part of a volume entitled Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County by George H. Woodruff
Submitted by Merryann Palmer, email@example.com, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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"Here we remained until the afternoon of the 8th, hearing occasional firing around us. About four p.m. of this day we moved a little to the left, and stacked arms near the base of Rocky Face Ridge, the northern extremity of which had been carried during the forenoon by Harker's brigade of our division, and we were moved up to support him if necessary. But all was quiet, and at night we moved back near our late camp. Next morning we returned to the foot of the Ridge; every available article was filled with water, and the ascent commenced. It is about one and a half miles high, the sides very steep, and we had all we could do to get up. When the top was reached we rested, and had a splendid view of the surrounding region, and could also get a pretty good idea of our relative position with respect to the rest of the army. To the right lay Tunnell Hill, the town surrounded by large parks of wagons, loaded with rations and ammunition, and near by, the camps of Thomas, Hooker and others, and in the back ground old Lookout towering grandly. To the left, and in front we should see part of the rebel line of works, and down in the valley Schofield's corps was advancing slowly in line of battle. We watched their skirmishers deploy and advance cautiously. In our immediate front on a part of the ridge called "Buzzard's Roost," Harker's brigade was skirmishing. They had driven the enemy back to a fort on the highest point of the ridge, and both sides were firing away. Stretcher bearers passed us occasionally with a wounded man. About 4 p.m. our brigade was ordered forward, and moved along the crest of the mountain a little way, then filed down and advanced in line of battle along the side, which was cut with deep ravines. The men stumbled slowly along. The enemy opened a brisk fire, and quite a number in the brigade were wounded, but none in our regiment. When about to advance some of the pioneer boys asked Gen. Wagner what they should do with their axes, shovels, picks, etc. "Throw them to the devil," was the general's reply. A few days after, when they were wanted the general asked them why they did not return and pick them up. The reply was, "We would not go to the devil for anything." The general wheeled on his horse with a smile, and called them his d--d suckers, and the boys cheered.
"About dark we went to the top again, and about ten, orders came for the 100th to go to the front. It was very dark, and the further we proceeded the steeper the ridge became, and nothing but a buzzard would or could roost thereon. Three companies went out to the picket line, the rest taking refuge behind some stone breastworks. Firing was kept up by the pickets most of the night; and the next dy (the 10th) the position was such that the boys could not stir from their shelter without being hit. Here we lost Sergt. Holmes, of Co. G, of whom we ought to say a word or two.
"Sergt. Holmes was one of our best soldiers, one of the most fearless. At Mission Ridge when our regiment was ordered to fall back, he remained at the advance, and having a six shooter he deliberately stopped beside a stump on which he piled his cartridges, and stayed there loading and firing with deliberation at the rebels, plainly visible, and remained in this position without harm until the regiment again advanced and drove the enemy, when the fruits of his skill as a marksman were seen in a pile of dead rebels. And now on Rocky Face Ridge, after he had been relieved, instead of going back out of harm's way, he thought he would do a little fighting on his own hook, and went out with his six shooter, and got behind a stump and fired away again. But he presently discovered that some of the enemy's sharp-shooters were playing the same game with him. He stuck his hat upon his ramrod above the stump and it was quickly filled with holes. Getting short of ammunition he crept out to a dead rebel and emptied his cartridge box and crept back again and sang out "Now rebs, I am going to give you some of your own pills." But after a while he got careless and a rebel bullet struck him square in the forehead, and Sergt. Holmes' fighting days were over. Three other men were wounded at this place. Just after dark the regiment was relieved by the 40th Indiana, and went back to eat and rest. That night we had a tremendous storm, and the artillery of heaven was exploding at such a rate as to put shame that of man, both union and rebel. next day our regiment was in the reserve. On the 12th we descended the mountain and went to a gap at the north of the ridge. Soon after noon there was a demonstration made in front by cavalry and infantry, and our position was changed a little, and breastworks thrown up. But all was quiet, and we camped there that night.
"The next day we moved around the end of the ridge and down the valley east of it where we had seen Scholfield's corps three days previous. We found Dalton evacuated, and passed through the rebel works which were quite strong. But Sherman had flanked them and they had retired. We halted in town for an hour, finding it mostly deserted. In the afternoon we moved about seven miles, going slowly, as the advance were skirmishing more or less all the way.
"On the 14th we moved in line of battle, our brigade in the ..........................(bottom of page 328 copied poorly)....... won from the enemy the day before. Two regiments were required to hold them, and were relieved every for hours. We had two wounded that day,neither of them very severely. That night we were aroused by an unusual uproar of cannonading and musketry. The enemy made a charge on part of our lines, but were speedily repulsed. In the morning (the 16th) the enemy had folded their tents and silently stolen away. Here we found in the morning some scalps of our boys hung on the bushes, seemingly intended to make us think that they had Indian troops and thus intimidate us. But this barbarity only enraged our men, some of them expressed the vow that they would stay in the army until the rebels were whipped if it took twenty years.
"We took possession of their works which were very strong, and several miles in extent, encircling the town of Resacca, with the Oostenaula river for a back ground. In fact their works reached to Tunnell Hill, 14 miles above. Everything indicated that the enemy had suffered severely during the two days previous. The army all concentrated in town; the inhabitants had departed with the rebel army. Some commissary stores and forage was captured, and a battery and some two or three hundred prisoners.
"Major Generals Sherman, Thomas, Hooker, Howard, Stanley, Sickles, and a host of "one-starred generals" were to be seen gathered together under the shade of the trees, discussing matters. The enemy burned the railroad bridge, but our pioneers were soon at work rebuilding. At 3 p.m. we crossed upon a foot-bridge that had been built, and we pushed out about five miles, camping near Calhoun.
"On the 17th we moved early, Sherman's brigade in the advance; thy skirmished with the enemy all day, but did not met much opposition until 4 p.m., when a brisk fire sprung up............(bottom of page 329 copied poorly)..................
We moved on lively until dark, and camped in a wheat-field, which was not much improved in its prospects for a crop by our visit. Here we got a good night's rest which was much needed. On the 19th we went on through Kingston, and after passing it we heard cannonading and musketry ahead, but we did not come under fire. Went into camp after dark, about four miles beyond Kingston. Here we remained until the 23d and had a chance to rest, which was greatly needed, as our corps had been in advance all the way, and all the regiments had been engaged more or less. About noon on the 23d we started again, our corps leaving the main road and going to the right on that and the following day, although making but a few miles each day on account of the state of the road, and the number of troops upon it. Wednesday, the 25th, strong symptoms of the presence of the enemy again manifest themselves. Hooker's corps had quite a battle from 4 p.m. until dark. We had been hurried up to their support, but it was dark before we were in line. The troops had had nothing to eat since morning, and were obliged to spend the night wet and hungry, leaning against trees and dozing as best they could, ready to be called up at any moment. In the morning breastworks were thrown up, and about nine o'clock time was given for breakfast. At noon our regiment was sent to the front, and two companies to the skirmish line, where they remained until ten a.m. next day. Although much exposed, only two were slightly wounded. While out there the other regiments had been engaged in strengthening breastworks and panting more cannon. About noon the skirmish line was strengthened and orders given to press the enemy. They did so,driving them within their breastworks, keeping up a pretty sharp firing until dark. The loss in the brigade was two killed and 25 wounded. Capt. Burrell, of Co. D, and Le Roy Jewell, a private in Co. A, were both instantly killed on the 30th of May and one other slightly injured. Jewell was on the picket line and was lying behind a log, but unfortunately he had selected a rotten one, and the rebel bullet passed clean through it and hit him square in the head. He never knew what hurt him. Capt. Burrell had just been back to the camp in hope of seeing Col. Bartleson who was hourly expected, and was instantly killed on his return to the skirmish line. Col. Bartleson arrived a short time after and was most cordially welcomed by the rest of the regiment, but poor Burrell and jewell could offer no congratulations! In Capt. Burrell the regiment lost one of its most efficient officers. When Col. Bartleson saw the thinned ranks of the regiment, he exclaimed, "My God! boys, is this all there is left of you?" and the tears rolled down his cheeks when told of Burrell's and Jewell's death. The regiment remained in this position until the 5th or 6th of June.
"The distance between the rifle pits of the two lines was about fifty yards, so that they could talk to each other,and during the last few days, the soldiers in them would enter into a truce on their own account, agreeing not to fire on each other for a certain length of time.
"About the 5th of June, the enemy did not answer to roll call, and we moved on again to near Ackworth, where we remained until the 10th. Then we moved on again through rain and mud, about five miles, halting till towards evening of the 11th, then moved another mile and went upon picket line, staying twenty-four hours. While there, Peter Docey, of Co. H,w was mortally wounded. The other regiments meanwhile had built a line of works. We staid here until Tuesday forenoon, (14th) when our line was pushed forward again a little, and more works built. That night the enemy kept up a pretty brisk firing until half past two a.m., and at daylight were not visible. We moved into their works, staying until noon, and had a chance to examine them. Just to the right was a high bald knob which had been one of their points of observation, and from which they could see all over the country. They had considerable artillery on it, among which was the famous Washington battery of New Orleans, three members of which were captured. It was here that Bishop, Gen. Leonidas Polk, was killed by a shot from our artillery. There has been some little discussion recently in the papers in relation to this incident, and some dispute as to what battery finished the earthly career of this reverend rebel general. But a member of the battery now residing in Joliet, says that battery "M" 1st Ill. Art. did it, and the prisoners taken the next day, said that they had charged his death to battery "M." In this battery, our county had five representatives.
"Looking to the front we could see on the right, Lost Mountain, and on the left Kenesaw, the rebel lines reaching from one to the other, and beyond lay Marietta. Soon after noon we began to move forward, and during the afternoon orders came for our brigade to make a charge. The necessary preparations were made knapsacks, blankets, and everything that was not absolutely necessary, was piled up and left in charge of a guard, and every one braced himself up to do his duty. It is a serious moment, and though not given to much show of feeling, every soldier cannot at such a time but think of the chances that are against him. Col. Bartleson, who since his return had been in charge of one of the lines of the brigade, asked to be relieved, and came back and took his position at the head of the regiment, and told them that he should lead them. Great was the satisfaction of the men on hearing this, all were ready to follow wherever he might lead them. But the enemy slowly gave way before our advance, going inside of another line of their works; and we held the crest of the hill, while heavy firing was to be heard on the right, where it was said that Hooker and Scholfield were driving the enemy. Our division build more works, night came on and no charge was ordered.
"During the night, the pioneers strengthened the works, and artillery was planted all along the line. This artillery opened about 9 a.m. next morning, (16th), and shelled the enemy's works for some time, but elicited no response. The remainder of the day was tolerably quiet, and we waited, speculating as to what was to be the next movement - fight or flank.
"Some of the prisoners taken about this time, were credited with saying, that all Sherman had to do was to sa,"Attention creation, by kingdom's right wheel," and Johnson was flanked. An old woman on the road, said that "Johnson could whip you'ns, if you'ns did not carry a flanking machine with every regiment;" while an Atlanta paper said that, "If Sherman had Johnson driven into hell, he would not be satisfied until he had flanked him out."
"That night our line was pushed forward again a little, more works built, and next morning, the 17th, the enemy was gone from our immediate front, and the direction of our line was changed. That day we were not under fire. The enemy made a charge during the day on Palmer's front, but were repulsed.
"We went into camp that night with orders to get up at one, have breakfast, and be ready to go to the front at two and a half o'clock. Even that short time allotted to sleep, was interrupted three times in consequence of the breaking out of heavy firing at the front.
"About 3 a.m. of the 18th, the 26th Ohio, 57th Indiana, and the 100th Illinois, moved out to the skirmish line. It commenced to rain about daylight, and poured down in torrents all the forenoon. During this time a little affair came off, which, though small, compared with the heavier engagements, was decidedly brilliant. The regiments mentioned lay about the center of an open field, and the enemy was behind a line of works just at the edge of a piece of woods, and on a rise of round. Firing had been pretty lively all the morning, and between nine and ten, those of us in the rear were aroused by the increased firing there, and the cheering. We jumped to our feet, and saw that our Col. Bartleson was making a charge with his line. It was successful, and they gained possession of the first line of works. For a few moments it was feared that they could not hold it, on account of lack of ammunition, but they were supported by Harker's brigade and kept it. They captures about fifty prisoners. The balance of the day was spent behind the captured works, the enemy being behind their second line. Six members of the regiment were wounded during the day. Gen. Harker said it was as splendid a specimen of charging as he ever saw."
Another writer, (an officer of the regiment), thus describes this affair:
"On the morning of the 18th of June, about 3 a.m., the 100th was ordered to relieve the 3d Kentucky. This order had to be executed before daylight, so exposed was the position. About 9 a.m. the commanders of the 100th Illinois, 57th Indiana, and 26th Ohio, conceived the idea of carrying the enemy's works in our front, and after a brief consultation, the word was given - "Prepare to charge! Forward! Double quick, charge!" and never did men respond more beautifully. They carried the first line of the rebel works, and held them against several attempts of the enemy to retake them with heavy columns.
"When the shouts of victory went up, the noise reached Newton, the division commander, who sent for Wagner, the brigade commander, and wanted to know what was up. Gen. Wagner replied that he couldn't tell what his d--d tigers were about. They were moving without orders, and he would have them court martialed. But when they learned of the success of the movement they were satisfied. (In war more, even than in civil life, perhaps, success covers a multitude of sins.) The affair was entirely impromptu, and so sudden and dashing that the rebs were taken by surprise. The 100th captured fourteen prisoners and one lieutenant."
"The next morning the enemy's works were again empty in our front, and we moved on a little, and on the 20th we were in reserve, and had a chance to rest. During that day we had a chance to witness some fine artillery practice between our batteries in the valley, and those of the enemy on Kenesaw. Far in the rear as we were, one stray bullet found its way to our position, instantly killing Samuel Aspinwall, (of Co. I) who was lying down at the time. Just before dark the firing, which had been pretty constant all day, increased, and our brigade started in on the double quick to support Stanley, who had made a charge. Not being needed they came back, put up shelter and hoped for a night's rest. But it was not to be. About nine we were moved to the rear of Stanley's again, and twice before midnight were roused up to go to his relief, but not being needed, returned. Next morning, (21st), moved to the right of our corps, were in reserve till about 3 p.m., when the musketry increasing we were moved up to the second line of works, and remained there till next morning. It then became the turn of our brigade to occupy the front line, the 97th Ohio going upon the skirmish line. The forenoon was pretty quiet, but afternoon the firing was brisk. The enemy opened a battery on us, but battery "M" 1st Ill., soon silenced them. The skirmish line was then advanced, and were sharply engaged, the 97th Ohio losing about ninety men killed and wounded. Towards evening, three companies of the 100th went to their support, and had one man slightly wounded. The pioneers were employed that night in fixing works the better to protect the skirmish line.
"Our record has now brought us to the 23d day of June, emphatically the dies infaustus of the 100th regiment, the day when we lost our gallant and well-beloved commander, Col. Bartleson. He was on duty as division officer of the day in charge of the skirmish line. The forenoon was very quiet, and he came into regimental headquarters about one o'clock to dinner, and then returned to the line, and soon after the artillery opened for a few minutes, then the skirmish line was ordered to advance, one brigade going to its support. While directing his line, the colonel was obliged to pass a point which was exposed to the enemy's sharpshooters, and he was hit and killed instantaneously. The stretcher bearers of the 57th Ind., (the regiment on the skirmish) seeing him fall went to him at once, and finding him dead, carried the body back of a barn near by, and sent us word. Our own bearers were immediately sent out after the body and brought it in, and the regiment then passed in review by the body to take their last hasty look at one they had so loved and honored. The body was then carried back to the rear, to a spot which had been appropriated as a division cemetery. Generals Harker, Newton and Wagner, came up and exhibited much feeling at the sight. The body was then sent home with an escort from the regiment.
"There were no other casualties in the regiment that day. The lines were advanced to the intended position that evening. We remained behind the works the 24th and 25th. On the last named day Ransom Smith, of Co. G, was wounded. We here give a list of the killed and wounded in the 100th regiment, from the commencement of this campaign, May 3d, up to, and including June 26th, in order of date.
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