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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Albert N. Chamberlain and Benoin L. Abbott, reported missing and wounded in the above list, were seen next day lying dead upon the field with others by some of the regiment who had been captured, and who were marched over the field on the way to Atlanta. But their fate was not certainly known to their friends until about eighteen months afterwards, when these prisoners were released. As is well known, the rebels left many of our dead unburied, and when our army got possession of the ground, the bones were buried.
Justin Steinmetz, one of the killed of Co. B, was one of the bravest and best of the company. He was painfully and mortally wounded in the bowels, so that they protruded. Holding them in with one hand, he took one more shot at the enemy with the other, and had just laid down his rifle, when another shot hit him in the head and mercifully closed his career without further suffering.
Col. Buell, in his official report of the action of the brigade, says:
"I take pleasure in commending to their superiors, * * Lieut. Col. Waterman and Major Hammond, of the 100th Ill., for their endurance and bravery throughout the entire conflict. In Col. Bartleson, of the 100th Ill., and Captain Ewing of the 26th Ohio, our country lost two most valuable officers. My personal staff, Capt. James G. Elwood, A.A.A.G., * * Lieut. J.C. Williams, aide-de-camp, Capt. Gardiner, provost marshal, * * were ever efficient and ready, being in the hottest of the fight."
When the army fell back during the night of the 19th, or morning of the 20th, the division hospital, which had been established near Crawfish Springs, and to which the wounded of our regiment had been taken in charge of Surgeon Woodruff, fell within the advanced lines of the enemy. Such as were slightly wounded had been sent into Chattanooga. When the poor, wounded boys found that they were to fall prisoners into the hands of the rebels, they were downcast. Surgeon Woodruff and Steward Stumph, as well as the hospital attendants, assured them that they would stand by them, which they did, though at a fearful cost to some of them. In the course of the next day the rebels came into possession of the hospital, and its contents and attendants. The manner in which they were treated and disposed of is given in a separate narrative of Surgeon Woodruff, and to that the reader is referred. We will only say here that there were thirty-one wounded men of the 100th in the hospital; one of these, Van L. Perkins, son of Wm. H. Perkins, a long time resident of Joliet, died on the 30th.
Charles E. Spencer, of Troy, who was among the killed on the 19th, was one of the best of soldiers. He had stepped out a little in front of the line, and falling upon one knee was firing rapidly, when he was struck with a ball in the forehead and killed instantly.
Lieut. Williams, of Co. G, who was serving on Col. Buell's staff, had his favorite gray mustang shot and killed under him, and he himself narrowly escaped being captured, but his legs, although they are not the longest, served him a good purpose. It is said that no fast horse he has ever owned made better time than the Lieut. did toward Chattanooga.
Gen. Wood, in his official report thus speaks of one member of Co. A: "Early in the conflict of Sunday, my color-bearer was wounded. The colors were taken by Samuel Goodrich of Co. A, 100th regiment, who bore aloft my standard through the day, remaining with me all day."
Henry C. King (Little Harry) of whom we have spoken as one of the "pony team" was severely wounded in both thighs, one shot going through the flesh of both legs. While lying on the field, a rebel general came along, and noticing his youthful appearance, asked him what he was there for, to which he replied. "I am here to shoot just such men as you!"
It has been stated that Col. Bartleson was taken prisoner, but for a considerable time it was supposed that he had been killed. The report of Gen. Wood, bearing date the 29th, speaks of him as probably killed. Parties thought they had seen him fall. One man claimed to have seen him in the division hospital, just before it fell into the hands of the enemy. During this period of suspense in respect to his fate, Col. George P. Buell, who commanded the brigade in which the 100th fought, wrote to Hon. J.O. Norton, as follows:
"Colonel Bartleson's conduct was most noble and gallant up to the last moment I saw him. In fact, he was too brave and daring for his own good. You may take this consolation to your heart that should Col. B. ever fall on the battle-field, he will fall as all true men wish to fall, doing his whole duty with his face to the enemy. Being the immediate commander of Col. B., in the late engagement, and of course a witness of his conduct, I have taken the liberty to write you this, believing that these few truths will help to ease your pain and calm your grief."
Col. Bartleson's movement on the 20th, seems to have been an imprudent one, although very bold and heroic. Had it been successful however, it would have been prudent, and would have been approved by his superior officers, and applauded by all. A similar movement made on the Atlanta campaign, as we shall see, was all right because it was successful. Success like charity, covers a multitude of sins, both in military and civil life.
The 100th regiment, what was left of it, gathered together again at Rossville on the 21st, in command of Major Hammond. Here our forces were collected to make a stand and dispute any advance of the enemy. But the enemy did not come, and on the 22d our army fell back toward Chattanooga. All were fearful that Rosecrans could not maintain his position, but by the 23d, Gen. Wood came round and told the boys that could hold the place in spite of anything that Bragg could bring.
Sergeant Holmes, of Co. G, gives the following account of the closing scene in this day's fight, as it affected our regiment, and of the three subsequent days:
"After marching by the right flank, a short distance, the rebs open on us, and send in the bullets as thick as hail stones. The boys will not stand it at all, and put for the rear. I stand behind a tree a while, and then think if no one else will stay it is no use for me, so I put on after the rest, and after going through a cornfield, up a hill, I find the major rallying the men at the brow. Some stop, but as soon as the bullets began to whiz, off they go again up the hill a little further. Then they rally again and some other regiments come up, and we stand and pour it into the varmints. They soon begin to run and we after them, until we get to the open field. Then another rebel regiment advances with the red flag flying, dressed in our uniform. Some of us open on them, and others say, "don't do it, they are our men." While paying attention to this regiment, up comes a division on our right to flank us, so we have to "skedaddle" again. Up we go to another hill, there rally and give it to the rebs; My cartridges give out, and I empty a deadman's into my box. I fire away here as long as I can see any rebels to fire at. Then we go to the left and fight along with the 21st Ohio awhile. Then I go farther to the left, and fall in with Granger's corps, and fight with them. I find one of Colt's rifles and lay mine down and take that. We fight here until nearly dark, when the rebels give way and we are the victors. The ground is covered with the wounded and dead. We see some rebels in front, and hallo at them to come in, but they will not come, they are afraid to go one way or the other. One or two of our men fire at them, and they all run but two. These get behind trees. I jump over the breastwork of rails and go out toward them, telling them if they don't come in and lay down their arms, I will shoot them. On this, they throw down their guns, and I take them in and turn them over. Selah Spaulding, of Co. F, has been with me all this time, and we start off to find some water. We meet Gen. Wood, and he tells us there is no water where we are going. We ask him where our brigade is. He tells us that they are up in the woods a short distance. We go on and find it, but only a few of our regiment are with them. Lieut. Ewen and John Brandon are all we found of Co. G. We are here but a short time when we are ordered off and march back where it is thought we can find water, but we do not stop until we get within four miles of Chattanooga. Here we stack our arms, and bivouac for the night.
"Sept. 21st, Monday, get up, get our breakfast, and get ready for a move if there should be any. After a while up comes what is left of the old hundredth, in command of the major. We soon move back to the front again, upon a hill, and build breastworks, and wait for the enemy. They do not come to us, but we hear heavy firing on the right. More troops come up after dark, and cut down trees and build breastworks. They also mask a battery.
"Tuesday, Sept. 22d. Last night a little after eleven we were called up and moved back toward Chattanooga. When nearly there, we stopped, camped and cooked coffee. After daylight moved out and built breastworks, and lay all day in line in the trenches.
"Sept. 23d. Last night there was a little scare and we were ordered to fall in, but soon lay down again and had a good night's sleep. The rebs do not yet come up. We go to work on the breastworks, old Gen. Wood comes around and tells us we can hold them in spite of anything to-day."
The following is from the official report of Gen. Crittenden, commanding the 21st army corps:
"With pride I point to the services of Brig. Gen. Wood, and his gallant command. The last of my corps ordered to the scene of conflict, they became engaged almost the very moment of their arrival. Unexpectedly run over by a portion of our troops who were driven back upon them, the brigade of Col. Buell was thrown into confusion and borne along with the fleeing for a short distance, but were soon and easily rallied by Gen. Wood and Col. Buell, and though the loss had been very heavy, for short a conflict, these brave men were led back by their division and brigade commanders to the ground from which they had been forced. On Sunday, when our lines were broken, Brig. Gen. Wood, with the brigades of Harker and Barns, and that part of Col. Buell's brigade not cut off by the enemy, reached Major Gen. Thomas, as ordered, and participated in the battle of that day, with honor to themselves. Such was the conduct of this, the last part of my command, all of which has been published to the country as having disgracefully fled the field."
Wishing to give everything which relates to our 100th regiment in this battle, I copy a few paragraphs from the official report of Gen. Wood, commanding the division:
"Seeing no other reserve at hand, and assured that both Harker and Carlin were seriously engaged, I determined to hold Buell's brigade in hand to meet emergencies. And it was fortunate I did so, for ere long Carlin's brigade was swept back out of the woods, across the cornfield, and into the woods beyond the field, on the western side of the road, carrying everything away with it. When I observed the rush across the cornfield, I was near the 100th Ill. With a view of checking the advancing and exultant enemy I ordered Col. Bartleson, commanding the 100th Ill., to fix bayonets and charge on the foe. The bayonets were properly fixed, and the regiment had just commenced to advance when it was struck by a crowd of fugitives, and swept away in the general melee. The whole of Buell's brigade was thus carried off its feet. It was necessary that it should fall back across the narrow field on the western side of the road to the edge of the wood under whose cover it rallied. As soon as possible it was formed along the fence, separating the field from the woods, and with the aid of a part of Carlin's brigade, and a regiment of Wilder's brigade, dismounted, repulsed the enemy. ***** Buell's brigade was formed just east of the road when it was struck by Carlin's brigade, and hence it had to retire about the distance of two hundred yards to get the shelter of the woods for reforming. But in crossing this narrow space, it suffered terribly; the killed and wounded were thickly strewn on the ground. So soon as the enemy was repulsed, I addressed myself to forming Col. Buell's brigade, for the purpose of advancing to recover the lost ground. I led the brigade back in person and reoccupied the ground from which it had been forced. "
This in respect to the 19th. In respect to the 20th, he says:
"I advanced my command and occupied the position assigned. In throwing out my skirmishers to cover my front I aroused the enemy, and had quite a sharp affair with him. By a very imprudent advance of his regiment at this moment, done without an order, Co. Bartleson (moving himself in advance off his troops) was shot from his horse, and either killed or very severely wounded; it was impossible to decide which, on account of the proximity of the place where he fell to the enemy's lines. He was an accomplished and gallant officer, and a high-toned, pure minded gentleman. His loss is a serious disadvantage to the regiment and the service."
The writer received soon after the battle the following letters from Adjutant Rouse, which as they explain the situation of our regiment during the battle and for a few days after, I give in full. I wish also to incorporate in this history some memento of the writer, whose fate it was to fall himself subsequently, and whose death was so deeply regretted by all who know him:
Headquarters 100th Ill. Volunteers,
Chattanooga, Sept. 24, 1863
George H. Woodruff, Esq.
Dear Sir: When it became apparent on Sunday that we should be compelled to give way before superior numbers, surgeons were selected to remain in our hospitals in charge of such of our wounded, as from the severity of their wounds, or want of time, could not be sent to the rear. Your son Henry was one of the number selected for this important duty, and I suppose that communication with him will be temporarily interrupted. He had here, as at Stone river, made himself very conspicuous for his activity and efficiency. This morning we have nearly completed a splendid line of breastworks, forming a continuous circle from the Tennessee river on the east to the foot of Lookout mountain on the west, a distance of between two and three miles. Close along our front lie the enemy, without doubt preparing for an attack. Thick along the breastworks, confident and determined, stand our brave and noble men, ready to meet the shock of battle. On Sunday evening and Monday morning all were fearful, but on Monday we checked the advance on a line of hills five miles south of Chattanooga. On Monday night we again fell back and commenced in earnest to fortify the town, and by Tuesday evening, had succeeded so well that we began to take courage. Since then we have worked night and day, and are now strongly entrenched. You have heard of our losses, and will sorrow with us for the suffering and the dead. Our regiment went into the fight on Saturday, at 3 o'clock p.m., 313 strong. Before dark 17 lay dead and 100 were wounded. Our entire loss is believed to be 22 enlisted men killed, and five officers and 104 enlisted men wounded. The Colonel and Lieut. Kenniston are in the hands of the enemy. The Colonel was seen to fall but a few rods in front of the advancing rebel line, but it is not known that he was even hurt. Twenty-three men are still missing. I will write you again if I learn anything more. We have been repulsed, but we are not disheartened."
Three days later, Sept. 27th, Adjutant Rouse wrote:
"The impression gains ground that the rebels will not attack our entrenchments; though the hills and valleys along our entire front are nightly lit up by the camp fires of the enemy, who were promised on the evacuation of this place, that we should be speedily driven back across the Tennessee or annihilated. They know too well the strength of the position, and our fighting qualities to make an attack. Rumors are current of a flank movement by the rebels, but it is not much feared. The little band of the 100th (for such it seems) that is left after their long campaigns, are gladly improving such relaxation as the nature of our situation will allow. Only ten of the wounded of our regiment remain in hospital here; all the rest who were not left in rebel hands having been sent North. Dr. Heise and his wife are still here doing all that can be done for the boys. Lieut. Col. Waterman is improving and will remain here. Maj. Hammond, now in command, is a first-rate practical man and a competent officer. I cannot learn that communication has been had with the rebel authorities with regard to our wounded, who remain in their possession, and I have no additional news of Henry. Hospital Steward Stumph and the cook and nurse are with him.
"After the desperate struggle of Saturday, the commanding general examined the ground in his rear, and during the night formed a new line, which was thought favorable for defense. A part of the line near the center was occupied by two brigades of our division at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning. Skirmishers were immediately thrown out, and as they met with only slight opposition, Col. Bartleson ordered his regiment to advance. It did so, charging about two hundred yards across an open field, on the double-quick, driving the enemy's skirmishers from a road fence on the opposite side. The road was quickly passed by the regiment, which now entered a piece of woods. Proceeding a few yards, it was discovered that we were close upon a masked battery, supported by infantry. The battery and its supports immediately opened a deadly and unexpected fire upon us, and the main portion of the regiment fell back to its original position. Col. Bartleson, however, rallied about two companies behind a picket fence on the side of the road mentioned above. Seeing that the colonel and some of the men had not fallen back, and it being reported that the colonel was wounded and had fallen from his horse, Lieut. Wicks, myself, and four or five men went forward to ascertain the position of affairs, and if possible, recover the colonel. On arriving at the fence we found them posted behind it, and the colonel unharmed; though the enemy were close by in strong force, the colonel thought it to be his duty to hole the position as long as possible. I remained a few moments, and then went to report to Col. Buell, commanding the brigade, who was not as yet aware that the whole regiment had not fallen back, and therefore there was no prospect of his sending us any assistance. When I got back to where the regiment had been lying, I found that it had been moved away to the left and had already got out of sight. Heavy volleys of musketry were now heard in the direction from which I had just come, and turning I saw our men beating a hasty retreat, and the rebel line close behind them advancing rapidly. Nothing now was left to do but to get out of the way as fast as possible. Several of the men who were with the colonel behind the fence were known to have fallen before they could make good their retreat. Two or three of the men saw the colonel leave the fence, and one says that he saw him fall, but does not know whether he fell because he was hurt, or on account of the roughness of the ground. It was but a moment before the rebels passed over and occupied the ground, nd they continued to hold it. I have thus been particular to give you all that is known in relation to this painful matter."
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