part of a volume entitled Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County by George H. Woodruff
Submitted by Merryann Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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When they got back to camp, of course such a phenomenon was reported around the campfires, and manu, both officers and privates, made old man Oomans a visit, and were introduced to the "24th Tennessee Infantry," as they most appropriately named the patriarch's flock.
This seems a big story, but then we always did get big stories from Tennessee! Certainly one of the vices of modern, fashionable society had not yet penetrated into this retired region!
On the 22d, there were two excitements. The first was occasioned by an order of Gen. Wood for the selection of 100 men and officers from the regiment to go upon a hard and dangerous expedition. The regiment was formed in line, and a call made for volunteers. Many more than the required number stepped forth. The strongest were selected, and ordered to get ready at once with three days' rations and sixty rounds of ammunition.
The same number went from the other regiments of the brigade, making a force of four hundred, in charge of Col. Buell. The reported danger and secrecy of the movement, (none but the commander knowing its destination or object) made it quite exciting, both for those who went, and those who remained in camp. The next excitement came after dinner just as the boys were discussing the one of the morning over their post-prandial pipes. An orderly came up in haste, with orders to fall in immediately, as a large force of cavalry was advancing, and was only five miles distant. Tents were forthwith struck, baggage packed with haste, and everything got ready to receive them, and thus the regiment remained until evening, and then rebuilt their tents.
The expedition which went out returned just at night next day, well worn out, having traveled fifty-six miles up and down the mountains. The object has been to capture a steamboat that had run aground on the Tennessee river, and been deserted by the crew; but the rebels had succeeded in getting it off a few hours before their arrival. They were within seven miles of Chattanooga, and brought back a paper of the 20th. On the route, which was through a region of much interest, they found magnificent springs coming out of the sides of the mountain so large and copious as to run mills. They had a very hard and fatiguing trip. Some of the boys got so sleepy marching in the night that they actually slept on the march, and lost their guns while traveling along.
Elder Crews left the regiment while it was in the valley, and gave the boys his farewell address, August 25th. Before we take leave of the chaplain, we must tell one more story of him: While the regiment was lying near Pelham, he thought he would take a bath. He selected a spot which seemed secure from observation, and was enjoying the luxury, when some soldiers, that belonged to another division, and did not known him, came along and spied his gray head in the water. They took him for some old codger of the country, and thought they would have some fun at his expense. So they commenced throwing sticks at him, and ordered him to come out. He remonstrated with them, very mildly at first; but when, instead of desisting, they began to throw stones, the chaplain thought that forbearance was no longer a grace, and he stepped out and went for them. When they saw his elan, and his well-developed muscles, they wheeled and effected a hasty retreat.
The division remained at Thurman's until Sept. 1st, when at 6:30 a.m., it again took up the march. The road was exceedingly dusty, marched twenty miles and camped at 3 o'clock p,m. at Jasper, where they stayed until nearly night the next day. Near Jasper is a large and interesting cave, called "Peter's Cave." This was explored by Sergt. Holmes and others, to the extent of a quarter of a mile. He speaks of it as very beautiful. There was a large round room, the dome of which could not be discerned with the light they had, but a stream of water came down from it with a deafening noise, no aperture could be seen. On a subsequent visit a passage was found and the cave was explored a mile and a half further, and an opening found coming out in another part of the mountain. Saltpeter was manufactured here by the rebels.
Just at night, Sept. 2d, orders came to march to the river seven or eight miles distant. It was a very dark night, and their progress was slow, reaching the river about midnight. The crossing was made on small flat boats which had been captured a few days before. The brigade did not all get over until nearly daylight, and camped about a half mile from the river, in the finest crop of weeds ever seen, so tall and thick that one tent could not be seen from another. This point was known as Shell Mound, from a mound near by. A small brick depot was the extent of the town. A large cave called Nickijack, was near by in which the rebels had manufactured saltpeter quite extensively. It was said by some of the inhabitants that the cave had been explored for seven miles, and others said that it was fourteen in extent. It is second only to the Mammoth Cave, both in extent and beauty. Near this place also is the place where the states of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee touch each other, and it is marked by a stone monument, and one can - if he has large feet - stand in three states at the same time. Many of the boys availed themselves of the opportunity.
On the afternoon of the 5th, the brigade moved eight miles along the railroad. On one side were high rocks, sometimes two hundred feet high, and on the other river. On the 6th, went to Wauhatchie, a station on the North Carolina and Trenton railroad, in Lookout Valley. On the right lay Lookout mountain, and along its ridge could be seen the signal stations of the enemy. All sorts of rumors were rife in camp. They were now within seven miles of the "Gibraltar of the west," as the rebels regarded Chattanooga. A rebel mail and two prisoners were captured here. That night, after most of the men had got to sleep they were awakened and ordered to move back about two miles, rested there until 3:30, when the men were called up again, ordered to cook breakfast without fires. This was a hard job to do, but hard tack and bacon made the meal. The regiment then stood at arms until sunrise, when they were allowed to build fires and have their coffee. The position was then changed a little, and the day spent waiting. Col. Harker's brigade of the division, during the day made a reconnaissance, going about a mile beyond the halting place of the previous night, when the enemy opened upon them with three guns, killing one man, and they returned. Our brigade remained at the same place. On the 9th it was called up at four, and had breakfast. The first order was for the brigade to go forward and reconnoitre, but this was changed, and the whole force moved on, new having come from Gen. Wagner, who was opposite the town, that Chattanooga was evacuated. The brigade was on the advance, and the 100th was the second regiment that entered the town. The road over the end of the mountain was very narrow and rough, but despite that and the heat and dust, the joy of getting possession of this stronghold kept up the spirit of the troops.
The next day the brigade marched out ten miles, meeting some deserters, and seeing small bodies of rebel cavalry. On the 11th, advanced three-quarters of a mile further, where they staid till 5 p.m., hearing occasional firing; then marched until 11, going a little further, and camping on Chickamauga creek. It was a hard march, reminding the boys s of the one which they made before Perryville, the dust being very deep, and no water to be had, and very dark. Here they found Harker's brigade, which had been skirmishing all the afternoon. This place was known as the Lee & Gordon's mills, the house of the proprietors and the mills being all of the town. The rebels had tried to destroy the mills and a large stock of grain in them, but our forces drove them off before they could effect their object.
Here the brigade remained until the memorable 19th of September.
I shall attempt no general description of the great battle on the Chickamauga, where its name was justified - in proving as it did, the "River of Death" to so many brave men, both Union and rebel. My only object is to trace the history of the 100th through this, its second great battle. As we have seen, by a series of masterly movements on the part of Rosecrans, he had manoeuvred Bragg out of the stronghold of Chattanooga, and made him withdraw to the south or east of Chickamauga Creek, where he awaited reinforcements from Longstreet, which, unfortunately for the army of Rosecrans, came in time and in force sufficient to break the Union army into pieces, and to send its broken ranks, after a brave resistance, back to Chattanooga; leaving many a brave soldier dead or wounded on the field, and in the hands of the enemy. Thanks, however to the masterly generalship of Thomas, and the undauntable courage of his command, the enemy though victorious at some points, were not after all masters of the field, and did not succeed in getting possession of the coveted stronghold. In its result, this battle was about equally fatal to both rebel and Union armies, and to the reputation of their several commanders.
In the skirmishing which preceded the battle, the 100th was not seriously engaged. Two brigades of Wood's division, Harker's and Buell's, (Wagner's remaining at Chattanooga) marched out ten and a half miles to Gordon's Mills which they reached on night of the 11th, coming upon the ground which had been occupied the previous night by the corps of the Rev. Rebel Gen. Polk. The camp fires of the enemy could be seen across the creek.
We shall now give the narrative of a member of the regiment:
"Nothing but occasional picket firing occurred in front of our division, until Friday, the 18th, when about noon the rebels made a demonstration, our pickets falling back to the creek, and soon after a force, seemingly a brigade of four regiments, came out of the woods in front of our division, apparently intending to cross the creek at the ford near the mill. But our artillery soon made them take the cover of the woods again. Subsequent events showed that the movement was only designed to mask one on another part of the line; the real design being to pass a force down to our left, cross the creek, and cut our army off from Chattanooga. Part of our forces were therefore moved to our left on the night of the 18th to meet them, and on the morning of the 19th, about 8:30 a.m., an engagement began on our left, continuing through the forenoon, and into the afternoon, our division remaining at Gordon's Mills, until about 3 p.m., when it was ordered to move on the double quick by the flank to the left to support Davis' division, which was being hard pressed. Our brigade was accordingly formed behind the 8th Ind. and 6th Ohio batteries, and commenced to advance in two lines, the 100th Ill. and the 26th Ohio in front. But almost as soon as they had got into position, the troops in front gave way, and came rushing through the lines of our division in wild confusion, a battery running over our men killing one and wounding several others, and compelling the brigade to fall back also, across a narrow field to the edge of the wood where it reformed. In crossing this field they were under a raking fire of the enemy, and suffered considerable loss. The regiment having reformed its lines, an aid of Gen. Wood's came to Col. Bartleson, saying. "Colonel, Gen. Wood wants the 100th to make a bayonet charge on the advancing enemy." The word was given, and the boys responded with a cheer, and charging drove the rebels back across the field into the wood where they rallied, and our regiment endured a short and murderous fire. The enemy then rallied and made a charge upon our troops in turn, and the regiment on the left of the 100th gave way. The 100th maintained its ground until all the troops on both its right and left had given way, and were about to be surrounded, and were getting a sharp fire on either flank as well as in front, when they fell back again, leaving many dead and wounded on the field. Again our brigade rallied and drove the enemy in turn, and again retreated, and again rallied. During the engagement, Major Hammond with a party of volunteers, who promptly responded to his call, retook from the enemy three pieces of the 8th Ind. battery, and hauled them off by the hand. Every inch of ground was hotly contested until night closed the contest, neither side having gained any material advantage. The enemy, however, had been foiled in their effort to break through our lines at this pint, and our brigade held the ground somewhat in advance of its original position. It was here that the rebel Gen.Hood, lost his leg, and the boys of the 100th claim the honor of doing the job for him."
Sergt. Garnsey, after the battle of Franklin, had a conversation with a rebel officer, (who had been taken prisoner) in reference to the Chickamauga battles, and who asked how many brigades we had at this point. When told that we had but one, he was incredulous, and said that they sent in a fresh brigade each charge.
"Night having come on the brigade was placed in a strong position to resist a night attack, and the tired survivors were permitted to gain what rest and refreshment was possible, while details with Surgeon Woodruff and ambulances, gathered up the dead and wounded, as far as they were able; the enemy firing occasionally upon them.
"The casualties in the 100th had been about seventeen killed, one hundred wounded, and twenty-six missing. The captain of Co. H found himself with only seven men in his command. Two officers of the regiment had been wounded. These were Lt. Col. Waterman, who received a flesh wound in the arm, and Lieut. Bartlett, of Co. E, who was wounded in the head. Co. Waterman and Adjutant Roudw had their horses shot under them. How any escaped seemed a wonder to the survivors, as the regiment was for three and a half hours in a shower of leaden hail.
"Next day was the Sabbath, but no day of rest to the armies on the Chickamauga. About four o'clock in the morning, the division was moved back to a position on the left of Crittenden's corps. Early in the day it was ordered to take the place previously occupied by Negley's division, about two miles farther to the left. The division was formed in two lines, first line deployed the second in double column closed in mass. In moving up into position, and throwing out skirmishers, the enemy was aroused; and Col. Bartleson conceived the idea of making a charge, without having received orders to do so. It turned out to be an unfortunate movement. The regiment was led by the Colonel himself in the advance, upon a masked battery, supported by infantry, who opened upon them with terrible effect. The regiment was compelled to fall back in a somewhat demoralized condition to its proper place in the division. But the colonel and some portions of the regiment did not fall back, and their fat was for a time unknown. The major took command of the regiment. In about fifteen minutes after, Col. Buell, the brigade commander, was ordered, either by Wood, commanding the division, or by Crittenden corps commander, (neither general would ever admit the fact), to move to the left to support Reynold's division. Col. Buell hesitated to obey the order, and said to the aid who brought it, "Tell the general that my skirmishers are actively engaged, and I cannot safely make the move." Very soon the officer returned, and gave the orders imperatively. Major Hammond said to Col. Buell, that he would be court-martialed before he would obey the order. Nevertheless the order was put into execution, and in less time than it has taken to write it, the enemy being on the alert, saw the movement, charged through the space made vacant, attacking our brigade in flank. They captured the 8th Ind. battery again, and completely demoralized the brigade, each regiment, and in fact, each individual fighting the balance of the day on its own hook. This unfortunate movement is spoken of in the history of the day as the "fatal gap," and neither division nor corps commander would ever father the order.
"When Col. Bartleson led the charge we have spoken of, and meeting such a rebuff the regiment mostly fell back, the colonel himself and parts of companies D and F rallied behind a picket fence near a log house; the colonel seeming to think that the position could be held. Accordingly they remained for some time exchanging shots with the enemy. Here Captain Burrell and Sergeant Backus, of Co. D, were wounded. Discovering after a little that they were left there alone, and were about to be flanked on both sides, and sure to be captured if not killed, most of the men fell back to the breastworks, where they expected to find the rest of the brigade, but here they found everything on the retreat and they followed on with the rest.
"But for some reason Col. Bartleson and Lieuts. Kenniston and Koach did not succeed in making good their escape, and were captured with some dozen or more others. The 100th would have made as good a fight on this as on the previous day, but for the unfortunate manner in which it was handled. When this "fatal gap" was made, and the brigade was moving by the flank, upon the double quick, the enemy poured into them, in front and flank, such a murderous fire of musket balls, grape and canister as nothing could withstand. They tried to keep their ranks in order, but the regiment spread out wider and wider, and soon all organization was lost, and they retired with other troops on the right towards Rossville, where they lay on the 21st in position. Some, more or less, fell into other organizations, and some reached Thomas and Granger's forces and aided in the fight that saved the day. Of this number were Sergt. Holmes, of Co. G, and Selah Spaulding, of Co. F. John W. Goodenow, also of Co. E is said to have fought during the two day's battle in six different organizations."
Thus closed the scene. As is well-known, Thomas, with the aid of Granger's reserves, saved the army from utter defeat and enabled it to fall back to Chattanooga, and thus the great object of the enemy was defeated, though by a narrow chance, and at a fearful loss.
The 100th regiment went into the fight with 315 men, and lost of this number, about 165. Every color guard but one (Neal Platt) was killed. A list of casualties is here given.
Co. A - George Steward, Alonzo N. Jones, Philip White.
Co. B - Wm. B. Burr, Samuel Rodgers, Corporal Justin Steinmetz, John Barrett, Charles Sampson, Sergt. Hiram H. Harter.
Co. C - Theodore Dorkendoff, Henry Karch, Thomas R. Parker, Sergt. John Bez, Lewis A. Prosser.
Co. E - Sergeant Milton J. Smith, Sergt. Stephen M. Spafford, Corp. Chas.P. Spencer, Corp. Daniel Linebarger, Giles Dixon, Jr.
Co. F - Felix Durres, Patrick Scanlan.
Co. G - Gotleib Weidemer, Matthew Bush, Albert Deal, George Price.
Co. H - Corp. L.M. Lyon, Ahas Young.
Co. I - Geo. Irish, Francis P. Kelly.
Co. K - Sergt. E.S. Miner, J.B. Morey, Amos B. Davis, Sergeant H.W. Morford.
Commissioned officers - Wounded:
Lieut. Col. A.N. Waterman, flesh of arm;
Capt. John A. Burrell, Co. D, severe;
Lieut. M.N.M. Stewart, Co. A, slight;
Lieut. Anson Patterson, Co. E, severe in leg;
Lieut. R.F. Bartlett, Co. E, slight.
Missing and prisoners:
Col. F.A. Bartleson;
Lieut. Jerry Kenniston, Co. H;
Lieut. Samuel Koach, Co. D;
Asst. Surgeon H.T. Woodruff.
Co. A - John Hay, Warren S. Nobel.
Co. B - Geo. E. McIntyre.
Co. C - Mathias Snyder, supposed killed.
Co. D - Corp. Geo. M. Dake, Rufus Bolton, John Lyman.
Co. F - Sidney S. Campbell.
Co. G - Sergt. James J. Harley, supposed to be dead.
Co. I - Wm. R. Jones, John Augustine, Owen Evans, Henry C. Nobles.
Captured at hospital with surgeon Woodruff:
Oliver P. Stumph, hospital steward.
Co. B - Geo. McIntyre.
Co. C - Wm. Peters, Anson Dodge, William Newberry, Eugene Sly.
Co. D - G.W. Hill.
Co. E - George Pickles.
Co. G - Felix Calkins.
Co. H - James F. Ladieu, John Cotton.
Co. K - Wm. W. King, Erastus Rudd.
Co. A - Sergt. E.P. Smith, severe; Corp. Elias Yates, severe; Francis A. Butler, left arm amputated; Peter Brodie, Edgar C. Buss, William T. Barker, Wm. Gundy, William Hawley, Thomas McQueen, H.W. Clark, all severe; James H. Preston, James Dowling, LeRoy Jewell, Robert Brennan, Francis J. Fisher, all slightly.
Co. B - Sergt. Lewis Linebarger, Samuel Weinhold, both slight; Sergeant Henry A. Smith.
Co. C - Sergeant Henry M. Starrin, Sergeant Joseph Zeller, Corporal Anson Dodge, (prisoner) Corporal John Hammond, Benjamin Bever, (died), Albert N. Chamberlain, Benoni L. Abbott, all severe. (The two last named are supposed to have died on the field.) Martin Fishbaugh [sic., Fischbach], slight; Gothard Freehof, leg; Christian Lan, severe; Daniel Mast, slight; William Peters, slight; Peter Schmitt, severe; Augustus W. Welchlin, severe.
Co. D - Sergt. John Fellows, severe; Sergt. Franklin G. Bachus, Peter Peterson, Christ. Lookentery; Russell Hartung, arm ampt. (died); Charles Amen, prisoner (all severe); Corporal Elias Brown, slight; Amasa Carter, George Kines, Joseph Countryman, Louden Jacobs, all slight.
Co. E - Corp. Van. H. Perkins, mortally; Corp. Andrew J. Fries, severe, arm amputated; Jas. McCune, (died); John Maples, Henry Bridge, George A. Fabrick, Richard F. Smith, Patrick McHugh; Wm. Reed, (died): Wm. H. Brace, Mahlon W. Harrington, both severe.
Co. F - Sergt. James Gleason; Joseph Butcher, severe; George Grange, Edward Flannery, John Mallon, John Young, Geor. Simpson.
Co. G - corp. Chas. H. Snoad, prisoner; Frank Adams, Enoch Dodge, Decatur Goodenow, all slight; John C. Battman, leg broke; Alex Moat, Jeptha Pierson, Wm. Shaw, Joseph W. Tucker, all severely; Frank LaFayette, Wm. Barse, L.L. Warren, Wm. Hunt; Joshua Bush, run over by cannon.
Co. H - Sergt. Chas. H. Russell, Wm. B. Connor, Corp. William Strunk, John Albright, Isaac J. Jenks; Henry C. King, severe; Barnett W. Henninger, W.C. Morse, George W. Murry, Wash. H. Thomas; William E. Temple, severe; Deratus T. Moore, severe, died Dec. 17, 1863.
Co. I - Sergt. John Hays, slight; Jerry O'Leary, Henry Parkinson, Wm. Stonerock, Levi C. Price, all severly; John Robson, John Mahoney, John H. Butler, Sam. aspinwall, all slightly.
Co. K - Francis Green, M.C. Snyder, A.J. Purington, Wm. Munday, Orson Churchill, all slightly; Joseph Sloan, leg broken.
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