John J. Hight.

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

. (page 32 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 32 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

guns were heard at the picket line. Robert Steel was dis-
patched to carry the news to Colonel Moore. A few min-
utes after, Aaron Cloin came dashing into camp, yelling
as he came: "The rebels are taking the mules as fast as
they can. If ^^ou want to save any you had better

Now ensued a scene like that "In Belgium's Capital at
Night," save the poetry and women. Major Downey laid
aside the hammer and nails, with which he was working,
and buckled on his sword. Captain Smith, at the head of
Company B, led the van, and Captain Evans, wnth Company
G, followed. Then came the remainder of the Retriment, in
pell-mell order. Afterwards, the detachments of the loth
Indiana, came on as re-enforcements.


A swift messenger bore the tidings to Colonel Smith,
commanding post. He sent out parties in all directions. I
afterwards saw one of these, having failed to find any rebels,
paying their attention to persimmons.

Away went the dashing cavalcade, on foot. In one respect,
I am much like other men — not afraid when there is no dan-
ger. So I went along. Up the first hill we went on double
quick. Here is a mule driver minus his hat. Here are two
men mounted on mules. Still we meet them, coming from
all directions. Some are without hats, and some are wet
from sw^imming the creek. All brought us some news, but
their accounts did not agree. The time which had elapsed
since the rebels left was stated at from five to thirty minutes.
All the mules were gone, except a few which were ridden
ofr by the drivers, and a few more that were wandering
about, loose.

The pursuit was continued about a mile. At the house
where Wyatt and Martin were captured, the column was
halted, the enemy being thirty minutes in advance. Cap-
tains Smith and Evans, who were in advance, thought it
useless to continue the pursuit, as the rebels could not be
overtaken. The Major accordingl}' marched the Regiment
back to camp. I thought at the time, that we should have
gone farther. I believe many of the mules might have been
overtaken before dark. Our losses were five men, one
wagon, three hundred and eighty-five mules and four horses.

The adventure was a complete success — for the rebels.
They did not lose a man killed, and, perhaps, none
wounded. Everything worked in the most charming man-
ner for them. They captured more tiuin $50,000 worth of
property. Upon oin* part, there is scarcely a creditable item
connected with the entire afiliir. From beginning to end,
there was an utter w^ant of judgment and energy ; but I
refrain from comments, as the case is bad enough on a
]-)lain statement of the facts.

Wednesday, October 19. — A party, under Captain \'o()r-
hees, went as far as Buck Head, to-day, to gather up strag-


gling mules. The expedition was unsuccessful. Informa-
tion received confirms the fact that Shaw, Fullerton and
Pierson were guiding the rebels in their raid yesterday.*

The wagon bridge is being repaired by a lazy set of fel-
lows, called 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. I went
to see liow they were getting along, this morning. They
are, principally, engaged in doing nothing. It would have
a wholesome effect to send them to the front a while. Their
places could well be supplied by men who have been exposed
to bullets for a campaign or two. When men realize that
"they have a good thing of it," as it is expressed in the
army, they are too prone to become careless and indifferent.
This is true at home as well as here.

There is an order this evening "to be ready tor an
attack, momentarilv expected." It seems the rebels had
burned a train beyond Vining's Station. An order came
for three commissioned officers and one hundred and fifty
men to report at the pontoon bridge. The Colonel called

* These rebel raiders were known as Graham scouts, and were, at this,
time, in command of Captain Harris, who is now (1S95) a successful physi-
cian in Muskogee, Indian Territory. By request, Captain Harris writes the
following, as his recollection of this exciting event, from a rebel standpoint:

"Our Graham scouts were bivouacked twentv-five miles above the bridge,
on the river, resting our horses, after some hard marching and a fight, two
days before, at Marietta.

"One afternoon a picket came in in charge of three deserters from the sSth
Indiana Regiment. I think their names were Shaw, Pearson and Fullerton.
They informed us that the .sSth Indiana grazed, every day, five hundred
mules, near the camp, and urged us to go at once and take the mules in,
reserving to themselves, not only the honor of piloting the scouts, but of
leading the charge. After assuring them that if an_y trick or misrepresenta-
tion developed the\' would be shot, instantly, the scouts, about fifty in num-
ber, were ofi', with 'our pets," as we called them, at the head of the column.
In four hours the five hundred mules were thundering along at a break-neck
gait up the river, with 'our pets,' who, a few minutes before, had led us on to
victor\-, now bringing up the rear. Knowing the coimtry thorouglily, and
by a circuitous route, we soon make good our escape, with both mules and
prisoners. Shaw and Fullerton remained with the scouts, and rendered good
service to the rebel cause, until the end. Still, I think the part they played
was prompted more by a spirit of revenge than love for the 'lost cause.'
They received an insult (real or imaginary, I cannot say) from a superior
officer, which led them to the desertion, as I remember it.

"In the language of the immortal Lincoln, 'With charity for all," I am,

"Wry truly yours,

"C. 'HARRIS."'


out the Regiment and counted oiY one hundred and iilty
enlisted men. It took all the Regiment, except Company
B. They were marched ot^' with all their officers, and no
rations or blankets. Old soldiers only take what they
are ordered to take.

The inspector of the 20th Corps has been here, to-dav,
inquiring into the capture of the mules, yesterday. It won't
bear investigation.

Thursday, October 20. — Early this morning the detach-
ment sent out last evening, under Major Downey, returned,
tired and hungry. Man}^ of them had had neither supper
nor breakfast. They went up the railroad, last night, to the
wreck of a train destroyed by the rebels, a few miles beyond
Vining's Station. Darkness soon came upon them. They
went straggling along the track, sometimes having out
skirmishers. On the march, some of the men in Com-
pany K saw the signal light on Kenesaw Mountain, more
than five miles off. They thought they saw men about
the tire, and, imagining that it was near, and was the
burning train, with rebels about it, did not wish to

Our men did not know whether the train was in the pos-
session of friend or foe. Thev, therefore, approached cau-
tiously. A volley was poured into them, by an unseen
enemy, who immediately fell back. Many of our men
returned the tire. One man fired, threw down his gun, and
fled towards the rear, carrying several thoughtless men along.
It is easy to communicate a panic, especially when in the
dark. These men were rallied by Major Downey, and soon
the fn-ing ceased. A cautious advance was made, when the
supposed enemy was found to be some of our own people,
from an Illinois Regiment. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
Our men remained all night, and returned this morning, on
the cars.

Monday, Octobk:r 24. — Dr. Iloltzman returned, last night,
from the North, having walked twenty-five miles, where the
railroad was not repaired. Lieutenant Behm got a wagon.


and we went out to where Mr, Howell's house had stood,
for brick to make a chimney. The Regimental provost
guards went along. We came to the ruins of a once splen-
did mansion. Nothing was left of it, save the remains of the
cooking stove, and some piles of bats. Fences and all were
gone. Several lines of entrenchments were dug where the
house and garden used to be. While we were engaged in
digging amongst the bats for whole brick, my mind was
busy, comparing the past with the present. Here lived a
rich southern planter — a rank rebel. When the war began,
no doubt, he rejoiced. He sent his sons into the army.
Often the war news was dispatched in his mansion. Here
there was rejoicing, again and again, when the Yankees
were defeated. Little did these people suppose that the tide
of war would roll all the way from the Kentucky border to
their very doors ; little did they, in their haughty pride,
imagine that hated Yankees would dig up their tields, burn
their fences, and tear down their houses. Now, they flv,
while a Yankee preacher is digging up the foundation bricks
with which to build himself a chimney to his cabin in camp,
near by.

And wh}^ all this? Why does God permit these things?
It is because they are the champions of slavery, and we of
freedom. The story of the war is long, but the moral is
short. "In such a contest," said Jefterson to the South,
"there is no attribute of DeitA^ that can take sides with

While eating supper, this evening, I thought I heard a
church call. But, as I knew there was no meeting, I sup-
posed that I was either mistaken, or it was in some other
Regiment. After eating, I noticed lights in the little arbor
we call oiu" chapel. Theie was also singing, and a crowd
about the door. Lieutenant Behm suggested that we go
down. I told him I would not, as I did not know what was
going on, and I had not been invited. I began to feel that
my dignity had been, in some way, compromised. Now,
said I to myself, some humbug of a fellow has come along, has


had the church call sounded, and has gone into the chapel,
without telling me. I thought to myself, I will give the
bugler some further instruction not to sound the church call,
without my request, or the order of the Regimental com-
mander. I went into the Colonel's tent to hunt a newspaper
to read. I saw Orderly Spain, as I entered the tent. lie
looked like he was hesitating about going to church. He
seemed to be looking to see if I was going. When he saw
me enter the Colonel's tent, he came in, and said, "Chap-
lain, they want you down at the church.'' "Who?" I
inquired. "The 58th," was his reply. I asked, "Had I
not better black m\' boots, and brush my clothes?" "Oh,
no," said he, "that is no use." He then walked out. I
went into my tent, combed my hair, changed coats, and
brushed the brick dust off my boots. I then went with Ser-
geant Spain to the chapel, without speaking a word to him.
Seeing a vacant seat behind the stand, I went there and sat
down. They were singing some hymn, as I entered. The
house was full, and there was a crowd outside. As soon as
the singing was oyer. Private P. W^. Wallace offered prayer.
He then asked me to stand by the side of the table, while he
uncovered a neat gold watch. He told me that it was
designed as a present for me, from the Regiment. It was a
token of their esteem. I cannot call to mind all he said. I
got along very well, until he gave me the watch, and sat
down. I was greatly at a loss, to know what to say. I
made "a few broken remarks," as preachers sometimes say.
I attempted to express my gratitude, but my effort was a
failure. As Dr. Daily used to say, "I was not competent to
the emergency." After all was over, some collected around
me, and expressed their satisfaction that the\' had surprised

I am very proud to receive this walcli. In itself, it is a
gem. It is a beautiful American watch, eigliteen karat fme,
purchased by Dr. Holtzman, for the Regiment, in Newark,
N.J. It cost $206, and it is just such a watch as I have
long desired to possess.


But, tlicn, the best of all is, it is a present from my Regi-
ment. 1 treasure it chiefly on this account. If I live, I
desire to carr}^ some memorial of my soldier life. I desire
something to remember mv tellow soldiers by. Some of our
officers have received swords. These must be laid aside
when peace returns. But I can carry this watch while life
endures. It will not only remind me of the happy da3^s of
my soldier life, and of the comrades of my campaigns, but
also of the coming night when no man can work. I am
encouraged and strengthened b}^ this testimony of the love
of my parishoners. May these bonds of love never be
broken .

Formerly there stood somewhere about this ferry, a large
pine tree. It had been partly burned, and the pitch ran out
of tlie sides and hung in large lumps. It long stood in this
condition. From it, the place received the name of the
Standing Pitch Tree. The neighboring stream was named
Pitch Tree Creek. The place has now lost this name, and
that of the stream has been corrupted to Peach Tree Creek.
There is a street in Atlanta called Peach Tree street, from
this creek.

The name Cliattahoochee means in the Cherokee tongue,
"blossoming rocks." I have read in some of the papers
that this name refers to some beautifid rocks, somewhere
about the stream. I have never seen them. Any one
acquainted with the bed of the stream would understand the
propriety of the name. The stones seem to blossom at the
bottom of the stream. The bed is so rough that, even where
fordable, a horse can scarcely walk, and canvas pontoons
are badly cut up.

But little has been said by me, in these records, of the
horrors of the slave system of the South. Our campaigns
have been so active, and our conveniences for writing so
poor, that many thrilling accounts have not been written
down. I hope, shortly, to place in my Journal some items
of interest in reference to the negroes. I e\i)oct to live to
see the end of the acciii-sed s\-st(Mu and all its defcndei-s.


l^)sttM"it^■ will never be able fully to comprehend the abomi-
nations of slavery. I was deeply impressed with the
language of Coheleth, when reading it yesterday:

"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under
the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no
comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power: but they had
no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead, more
than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which
hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the
sun." — Eccles. 4: 1-3.

Friday, October 28. — We now receive a small mail
every day. We are getting a few papers, and we will soon
catch up with the news. Five carloads of forage reached
Atlanta to-day. This is the lirst that has come since the
destruction of the railroad bridge by the great freshet.

We are under orders to be ready to march. Our Quarter-
master, Lieutenant Torrence, drew four hundred and sixty
mules, to-day, to supply the place of those captured and
starved. It is a sorry lot.

Lieutenant Williams, of Colonel Buell's staff, arrived
to-day from Chattanooga.

A number of through trains came in to-day from Chatta-
nooga. Our communications are once more open.

We have been hearing from the elections in Indiana,
Ohio and Pennsylvania for some days. All loyal men in
the army are greatly rejoiced at the result.

We expect to move in a few days. The 20th Corps is
ordered to send all surplus baggage north, to be stored.

Colonel George P. Buell arrived, October 30th, from a
furlough of twenty da}'s, outside of the department. He
has added much to both ends of it. He is in excellent
health and spirits. He has been laboring with his usual
earnestness in his absence. He has procured three hundred
d."afted men, who will be on in a few da\'s. This will be a
valuable addition to our niunbers. If the 10th Indiana can
only be assigned to the Companies, wt' will have a pretty full


Monday, Octoher 31. — The most of the mysteries about
our rumored march are to-day solved, b\' riunor. It is said
the 20th, the 14th, 15th and 17th Corps, under General
Sherman, are going on an expedition to Savannah, Ga. Our
Pontoon train goes with Sherman's headquarters. We will
start in a few days.

An order was to-day (November 2d) received by Colonel
Buell, to assign the loth Indiana detacliments to our Com-
panies. Colonel Moore will do this bv letting each man go
to the Company of the same letter, as that to which he
belonged in the loth. Tliis will give : ati^faction, and will
be eminentlv just and proper. I am told that this will add
one hundred and sixty men to our Regriment.

A dispatch was received, informing the Colonel that Gen-
eral Sherman will not need us. We then began to give up
all hopes of going. If we are not permitted to go I will be
greatly disappointed. I have seen a> much of the country
north of us as I desire. I have spent two winters campaign-
ing in Tennessee. I would prefer wintering farther south ;
I would like to see something of real Dixie.

But in the afternoon, when Colonel Buell came back from
Atlanta, he brought word that we were to accompany Sher-
man. Preparations to march accordingly go forward. Our
baggage is to be cut do^^n, the Compan}- books must be
boxed, and the papers put in the valises.

Thursday, November 3. — I enter the following state-
ments, gathered from our Adjutant's monthl}^ return lor
October. Total number of officers, twenty-six, all are pres-
ent ; enlisted men present, four hundred and seventy-seven,
absent, one hundred and six — total five hundred and fifty-
three ; sick and present, seventeen ; sick, absent, sixty-one.
These numbers are included in the present and absent above.
The aggregate is five hundred and eighty-four. This exclu-
sive of the non-veterans.

According to the instructions of our Regimental Christian
Association, letters have been prepared in these words:


R. R. Brid(;e, Chattahoochee River. Ga.,)
November 4th, 1S64. )
To all -vJioin if may concern:

This is to certify that , of Company- , is a member in good stand-
ing of the Christian Association of the 5Sth Regiment Indiana Volunteers,
infantry, and as such, we commend him to the brotherly regard o\' all chris-
tians, of whater name, wherever his lot may hereafter be cast.

By order of the Christian Association.

H. W. Bryant, Moderator.
Jacob Davis, Clerk.
Approved: John J. Might,

Chap. sSth Ind. Vol.

This certificate was giv-en to Abner M. Bryant, Qiuirter-
master-Sergeant ; Sergeants Andrew Gudgel and Jason H.
Crow ; Corporal A. R. Redman, and Privates P'rank Broad-
well, Henry Beck and Charles Poorlev, of Company A ;
Sergeants Ebenezer Keeler, W. B. Crawford and Solomon
Reavis, and Privates J. R. Roseborough and P. W, Wal-
lace, of Company B: Sergeant Pleasant N. Spain and Pri-
vate N. Smith, of Company C ; Corporal Samuel Sh^, of
Compan}^ F ; Private John A. Everett, of Company H.

Friday, November 4. — Colonel Moore has been to
Atlanta to see the Paymaster about paying our Regiment.
There seems to be a difficulty somewhere about paying us.
The families of many soldiers are sadly in need of funds
We read in the papers that the mone}^ has been provided,
and it is a pity red tape cannot be cut and the men paid
before they start on a new campaign.

The non-veterans, whose term expires on the 12th inst.,
went to Atlanta, to-day. In their departure we lose a num-
ber of good men from our christian community.

I can almost realize the sorrow of Rachel o\'er her chil-
dren, in parting with these members of my army ilock. I
can tind but little to comfort me. The wind howls dismally
about my tent, and tlie cam]")aign before us looks dreary in
th'ir absence. I nt'ver frh morr h)nt'lv since entering the
arm\', save afU'r the shuighlcr of nian\- of \n\ Iriends, at
Chickamauga. I am hrtttT ahlr to appreciate the h)vi' ol
l)a\i(l ami [oii;illi;in , than on d" bi-roi'c. TIh'\- \\('i"(' soUlicrs ;


their hearts were knit together by common trials and
fatigues. Their love was stronger than the love of woman.
Thus, soldiers arc attached. Such partings as that of to-day,
recall home and all its joys, and bring before us all the toils,
still to be endured in the held. But let us button our soldier
coats up to the chin, and be like John Brown's soul —
"marching on."

Seventy-six of our drafted men came to vis November 6th.
They have been led hither and thither by various ignorami,
3xlept commissioned officers. The last one they were fol-
lowing, passed on. If they had kept on following their
blind guides they might, perhaps, have put in the remainder
of their term. One of our men happened to be on the road
where the drafted men were passing, told them where the
Regiment was. So they came up, while their officers passed
on. They were divided amongst the Companies for the
night. The boys treated them very cleverly ; they took
them into their houses and made them comfortable.

The next morning our new recruits were marched in front
of the headquarters. There are only a few weakly men
among them. Upon the average, they are larger men than
those now in the Regiment. They are furnished with
clothing, knapsacks, and tents. They are deficient in shel-
ter tents and gum blankets. Some of them desire great
coats. But this is an article that will not pay soldiers to
carry in this climate. It cannot be worn on the march.
The drafted men express themselves as agreeably surprised
at the kind treatment they receive in the Regiment. Thus
far, they have been herded, like so many mules, but now
they begin to receive courteous treatment. Usually, they
are astonished to find so much good breeding and morality
in the Regiment. They have shared the usual ideas, enter-
tained at home, that the army is a bedlam, and the soldiers
heathens. They now find that men are as good here, if not
better, than at home. The great courtesy of our old soldiers
towards their new fellows is a matter of pleasure to me. I
took occasion to urge this course upon the men, a few Sab-


baths ago. But, I suppose, it would liave been the same,
anyhow. I liave not heard of a single taunt. Not a man
has been heard to sav, "IIow are you, conscript? How arc
you to-day?"

I have not learned exactly what proportion of them are
drafted and what substitutes. One man was pointed out to
me who had received i^i ,000 for coming in some other man's
place. A little, hardy, German came up this morning. Pie
had served three years in the 24th Wisconsin. He has come
out again, for one year, as some man's substitute, for ^1,000.
It is astonishing to me, that a man in ordinary tinancial cir-
cumstances and good health, will be so foolish as to sink a
thousand dollars to keep froin going to war, for one year.
They must think it an awful thing to go to war. It would
make men of some of them, to serve a twelve-month in the
army. But so it is — they won't come. The consequence
is, that much of the wealth of the country will be transferred
from those "who will only talk," to those "who will fight."

Many of our new men are Germans. These make the
best of soldiers.

After asking their names, and ascertaining whether or not
they were mechanics, the following assignments were made :

To Compan\' A 7

To Company B 10

To Company C i

To Company E 18

To Company G . 10

To Companj- II . 2^

To Company K .. .. 9

Total 78

Most of this number are from the 2d Congressional Dis-
tiict, but some are from the i ith. No choice of Retjiments
was given them. It would have been more pleasant, if men
from the ist District could have been assigned to the 58th.
Lieutenant-Colonel Moore consultc>d iheir wishes, as far as
he could, in assigning them to Companies.

•The loth Indiana, having been assigned to the dilTerent
Companies, was, to-day, ordered to change' their quarters.


They are distributed, according to their letters in the loth,
as follows :

To non-commissioned staft" i

To Company A -

To Company B n

To Company C i7

To Company D. 3

To Company E 1 13

To Company V -5

To Company Cx it

To Company II

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 32 of 47)