John J. Hight.

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

. (page 34 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 34 of 47)
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and went into camp, east of the city. Onlv Kilpatrick's cav-
alry are behind. His train went south with the rio-ht winij.

We learn that the new organization is called the Army of
Georgia. There is an expression used by passing troops,
"Same old Regiment — only we have drawn new clothes."
So this is the same old arnn', witli a new name.


I cannot speak for other organizations, but in the 58th
Indiana there is a general regret at parting with General
Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland. But all have
confidence in General Sherman, and are enraptured at the
prospects before us,

Wednesday, November 16. — While preparations were
going forward for leaving, I rode over into the central parts
of the city, to see how things appeared, this morning.
There were still houses on tire, here and there. All the com-
pact business blocks are destroyed ; only the tottering walls
are standing. Provost guards were promenading through
the desolate streets, to prevent lurther incendiarism. But
the cavalry are yet to pass, and, how much they will leave,
I cannot tell.

The following extract trom a rebel paper, published at the
time, will show that the Yankees were not the only vandals
who visited Atlanta. The written invitations sent into the
countr}^ are a myth :



Previous to leaving this citv, the Yankees sent out written invitations to
the people living in the counties surrounding it, to come in and get ashes at
cheap rates, in any quantity. The people, however, did not accept the invi-
tation at tliat time. But soon after the Yankees left the country, people
flocked hy scores, from all parts of the country', some coming over one hun-
dred miles. Ever_\- description of vehicle, drawn h\ niules, horses, stallions,
jacks, jennies, oxen, bidlocks, etc., could be seen upon the streets. The
scene beggars description. Iron, salt, bacon, flour, sugar, coffee, hides, and
everything else, left by the Yankees, were imccremoniously deposited in
wagons and -carts and carried off.

But our country cousins did not stop at that. They entered the dwelling
houses of those absent and gutted them of all their furniture. One lady,
who left her house for a few hours to attend to pressing business, was
astonislicd to find, on her return, all her furniture and wearing apparel gone.

I'ullv one Innuired and lifty pianos were carried ofl" by the hoosiers. many
of whom were unused to any "concord of sweet sounds," save that produced
by the jewsliarp or fiddle. One of them, an illiterate backwoodsman, who
resided in a humble hut, ten by twelve, was seen carrying out a magnificent
piano in a small cart, drawn by a two-year-old bullock.


A venerable dame was observed trying to haul into her cart a fine piano
by means of a rope attached to the legs. When asked what she was doing,
she replied that. she had foimd a "mity nice table in thar, and was trying to
get it in her keart."

One man alone carried oft' over $50,000 worth of dry hides. Steps have
been taken to secure all the articles carried oft", as well as the oftenders.
Already much property' has been recovered.

To Major William H. Lemmon, Surgeon of Colonel
Hunter's Brigade, of General Baird's Division, the country
is indebted for firing the famous Bull Pen. Nothing is left
of this vile prison, except ashes. Having suffered incarcer-
ation there, the Doctor sought and found revenge.

At ten o'clock, Wednesday morning, November 16, we
left Atlanta and its ruins. We marched east, following the
20th Corps, and immediatelv entered upon ground new to
me. Between Atlanta and Decatur, the countr}^ is similar
U) that towards the Chattahoochee. There was nothing
attractive about the land or timber.

Intense interest clustered about the historic battlefield of
July 22, 1864. It was here that Hood attempted to show to
the world that he was the man to hurl back the Yankee
invaders. It was here that McPherson, the pride and glory
of the Army of the Tennessee, fell. The graves of our
brave boys make these woods sacred and dear to every patri-
otic heart. Here sleep the heroes of many a bloody battle ;
heretofore they escaped, but here they fell. Headboards are
formed of pieces of cracker boxes, or ammunition boxes.
On one side of these, we sometimes read, "Pilot Bread," or
"Watevelit Arsenal," and on the other the name, the Com-
pany, and the Regiment, of the fallen. Among those who
fell here was Jacob Behm, of the 48th Illinois. I knew him,
some years since, at Princeton, Indiana. He is a brother to
the Adjutant of our Regiment. Jacob was a brave and gal-
lant soldier, and fell, as such would desire to fall, with his
face to the toe.

Decatur is a dilapidated old village. The wooden houses
are marked with age, and the commons are thickly set with
grass. Onh' a few of the citizt'ns remain, and they are


"poor white trash." One prett}^ little girl, with bright black
eyes and glossy curls, gazed upon us, from a window — a
beautiful picture in a decayed frame — recalling to us "glad-
iators" our "young barbarians all at play," and causing the
tear to steal, unbidden, down the bronzed cheek. These
little episodes, seemingly unimportant in themselves, often
call our minds afar from the scenes of war. We dream, but
w-e are awake. I often see a picture, "The Soldier's
Dream;" it is of home. We are not always asleep, when
these visions come. Happy the remnant of us, who shall
enter the promised land of a restored Union.

Betw^een Atlanta and Decatur, there are many hastily
erected field works. Eastward of Decatur, there are some
splendid w^orks, constructed by the 23d Corps, after the fall
of Atlanta.

Leaving Decatur, we turned oft' to the right of the trail of
the 20th Corps. They continued along the railroad, destroy-
ing as they went. We left the ro^id and Stone Mountain to
the left. I had desired a close view of this remarkable moun-
tain, and expected my desires would be gratified, when we
were approaching it in the morning. But I was disap-
pointed. Night overtook us on the road. We drove out in
the dark, and camped on a rough piece of ground, near
Snap Finger creek, having marched fifteen miles

Thursday, November 17. — We were up before day.
The sky is clear, and the stars are brightly shining. It is a
most charming morning for marching. We roll up blankets
and tents, and eat our breakfast of coftee, biscuit and bacon,
before day. At dawn, the march began. We follow the ist
Brigade — Colonel Himter's — of Baird's Division.

I learn that our people are neither to encourage nor to dis-
courage the negroes in their desire to accompany us. Were
I issuing orders, I w'ould direct :

I. All women and children, and old men, to be urged,
but not forced, to stay at home. Tell tiiem that the ami}-
is no place for tliem, and lliat ihry had better remain on the


plantation, getting along as best they can, and afterwhile
they can be free and happy in this, their own, country.

2. All able-bodied men invited, but not forced, to accom-
pany us. Promise them employment, as soldiers ; it they
do not want to light, tell them to go home — make them

3. Organize each hundred negroes into a Company, and
each thousand into a Regiment, and set good men over them.
Distribute all the tools in the arm}^ among them, and make
them pioneers ; let them gather up the cast-away clothing in
deserted camps ; forage one blanket for each ; have every
man to construct a temporary haversack; send out forage
parties daily, and procure sufficient supplies for the com-
mand. As the soldiers become disabled, turn their arms
over to the negroes, and arm enough for forage guards.
Explain to them that they must fight for their liberty.

4. When the campaign is over, organize them into an

With all due modesty, I venture that there is more wisdom
in this than in Sherman's orders. He has been a pro-slavery
man, and is unwilling to take high and manly ground on the
slavery question.

We came upon the railroad again, at the little town of
Lithonia, where the road makes a curve to touch Stone
Mountain. As we passed through the town, several houses
were on fire ; but the}' were old, and had long been unoccu-
pied. General Sherman and staff' were resting, at a house
by the roadside. Captain Poe's headquarters wagon, which
was drawn by four splendid horses, attracted great attention.
The 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics were busy,
destroying the railroad. My attention w^as especially drawn
to a peculiar feature of the country. In many places, rock
rises above the surface, forming rounded knolls, which are
smooth, and, at a distance, have tiie appearance of soil.
Stone Mountain is the largest and roughest of these.

We now came to a fine country, and the men began to
find torage of various kinds, which is something new.


Conyer is a very respectable village, on the railroad, and
the people all seemed to be at home. This was also a new
experience for us. For a long time, the towns through
which we have passed have been almost entirely deserted.
Our men helped themselves to anything they desired to eat.
No effort was made by the officers to restrain them. Rumor
savs that one of the soldiers was shot by a woman, whom he
was attempting to outrage. May all such villains die the
same death.

Here we passed a great many troops, destroying the rail-
road. We hurry on towards Yellow river. The men had
an exceedingly hard march. The countrj^ continued good,
and plenty of hogs and sweet potatoes were found. Dark
came upon us, on the march. The tires of the camp, and
burning ties, presented a sublime sight. After a while, we
reached our camp. Wagons and men were all jammed
together, in a grassy field, a ravine preventing us from tak-
ing plenty of room. T soon lay mvself down to sleep.
While I was resting, a detail from the Regiment laid two
pontoon bridges over Yellow river. We marched twenty
miles to-day.

Friday, November i8. — When I awoke, in the morning,
the grand army was crossing the pontoons. This is always
an interesting occasion, as it affords an opportunit}^ of seeing
the army in detail. With us, there is the 14th Corps, and
one Brigade of the 20th.

About our camp, there are many line plantations, and some
rich planters live here. The ladies, at some of the houses,
are represented as intelligent, beautiful, and rebellious. A
pretty traitor is no better than an ugly one — male or female.
Many of the oflicers are boiling over with sympathy lor these
pretty female rebels, but I have none, and have a great con-
tempt for all officers who have.

There is a nice little frame Methodist cluircli, standing on
the lawn, ni'ar the river bank. By looking into the Sunday
School books, I lind it was once called the Oak Grove
Church. Again, it was called Oak Lawn Church ; and,


lastly, it tigures as Shiloh Church. As this last name figures
only in rebel times, it was, perhaps, given it in honor of the
famous battlefield. There was school here on last Sabbath.
We appointed a meeting for this evening in the church.
Orderly Clem, and some others, fixed up the house, but we
were all gone before the appointed hour came.

Yellow river is about one hundred feet wide, where the
pontoons are placed. The banks are steep, and the stream
deep. One bridge is used for trains, and the other tor
troops. The cattle cross by swimming below, and wading

Two hundred yards above the pontoons are the pillars of
the railroad bridge, destroyed by some of our cavalry raids
last summer. This bridge was three hundred feet long, and
forty-five feet above the water. The stones in the pillars
must have been of the secession school, for they early mani-
fested a disposition to separate. Hence, many of them are
bound together by iron bands or staples. Holes being
drilled in two adjoining stones, they are clasped by thrusting
the respective ends of an iron bar into these holes. Nearly
thirty years I had lived, without seeing such a contrivance
as this ; hence, I came not in vain to Yellow river. A mill
had also been destroyed, with the bridge.

The uegroes are beginning to flock to the army. Many
men, women and children crossed the bridges to-day.

There was quite a large number of bales of cotton on each
bank. These were burned as well as they could be, by the
rear guard.

At 4 p. m. Colonel Buell, with Companies B and E, and
half of the train, went forward to the Ulcofauhachee. The
remainder followed at dark. One pontoon was taken up in
thirty minutes. The 20th Corps Brigade, which formed the
rear guard, after crossing the river, went into camp. For
several miles we moved along through the dark, without
seeing or hearing man or beast. After all the threatened
bushwhacking, we could but leel uncomfortable. It would
have been easv and safe to fire into our column. After a


while, two men, mounted, and leading a mule, passed. Per-
haps they are spies ; nothing is said to them.

We soon after entered a little village, in which there does
not appear to be an inhabitant. Here, the column halted
to let the train close up. The mules are still very weak
from the Chattahoochee fast. Some shots being heard in
advance. Lieutenant Hadlock is sent forward with a small
advance guard. The drums could now be distinctly heard
in our distant encampments, and a row of fires, afar off, told
of railroad destruction. We lost our way, immediately after
leaving this village. We were apprised of this fact by Lieu-
tenant Hadlock, calling out to us from the other side of a
creek. Some time was spent in getting into the right road
again. We crossed a creek on a long, wooden bridge. We
had a man or two killed here, when our men lirst advanced.
We now have pickets here. A short distance farther on,
we entered Covington. Here, we found a Regiment
encamped. This is a large country town ; there are many
fine buildings on the streets we pass through. I would have
been glad to have seen Covington by daylight.

I became ver}^ tired and sleep}^ to-night. Night march-
ing is exceeding trving. I went to sleep sitting on the
fence, and slept so soundly that I had to be called when the
Regiment started.

We soon began passing camps, but there was no camp for
us 3'et ; we must unite the command at the river. We pass
through a strip of the road covered by water. At last, about
midnight, the Ulcofauhachee is reached. It is a deep, slug-
gish stream, with almost no banks. There is a crazy old
bridge standing ; built on one trestle, in the center of the
river_. The riv^er is about seventy-five feet wide. A pon-
toon has been made, bv Colonel Buell, bv the side of the
old bridge. We pass over and camp in the first open
ground. So, at one o'clock in the morning we had a cup
of cofibe. The eight mile march with the train, after night,
had worn us all out. We were all soon asleep, except some
gluttons, who sat up all night to cook and eat.


Saturday, No\'EMber 19. — We arose late this morning
and ate a poor breakfast, provided by our unthrifty
servants. Our negroes can do but one thing at a time ;
they cannot have all the meal cooking at once. If you
increase the number of your servants you only multiply
your sorrows. There is no remedy but to possess your
soul in patience.

We had an order this morning against incendiarism
from General Davis. The order contained some slanders
on the command. It berated our people after the manner of
the rebel papers. The motive of the General was, perhaps,
good. He condemned house burning. Colonel Buell, who
is ever ready to reflect the wishes of his superiors, came out
in an echo. The officer who could not enforce his order in
any other way, was commanded, in this puerile paper, to
shoot down the offender. Just think of shooting American
soldiers for the benefit of rebels. No man, who really loves
our cause and our soldiers, could issue such an order. If an
officer desires to shoot our men, let him join the rebel army
at once.

We march in the rear of all the army, save the cattle
guard. This makes our movements slow. If the enemy
were only enterprising, the}^ might capture the pontoon
train. A small squad was seen, to-day, by the preceding
troops, but the}' did no mischief. The cattle are driven
entirely on either side of the road. They are permitted to
occupy no part of the way. The drivers have great times,
wading through the bushes, mud and water. The droves
are large and increasing. Plenty is found in the country to
feed them, but often there is no time for them to eat. But
few cattle are being slaughtered, as the men prefer fresh

Tiie number of refugees is increasing. I advised several
women to remain at home. They will see hard times with
the army ; freedom will dawn on them, soon, in the present
homes. But liberty is sweet, and they seem to think it is
now or never ; so they are falling in with the army by the


liundreds. Nearly every one has an irregular bundle of
bedding and clothing. This is usually carried by the women,
on their heads.

After a slow and tiresome march often miles, we camped
— no one knew where — at ten p. m. It has been a damp
day, and the roads are bad.

Sunday, November 20. — Reveille at four a. m ; marched
at 5 :30 — ordered to follow Carlin. Marched by him and
attempted a piece of smartness. Of course, we had to move
oft' the road, and await our time. Colonel Buell is very
anxious to get to the front with the Pontoon train, and sends
forward a staft' officer to General Davis to report our condi-
tion, so far in the rear, and to request that we be permitted
to take a forward position. General Davis "can't see it,"
and we iiave to wait our time.

The country through which we pass is splendid. It
abounds in cotton, hogs, sweet potatoes, chickens, horses,
mules, corn and fodder. We got plenty of everything
except stock. We failed to send out for this.

Wc stopped fortv minutes for dinner, and led from a field
of standing corn. Cotton presses and gins were burned
along the route.

I saw a slave one hundred and seven years old. Negroes
have been praying for us for four _\ears. Tiiese prayers
will save the expedition.

We passed through Shady Dale. It is an extensive plan-
tation, owned by an aged planter. There are 8,500 acres,
and were 250 slaves when the war began. There is a nice
frame church by tiie side of the road. Thus, one man owns
the village and all the people in it.

At seven p. m., after a march of thirteen miles, we camped
in the woods. By this time, the rain liad begun to fall.
None but muddy water to use. Supper of fresh pork and
sweet potatoes. Men all in excellent spirits.

Monday, November 21. — Rain has been falling most of
this day. In the afternoon it cleared off' and became very
cold. Tlie roads are becoming almost impassable.


Lieutenants Behm and Torrence went forward with a
detail to forage for horses and mules.

We moved along very slowly, through mud and rain. The
country is very high, rolling and open. Away to our right
we could see the advance of our column. We continued on
the Eatonton road until four miles of that place. We then
turned to the right, to make room for the 20th Corps, which
marches by Eatonton. At this point, our rear guard — a
Brigade of the 20th Corps — left us and moved on to Eatonton.

After our rear guard left us "out in the cold" — literally,
for the wind was. piercing — Colonel Buell became greatly
exercised, lest General Wheeler might swallow' us up. But
this latter gentleman, being no where in these parts, is quite
innocent of any such intentions. Mud bound, we stopped
in the woods about dark. In a few moments, in obedience
to orders, we start out and attempt to rejoin the main army,
but the effort fails. We camp a half mile farther on, in a
high open field. This was the highest spot in these parts.
We marched seven miles to-day, by the road. It was about
three or four on a straight line.

Tuesday, November 22. — Marched at daylight ; came to
the rear of the army before the train was pulled out on the
road. Stopped often ; collected in little squads around tires
made of rails.

We came to Murder creek, about two miles farther. It
is a small stream, and, although swollen by recent rains, is
still fordable. There is an old dilapidated bridge, over
which the infantry cross. It is full of holes, but I led my
horse safely over.

We descended quite a hill to cross this creek and went up
a rise on the other side. I sat down by a house and fell
asleep. The train moved off, and, when I awoke, I found
myself lost. Colonel Buell, without orders, ran ahead ol
General Carlin's train. Of course, he had to stop and take
his proper place.

General Davis issued an order, stating that we had gone
about as far as we could expect to go in peace ; ammunition


must not be wasted. Hereafter, all foraging must be done
without iiring a gun. For the last three days the rattle of
musketry has almost equaled skirmishing.

In the afternoon we were met by our mounted foragers
who went out yesterday morning. They brought in five
good horses. We crossed Cedar creek, a deeper stream
than Murder creek. The bridge is good. We here passed
a Division in camp. We hear the news of the capture of

After a while we went into camp. After quarters were
put up we were ordered not to put them up. I wish that
the order had reached us sooner, as my tent was frozen stiff'.
After supper we rolled up and went two miles farther,
and camped about midnight. Night marching is not so
hard when, one has had a good supper.

We marched, in all, ten miles, to-day, and camped
fourteen miles from the State capital.

Wednesday, November 23. — We pass through a high,
rolling country. Extensive views open up before us. Most
of the countr}^ is open; the soil is red, sandy and clayey.
The rains cut ditches on the hillsides. Many fields are turned
out and overgrown by wild grass and pine trees. The houses
are out of repair. The country looks barren. We passed
through the farm of Ilowell Cobb, ]:)ut there is nothing
attractive about it. Everything that can be, is being
destroyed. The negro huts — most miserable hovels — are an
exception. We enter Milledgeville and camp, after a four-
teen mile march, near the Oconee riv^er. I called to see
Colonel Moore's part of the Regiment. They moved over
tlie Oconee with the 20th Corps.

We had a trood, undisturbed ni

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 34 of 47)