John J. Hight.

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

. (page 35 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 35 of 47)
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foraging for horses. The foraging details from our Regi-
ment bring in plenty of hogs, sweet potatoes and sorghum.

Saturday, Nove;mher 26. — We were not ready to march
at daylight, as we were ordered to be ; but we were hurried
off, leaving the ambulances and baggage wagons to do the
best they could. They joined some of the succeeding

There is a nice country between Buffalo and Kegg creeks.
The latter is a sluggish stream, bounded by swamps. The
bridge was not destroyed. After crossing Kegg creek, we
came to the best country we have seen since crossing the


Oconee. We marched eight miles and camped at Sanders-
ville, at twelve m. The mile posts on the road to this place
have notches to mark the number ot^ miles, small ones to
note half miles.

The court house stands in an un fenced vard. Tlie design
of the building is good enough, but it is of sham stone. In
the public square there is a monument to the memor^-^ of
Governor Irvin. He was a Captain and Colonel in the
Revolution. He was afterwards made a General ; was a
member of several conventions, and was Governor of
Georgia tor two terms. Sandersville is a dilapidated old
town. Our troops were fired on, from houses, by Wheeler's
men, as thev entered the town. We passed the graves of
two men, of the io8th Ohio, who had been killed in this

The army comes to a halt, here. The mules and horses
stand with the harness on. Sherman is in town.

Colonel Moore came in, with his detachment, and camped
in the same field, having laid nine bridges over Bufialo
creek. The men are in excellent health and fine spirits.
The 20th Corps is here also.

Major Downey, with Companies B and E, and one Iiuut
dred and twenty feet of bridging, marched before day, with
Generals Baird's and Morgan's Divisions, light, on a forced
march to Louisville, by way of P'ern's Bridge. This move
is designed to drive the rebels oft'the main road, and, if pos-
sible, secure the bridge over the Ogeechee. Colonel Moore
moved out soon after.

The rest of us lay in camp until two p. m., and, when we
marched, we found the roads clear of rebels. They were
flanked out.

During tlie morning, the court house and jail were pulled
down and destroyed. Moved on Davisboro road, through a
fine country. Camped, after marching seven miles, in some
old, abandoned fields, grown up with sage grass.

Monday, November 28. — Column began moving before
day. We started at nine a. m ; crossed a swamp\' creek.


over bridge and corduroy, leaving main road : came to it
again, and, there being nothing in the way, we hurried on.
Saw, for the lirst time in mv life, Spanish moss, hanging on
the trees. Came to the railroad, and passed on, while the
20th Corps was tearing it up. We passed the remainder of
the 20th Corps near Ogeechee river, and went into camp,
after a march of eighteen miles. The men were out all
night, making roads through the swamp. Many sick in the
Regiment, but none were lost or abandoned on the march.
Few dying in the army. Major Downey has a bridge and
command at Rock}^ Comfort creek.

Wednesday, Novf:mber 30. — There was no march 3^es-
terday nor to-day. There was a useless alarm, during the
forenoon. A messenger, in great haste, reported, "Rebels
advancing in column." Tents were struck, and the Regi-
ment fell in. I did not learn from which direction the rebels
were coming — they didn't come. There were a few hang-
ing on our flanks. They captured three men.

Thursday, December i. — Ordered to be ready to march
at 8 130 a. m. We took up the bridge, and moved out on the
road, and lay until one p. m., when we moved on a road
leading ten miles north of Birdsville. We camped in a tield,
closely huddled together, having marched about ten miles.
During the da}-, we crossed Big creek, and some smaller
streams. We went into camp at eight p. m., having passed
over good country, though rendered pretty destitute bv^ cav-
alry and other troops. For the third day in succession, our
foragers got on the wrong road ; and the men suffer, in con-

The troops are moving on right and left roads, all moving
along finely.

Friday, December 2. — Moved out on the road, early in
the morning, but did not march until noon. A mounted for-
aging party has been sent out. Convalescent horses and
mules, and refugee slaves, have accumulated in immense
numbers. We crossed several small, swampy streams. I
saw a dead man, of the 17th Ohio, brought out of the bushes.


on a gray horse. lie had been killed while foraging. Just
as the party emerged from the woods, the}'^ were tired upon.
This man's leg was broken, and he was captured, and after-
ward murdered. It is getting to be a dangerous business to

Saturday, December 3. — We moved out at daylight, but
stopped an hour to let troops and trains pass, which the com-
manding General knew must soon halt for the Pontoniers.
We turned due north, and marched rapidly. We saw no
white citizens, but the blacks have increased to an immense
multitude. We soon came to Buck Head creek. The
bridge has been destroyed. There are extensive swamps on
the margin, as there are along all the w'ater courses in this
country. The main channel was not more than forty feet
wide, but very deep. In thirty minutes, the bridge was
completed, and the swamp corduroyed. Immediately, Cap-
tain Smith goes forward, with a detachment and material,
and makes a bridge over Roseberry creek, a half mile from
this stream. The old bridge was burning. A new one is
made bv placing balk and chess on the remains of the old

At Buck Head creek, a scene, disgraceful to American
history, occurred. It was the abandonment of the large
crowd of colored refugees, who had been following the
army. The bridge was taken up, and these people were left
on the other side, without any means of crossing. This
meant their capture, and probably their murder, by the rebel
cavalrv, who were following close in our rear. At least, it
meant, for these poor people, a return to slavery, which was
dreaded as much by them as death outright. This was done
by the orders of General Jeff. C. Davis, who was in com-
mand of this part of th^ army. I hive spoken of Davis
before, and will have occasion to do so again. lie is a mil-
itar\- t\rant, without one spark of humanity in his make-up.
He was an ardent pro-slaver\' man before he entered the
arin\-, and has not changed iiis views since. The oHicer
w lio was chargetl with the execution of this order was Cap-


tain Remington, of General Davis' staff. He was a man
with a small sonl and a big hat. He was, in all respects,
well adapted to do the heartless and despisable work

After all our troops were over, and the Pontoniers began
taking up the bridge, then the lull realization of their fate
came to the poor refugees. Thev could understand now
that they were to be abandoned to the tender mercies of the
rebels. Then there went up from that multitude of men,
women and children, a cry of agony that ought to have
melted the stoniest heart. There were mingled prayers,
tears, groans and imprecations, that was most heartrending.
The scene made an impression on my mind that will never
be forgotten. When we had our bridge loaded, and was
starting on after the army, there was a shout on the other
side, "The rebels are coming." This was all that was
needed to turn the grieving refugees into a panic-stricken
mob. Without reason, or concern as to the consequences,
they made a wild rush for the river, and attempted to cross.
Some of them at once plunged into the water, and swam
across. Others ran wildly up and down the bank, shrieking
with terror and crying for help. It was too much for our
humane officers and men. They threw pieces of plank and
timber into the water, and rendered every assistance possible
to the frantic refugees. Many of them succeeded in reaching
our shore. They came up the bank and through the bushes,
dripping w^et, but happy in the thought that they had
escaped. There was a shout of triumph among our men as
they saw^ the refugees successfully' stemming the current.
But all did not get over. Some were drowned — how many
is not known.

At the next stream, these scenes were repeated, to some
extent, but as the channel was not so deep as at Buck Head,
there was not so much risk in tlie refugees getting over.
Moreover, they had learned by this time to trust less in our
army and rely more upon their own efforts and ingcnuit}'.
So nearlv all f)f them got through.



Sunday, December 4. — While eating breakfast this morn-
ing', we heard cannonading and musketry. It is Kilpatrick
and Baird, towards Waynesboro. We marched to Lump-
kin, one and a half miles distant, then turned to the right and
passed through Haddam. Here our advance was fired on
this morning. Marched fourteen miles, in all. Camped,
just at dark, by the side of a swamp.

Monday, December 5. — Marched ten miles, and camped,
at three p. m., on the banks of Beaver Dam creek, sixty-six
miles from Savannah. Kilpatrick and Baird are on the
other side. Built a bridge during the night for these troops
to cross.

Tuesday, December 6. — Yesterday, Morgan's Division
was in our advance, and went on, five miles, to camp. This
morning we moved, just as day was breaking, to catch up.
Carlin's advance came in, as we went out. Bugles sound-
ing over Beaver Dam. We had a free road until we came
to Morgan's camp. The road through the swamp had been

We waited until eleven a. m. for Morgan to get out ot
camp. Marched bv country roads to Haley's cross roads.
Marched seventeen miles to-day ; camped at dark, but I am
not able to locate the place, as I am completely lost.

Wednesday, December. 7. — Brief memorandum for this
day : March at 5 :45 a. m. Went by Davis' quarters
before dav — band playing. Unobstructed march to Mor-
gan's camp — eight miles. Open country on left ; woods on
right. Country somewhat poor ; no houses. Raining dur-
ing forenoon ; roads good. Reached Morgan's camp at
nine a. m. His troops and train not out until eleven a. m.
The swamp just in front of them is almost impassable, for
cattle, as they are not allowed to march in the road. Davis
swears. Buell carries axes manv miles — hunting a job — but
finding none. Passed some trains ; bad gulch ; good roads
for miles ; rumors ; Beauregard at Augusta ; Longstreet at
crossing of Savannah river ; Breckinridge coming from
East TiMinessee. If we light, it must lie ln'fore we cut the




railroad : forced march ; officers and men mad : Buell cant
find a mud hole ; corduroying good roads : come near river ;
some of the boys go to Sister's Ferr\- and are fired on.
Camped at the twenty-sixth mile post from Savannah ; two
miles from Ebenezer : marched twenty-three and one-half
miles. This has been a hard march. Verv foolishly, our
men who had come eight miles farther than the preceding
Division are exjiected to repair roads and work to-night.

Immediatelv after reaching camp there came a hard
shower, before our tents were up, thoroughly wetting us.
We were aroused at 11:30 and ordered to "fall in.*" Four
Companies were sent to Ebenezer creek to make a bridge.
Remainder of Regiment ordered to march at day-light.

We did not march until about ten o'clock next morning.
Dr. Holtzman and I rode forward to Ebenezer creek.
There was a causeway for considerable distance, and the
ro'ad was narrow. Consequently, there was a great jam ot
troops, and slow progress. There was some sharp fighting,
vesterdav. with Wheeler, who is pressing our rear. After
a march of two miles and a half we camped at Ebenezer
Church. This is a brick structure, built in 1769, and is still
a verv beautiful piece of architecture. The frame church
which formerly stood here was built in 1738, and was used
during the Revolutionary war as a hospital.

Ebenezer Creek is a dark, impassable stream, with swamps
on either side. It required much labor to repair the road
and bridge so that the troops could pass. But our men
labored hard all night, and by noon of December 8th the
column commenced crossing. All afternoon and night the
troops continued to cross ; hunying forward towards Savan-
nah. Part of our Pontoon train was sent forward to Lock-
land creek, a few miles further on, to make a crossing on
that stream.



And so We Made a Thoroughfare — ^or Freedom
AND her Train — Sixty Miles of Latitude — Three
Hundred to the Main — Treason Fled Before us
— For Resist.vnce was in A'ain — While we were
Marching through Georgia" — Closing in Around
Savannah — News from our Fleet — The City
Evacuated — Occupying the Place — Something of
its History — Places of Interest Visited .\nd

WHILE waiting at Ebenezer creek, we were treated to a
genuine surprise Irom a rebel giinboat. Like a flash
of lightning out ot'a clear skv. a loud explosion was heard a
short distance down the stream, and a sixty- four pound shell
came whizzing over our heads. The visit was so unexpected
and we were so unprepared, that we were very much embar-
rassed, to sav the least. There was a natural disposition to
"shell out," and give these huge iron monsters plenty ot
room, but the natural inclination was overcome, and we
resolved, each lor himselt', to take our chances at dodging.
The ordeal did not last long. At'ter tiring about half a
dozen times, the gunboat retired from whence it came. But
this was only part of the disturbance that was going on all
around. There was cannonading in all directions, and it
began to sound like old times around Atlanta.

The sound of cannon was verv heavy, in the direction of
Savannali. It was evident the rebels 'were not going to
let Sherman get into that place, if thev could prevent it.

We left Ebenezer on the morning of the 9th, and marched
eight miles by twelve o'clock. There was another disgrace-


fill abandonment of negro refugees at Ebenezer, but I did
not witness it. Those who were there describe the scene as
lieartrending. I cannot find words to express my detesta-
tion of such cruelty and wickedness. May God Almight}'^
save the Nation from the responsibility of General Davis'
acts !

In the afternoon of the 9th we resumed our march, and
went nine miles further toward Savannah. We went into
camp, near the river, about a mile and a half from the rail-
road bridge. Company E, which had been left to take up
the bridge over Lockland creek, came up soon after we went
into camp.

Marched at 8:40 a. m. on the loth, but we did not make
rapid progress. We reached a point eleven miles from
Savannah, and there stopped for the night, in a swampy
ground. All of Sherman's army is now concentrating in
front of Savannah, and the impression is that we will have a
general engagement soon.

We received copies of Savannah papers, of December ist
and 3d, to-day. This is the first news from the outside
world we have had, since leaving Atlanta. It is not as
favorable news as we would like, but it is from a rebel
source, and is, most probably, not true.

Sunday morning, December iith, we were up early, and
were ready to move out by seven o'clock. But we did not
get started until ten o'clock, and then could only move
slowly, on account of the swamp roads over which we trav-
eled. The land all around us is swampy, not a hill, or ele-
vation of any kind ; but by the energy and perseverance, and
good management, of Colonel Buell, the roads were made
passable, and the armv pushed on toward Savannah. This
day we marched six miles, and camped within seven miles
of Savannah. We went into an old field, within half a mile
of the railroad, and put up temporary quarters. It was a cold,
windy night, and we were anything but comfortable. We
fed our horses on sheaf rice, and ourselves on Iresh pork and


We are now in camp opposite Argyle Island, seven miles
from Savannah. A rebel gunboat and two transports came
up the river and opened tire on our forces, at the railroad
bridge. The firing was pretty livel}^ for a time, some of the
shells from the rebel guns passing over our heads. But,
finally, our guns silenced the rebels and they retired up the
river. Nobody was hurt on our side.

We are now in the midst of rice plantations, and we have
all the rice we want to eat. We can see Savannah in the
distance, and it appears to be a very beautiful city. The
river winds about, among islands, and its banks are lined
with groves of live oaks ; many of the trees being ornamented
with garlands of Spanish moss.

Military operations are suspended, here, to await devel-
opments on the right. The 17th Corps has gone to open up
communications with our fleet. Rations are about out.
Our foragers went out on the morning of the 13th, but came
back empty handed.

Our forces are crowding the rebel works, and entrenching
close to Savannah, and the siege of that city has begun.

Opposite Argyle Island, Wednesday, December 14.
— As there were no pressing duties, I lay in bed until seven
o'clock. There had been some cannonading during the
night ; but as we were out of range we slept undisturbed.
The morning dawned beautiful and pleasant. Such weather
as this would be a marvel in Indiana, at this season of the
year. Yesterday I saw lettuce and some other plants grow-
ing in a garden.

About the middle of the forenoon our camp was moved a
half mile nearer to the river. We are now about three-fourths
of a mile from the Savannah river, on a plantation, said to
have been owned by a wealthy man, by the name of Given,
from New Jersey. Our new camp was properly laid out,
and the two battalions are united. Colonel Moore and
Doctor Patten, who had been messing with Captain Whit-
ing and Lieutenant Mason, of the right wing, return to
headquarter mess, and the Adjutant and myself returned to


that mess, also. So we have a united command once more,
and I am glad of it.

As there is a prospect of remaining here some time, the
Adjutant and myself took pains "to fix up our tent. We
tilled up between two rice rows and made a level, sand floor.
We carried timber from some negro quarters, a half mile oft',
and made a cot. We made a good and comfortable bed of
rice straw. The Adjutant put up his desk for the first time
since leaving Atlanta. I found a nice, dressed board in the
famous live oak grove, which will serve for a writing table.
While making these preparations, some shells fell just in front
of our camp. We are in easy range if the rebels attempt
the passage of the river. Some shots fell near the steamer
Resolute, to-day.

I have not been writing any items since leaving the Chat-
tahoochee river. I have only made brief notes in pencil,
but I now resume the pen, designing to keep up my journal
from day to day, and bring up the records of our marcli
from the Chattahoochee, at leisure.

Our camp is in an old rice field ; but many years liave
elapsed since it was cultivated. In the meantime, cedars,
thirt}^ feet high, have grown up, and wild sage grass covers
the fields. Our color line fronts to the south. A short dis-
tance in the rear of the encampment is a road leading from
the river to the main highvva\', running into the city. There
are many of these cross-roads, made by throwing uji tiie

We learned that the 15th Corps had stormed and captured
Fort McAllister, yesterday, thus opening communications
with General Foster and our fleet. General Sherman has
sent a dispatch boat to the President. We are all living in
hopes of receiving mail, and the men who have little to eat
except beef, are hoping for rations. It our horses could
speak they would rejoice that corn and oats will soon supply
the place of rice. The latter article makes their tongues
sore. By the way, almost all the horses we had when we
left the Chattahoochee, are eillier diseased or dead. Lieu-


tenant-Colonel Moore thinks it was caused by eating the
turpentine in the pine timber. My mare is very much

We hear no news from the North, or elsewhere. A large
number of negroes are being collected on the adjoining
plantation. As soon as I can, I will find out more about

Thursday, December 15, ten a. m. — I am tired and
sore from yesterday's exercises, one of which was a boat
ride, in a yawl, on the Savannah. It seems like getting
home once more to be in regular camp, writing at a table.
The weather is exceedingly fine. The tent is thrown open
and we write without any fire.

There has been much firintr around the line this morniniif.
It has now nearly ceased. On the right there was heavy
cannonading and skirmishing, in front of and beyond Argyle

A rebel gunboat began throwing shells Irom a heavy gun
about eleven o'clock. They were directed chiefly at various
objects on the river. Several were thrown beyond our camp.
A number burst near the negro quarters, a half mile on
our left flank, and a little to the front. This shelling was
continued until the middle of the afternoon. One shell went
into the earth, and bursted under a man sitting on the bank
of the riv^er. He was thrown upon the beach below, unin-
jured. The practice to-day, demonstrates that the rebels
could shell our camp and train, if they know our location, as
we are in range.

At dark I preached to a large and attentive congregation,
collected about a pine tree, in front of our quarters. The
new men seem generallv disposed to attend divine services.

Friday, December 16. — A great treat happened to me
this afternoon. A copy of the New York Tribtoic, of the
8th inst., was procured by Colonel Buell, at General Slo-
cum's headquarters. I had the pleasure of reading it. It
contained an account of the battle of Franklin, the report of
the Secretary of the Navy, and the general news of the day.


Our old "comrades in arms" in other Regiments, were
engaged in the battle, hence, the account is peculiarly in-
teresting to us all. This is the first paper, from the North,
I have seen since leavinfr the Chattahoochee.

Rebels have been throwing some shells to-day, but the}"^
fall short of those of yesterday. I felt a little uneasy on
account of their firing, yesterday, but I am undisturbed,
to-day. We soon get accustomed to these things.

Our artillery is inferior to that of the rebels, as we could
not drag heavy guns over the country through which we
have come.

Saturday, December 17. — Two sacks of mail arrived at
ten a. m. Everybody is intensely delighted. It was ver}-
much mixed. Most of the wrapping paper was gone.
Manv of the letters for the new men were without the name
of their Company. We received many letters belonging to
other commands ; but almost everybody received letters.
In addition to these, there were many papers, which gave
us all the news up to about the 25th of last month. I read
letters and papers from the time of the distribution of the
mail until night.

None of us are uneasy about General Thomas, at Nash-
ville. The rebels are reported betbre that city. We all
know the old lion and his legions.

Sunday, December 18. — Preached at 9:30 a. m. ; Bible
Class at two p. m.

The Regiment began the constrviction of facines. They
are seven and a half feet long and fifteen inches in diameter.
Tlie material used is rice straw ; no other kind of straw can
be procured here. Some of it has the rice in it and some
has not. Through the center of the facine there is a center
pole, from an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, and
protruding from either end. On the outside there are Irom
six to eight poles, smaller than the center pole, and of the
same length as the facine. These are adjusted lengthways,
and bound compactly about the bundle by six hoops of wire,
rope, or withes. Wire is principally used. Rebel tele-


graph wire, taken from the line along the Charleston and
Savannah railroad, is used. It looks very romantic this
evening to see the men making facines by candle light. It
would have made a splended picture for the illustrated
papers. The wagons, accompanied by a detail of men, haul
the rice from the river bank, whither it is brought in boats
from the islands of the Savannah. Another detail is cutting

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 35 of 47)