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Report of the operations of the 3d Brigade, 3d Division of the 20th Army Corps in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 online

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With an Appendix containing the Proceedings and Address of General Wood on the
Dedication of the Monument to the ijdth Regt. N. Y. V. /., on the Battlefield of Getty s-
burgh, October 16, 1888.





The ATLANTA CAMPAIGN was one of the most important, ef
fective and illustrious campaigns of the war of the rebellion. The
Union arms in 1863, had, on the whole, been successful. The battle
of Gettysburg had been fought and won, and Lee had been driven
from his invasion of Maryland. Vicksburg, after a long strug
gle, had been captured, with the army that defended it. The in
vestment of Chattanooga had been relieved, and the Rebel army
under Bragg had been defeated and driven from his strong posi
tion on Missionary Ridge. The campaign of 1864 was thought
to have opened auspiciously. Grant had been appointed com-
mander-in-chief of all the armies and military forces of the United
States. Lee, with a well disciplined, brave and gallant army, con
fronted the army of the Potomac on the Rappahannock. John
son, securely intrenched at Dalton with a brave and valiant army,
stood face to face to Sherman with the gage of battle. The Reb
els showed a greater power of endurance and resistance than was
expected. The " on to Richmond" was one bloody battlefield,
with the sacrifice of slaughtered hecatombs of Union soldiers, and
resulted not in the capture of Richmond but in placing the Union
army on the south side of the James river, and in effect besieging
Lee and his army in Richmond. Johnson with tactical skill and
consummate ability avoided the blows offered by his able oppo
nent, and led him by skillful retreats away from his base of sup
plies, into the interior of the Confederate States. The people of
the North, in view of this long and bloody struggle, and the vi
tality exhibited by the Rebels, became despondent. General
gloom and depression overspread the land. Even our great and
devoted president was almost overwhelmed by it. Though re-
nominated by the Republican party for re-election, he was appre-


hensive of defeat. The Democratic party, that party on which
the Rebels relied to aid them in their struggle, had become arro
gant and aggressive. Their convention, held at Chicago in Au
gust, 1864, to nominate a candidate for president against President
Lincoln, declared that the four years of war which was to restore
the Union was a failure. The capture of Atlanta on the 2d day
of September, after the brilliant campaign which commenced on
the ist day of May, rifted the cloud of gloom and depression that
overspread the North, and through it could be seen shining the
bright sun of success. With that capture, and the defeat of
Hood s army, the doom of the rebellion was sealed ; and the sur
render of Lee s army at Appomattox, and of Johnson s army at
Raleigh, was its necessary and legitimate consequence. In that
campaign I took an active part as the commander of a brigade in
the 3 d Division, 2oth Army Corps. The following report, written
at Atlanta after the close of the campaign, from memoranda kept by
me in writing from day to day, shows its operations in detail. In the
same division, Colonel now General Harrison, President of the
United States, served and commanded, at first a regiment (the yoth
Ind. V. I.), and after the 2 9 th of June the ist Brigade of that
division. During the pendency of the political campaign of
1 888 a " Life of Ben. Harrison " was written and published by
General Lew Wallace, also a volunteer officer in the Union army.
The reading of this "Life" awakened and revived my recol
lections of the campaign in which we both took a part. I thought
some of the statements in " The Life " did me and my command
injustice. I procured from the War Department a copy of my
report. It is on file in that department, and unprinted and unpub
lished. All the incidents appertaining to that campaign, I think,
should be made known. It was the turning point in the war of the
rebellion. And it seems to me that the truth of history demands
that every one who has knowledge of the events of that campaign
should tell his story, that mistakes, if any, may be corrected, and
equal and exact justice done to all who participated in it.

J. W.



ATLANTA, GA., Sept. 23, 1864. m


I have the honor to submit the following report of the
operations of the brigade under my command, composed of
the 1 36th N. Y., 55th Ohio, 33d Mass., 73d Ohio and 26th
Wis. Infantry Regiments to which the 2Oth Conn. V. I.
was afterward added, since the 1st day of May last.

On the evening of that day I received orders to march at
six o clock the following morning.

At the hour named we broke our winter camp in Lookout
Valley, and took up our line of march on the Chattanooga
road, following the 1st Brigade of this division.

After passing around the foot of Lookout Mountain we
left Chattanooga on the left, passed through Rossville, and
reached Gordon s Mills at about half-past three o clock, P. M.,
where we encamped for the night, having marched the dis
tance of fifteen miles.

On the 3d of May we occupied substantially the same po
sition taken the previous afternoon. A slight change was
made for the purpose of getting more favorable ground on
which to encamp.

On the 4th, at half-past six o clock, A. M., the brigade
marched from Gordon s Mills to Pleasant Grove Church,
near Taylor s Ridge, and took a position formed in two
lines deployed, on the right of the division, near the East
Chickamauga creek. The distance marched was eleven miles.
The brigade occupied this position until the morning of the

6th. During the time a substantial bridge for infantry was
built across the creek by the brigade pioneers.

On the 6th, the brigade marched at five A.M., from Pleas
ant Grove Church to Leet s Tannery on Peavine creek, a dis
tance of six and one-half miles, and took up a position in
one line deployed, with one regiment in reserve; which po
sition the brigade occupied until next morning.

On the ;th, at five o clock, A. M., the brigade marched
from Leet s, through Gordon s Gap, passing Gordon s
Springs to Wood s Store, at the road leading to Buzzard
Roost Gap, a distance of fifteen and one-half miles. Here
the brigade was put in position in a single deployed" line.
The 33 d Mass, was detached from the brigade in pursuance
of orders received from division head-quarters, and directed
to report to Col. Ross, Com d g 2d Brigade, who occupied
the crest of a hill about one mile in advance of this brigade
On the morning of the 8th I received from division head
quarters an order of which the following is a copy :

" Col. WOOD, Com d g Brig. :

The Major-General directs that in compliance with the
inclosed orders you move your brigade out in front of Col.
Ross position, and make a reconnoissance toward the en
emy s position at Buzzard Roost. Guard well your flanks ;
keep a strong line of skirmishers well advanced ; don t at
tack him in his intrenchments, if you should find such to be
the case. If you can, draw him on to Col. Ross position,
should he follow you. If he has abandoned Buzzard Roost
and you get possession, look well to your right. The Gen
eral will be at Col. Ross on the ridge.

" Very Respectfully, etc.,


"A. A. G: %

Which order was accompanied by instructions directing
the manner in which the reconnoissance was to be made.

In pursuance of the orders I immediately got my
command under arms and took up the line of march

for Buzzard Roost Gap. After passing the 2d Brig
ade (Col. Ross) encamped on the crest of a hill a
short distance east of Wood s store, I threw forward an ad
vance guard and ordered them deployed as skirmishers.
At the same time I covered the flanks of the column with a
line of flankers. In this way the column advanced toward
Buzzard Roost Gap. When about two miles from the gap.
the skirmishers in front of the column came in contact with
and crossed the advanced skirmish line of Carline s Brigade
of Johnson s Division of the 14th Corps. The brigade was
in position about one hundred yards in the rear of this skir
mish line and covered all the approaches to Buzzard Roost
Gap from the west. I was informed by a major in charge
of the skirmish line of this brigade, that he had advanced
his skirmish line close up to the enemy s works in the gap ;
that the enemy occupied the gap in force; that he made a
demonstration to attack the skirmish line so advanced, and
thereupon the major, in pursuance of instructions, withdrew
his line to the position he then occupied. As this condition
of affairs was not contemplated by the orders and instruc
tions I was ordered to make, I thought it advisable to com
municate with Maj.-Gen. Butterfield, who was in the rear of
my column. Accordingly I halted the column and sent a
staff officer to Maj.-Gen. Butterfield with instructions to
advise him of the information I had received, and receive his
orders. Maj.-Gen. Butterfield immediately rode up to the
front of the column, and, as I understood, had an interview
with same major referred to from Carline s Brigade, and
received the same information. Maj.-Gen. Butterfield, how
ever, ordered me to proceed with the reconnoissance, and to
feel the enemy. I, therefore, ordered four companies forward,
deployed them as skirmishers, and threw out a line of pick
ets to protect my right flank. I also ordered the 7$d Ohio
to deploy in line of battle, and to advance with and
support the skirmishers. The balance of the brigade was
placed in position behind the crest of a hill, in the front, and
at the foot of which the skirmishers were deployed. The
ground between the position occupied by the brigade and

the valley into which Buzzard Roost Gap debouches toward
the west, was a series of hills running nearly parallel to the
valley. In front of the right of my line, and bounding the
valley on the east, and the gap on the south, is Rocky Face
Mountain, at the foot of which, and running nearly across
the west entrance to the gap where it sweeps around and
runs through the gap, is Mill Creek, a stream with soft,
muddy banks and bottom, not easily fordable. On the east
side of the creek, and leaving but a narrow space between its
east bank, is a high bank or bluff, which seems to be a spur
of Rocky Face Mountain, and with which it is connected,
making, however, quite a depression between the highest
part of the bluff and the mountain. The distance from this
high point of the bluff and the mountain in which the de
pression occurs is, perhaps, one hundred and fifty yards.
From the high part of the bluff, along the curve of the creek,
to the north, there is an easy descent until it is lost in the
bottom land of the creek, where it sweeps around to flow
through the gap. Here also the railroad coming from Tunnel
Hill, sweeps around the hill from the south side of Buzzard
Roost Gap, and passes over the creek through the gap.
From the crest of the bluff and the section of Rocky Face
Mountain with which it is connected, the ground descends
quite rapidly to the east. From this crest the enemy s
works for the protection of the gap are visible. Along this
crest and stretching across the gap, the enemy had a line of
skirmishers. By the direction of Maj.-Gen. Butterfield,
under whose personal supervision all the movements of my
brigade were made, the line of skirmishers, increased
and strengthened from time to time by reinforcements from
the line, were pushed forward until they occupied the crest
of the bluff, and the declivity between it and Rocky Face
Mountain, and the base of the mountain as high as the
highest parts of the bluff. In order to reach this position,
it was necessary to cross Mill Creek, and ascend the almost
perpendicular side of the bluff, the crest of which was held
by the rebel sharpshooters. Two companies of skirmishers
from the 55th Ohio, commanded by Capts. Bolt and Osborue,

were ordered to take the crest. Promptly and steadily they

climbed the side of the bluff in the face of a continued fire

from the enemy s skirmishers, drove them from and occu

pied the crest. The conduct of Capts. Bolt and Osborne and

the men of their command on this occasion, the coolness

and bravery displayed by them, is deserving of the highest

praise, and reflects credit upon the gallant regiment of

which they form a part. As soon as the crest was gained,

the skirmish line at that point was strengthened by three

companies from the 73d Ohio. Two companies of the 33d

Mass, held the low ground on the left, between the creek

and the railroad. On the right two companies from the

26th Wis. were thrown across the creek (which at that

point was deep, but which they crossed on a tree fallen

across it), and were deployed as skirmishers, and ordered to

ascend to the crest which formed the depression between

the bluff and Rocky Face Mountain, and which connected the

two. This order was executed in a satisfactory manner.

The enemy made but a feeble resistance to our advance.

The enemy showed no disposition to attack. We had felt

his position, discovered the nature, extent and character of

his works, and the object of the reconnoissance seemed to

be accomplished. The day was drawing to a close, and I

was ordered by Maj.-Gen. Butterfield as soon as it was

dark to withdraw my skirmishers, and with my command

return to the camp 1 had left in the morning. I advanced

the 1 36th N. Y. to cover the movement of withdrawing the

skirmishers and was making disposition to execute the order

of the Maj.-Gen. Comdg. who had at that time left the field,

when I received the following order:

" HEAD-QRS. 20111 CORPS, May tyh, 1864.
" Maj.-Gen. BUTTERFIELD, Comdg. Div.:

"The Maj.-General Comdg. directs that you hold your
self in readiness to comply with the following dispatch just
received from Dept. Head-Qrs.:

"Gen. Howard s and Gen. Palmer s skirmishers will be
advanced early to-morrow morning (gth inst.). The Maj.-


General Comdg. desires that you order Butterfield s skir
mishers to co-operate with Gen. Palmer s, as the latter
sweep along the side of the ridge, by advancing over the
ground which lies directly in front of them.
" Very respectfully,


" Brig.-Gcn. & A. A. G"

"The Maj.-Gen. Comdg. directs that Col. Wood comply
with the requirements of the within.


"A. A. G"

I immediately countermanded the order to withdraw the
skirmishers and directed them, as well as the I36th N. Y., to
hold the position they occupied for the night, and that
scouts be sent forward from the skirmish line to recon-
noiter, and obtain, if possible, the information desired by
the Maj.-Gen. Comdg. the Dept. of the Cumberland. As
the enemy kept persistently concealed behind his works,
nothing could be discovered except that his position was
very strong, if not impregnable ; and that an attempt to dis
lodge him by a direct attack could not be expected to suc
ceed. As I had done all in my power to comply with the
instructions last received, and as night and darkness had
now come upon us, the operations of the day closed. The
73d Ohio had marched for their camp under the order received
from Maj.-Gen. Butterfield before the last orders, above set
forth, had been promulgated. After dark the 55th Ohio and
33d Mass, followed, leaving the skirmishers detailed from
these regiments in the position they occupied during the
day. The 26th Wis., which had been held in reserve in the
position first taken up, was permitted to bivouac for the
night, as it was amply protected by the I4th Army Corps,
being connected with it, and covered in front by the pickets
of that corps. After these dispositions were made, an order
was received from the Maj. -General commanding the division


to withdraw the I36th N. Y., and the skirmishers, entirely
out of the gap, and the valley in front of it, and bivouac
there in a secure position on the hill. This order was com
plied with, and as Brig.-Gen. Carline had advanced his brigade
and his picket line, it brought them within his lines. This
finished the operations of the day, and I returned to my
head-quarters at Wood s store.

On the morning of the gth, I received the following
orders :

" Col. WOOD, Com d g Brig.:

"The following instructions have just been received."

"To Maj.-Gen. HOOKER:

" Push your reconnoissance as far as possible to night,
and endeavor to find out if the enemy is at Buzzard Roost
in force. Communicate results.


" Maj.-Gen. Hooker directs that the force here act in ac
cordance with the above. You will be governed by these
instructions, and report to Gen. Thomas direct, as well as

to me.


I immediately directed the officer in charge of the skir
mishers (Maj. Higgins, of the 73d Ohio) to see that the order
was complied with. Subsequently, and on the same morn
ing, I received orders to continue the reconnoissance com
menced the day before. In compliance therewith, I im
mediately concentrated my brigade in the valley, in front of
the gap. The skirmishers again took the position from which
they were withdrawn the night before, being compelled
the second time to drive the enemy s skirmishers therefrom.
The 1 36th N. Y. and 26th Wis. were deployed in line of
battle in front of the bluff. The 55th Ohio was ordered to
cross the creek and hold the bluff, which had been taken by
the skirmishers. I was ordered by Maj.-Gen. Butterfield to
throw a regiment across the creek near the foot of Rocky


Face Mountain, and to advance it to the crest of the spur
that connected the bluff with the mountain. To comply
with this order, it became necessary to build a bridge across
Mill Creek. This was done with commendable dispatch,
by the division pioneers. I ordered across the 73d Ohio,
and it pushed forward promptly, to fulfill the order of the
division commander. In the meantime the enemy had
planted a section of artillery on the crest of Rocky Face
Mountain, and opened with grape and canister on the 55th
Ohio. That regiment was promptly withdrawn out of range
to the west side of the creek, at the foot of the bluff. The
enemy s guns, however, were very soon silenced by some
artillery of the I4th Corps. By direction of Maj.-Gen. But-
terfield, I ordered the 33d Mass., which up to this time had
been held in reserve, to cross the creek, and, if possible, to
gain the crest of Rocky Face Mountain. To cover the
operations of the two regiments across the creek, the 26th
Wis. and I36th N. Y. were moved to the right and deployed
on the west side of the creek, in the rear of the /3d Ohio
and 33d Mass. While these last-named regiments were en
gaged in carrying out the orders they had received, the
skirmishers of the 73d Ohio, having gained the crest of the
spur so as to overlook the enemy s works in the gap, and
the skirmishers of the 33d Mass, having ascended more than
half way to the crest of Rocky Face Mountain, I received
an order that my brigade would be relieved by Carline s
Brigade of the I4th Corps. After being relieved, I marched
my brigade to the Presbyterian Church, on the road from
Wood s Store to Buzzard Roost Gap, and encamped. This
ended the operations of my brigade in connection with the
reconnoissance into Buzzard Roost Gap.

On Wednesday, the I ith, at four o clock, A. M., the brigade,
in pursuance of an order from division head-quarters, marched
from its position near Wood s Store (to which place it had
returned after the reconnoissance) to Snake Creek Gap, and
about half way through the gap, arriving at twelve o clock, M.,
a distance of fourteen miles. Here I was ordered to put the
brigade into camp, and to widen and put in good condition


that part of the road through the gap, between where Gen.
Williams, of the ist Division, was encamped, and the camp
of my brigade, to make the road of sufficient capacity to
allow two wagon trains and a column of infantry to march
abreast. I divided the work into as many sections as I had
regiments, and as soon as the tools were provided, put as
many men on the road as could be advantageously em
ployed. By nightfall I had that portion of the road appor
tioned to my brigade completed as ordered.

On the 1 2th, at ten o clock, A. M., the brigade broke camp
and marched through the Gap, a distance of four miles, and
took up a portion in a single deployed line in rear of the
1 5th A. C.

On the 1 3th, at nine A. M., pursuant to orders, the brigade
marched, with the army of which it forms a part, upon the
enemy at Resaca. The brigade formed its front line of bat
tle about two o clock, P. M., at right angles to the line formed
in the crest of a hill running east and west by the 2d Brig
ade, and perpendicular to and crossing the road leading
from Dalton to Rome. While in this position the I36th N.
Y. were, by an order delivered by Maj.-Gen. Hooker in per
son, detached from the line, and ordered to make a recon-
noissance toward the enemy s lines, and ascertain whether
there was a road by which artillery could be placed in posi
tion on a hill in our front and near the enemy. The recon-
noissance was made as directed, and on its return Lt.-Col.
Faulkner, the commanding officer of the regiment, reported
that the hill in question was in the possession of the troops
of the 1 5th A. C. The brigade, by order, then changed its
position to the rear of the left of the I5th A. C., where it
was held in reserve in column by division. After sundown
I was ordered to relieve Carline s Brigade of the I4th A. C.,
then in position in two lines on the crest of a wooded hill in
our front, connecting on its right with the i 5th A. C. Owing
to the woods and the darkness the task was not an easy one ;
but it was accomplished with reasonable promptness. The
brigade made its connections with the I5th A. C. on
the right, and Ward s Brigade of the division on the left,


and bivouacked for the night. In front of us, was a valley
through which ran a creek. On the opposite side of the
valley and distant about six hundred yards, was a chain of
hills occupied by the enemy. These hills he was diligently
engaged in fortifying during the night. On the morning of
the I4th of May the enemy s skirmishers and sharpshooters
opened fire upon our skirmish line ; but owing to the long
range our casualties were not numerous. The brigade held
the position during the day. After dark of this day, I was
ordered to protect the men by works in their front, to be
made of logs and earth, and to be thrown up with as little
noise as possible, so as not to attract the enemy s attention.
The men immediately commenced the work, but before it
was completed and at about twelve o clock, M.,of the night,
the brigade was relieved by Gen. Morgan s Brigade of the
I4th A. C. Upon being relieved the brigade marched to the
open field in the rear of the position it occupied, and bi
vouacked till morning.


On the morning of the I5th, at daylight, the brigade,
with the division of which it forms a part, marched to the
Dalton and Resaca road, on the extreme left of our army.
Here I received the following order from Maj.-Gen. Butter-
field, commanding the division :

" Col. WOOD, Com dg Brigade :

" The division will move to attack the enemy s line. The
column of attack will be formed by Gen. Ward s Brigade,
Col. Coburn supporting on his right, Col. Wood on his left.
Gen. Ward will form his column by regimental front, and
push a bold and vigorous attack with bayonets ; a strong
line of skirmishers in front. Col. Coburn will form on his
right and rear in echelon with two lines. Col. Wood will
form on Gen. Ward s left and rear in echelon, will guard his
left flank and support the assault. Gen. Ward s column
will keep well to the right of the Dalton road.


I moved my brigade forward to the hill referred to and
placed it in the formation directed. Before the attack was or-

dered Maj. Tremain, Act g A. D. C, on Maj-Gen. Butterfield s
Staff, came to me, and said that the situation of the ground
was somewhat different from what it was understood to be at
the time the written orders were issued ; that instead of
acting as a support to Gen. Ward, it was assigned to me
to assault and take the hill then in my front, and that the

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Online LibraryUnited States. Army of the CumberlandReport of the operations of the 3d Brigade, 3d Division of the 20th Army Corps in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 → online text (page 1 of 6)