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 36 of 47)
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the poles in the woods. Cane is preferred, but enough of
tills cannot be procured. Another detail has gone for wire.
The materials are collected in front of Colonel Buell's
quarters. Some of the men are engaged in carrying the
different articles to the exact places they are needed. One
cuts the rod the exact length, and another the wire. Six-
wires are laid on the ground, parallel with each other, and
six or eight rods are laid across these. The straw is then
nearly all laid on. The center pole is then laid on top ; a
little straw is laid on it ; a man takes hold of each end of the
wire, and the ends are brought together and fastened with-
out lifting the bundle from the ground. The center rod
adjusts itself to the center of the facines, and the outside
rods come to their places. The wires are then tightened
by a ratch-stick, and the facine is done. Seven hundred
are being made by our Regiment. Rumor says they are to
be used for tilling up the ditches in front of the rebel works.
Rumors farther say that General Sherman summoned
Hardee to surrender. The latter replied that he yet had
one hole through which he could escape. It is said our
people are going to make a charge. As a general rule,
charging will not pay. Savannah and all its garrison can
be captured by stopping up the South Carolina side of the
Savannah river. Still, if a charge is made I think it will be
successful, on account of the comparative smallness of the
garrison. Only a Brigade and a half of rebels confronts the
20th Corps.

Thursday, December 20. — There has been cannonading
all day around the lines. The rebel gunboats came higher
up the river than ever before, and sent some shots whizzing


l)v our camp. It makes a fellow feel a little uncomfortable
in spite of himself. A number of men were killed and
wounded by the rebel shells, last night. Our people have
been very bus}^, for some davs, constructing forts in front.
Some heavy guns are now being placed in position. Thus
far, our men have borne the rebel cannonading without
scarcely returning a shot. In the morning our guns are to
open and our columns are to advance. Several loads of balk
and two hundred facines were taken from our camp to the
front, to be used in making ])ridges in the morning. The
rebels continued firing until a late hour in the night.

Orders came, just after dark, to throw a pontoon over the
channel, beyond Argyle Island. Colonel Buell and most of
the Regiment went to obey the order. Some difficulty is
anticipated in putting do\\n the bridge. The rebels will
certainly shell it from their gunboats. It is to be hoped that
they will make no discoveries until morning. Then, they
may have something else to attend to.

Mail sent out this morning. No news from the North.
Second Lieutenant Endicott, of Co. B, has been mustered
in. Others of the new officers are also being mustered in.
Those persons who were recommended for office, and were
not in the line of promotion, have not received their com-
missions. It will be a shame if some of them ever are com-

Wkdnesdav, Decemjjer 28. — At 8:30 a. m. news came
tiiat Savannaii is ours — by evacuation, 1 suppose. All night
has been spent by our Regiment, in getting the bridge mate-
rials to the place where it was designed to use them. Tlu'
order now is to bring the pontoon train into the city. It will
be some hours before we can get olf. Tiiere is a distant
sound of heavy guns.

Major Downev ordered tlu^ call for "strike tents" to be
])lovvn. It sounded very foolish, at the time, as there was
no order to march, and the pontoon was beyond Argyle
Island. He had only heard that there was an yrder extant
for marching. It rained soon after, and the Regiment did


not marcli for more than twenty- four hours. A httle com-
mon sense is an excellent thing in the army.

Attempting to bring over the boats was a dreadful day's
work for the men. The weather was cold, and the wind
blew a perfect gale against the boats. The task of taking up
the part of the pontoon which had been laid down was very
small. They were soon loaded, with all the material, on two
old scows. The remainder of the day and night was spent
in the bitter cold wind, trying to get the boats over on this
side. Man}' of the men did not get anything to eat during
the entire day. Many sunk into the quicksands up to their
waists. They were tired on by the rebels on the other shore,
but n-obody was hurt.

Thursday, December 22. — It was announced, this morn-
ing, that the men, after toiling all 3^esterday and last niglu,
had made the landing. Some had worked two nights and a
day, without rest or food, in the water, mud, wind and cold.
This is what I call hard service. Those who had been thus
engaged came in and got a little breakfast. Our commis-
sary department is ver}^ weak. Hence, no rations have been
drawn for the men from the new supply from the East.
Other troops have been drawing for some days. Our A. A.
C. S. has never been to see about getting rations. Our men
occasionally get a hardtack or two, but the usual issue is
beef —

'"Only Uiis, and nothing more."

Our Commissary has drawn a little rice ; but, where there
are thousands of tierces, he should have gotten plenty. We
still have some sugar, coffee, homin}^, etc., which are occa-
sionally issued in homeopathic doses. If the soldiers were
not thrifty, they would suffer for food. This is not consid-
ered a land of plenty ; but the men manage to get a little to
eat. The chief article they collect is rice, which they beat
otT the straw. It is then encased in a hard husk, which is
pounded off, after much labor, after the manner of beating
hominy. One mill lias been constructed, by sawing "mill-
stones" otT a pine log, the upper one being moved around


by means of pins driven into it, and tiie lower "stone"
remaining stationary. The grain goes in through a hole in
center of the upper block, and comes out through a hori-
zontal groove in the upper surface of the lower block.
Some of the men were proposing improvements on this, but
the move, to-day, renders them unnecessary.

It must have been ten a. m. when our march for the city
began. The five hundred rice facines, whicli our men had
made for the assault, were loaded on the wagons for forage.
We moved out by the same cross-road we had come in on.
We passed the grave of Taylor, of Company K, who died
on the 1 2th, leaving him, as we had left many others, to
sleep, solitary and alone, in a strange land. But his rest
will be as quiet here as anywhere, and the power of the
resurrection will be as effectual here as anywhere ; nor
will it militate against one's eternal interests to rise in

After reaching the main Savannah road, we turned
towards the city. We continued, for some time, to pass the
remains of camps. There were no fields, and the men had
encamped in the woods. Here are the remains of a com-
missary, under guard ; and, here on my left, are the graves
of twelve soldiers, principally killed by rebel shells. We
passed several trees which had been cut in two by cannon
shots. I noticed where a shot had passed through two large
trees. Our line of works was a little over three miles from
tlie city. Our forts were just completed, and ready to open
fire, when the enemy left. The works of the rebels were
not more than three hundred yards from ours, and the inter-
vening space is covered with water. It is a tangled swamp,
and is almost impossible to pass through it, even when not
under fire, and to charge through it would be an impossibil-
ity, save along the road ; and two large, smooth-bore siege
guns commanded this, with grape and cannister, ready for
use. There may be some more vulnerable points on the line
than this. The rebel works are strong, and the heavy guns
are still standing where the rebels left them. They were


spiked, but our people had removed the tilcvs. They have
heavy siege carriages. A derrick, which had been used in
mounting the guns, was abandoned by the rebels, who also
left a quantity of ammunition. A little farther on, we found
some of the rebel quarters. Soil, laid on timbers, with their
tops joining, makes their tents. They seem to lie on the
swampy ground.

There are no splendid plantations near the city, on this
road. The ground is low and swampy. There were some
nice residences near the city. On our left is a large brick
house, and near it, on a pillar, stands a reservoir, which, I
suppose, answers the same purposes as a cistern in other
lands. There was also a windmill for pumping water. We
soon came into the city. It was not made to be a slave-
holding city — the streets are too narrow ; the houses are
small, and not surrounded by any grounds. It was, at first,
designed, no doubt, for poor refugees from Europe, and, to
this day, there are great swarms of foreigners here. We
went into a part of the city between Farm street and Ogee-
chee canal, where the houses are small, dilapidated, and tor-
lorn ; and nearly every house is full. The ground is very
uneven, and a part is open sewers from the city. A large
part of our camp is covered by rice chafi' and burning tilth.
It is rather a vile place to come a thousand miles to camp.
The wind was blowing a gale, as we entered, mixing up
sand, chaff, and various stenches, to suit the eyes and noses
of such as love these things. The Companies were placed
here and there, as ground could be found to camp on. Reg-
imental headquarters took the best place, of course, after
Brigade headquarters were suited. It is no place, however,
to brag of, being in a gale of dirt, behind an Irish bagnio.
All eyes and noses were full. This is the brilliant feat we
read of in the Northern papers, called "Capturing Savan-
nah." If these lines fall into the hands of any of my unborn
posterity, after I am dead, I hope they will remember that,
although this mav be a matter of fun to them, it was death
to their fathers who "tit."


Our men began working at the rebel pontoon, immedi-
ately on entering the city. It reached from the city to
Hutchinson's Island, and is constructed by placing scows
end to end. There are docks on either side, so the rising
and tailing of the tide does not lengthen or shorten the
bridge. The farther end was cut, and the bridge swung
around. Ropes were put on, preparatory to drawing it up.

In company with Adjutant Behm and Dr. Iloltzman, I
took a short walk about the streets, late in the evening. The
guards on Farm street did not wish to let us pass, but when
the}^ learned that we belonged to the Pontoniers, they with-
drew their objections and permitted us to pass on. This, and
the neighboring streets, is closely built up with small wooden
houses. They are usually one story high, and come out to
the street. The streets are usually narrow and short.

We walked down the wharv^es, to the lower portion of the
city. The steamer Resolute, which was captured above, lay
at tiie wharf. The Canon icus, from Hilton Head, was
there, with General Foster on board. This ineflicient ofli-
cer wore a cap and a blue overcoat. He is a large and tine
looking man. He was hobbling about the boat on a crutch.
Having served under him in East Tennessee, I can testily to
his incompetency as an officer. He may be a man of abil-
ity, but he is now an invalid, and, hence, unfit for the field.
He may have been a lion, in his day, but his day is past.

There are several other little steamers, a part of which were
captured. The rebels destroyed their gunboats, and one
ram, which was in ]")rocess of construction wiien they left.

We tlid not go to the city limits, but turned to the right,
and walked out into thr lii'art of the eit\-. Here we t'ound
some wide and beautiful streets, which I ho|i(" to lind timi> to
describe in the futuri'.

Alter dark wt' returned to our uneonilortable (juarters.
This has bcrn a (la\' of gri'at sights, and I ha\e not now
time to do justice to tlicm.

FuiDW. I )ia'i-:.'Mi!i':K i\. — Allrr sick call was attcndcil to,
1 walked out again into the eit\', in eonipan\' with Dr.


rioltzman. We went down the wharves to tlve ij^as works,
and then still on to the ship yard. Ev^erN^thin^ ahout the
yard had been destroyed by tire. We then visited the
Pulaski monument, which I will describe, in the future, if I
have time. We passed along" some tine streets and squares,
some ot' which I must describe in my notes, in time to come.
We returned to our quarters at ii : 30 a. m.

At'ter dinner, I went out into the city, in search of a
church, as a place of worship tor my Regiment. I soon
tbund that all the churches near us belonged to the colored
people, and the^' were all at home. The tirst I came to was
a Baptist Church. Several of the people were cleaning it
out. Some guards had spent a day or two in it, and had
done a little damage to the house. As soon as General
Geary was notitied of the fact, he, very properly, put them
out. There are three colored Baptist Churches in the city,
and all of them are getting along well. There is only one
colored Methodist Church — Asbur}^ Chapel. It is against
the laws of Georgia to ordain a colored man as a deacon or
elder. Now, God Almighty, in His laws, has provided lor
this thing. The question is now being settled, whether the
State of Georgia or the Almiglity is in command in these
parts. There may be some in this city who are not yet sat-
isfied as to the result ; I have no doubts, myself. The Meth-
odist Church, above named, has seven loci.l preachers, but
they had to take a wiiite pastor, from the Georgia Confer-
ence, to administer the sacraments amongst them. Now, he
has run oti', and they are inquiring what to do. I advised
them to send North, and get an ordain^^d colored pastor.
He can preside over the church, and gi\'e them a start. 1
am resolved to see them again. While I \ as there, a pomp-
ous Captain, h\ the name of Ta\lor, came strutting up, with
a design of taking the church for his own use. Wlien told
that it was in use as a j')lace of worshij'), he remarked to one
of the colonel people that this "thing" must be stopi")ed for
a time. Tie imagines that Ca]")tain Ta\l()r is ol" more import-
ance than till' worshiji of tlu> Almiglilx'. I ga\i' the negroes


a hint, which will save their church from desecration, I
hope they will act on it.

Saturday, December 24. — Hutchinson's Island is ahout
eight miles long and a little over a half mile wide. It is
owned by different men : is low and flat, and has often been
flooded. At one time, it was covered to the depth of six
feet, when there were prevailing winds from the sea. The
cultivation of rice is prohibited, as flooding is essential to its
growth, and this would render the city unhealthy. P'orty-
flve dollars per acre was paid by the city as damages to the
owners, on account of this regulation. Yesterday morning
the channel, between the city and island, was spanned, by
restoring the rebel pontoon.

There are three torpedoes, of the old pattern, attached to
some kind of a wooden frame, on the other side of the river,
near the bank. They do not seem very dangerous, nor do I
think they are. This torpedo is of cast iron ; it is about a
foot in diameter and two feet in length. On the bottom,
which is flat, there is a cross-bar, with holes in the ends, for
fastening to a raft or other anchor. The torpedo is a cone,
closed everv where, except at the top ; here, there is a two-
inch hole. IIow it is charged, or what with, I cannot tell.
I am told that there is a torpedo of a later and better pattern.

We moved from our disagreeable camp to one but little
better. The train was taken over the river and parked on a
held below high tide. Companies B and G were placed in
camp on Hutchinson's Island, at the end of the pontoon.
They are kept ovit of the mud by a large quantity of saw-
dust. They have a shed which gives them shelter, in part.
Thev have plenty of lumber and shelter tents to complete
their camp.

Companies A and F camp at this end of the bridge.
Their chief embarrassments are "wharf rats," and passers
]-)\-. The remainder of the Regiment is camped here and
there, along the wharf, above the pontoon. Most of the
officers have houses. Regimental headquarters is at Mr.
Dav's, on Indian street. Atter we had gone into these


quarters, the officer on provost duty in these parts — Colonel
Slaughter, of the 29th Pennsylvania — put a guard across the
street, between Colonel Moore and his command. This is
another example of "man clothed in a little brief authority,"

To-day, I resumed my search for a church. I saw a
Marine Church, on Bay street. Supposing it unoccupied, I
began hunting for authority to preach the gospel there. I
called on one of the provost guards, and from him learned
who was officer of the ff'^i'ii'd. He sent me to the officer of
the day. He went with me to the church. There is a high
and heavy iron fence in front. The gates are spiked, the
padlocks being lost. We scaled the fence and looked in at
the window. It appeared to be a nice church, inside. I
determined to continue my pursuit. I went to Colonel
Wood, provost marshal of the eastern part of the city. He
sent^ me to a Quartermaster, at the Exchange. He had
moved his office into a building occupied by a number ot
consuls. I went there and obtained the following paper:

City of Savannah, Dec. 24, 1S64.

Chaplain II. G. Might has permission to use the Mariner's Chapel until
required for other purposes.

By order "of Brigadier-General J. W. Geary.

Captain and Assistant Quartermaster.

This is not mv name — I suppose I must have mouthed my
words, or else he must have been deat\ As for the signature
of the Assistant Qiiartermaster, I have guessed at it. Many
officers take a silly pride in signing their names so no one
can read them. I suppose it is the same notion that causes
boarding-school girls, when very young and tender, to
mince their words.

After getting this permit, I hunted up the keys. It was
some little time before I got on the trail, but, after calling
on a number of citizens, I at last succeeded in getting the
keys of Mr. Thomaf, or Thompson, who keeps an insur-
ance office on the corner of Bay and Bull. I was very
courteously treated by Mr. Duncan and Mr, Thompson.


After putting a notice of preaching to-morrow at lo : 30 a. m. ,
I returned to my quarters. I passed the Puhiski monu-
ment, which stands at the intersection of liull and some
other street. The sidewalks of these streets, neatly paved
with bricks, form a square of aboilt fifty feet. On the center
of this stands the monument. There are several other little
squares of the same size. The whole constitutes a very
pleasant park of shady walks and cherished memories.
The monument square is surrounded by an iron fence. On
each side there are five panels. Each panel has twelve
spears, bound together by four wreaths. The posts are
cannons, with ball on muzzle, and a flame above this. The
fence is painted green. This is all ver}- beavitiful and
appropriate. The guns, the shot, and the spears are
emblematic of war — the profession of the gallant dead.
The wreath represents the reward of those who perish in
the cause of libert3^ The flame and the color of the fence
call to our minds the immortalit}^ of the deeds of those who
give their lives that man may be free. Within, springing
from the green sod, are four bushes wdiose leaves are green
in winter, just as time never eflaces the memor^^ of the good.
A plain slab of gray limestone, a foot high and perhaps
twenty feet square, is the foundation of the monument. On
this is laid another of the same material and hight, perhaps
seventeen feet square. Next is a base of the same material,
about eight or ten feet square and three feet high. Tlie
remainder of the monument is of white marble. There are
four cannon carved in the four corners of the square, resting
on the base. There is no inscription on the eastern or
western sides of the square, except, overhead, on citlier side,
is the suflicient and expressive words :


Over the northern panel there is this inscription in baso-

relievo :

SAVANNAH, yni OCT., 1779.

In the jianel there is a representation of Pulaski reci'iving
the mortal wound. lie is mounted on a o-aUant horse, who


seems to feel the sad blow that is falling upon tlie cause of
liberty. His nostrils are distencled, and every vein is plainly
visible. The rider, with uncovered head, turns towards his
wound in agony, and yet, tlrmly maintains his seat and holds
in a tirni grasp, both reins and sword. With his right hand
he holds his sword, and steadies himself by resting it on the
horse's hip. His left hand grasps the reins, and presses
upon the wound on his thigh.

In the southern panel there is this inscription :






gTH OCT., 1779.

Over these panels, there is, on each side, a spread eagle,
resting on the shields of Poland and Georgia, and holding
in either talon the olive branch. The insertion of the shield
of Georp-ia instead of that of America, for which Pulaski
fought and died, is a manifestation of that sectional pride,
which has finally led the people of this State to ruin.

Above rises a marble shaft, of more than thirty feet. It
is square and girted by alternate bands of stars and wreaths.
Over all, stands the statute of libert}', by some strange
chance, facing the north, the home of liberty. In her left
hand she holds the pole, and cap, and wreath. In her right
she holds out the wreath, as if to crown with immortalit}^ the
hero who, fighting, falls in her cause.

The monument must be more than fifty feet high. It is
exceedingh^ creditable to all the parties concerned in its
planning and execution. It l)ears the imprint of "Robert
E. Lunitz, New York, A. D., 1854."

At all hours of the dav a crowd of soldiers stand gazing
at this monument, not simplv in admiration of it as a splendid
work of art, but rather in veneration of him who leit home
and country, and forgot his noble birth, to cast his lot with
a people few and unknown, struggling for independence.


Tlis death was not in \iuu. His memory shall never be for-
i^otten. His example shall be a stimulant to noble deeds
while the world stands. Not only this monument, but the
numerous towns and counties named after him, attest the
protound respect with which he is regarded by the American

Sunday, December 25. — I had some work this morning,
to prepare the Mariners' Church for worship. The gate
had to be forced open and the house cleaned. I preached
at 10 :30 in the forenoon and at six o'clock in the evening, to
small congregations. There is no arrangement for warming
or lighting the house. Yesterday, the first number of the
Loyal Georgian appeared.

I had announced a meeting at the Mariners' Church on
the night of the 26th, but an order to move prevented me
from attending to it.

We left the wharf and went over on Hutchinson's Island ;
Colonel Easton, chief commissary, desires all the wharf for
rations. He came, drunk, to Companies A and F and told
them to move or he would send two thousand men to drive
them off. There is more wharf room below the pontoon
bridge than can be filled in a month. B^^ that time it is
expected that the grand army will be in other parts.
Whisky is a great fool maker. The President of the United
States should entirely exclude it from the army, except for
medical purposes.

It was after dark before we got our tents up. The ground
is very soft ; a rail thrown upon it shakes the ground for a
distance. We got some old hay to keep us out of the mud.
The island is very damp.

Tuesday, Deckmijkr 27. — Yesterday it rained, but to-day
it has been very pleasant. Hutchinson's Island st^ems to

The entire Regiment — except Companies W and G, which
remained at the end of tlu> jiontoon bridge — labored earnest!}'-
all day, putting up quarters. Never has there been so much
building done in one day by the 58lh Indiana, The Adjul-


ant and myself made a good bunk and laid a pine floor.

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 36 of 47)