Whitelaw Reid.

Ohio in the war : her statesmen, her generals, and soldiers (Volume 2) online

. (page 136 of 165)
Online LibraryWhitelaw ReidOhio in the war : her statesmen, her generals, and soldiers (Volume 2) → online text (page 136 of 165)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

night. At daylight the party was attacked by an overwhelming force ; the infantry and artillery
were thrown into confusion at first, but soon recovered, and succeeded in getting into good order
for retreat. Meanwhile the cavalry sustained the whole force of the battle, covering the rear.
It dismounted and saved the whole force from disaster. The highest commendations were
lavished upon them for the courage and daring displayed. Major Smith and three men of
company K were slightly wounded, and seven horses of that company were wounded and

On the 25th the battalion engaged Rebel cavalry at Blackland, and captured five prisoners,
horses, and arms. On the 3d of July company K, under command of Captain Owens, had a
skirmish at Rienzi. On the 10th, in another skirmish between Rienzi and Blackland, four Rebel
prisoners were taken. On the 18th the battalion moved to attack and surprise a Rebel camp
near Jumpertown. It captured nine prisoners, twenty horses, and a large quantity of blankets,
arms, and equipments.

Thus ended the history of the Third Battalion, Fifth Cavalry, as an independent command.
While this battalion acted independently it was engaged in forty-seven skirmishes and actions,
great and small. It captured more than three hundred prisoners, and as many horses and mules.
It made marches and scouts over fifteen hundred miles. It lost by killed and captured not over
twenty-five men and horses, and had wounded in action fourteen, eight of whom were in one

Resting but one day after the union of the three battalions, the regiment commenced the
work to which it had been ordered — the protection of Corinth and the railroad thence to Mem-
phis — by marching southward along the Mobile Railroad to attack a brigade of the enemy's cav-
alrv under Colonel Anderson, which it met and drove through Baldwin, and as far south as
Guntown, without loss. It returned with a number of prisoners.

It was now assigned to the Second Brigade of Cavalry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Heath
assigned to the command of the brigade. The nature of the duty was arduous, and the com-
mand was almost constantly scouring the country for a hundred miles south of Corinth, haying
many severe skirmishes with the enemy's cavalry, always driving them, and capturing many
prisoners. On one of these marches, in the latter part of August, Major Rader, commanding
the second battalion of the regiment (in violation of express orders to keep the column closed
up), in making a night march, halted a short time ; then moving rapidly on, took the wrong
fork at a junction of roads, and not overtaking the column, marched for ten miles, when he
was overtaken by orderlies from Colonel Heath (who had detected his absence), with orders to
counter-march at once. Knowing that the enemy was near him, he supposed it safer to proceed

Fifth Ohio Cavalry. 783

to Corinth, some thirty miles in his front, than counter-march as ordered. Continuing his march
in passing by a narrow causeway through a densely-wooded swamp, he was ambuscaded by Major
Ilamm with a regiment of Eebels. The battalion was completely stampeded, the frightened
horses rearing and plunging madly to the rear. Nine men and thirty-five horses were lost.
Finding the battalion did not return, and knowing it would certainly be attacked, Colonel
Heath moved after it, and at three o'clock in the morning came tip to the scene of disaster and
gathered up the men, most of whom had hidden in the swamp. He recovered a large number
of horses running loose, but could not come up with the enemy.

On the 26th of September Lieutenant-Colonel Heath was mustered as Colonel, though he
had for some time commanded the brigade of five regiments as Lieutenant- Colonel. He was
precluded from promotion for more than a year by the delay in the resignation of the Colonel,
who had been at Memphis on " detached duty."

On the 16th of October Colonel Heath, then at Camp Davis, eight miles from Corinth,
received the following dispatch :

"Head-Quarters, Corinth, Mississippi, October 16, 1863.
" Colonel Heath: Report to me in person at once.

"W. T. Sherman, Major-General."

On his reporting to the General, who had but just arrived to move his army to the aid of the
Army of the Cumberland, Sherman inquired how many horses the regiment had fit for a lon<*
march, and how soon the command could move. On being informed of the condition and num-
ber of the mount, and that, if necessary, the regiment could march at daylight next morning, he
said: "I want you to go with me, Colonel. March at daylight in the morning toward Chatta-

The regiment, in anticipation of spending the winter at Camp Davis, had built a perfect
camp — small houses of split poplar logs, with large hospital, and every camp convenience; yet, on
receiving the order, with wild cheers the whole command commenced the work of stripping for
the march, and at daylight the next morning left their comfortable quarters for their second
winter campaign. Taking the advance of Major-General Osterhaus's division, Fifteenth Army
Corps, the second battalion, Third United States Cavalry, was united to the Fifth Ohio, under
Colonel Heath. While advancing toward Tuscumbia, Alabama, on the 20th of October, the
enemy showed in force at Cherokee Station. A brisk fight was soon brought on. The advance-
guard, under Captain B. W. Thompson, was fighting against superior numbers — the enemy being
posted on a hill, and protected by the monuments and tombstones of a graveyard, from behind
which they fired, when a gallant charge of the Fifth Ohio drove them beyond Barton Station
some seven miles. The Fifth camped near Caney Creek without unsaddling, and throwing out
heavy pickets on all sides, as the enemy was evidently getting re-enforcements. During the
night he made many attacks on the pickets, in one of them killing several men of squadron A.
About midnight General Osterhaus sent up to the Colonel a section of artillery and a battalion
of infantry ; but at four o'clock in the morning it was deemed best to fall back to the division,
which was done; and, just after unsaddling the wearied horses to feed, the enemy again attacked
the outposts in great force. Hastily saddling, the regiment again sallied forth and engaged
them ; and so far from being a mere cavalry attack, it was found to be so heavy that the greater
part of the division was immediately put under arms and ordered to the support. One battalion
of the Fifth was ordered to guard each flank, so that the brunt of the attack was borne by the
infantry. Some of the regiments suffered severely ; and the Eebels, finding a heavier force than
they supposed, withdrew after an engagement of three hours. Drizzling skirmishes occupied
the 22d and 23d of October, the Rebels abnost environing the division, and foiling every attempt
to procure forage from the adjacent country for the animals of the command; and at two A. M.
of the next day charged the picket-post of Lieutenant Bumill, squadron G, but before the
regiment arrived on the ground, the attack had been repulsed with a loss to the enemy of sev-
eral horses and prisoners. As had been the case several times before, the regiment had scarcely

784 Ohio in the War.

returned to camp, and unsaddled to feed and give the backs of the animals rest, when another
post was attacked, and the tired men and horses again went to the front on the gallop in intense
cold, and for ten hours sustained an unequal fight with Eebel cavalry and mounted infantry, but
with comparatively small loss.

It being of the utmost importance to keep the enemy in the dark as to the preparations for
crossing the river at Chickasaw, Osterhaus, on the morning of the 26th, sent the trains with
escort to Dickson Station, and with the entire division (the Fifth Ohio in advance) started before
daylight for Tuscumbia, driving the enemy continually, occupying the town, capturing a number
of prisoners, destroying large quantities of Eebel army supplies, and returning three days after-
ward. Though in this expedition the enemy had not risked a general engagement, they were
scarcely ever out of sight. They promptly followed the division back to its encampment, and
upon the next morning drove in the pickets and attacked impetuously in force, pushing their
lines to within a short distance of the General's head-quarters before they were repulsed.

The Fifth, in this engagement, as in the eight days of almost constant fighting preceding it,
did its whole duty, and won weighty compliments from General Osterhaus and staff*. Here the
regiment drew two fine twelve-pound mountain howitzers, which were christened "Lady Heath''
and " Lady Bumill," and assigned to squadron G.

The preparations for crossing being completed, and some of the divisions having already
crossed, the First Division, with the Fifth Ohio as rear-guard — the enemy still following up —
marched to the Tennessee, and on the 3d of November effected a crossing. It again took the
advance of the division, passing Gravelly Springs, Cypress Mills, Florence, Pulaski, Mount
Zion, Fayetteville, Elk Eiver, Branchville, Eock Spring, New Market, Maysville, Paint Bock,
Larkinsville, Bellefonte, Stevenson, Bridgeport, Whitesides, and up to Chattanooga, near where
a part of the regiment remained during the battles of Chattanooga and Mission Eidge, guarding
trains of the division, while a part served as escorts and couriers upon those fields, and followed
the retreating Eebels as far as Einggold.

On the 28th of November General Grant ordered Colonel Heath to report with his com-
mand to Major-General Sherman at Cleveland, Tennessee, that General having marched to
relieve Burnside, beleaguered at Knoxville. Without food for horses and with scant rations for
the men, who also suffered for clothing and blankets, the command worked all night to cross
Chickamauga Creek, and toiled on over roads almost impassable, through a country destitute of
forage, to overtake General Sherman, who had two days' the start in the march, and had the
advantage in roads. The regiment, after three days' hard marching, reported to Sherman at
Morganton, and assisted to build a bridge over the Little Tennessee Eiver out of the houses of
the town, and then first crossed, taking the advance of Ewing's division.

The third battalion (Major Smith) was detached to join Colonel Long's brigade, which cut
its way through and entered Knoxville, giving Burnside information of Sherman's near
approach ; and two days later Colonel Heath furnished General Sherman an escort, under Lieu-
tenant Giffin, when he went into Knoxville, leaving the troops some ten miles out scouring the
country for corn, and using all the mills in the vicinity to grind meal for the troops.

General Sherman returning on the 7th of December, ordered the regiment, with Smith's
division, to Tellico Plains, to intercept Longstreet's trains, said to have gone that way into
North Carolina. Finding it impossible to overtake the enemy's trains, General Sherman
ordered Colonel Heath to report to Major-General Howard at Athens, Tennessee, where the
command rested for three days, after marching from Corinth to Knoxville. The regiment was
next ordered to picket the Hiawassee Eiver and establish a courier-line between Loudon and
Hiawassee Bridge, thus opening communication between Generals Grant and Burnside. This
duty was performed through a month of intensely cold weather, the command subsisting entirely
off the country, when, under orders from General Grant, the regiment next marched to report to
Major-General Logan at Larkinsville, Alabama.

Telegraph wires were taken for miles, twisted together for a cable, then stretched across the
river, and an old flatboat repaired, and with men continually baling to keep the craft afloat, in

Fifth Ohio Cavaley. 785

one day and two nights of constant work the command was ferried over the Hiawassee Paver,
then at flood-height. The terrible condition of the roads and the hard winter-weather told
severely on the troops, the regiment having lost nearly seven hundred horses in the campaign,
and having a large number of men fit for the hospital on arriving at Larkinsville.

After a week's rest at this point, the regiment crossed the Tennessee on a pontoon, as advance-
guard of Smith's division, and marched to within twenty-five miles of Rome, Georgia, when the
expedition was ordered back, and the regiment reported to General Logan, who had moved his
head-quarters to Huntsville.

Vriien Logan started for Sherman's army, taking with him, as escort, squadrons D and I, the
regiment was assigned to the Third Division, Fifteenth Army Corps. During the spring it
effected a veteran organization. The regiment here manned several outposts some miles from
Huntsville, engaged in many expeditions, and, in common with the infantry, assisted in the con-
struction of a splendid defensive work, for the most part blasted out of solid rock, upon the
highest point in the town.

On June 22, 1864, the Third Division, with the Fifth Ohio in advance, took up its march
to Kingston, Georgia, and passing Brownsboro', Paint Pock, Bellefonte, Stevenson, Bridgeport,
Chattanooga, Einggold, Tunnel Hill, Dalton, Calhoun, Pesaca, Adairsville, Kingston, and Cass-
ville, arrived at Cartersville on the 13th of July. The hard service had dismounted several hun-
dred of the men; and, as it was impossible to get a re-mount, they had to act as infantry.
Being unused to walking, this long march was particularly hard on them. Here the regiment
remained during the remainder of the summer, protecting the railroad from the almost inces-
sant attacks of the Pebel cavalry, a duty which required constant, rapid, and arduous marches.

The battle at Allatoona, seven miles from the camp of the Fifth, was participated in by but
a small detachment of this regiment, the main portion of which, excepting squadrons F and L,
which had been ordered to head-quarters, Seventeenth Army Corps, were engaged in guarding
the bridges of the Etowah, both above and below Cartersville, against the enemy, who were
threatening that post, and in making forced marches in escorting supplies for the main army
below, which were in danger.

In retaliation for repeated outrages by guerrilla-bands, which had been raised and harbored
in Canton and Cassville, General John E. Smith, Third Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, ordered
their destruction ; and on the 31st of October, with five hundred cavalry and two howitzers,
Colonel Heath made the march to those towns, swam the Etowah near Canton, dispersed the
Pebel force, burned the two towns (churches excepted) to the ground, and reached Cartersville
on the night of the 5th of November, to find orders transferring the regiment to General Kil-
patrick's cavalry division,- to move immediately.

On the 7th the regiment left Cartersville, and passing Allatoona, Acworth, Big Shanty, and
Kenesaw, joined Kilpatrick's division on the 8th, and were assigned to the Second Brigade, Colonel
Atkins. Here the work of concentrating the cavalry, and supplies, and munitions had been going
on for some days, but so short was the time allowed for this work that it was found impossible to
procure horses or supplies of clothing, which the men greatly needed. Hundreds of men, whose
horses had given out from previous hard service, and could not be mounted, were organized into
a dismounted brigade. The First Ohio Squadron, Captain Dalzell, was here attached to the Fifth
Ohio. The cavalry left Marietta on the morning of the 14th of November, 1864, leaving the
railroad totally destroyed for miles, and that city little better than smoking ruins. It arrived at
battle-scarred Atlanta the same night, and before dawn the next morning, lighted by that terrible
conflagration, commenced the " March to the Sea."

The position of the cavalry was on the right of the Army of the Tennessee, which was the
right wing of the army, and the route took in Jonesboro', Lovejoy's Station, Bear Creek Station,
Giffin, crossing the Ocmulgee at Planters' Factory, Clinton (near) Macon, Gr"i6wold Station.
On the 24th of November they reached Milledgeville, the capital. At many of these points
severe engagements were had between the Rebel cavalry and different parts of the command, in
which the Fifth participated. A halt of but a few days was made at Milledgeville, and the col-
Yol. II.— 50.

786 Ohio in the War.

umn again started eastward, crossing the Occonee and making for Millen to release the National
prisoners, but they had been removed. After burning bridges and destroying the railroad for miles,
and successfully repulsing several attacks of Wheeler's whole force, it retired to Lewisville and
awaited the arrival of the infantry.

During the fighting at Buckhead Creek at this time, the Fifth Ohio and its howitzer section
performed splendid service, which was acknowledged by General Kilpatrick, and the Colonel was
brevetted Brigadier-General to date from that engagement. Wheeler having occupied a position
at Waynesboro', the command now moved and attacked him, but the strength of his barricades
was too great, and a second assault was ordered after the enemy's guns had been well-nigh
silenced by our artillery. Moore's "Kilpatrick and our Cavalry" says: "This was the favorable
moment for the attack. Accordingly the charge was sounded, and the whole line, in magnificent
order, advanced without a moment's halt, took the barricades, and the enemy was forced to retire.
After falling back some hundred yards he made several counter-charges to check our rapid ad-
vance, so as to enable him to relieve his dismounted men; and he was at one time almost success-
ful, when he was attacked in flank by Colonel Heath, with the Fifth Ohio Cavalry which had
been sent out on our right. The enemy yielded to this charge, gave way, and beaten at all
points, rapidly fell back to the town of Waynesboro', where he took up a new position." The
same work — which has been approved by General Kilpatrick — says: "The charge was sounded.
The brave men advanced on the Rebels with impetuosity, drove them out of their position, and
taking possession of the town, followed up their routed forces in hot pursuit with the Fifth Ohio,
Fifth Kentucky, and Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry. The pursuit continued to Brier Creek, eight
miles distant from the place where the enemy had first been attacked. The railroad bridge was
burned, and the railroad destroyed by tearing up and burning the track."

The Fifth was in all the operations of the command, many of them arduous and dangerous,
until after the fall of Savannah, when it was placed south of the Ogeechee, near King's Bridge.
General Kilpatrick, in his official report of the Waynesboro' engagements, says: "Judging from
the enemy's killed and wounded left on the field, his loss must have been severe, as upward of

two hundred left in our hands were wounded by the saber alone We have three time?

crossed from left to right, and right to left, in front of our army, and have marched upward of

five hundred and forty-one miles since the 14th day of November Colonel Heath and

his regiment, Fifth Ohio, at Buckhead Creek Tenth Ohio, Fifth Ohio, Ninth Michigan,

at Waynesboro', December 4th, have all, at the various places mentioned, behaved most hand-
somely and attracted my especial attention."

At Savannah the cavalry had about three weeks in which to rest the horses, procure
supplies of ammunition and subsistence. Then, with a by-no-means full supply of clothing,
it prepared, in the words of the dashing Kilpatrick, " to go for the Carolinians." The com-
mand left its camp on Little Ogeechee, January 28, 1865, moved to Sister's Ferry, and on the
night of February 3d crossed the Savannah and, for the first time, trod the "sacred soil" of chiv-
alric South Carolina.

Robertsville (burned), Lawtonville, Allendale, Barnwell (burned), and Blackville were each
occupied and passed by the cavalry, with no engagement beyond the daily skirmishes of the ad-
vance-guard with the enemy's cavalry, until Williston was reached, where on the 8th of February
the Third Brigade, of which the Fifth was now a part, composed of the First Alabama, Fifth
Ohio, and Fifth Kentucky, completely routed, in a gallant charge, the Rebel General Hagan's Bri
gade of six regiments, capturing five battle-flags and a number of prisoners.

Destroying the railroad at Windsor, the command arrived at Johnson's Station on the 10th
and built barricades that night. One brigade, with artillery, was left to hold them, while the
other two brigades marched on Aiken, five miles distant, which they captured; but being at-
tacked by Wheeler's force added to Cheatham's infantry, they were forced to retire to the works.
Here the enemy again attacked, but were repulsed with loss. The object of the feint on Augusta
being accomplished, the command again took up its place on the exposed flank of the army, pass-
ing, with continual skirmishing and over horrible roads, the South and North Edisto, Lexington

Fifth Ohio Cavaley. 787

C. H. (which was in part accidentally burned), Saluda Eiver, Broad Eiver, Monticello, the Wa-
teree, avoiding Winnsboro' and Camden, reached Lancaster C. H. on the 2Gth of February.

Several of our cavalrymen had been captured while out foraging, and were cruelly mur-
dered, mangled, and placed in the road with a label, "Death to all foragers ! " Kilpatrick rested
here one day, and visited Wheeler under flag of truce in regard to these inhuman atrocities, and
it was understood that they were disavowed by that Eebel. On the 6th of March the Lynch and
Peedee were crossed, and Eockingham C. H, North Carolina, was occupied after a severe skir-
mish. On the 8th and 9th incessant rains made the roads almost impassable, but as Hardee and
Hampton were both moving rapidly for Fayetteville, the column pressed forward as fast as possi-
ble. General Kilpatrick with the Third Brigade, four hundred dismounted men and one section
of artillery, having the advance, and camping (after a sharp action with the enemy in which his
escort of Lieutenant Shaw and fifteen men of squadron K, Fifth Ohio, were captured) at Monroe's
Cross Eoads, awaiting the arrival of the other brigades. These brigades, however, having in the
darkness to travel over the worst possible roads, and encountering both Hardee's infantry and a
heavy force of Eebel cavalry, failed to reach the General until after the desperate engagement of
the next day. Before daylight of the 10th the camp of the weary Third Brigade was charged by
three divisions of Eebel cavalry led by Hampton, and great numbers of the men sabered while ris-
ing from their blankets. The suddenness of the attack insured its success, and nearly the whole
command was driven from the position to a swamp a few hundred yards to the rear. Here, hav-
ing time to recover from their surprise, they formed and, with such arms as they had been able to
grasp while almost under the feet of the horses of the Eebels, and assisted by a few gallant spirits
of each regiment who had successfully held their ground under cover of the timber, the dis-
mounted, but now maddened cavalrymen, returned the charge of the Eebels and caused them to
break. At the same time they regained the guns and opened on the Eebel mass but a few rods
distant. Their confusion was thus increased, and they were driven from the field and the head-
quarters recaptured. The Eebels left their dead and large numbers of the wounded on the field.
This final victory was, however, a dearly bought one The loss of the Fifth, in this afl'air alone,
in killed, wounded, and missing was seventy-three, including Adjutant Haldeman, Lieutenants
Peters and Snyder, and Surgeon Eannels captured.

A few daj r s later the Cape Fear was crossed, and the command again had hard fighting near
Averysboro'. On the 16th it fought both mounted and dismounted, upon the flanks of the
infantry, doing excellent service. During the battle of Bentonville a few days later, the cavalry
was under arms upon the field, but did not take active part in the battle. It encamped at Mount
Olive and Faison's Depot for a week or two, and on April 10th the march was again commenced.
A few days later Ealeigh was gained with but a slight skirmish, the Fifth Ohio being the first regi-
ment to enter the city and unfurl the regimental flag from the dome of the capitol. Johnston's
army having retreated to Hillsboro', the cavalry was immediately ordered to follow and occupy
the western line, which it held until after the surrender of the last formidable Eebel army.
Upon the surrender General Heath was ordered with the Third Brigade, which now consisted of

Online LibraryWhitelaw ReidOhio in the war : her statesmen, her generals, and soldiers (Volume 2) → online text (page 136 of 165)