John K. Duke.

History of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men online

. (page 14 of 24)
Online LibraryJohn K. DukeHistory of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men → online text (page 14 of 24)
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" My dear Mr. Hood,
Your tactics are good —

But those of our Sherman excel, sir ;
Atlanta iis ours.
We've got both the bowers —

You're euchered, I really believe, sir."


The Atlanta Campaign may be considered as an almost con-
tinnons skirmish or battle from May 1st, to September 1st, when
Atlanta snrrendered. It is not vainglorious to assert that no regi-
ment in the Army of the Mississippi did more to assist in the cap-
ture of Atlanta than did the 53rd O. V. V. I. * * * * *

To further demonstrate the appreciation of the hardships of
the past 100 days we will quote the congratulatory letters received
by General Sherman from President Lincoln and General Grant.
They need no comment :

" Executive Mansion^ \

" Washington, D. C, September '^rd, 1864. /


"The national thanks are rendered by the President to
Major-General W. T. Sherman and the gallant officers and soldiers
of his command before Atlanta, for the distinguished ability and
perseverance displayed in the campaign in Georgia, which, under
Divine favor, has resulted in the capture of Atlanta. The marches,
battles, sieges, and other military operations, that have signalized
the campaign, must render it famous in the annals of war, and
have entitled those who have participated therein to the applause
and thanks of the nation. ABRAHAM LINCOLN,

" President of the United States.

"• City Point, Virginia, \

''September Ath, 1864, 9 p. m. /

" Major-General Sherman :

"- I have just received your dispatch announcing the capture
of Atlanta. In honor of your great victory, I have ordered a sa-
lute to be fired with shotted guns from every battery bearing upon
the enemy. The salute will be fired within an hour, amid great
rejoicing.' U. S. GRANT,

" Lieutenant-General."




If space and finances permitted, it would be an exceedingly
pleasant task to relate the history of the reorganization of our
forces, the correspondence between Generals Sherman, Grant, Hal-
leck, and last, but not least, the great hearted Lincoln, relating to
our proposed trip to the seaboard ; but a limit has been placed and
although many years remote from the period referred to, obedience
must yield to preference.

The army at this date which was under the leadership of
General Sherman was as follows :

Right and left wing commanded respectively by Major-
General O. O. Howard and Major-General W. H. Slocum. The
right wing was composed of the 15th Corps, Major-General P. J.
Osterhaus, and the 17th Corps, Major-General Frank P. Blair.
The left wing was composed of the 14th Corps, Major-General Jeff
C. Davis, and the 20th Corps, Brigadier-General A. S. Williams.
The 15th Corps had four divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Gen-
eral C. R. Woods, Brigadier-General W. B. Hazen, Brigadier-
General John E. Smith, and Brigadier-General James M. Corse.
The 53rd was a p^rt of the 2nd Division, commanded by General
Hazen. The aggregate strength of the army as it sallied forth
from Atlanta was :

Infantry 55,329

Cavalry 5,063

Artillery 1,812

Total 62,204


The 2nd Division, the 53rd inchided, struck their tents and
bade adieu to Atlanta November 15th, 1864. Considering what
we had experienced during the spring and summer campaign, four
months of hell, we naturally queried, what next ? The thought
perhaps which was most potent in the minds of the soldiers was
that we were eventually to round in on the rear of General Lee's
army and help General U. S. Grant to capture it. The entertain-
ing of such ideas was wliat emboldened the soldiers to frequently
greet General Sherman with such exclamations as, " Uncle Bil-
ly, I guess Grant is waiting for us at Richmond." At any rate,
the army had implicit confidence in their leader and had every
reason to believe that whatever the future had in store for them,
their efforts would be crowned with success, upon the basis of a
restored Union.

Reveille was sounded November 15th at 4:80 a. m., preparatory
to the march at 7 a. m., but owing to the large numbers of troops
and the length of the trains moving on the same road, the brigade
did not move out into columns along the march until 10 a m.
Our course was south along the Atlanta and " Rough and Ready "
road. The wagons were divided among the brigades, which re-
tarded the progress of the troops, but protected them from the at-
tacks of an enemy. When we reached a point withintwo miles of
Jonesboro we heard cannonading upon our right, which we sup-
posed to be Kilpatrick ; we also heard a few shots from the front
of the column. At this point we changed our course to the east
moving on the McDonough road. Night came on, but the road
being excellent we did not go into camp until 10 p. m., after hav-
ing marched 15 miles. The weather was pleasant and the troops
were in excellent spirits.

Reveille sounded at 5 a. m., November 16th, and at 6 a. m.
we marched in advance of the column, crossing Little Indian Creek
and arriving at Big Indian Creek to find the bridge almost de-
stroyed by fire, the work of a small body of cavalry under the com-
mand of Colonel Lewis. The bridge was repaired by our pioneers.


while the command enjoyed a good rest. We entered the town of
McDonongh at noon, our bands playing and colors flying. This
was a small place and about deserted. We camped about four
miles beyond the town at 2 p. m. Our foraging parties were very
successful and we had plenty to eat. The citizens were flying in
every direction. We marched during the day fifteen miles.

On November 17th we had reveille at daybreak, but did not
move until 3 p. m., the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Divisions passing on
ahead of us. "^Ve passed through Locust Grove and did not camp
until 11 p. m., some seven miles east of Locust Grove. The
weather w^as warm. We marched some twelve miles.

November 18th, reveille sounded at 6 a. m.; we marched at 7.
We reached Indian Springs about 2 p. m., a distance of six miles,
and went into camp. This town was small, the principal build-
ing being the hotel. It was also noted for its mineral springs. It
was called the Saratoga of the South.

November 19th, reveille at 2 a. m., and we began our march
at 3 a. m. in the rain. The morning was dark and the roads
muddy and creeks swollen. We reached the Ocomulgee River at
daylight, and crossed it on pontoons. On the south of the Ocomul-
gee are the mills and homes of the operatives, making quite a re-
spectable southern village. We proceeded one mile east of the
river and took the road to Hillsboro. It rained nearly all day,
making the roads very bad. We camped at 10 p. m. four miles
east of Hillsboro, having marched twelve miles.

November 20th we had reveille at 6 a. m., and proceeded on
our line of march at 7 a. m. We passed through Hillsboro, a very
small town. Some of the buildings here were burning. We
were moving very slowly on account of the condition of the road.
It had rained during the night. We camped six miles west of
Hillsboro, having marched ten miles.

On November 21st we were awakened by the reveille at 4 a.
m., and marched at 5:30. We passed the locality of Major-General


Stoneman's capture, reaching Clinton at noon. We remained
there one hour. The town was of a respectable size. The jail
and a dwelling or two had been burned. Orders were received for
a regiment to be left to do guard duty at the town ; the 37th Ohio
was detailed. In marching on we distinctly heard the skirmishers
at their old work. We at once halted for our trains to come up
so as to give them the necessary protection. We finally went into
camp five miles west of CHnton, on the road to Macon, at about
dusk. We threw out very heavy details for picket in order to
cover the space allowed to the First Brigade, which had been de-
tained at Clinton. The rain ceased, but the wind was blowing
furiously. The temperature was almost at the freezing point. We
had marched twelve miles.

On November 22nd the reveille sounded at 5 a. m., and we
were upon the march at 6 a. m., moving directly south towards
the Georgia Central Railroad. When within four miles of the
road we had some skirmishing. The 83rd Indiana was sent out
on the flank. One of their foragers was killed during the day.
We crossed the railroad between Gordon and Geisworldsville. Our
enemy at this point had torn up considerable of the railroad and
were attempting to burn it. The First Division, however, was
busily engaged reconstructing the road as we came up. Our
brigade remained here for two hours. During the interim of our
stay a forager of the 47th Ohio, with an unarmed prisoner, who
proved to be a courier from General Hardee at Macon, conveying
a dispatch to General Wheeler at Geisworldsville, which contained
the information that Macon was no longer in danger ; that he
would leave for Savannah by Albany, and for General Wheeler to
press and harass our forces ; to let us have no rest, and if we
attempted to move toward Augusta to endeavor to get before us.
We took the courier to General Hazen, who recognized General
Hardee's handwriting in the dispatch and pronounced it genuine.

We at once took up our line of march three miles further to
the east of Clinton, going into camp on the Beagg's plantation at


3 p. m. The serenity of our camp was disturbed about an hour
after by the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry in the di-
rection of the First Division. About dark information reached us
that the enemy had charged the works of the third brigade of
the first division several times and had been handsomely and se-
verely punished for their impertinence. General Walcott was
wounded, and the loss to the brigade was about oT. The weath-
er was cool the wind keen, and snow fell this mornino-. The
37th Ohio which had been left behind returned this cvenino- to


the brigade.

On November 23rd reveille was sounded at 4 a. m., and the
brigade ordered to march at 7 a. m., but the order was counter-
manded by reason of General Wood's division having discovered
that the enemy remained in force in his front. At 8 a. m. we re-
ceived orders to march on the road leading to Irvington. This
village is at the junction of the Clinton and Irvington Railroad.
Here we left the 47th Ohio on picket until the trains from Clin-
ton were up and corraled for the night. Did not reach camp un-
til about 2 p. m. For the first time since we left Atlanta instruc-
tions were received for each regiment to construct temporary
works in front of its camp for the night. Anticipating more of
such work, we organized a pioneer corps for the brigade by de-
tailing all unarmed men. We then transferred all ammunition
which had been carried by the regimental wagons to the general
ordnance train. In the fight of the 22nd the enemy left 300
dead in front of the third brigade of the first division. It is es-
timated that their loss was not less than 1500. The rebel com-
mand was made up mostly of inexperienced militia. No doubt,
in the future, monuments will be erected in the city of Macon in
memory of those who fell in defense of their homes.

On November 24th we had reveille at 5 a. m., but did not
inarch until 10 a. m. We moved east on the Irvington road, and
went into camp early, at 2 p. m. The weather was still clear and
cool, but the roads were improving. We marched only 6 miles.


This was Thanksgiving Day, as the President expressed it, for
offering up prayers for onr National success and for an early
peace. We in camp, like most of those at home, fasted that day
by eating of the best food this country afforded. We again
threw up a line of works for our protection

November 25th reveille sounded at 5 a. m., but we did not
get strung out upon the road until 9 a. m. The 53rd Ohio and
the 111th Illinois were detailed for some special work and seven
wagons under proper guard were sent for the pontoon train. We
made another detail of mounted men under the command of
Lieut. Snyder, the 54th Ohio, to go some distance to burn a
bridge over Big Sandy, a branch of the Oconee River, some 4
miles distant from Irvington. Our pontoon train came up and
we proceeded upon our journey, camping at 3 p. m., having
marched 13 miles. Some opposition was made to the advance
forces crossing the river.

November 26th, reveille for the brigade was sound-
ed at daylight, but with every indication that they would
remain in camp during the day. The pontoon
bridge being completed the Seventeenth Corps passed
over during the night. The brigade pioneers were sent forward
to repair the roads and our regiment and the 111th Illinois joined
the brigade at 11 a. m. We passed the residue of the day in hunt-
ing for , and washing our clothes. About dusk the brigade

was moved towards the river, where we halted until 10 o'clock,
then marched over a bad road, crossed the river, and after march-
ing some two miles farther camped at 11:30 p. m.

November 27th reveille sounded at 5 a. m., and we marched
one hour later, over good roads. We went into camp about 6 p.
m., having marched thirteen miles.

November 28th, the reveille called us to our feet at 5 a. m.
We marched at 7 a. m., and camped one mile beyond the Irving-
ton cross-roads at noon, having marched about eight miles. The


weather and roads were good ; forage was plent\-, and we lived
high. This was surely a picnic compared with what we had had
during the spring and summer months.

November 29th, we had reveille at 5 a. m., and were out upon
the line of march at 7 a. m. After moving some three miles, we
were ordered to send back one regiment to the Irvington cross-
roads to await the arrival of the Department " cattle drove." We
had started out with .several hundred head of cattle, driven along
with the army, and had confiscated all others we could find upon
the road. When ham, chickens, turkeys, and geese, were short
on our army markets, we killed beeves and had fresh meat. The
54th Ohio was detailed for the purpose above mentioned. The
residue of the brigade camped at dusk, having marched ten miles.
A portion of the road over which we had passed during the day
was very swampy. The weather was very pleasant ; forage was a
little scarce : but our command was well supplied, as the 53rd Ohio
knew how to forage and to take care of number one.


On November 30tli we were awakened at 5 a. m., and march-
ed at 7 o'clock. We reached Judge Tarbot's plantation at noon.
This was on the State road leading to Savannah. The 54th Ohio
rejoined our brigade at this point. We entered a fine forest at
about 2 p. m., and marched in and through it until 8 p. m. before we
camped, having made 18 miles; and yet our march had been
much retarded owing to the lagoons every mile or two ; otherwise
the roads were good and the weather pleasant.

On December 1st we had reveille at 3 a. m., and marched at
5. We were compelled during the day to construct corduroy
roads across the numerous lagoons ; but, notwithstanding our de-
lays the brigade reached Summerville at 5 p. m., having marched
thirteen miles. The country through which we passed was very
thinly settled, consequently forage was scarce. Summerville was
a small village.


On December 2nd we were awakened at 5 a. ni., and marched
at 7 a. m. We were still in the pine forests and delayed by
lagoons, and did not reach a camping place until 8 p. m., having
made only ten miles of a march. Our boys prayed for a better
country and more forage. We fared so well at the start that we
wanted more of the good things as we proceeded on down through
Dixie Land.

On the 3rd the reveille sounded at 6 a. m., and we marched
an hour later, passing through the same character of country as
the day before, and having to construct roads every few miles. We
camped at 5 p. m. on the road leading to Statesboro. An amusing
incident occurred on the line of march. Our foragers discovered a
live citizen buried. He was buried with -his valuables, but the
sharp nose of the Union boys discovered the " stiff " and brought
it to the surface, together with the valuables. It was amusing to
see the foragers going around prodding the ground with their ram-
rods or bayonets, seeking for soft spots, and when such were
struck, they soon found a shovel to see what was buried beneath.
We passed over twelve miles of country that day and camped for
the night.

On the morning of the 4th we were called to our feet at 5 a.
m.; had breakfast, and marched at 7 a. m. After having marched
two miles we camped at 8 a. m. on the road to Statesboro. Here
we were again ordered to construct works. Captain Lewis, with a
party of mounted men, was sent to Statesboro on a reconnoissance ;
and while in camp the order for inspection of our arms was re-
ceived, and all were reported in serviceable condition. We were
ordered to have our cartridge boxes contain forty rounds each.
We also had the gratifying news disseminated that we could wash
our clothing and have ample time to dry the same. Captain Lewis
and his party returned about dark, and reported that he had en-
countered but few cavalry in the town, but that the citizens had
reported a large force some seven miles beyond.


December otli the reveille sounded at o a. m., but we did not
march until 10, as we were in the real of the train for the day.
As we had several creeks to cross, and the roads being bad, the
train necessarily moved slowly. During the day some (K)0 of the
enemy's cavalry came upon our foragers and advance guard at
vStatesboro, killing two and capturing several. They also attacked
the TOth Ohio, which was in the advance. We passed some dead
rebels, and reached our camp at 9 p. m., having marched fourteen
miles. This country was more thickly settled than some we had
been passing through, yet forage was scarce.

December Oth we were again called from the embrace of
Morpheus at 5 a. m., and got swung out upon the road at 8
o'clock. We passed quite a number of plantations, somewhat bet-
ter than those we had previously passed ; camped at 9 p. m., near
the Savannah State Road, and within 13 miles of the Ogeechee
River, and 39 miles from Savannah, having marched 15 miles.
We obtained plenty of forage.

December 7th. There seemed to be no desire to allow us to
sleep beyond 5 a. m. We were again upon the road at 8 o'clock,
and moved one mile on the Ogeechee River and then went into
camp. We were again ordered to construct works for the night.
We were waiting for the left wing of the army to swing around.

December 8th we were again called from slumber at the usual
hour, and marched at 7. The heavens opened upon us at nine
for about one hour, making the swampy road almost impassable
for the wagon trains. After proceeding about 8 miles we changed
our course, the troops moving further south, the train moving on
the direct road to W^right's Ferry on the Ogeechee River. We
camped within half a mile of Black Creek bridge at 3 p. m. W.
S. Jones, brigade commander, sent the 54th Ohio and the 111th
Illinois bevond the bridge and south of the creek to camp, with
instructions to erect log works.


December 9th, we had reveille again at 5 a. m., marching at
7. The bridge had been nearly destroyed by fire. Our troops,
however, passed over, the trains and mounted men fording the
creek. We encountered several cypress swamps during the day.
We reached Eden at 3 p. m., and went into camp. Eden is the
county seat of Bryan. This was an insignificant village, the prin-
cipal building being the court-house. We camped within two
miles of the Cannouchee River. The enemy had destroyed the
brido-e, and were displaying some opposition to the attempt of the
3rd Brigade of the 2nd Division to cross. They used some artillery

upon us.

On the morning of the 10th the reveille was sounded at 6.
We marched to the Cannouchee River, reaching there at 8 a. m.
The 83rd Indiana was ordered to assist the detachment of pion-
eers in laying the pontoon bridge. After the 3rd Brigade had
crossed in boats, we began to transfer the command over. The
bridge was finally finished in time for the last regiment to pass
over at 12 o'clock. We proceeded with the command on the road
leading to the Savannah and Gulf Railroad, some eight miles
distant, striking the road six miles west of Ways Station. We
captured some rebels during our day's march and destroyed some
little railroad. We moved in the direction of Ways Station and
destroyed the trestle-work. We retraced our steps under orders,
and returned to our camp of the day previous, distant five miles,
and camped at 11 p.m., having marched during the day 19 miles.

December 11th we were up at 4 a. m. and marched at 6
o'clock. The 53rd was instructed to remain at the river until the
pontoon boats had been taken up and the train reached the bridge
across the Ogeechee River. We marched five miles and the troops
passed over the Jenk's bridge, the trains passing over the pontoon
bridge two miles above. We passed the Ogeechee Canal, stopped
for dinner, and then proceeded on the road leading to Savannah.
Marched about five miles and halted at dusk for orders. We re-
ceived orders to proceed one mile further in advance and go into

53rd OHIO voluntep:r infantry. 1G9

On December 12th the monotony of earlv reveille was broken,
none having been sounded. We remained in camp all day as a
reserve corps. Here we were ordered to turn over all extra horses
and were furnished with six days' half rations and took up our
line of march at 5 p. m. towards King's Bridge. A detachment
from our brigade was at work upon the repair of this bridge. We
went into camp about one mile from the bridge, which was to be
finished for our crossing by morning, when we were to recross the
Ogeechee River below its junction with the Cannouchee River.

- On the morning of December 13th we marched at daylight
across the Ogeechee River, marching along the causeway leading
to the Gulf Railroad, and thence down along the south bank of
the Ogeechee toward its mouth ; this being within about one mile
of Fort McAllister.

At this point we captured a rebel picket who divulged the
places where torpedoes were planted across the road. This being
contrary to the usage of modern warfare, it was ordered that our
rebel prisoners be compelled to take up the torpedoes in the road
wherever they could be found.

Our brigade then advanced within musket range of the fort,
and formed in line of battle. While waiting for the First and
Third Brigades to come into position about the fort, and while
making observations as to the ground and fortifications over which
we were soon to charge, a rebel bullet came flying at us, which
struck Captain Groce, killing him instantly, and wourding Colonel
W. S. Jones, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division.
This was about 5 p. m. At about this same moment the bugle
sounded "Forward ! Double-quick ! " The troops moved gallantly
and captured the fort, its stores and garrison, after an action of only
about ten minutes. The loss to our division was twenty-four killed
and 108 wounded. Our enemy's loss was twelve killed and
twenty-five woundjd. Three regiments of each brigade composed
the assaulting party. The assaulting force of the 2nd Brigade was
the 47th Ohio, the 111th Illinois, and the 54th Ohio regiments.


x\t dusk General Sherman came from the opposite side of the river
and visited the fort, then proceeded down the river to Ossabaw
Sound across the Ogeechee River, communicating with the fleet,
thus opening communications with the coast and establishing a
new base for the army of the Mississippi.

General Sherman in his Memoirs, page 196 says : "I gave
General Hazen, in person, his order to march rapidly down the
right bank of the Ogeechee river, and without hesitation to as-
sault and carry Fort McAllister by storm. I knew it to be strong
in heavy artillery as against approach from the sea, but believed
it open and weak from the rear. I explained to General Hazen
fully that o)i his action depended the safety of the ivhole army and
the success of the campaign ^

Further on he says, "I trusted entirely to General Hazen
and his division of infantry, the 2nd of the 15th Corps. TJie
same old division which I had ivith mc at Shi/oh a?id J^'icksbnrg^
and in zvhich I felt a special pride and confidence.''''

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Online LibraryJohn K. DukeHistory of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men → online text (page 14 of 24)