morning presented quite a contrast to the
gloomy evening. The moon shone ; the clouds were gone ;
the stars are out in their glorv. We move rapidly along the
road three or four miles, when orders were given to halt.
Here we rested until daylight, when we found we were near
the Chattahoochee river, opposite Sandtown.

At da3'break the boats were put together, ready to lay a
bridge. Soon after, the cavalr}^ of General Stoneman came
straggling along on foot, like so many colts going to water.
The officers were without swords, but some of them instead
carried revolvers in their hands. There were no other
troops, except cavalry about. They were far from present-
ing a bold appearance. They looked as if a Regiment of
infantry on the other side could drive oft' the whole Division.
It is far from me to detract from our cavalry, but it cannot
b'j" denied that this arm of the service is not what it should be,
in the matter of efticiency. Under a dashing ofticer^ oiu"
cavalry often performs deeds of daring and brilliancy. We
have many instances of such during this war, and T wish we
had more of them.

Tlie pontoons were taken a mile below tiie ferry, and a
number of men were transferred to the southern bank betbre
the enemy was aware of the design. Two soldiers, a
woman and child, two horses and a mule were captured.
B\' tills time, orders had been received, countermanding the
order for crossin**-. Tlie men weri' transferred to the north-


crn bank and the pontoons taken trom the water and phiced
upon the wagons.

By this time the news was extensively circidated that
General McPherson had been killed yesterday. In connec-
tion with this there was the most exaggerated reports of the
repulse of the Arm}- of the Tennessee, with great loss. The
moving of the pontoon and some of the cavalry to the rear,
seemed to conlirm the disastrous tale. They, who on yes-
day, were cheering over the reported capture of Atlanta,
now bewailed over an equally false tale of disaster. We
did not have Atlanta, nor is McPherson 's army defeated.

After leaving the river, we were stopped two miles back,
lor dinner. This was very acceptable to man and beast.
Many of the men had eateji neither supper nor breaklast.
The mules had not been fed this morning, and some had
not been watered for twenty-four hours. We continued our
march about eijrht miles. Here, at dusk, we met the
McPherson pontoon train, under the same orders as our-
selves — "lay the pontoons at Howell's Ferry, near the rail-
road." Now this ferry is eight miles below the railroad.
It was therefore inferred that DeFour's Ferry, at the rail-
road was meant. Both trains went into camp, designing to
go to the railroad bridge in the morning.

Sunday, July 24. — At two a. m. we were up. But the
yesterday morning's folly, of hurrying off the battalion
without eating, was not repeated. After getting on the
wrong road — as usual — we reached the river soon after day.
We soon had two bridires over the river, and the Army of
the Tennessee Pontoniers had one.

Monday, July 25. — I am now qviite sick, but, liaving botii
green corn and blackberries, I expect to .^oon recover. It
is no credit to a man to be sick in the army. In the even-
ing we held a meeting of ovn* Christian Association. We
had neglected to meet regularly, as we had lost our consti-
tution, and had to send for another copN-. The following
officers were elected for the quarter commencing July i ,
1864 : Private Patterson W . Wallace, Moderator ; First Scr-


geant P. N. Spain, Clerk ; First Sergeant E. Keeler, Ser-
geant A. Gudgel, Sergeant J. W. Emmerson, Executive
Committee. A number joined the Association.

Tuesday, July 26. — The Pontoon train ot^the Army of the
Tennessee moved tour miles down the river, to Turner's
Ferry, and crossed the cavalry over to the south side.
General Stoneman started, with 7,000 mounted men, some
days since, on a raid. The movement of the Pontoon train
has some connection with Stoneman.

Some weeks since, General Grant's campaign terminated,
with the failure to capture Petersburg. Though unsuccess-
ful, so tar as the great object of the campaign is concerned
— the capture of Richmond — ^'Ct it has not been a failure.
The enemy have hurled themselves in vain against him.
They have used everv strategy ; and, when thev could do
nothing else, they have talked contemptuous! v about him.
He hangs about the gates of doomed Richmond. For some
time he has been collecting his energies and laying new
plans. He will soon make a new campaign, which can not
be conducted more bravely, but, I hope, ^^'ill result more suc-
cessfully, than the last. General Sherman is still mo\'ing
Ibrward, with success, against Atlanta.

We still remain in camp near DaFour's Ferry, on the
Chattahoochee. My sickness still continues. All the time
I have been able to walk to my meals, however, though I
eat but little. Soldiers are seldom bedfast until near death.
I have taken blue mass, calomel, opium, sugar of lead, cas-
tor oil, (juinine, whisky, wine, and the rest of it. ()i")ium
made me sleep and the whisky stimulated. I could observe
no other results.

Our camp is exceedingly pleasant. Frequent rains
have cooled the air. We are in a splendid pine grove.
There is usually a jileasant breeze stirring along the Chat-
tahoochee. The bombardment of Atlanta makes music for
our ears. The camj-) rejoices in l)lackberries and green corn.

During the last week there came into our camp from
the North, one Abe West fall, formerly a conductor on

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 28 of 47)