part of a volume entitled History of the Ninety - Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry: From Organization To Muster Out --Statistics Compiled by Aaron Dunbar Sergeant, Company " B", Revised and Edited by Harvey M. Trimble, Adjutant
Submitted by Jeffrey MacAdam, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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Part 1 of 5 of Chapter V.
On the 3rd day of October, A. D. 1863, late in the evening, the Ninety- Third Illinois boarded cars on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, and, a little after midnight, at 12:10 a.m., on the 4th day of that month, left Memphis, to return there no more. It was, surely enough, a "Change cars for Chattanooga and all points east." Glendale, Mississippi, was reached that evening, and the command went into camp there, and remained until the 7th, inclusive. On the 8th, the command marched to Burnsville, Mississippi, and received pay on the last day mentioned date. On the 19th, the regiment marched to Iuka, Mississippi, and, remained there the next day. On the 21st and 22nd, the march was continued to Bear Creek, Alabama, and on the 23rd, to Dixon's Station, Alabama, where the command remained, in camp, until the 28th, inclusive. On the 29th, the regiment marched to Chickasaw Landing, on the Tennessee River. On the 30th, the command crossed the Tennessee River, on a gunboat, camped at Waterloo, Alabama, and remained there the next day. At 5:30 p.m. on November 1st, the regiment marched again, and went into camp, at midnight, near Gravel Springs, Alabama. On November 2nd, the command marched to Florence, Alabama; and on the 3rd, to Taylor's Springs, Alabama; and on the 4th, to Anderson's Creek, Alabama, and on the 5th, to Gilbertsboro, Alabama; and on the 6th, to Richland Creek, Tennessee. The Ninety-Third Illinois was rear guard to the train that day.
On November 7th, the regiment waded Richland Creek, a stream about three foot deep, and marched to Bradshaw Creek, Tennessee; and on the 8th, to within three miles of Fayetteville, Tennessee; and on the 9th, to Kane Creek, Tennessee, and rested there the most of that day, having moved only a mile. On the 10th, the command crossed Elk River at Fayetteville, and marched eleven miles; and on the 11th, marched to within six miles of Winchester, Tennessee; and on the 12th, after moving four miles, went into camp for the rest of that day and the night. On the 13th, the regiment marched seventeen miles, a considerable part of the distance being up the western slope of a spur of the Cumberland Mountains, and camped on top of the mountain; and the next day, marched down the mountain and camped on Battle Creek; and on the 15th, marched to Bridgeport, Alabama, and remained there the two following days. On the 18th, the command crossed the Tennessee River, at Bridgeport, and marched to Shellmound, then called Shell Mountain.
On the 19th, the regiment marched twenty miles, passed within range of the Confederate batteries on Lookout Mountain without eliciting their fire, again crossed the Tennessee River, and camped on the north side of it; and on the 20th, at 3 o'clock a.m., after moving up the river about four miles, went into camp, and remained there until after midnight of the 23rd. This last movement was covered from the observation of the enemy, on Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, by a range of high hills on the north side of the river, as well as by the night. Gen. John E. Smith's division was the first that crossed the Tennessee River below the point of Lookout Mountain and occupied this position. Gen. Morgan L. Smith's division crossed the river and came to the same position on the 21st. The bridge then broke and caused two days' delay. Then General Ewing's division crossed and occupied the same position on the 23rd.
Then the bridge broke again, leaving the division of General Osterhaus on the south side of the river; whereupon, that division was ordered to join the forces of General Hooker, then in Lookout Valley and behind Raccoon Mountains west of Lookout. The division of Jeff C. Davis took the place of General Osterhaus' division, in the Fifteenth Corps, on the 24th. General Sherman had been assigned to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, and his corps, the Fifteenth, had been reorganized for this campaign, and, on the 24th day of October, placed under the command of General Frank P. Blair, Jr. The corps, as so reorganized, was composed of the divisions of Generals Osterhaus, Ewing, John E. Smith and Morgan L. Smith, in all between sixteen and twenty thousand men. The number Gen. John E. Smith's division was changed from Seventh to Third. The third Brigade was commanded by Brig. Gen. Charles L. Matthias. Thus General Sherman's forces were massed on the north side of the Tennessee River, above Chattanooga, ready to perform the part assigned them in the battles planned by General Grant against the army of General Bragg, which then occupied apparently invincible positions on Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge.
Before proceeding further, it might be of benefit to trace the path of General Sherman's forces from Memphis to Chattanooga over again, and take a glance at the country through which it passed, the conditions then existing along the route, the scenery, and the rugged character of the roads over which the army moved. The march from Glendale, Mississippi, was quite rapidly made, over difficult roads a considerable part of the distance, and therefore, an unusually hard one for the troops. But all the surroundings, in other respects, were so unusual that the troops endured the hardship with little or no murmuring, being deeply interested in what they saw and heard from day to day, and zealously intent upon the object of the campaign, which was very soon generally understood and appreciated throughout the army. The description of this march, and the country though which it passed, and of these conditions, and scenery, and roads, written by the distinguished author, Benjamin F. Taylor, who was then the army correspondent for the Chicago Evening Journal, has never been equaled, and cannot be excelled. It is, therefore, deemed advisable to let him tell the story here. He wrote as follows:
"The land has gone to seed. The villages lie asleep, like lazy dogs in the sun; stores are closed, and shops deserted. The print of war's finger is before you. Now you see a gate left standing between its posts,--a gate without a fence. And there it swings open upon a path leading to nowhere! Not a house, not a story. And there you see a chimney standing, by some strange freak, without a house. Now you see the skeleton of a house, stripped of all covering, gaunt and ghastly in its bones. Now a brick mansion catches the eye; its door, weary of turning, stand wide open; its garden shivers with weeds; the negro quarters empty; the fields ragged, and fenceless as the air, and not a living soul! Broad forests of tall corn, the blackened stalks two years old, and ears of the withered grains yet clinging to the russet stems; visions of 'hoecake' far off and dim; the rusted plow careened in one corner, a wreck on a lea shore; the master away in the rebel ranks; the 'people' strewn to the four winds.
"As you near the region of the Cumberland, the scenery begins to grow grander; the great wavy lines of the mountains sweep up bravely toward heaven, and sink down into great troughs of green; but the road makes steadily for strong horizon, between ledges of God's masonry, through grooves hewn in the rocks running this way and that; a gorge, half a mile in length, yawns to swallow us with a throat as black as a wolf's mouth; above it towers the wooded crown, hundreds of feet; close at our left the world seems to make a misstep and stumble into a deep ravine; but we got safely over, and thanked God.
"The route between Bridgeport and Chattanooga is one of the wildest and most picturesque on the continent. You make straight at the solid mountain, but creep through a cleft and keep on; you swing around a curve, and hang over a gorge; you run, like a mouse along a narrow shelf, high up the rocky wall, the bewildered Tennessee far beneath, winding this way and that to escape from the enchanted mountains. It flashes out upon you here, curves like a cimeter; it ties the hills up there, with love-knots of broad ribbons. The sky line rises and falls around you like a heavy sea; black heaps of coal, high up the mountains, look like blots on this roughest of pages in Nature's 'writing book.' You go through a stone gateway of the Lord's building, and a deep valley is under your feet; look far across to the other side, and dark cedars counterfeit deep shadows; look down from the bridge at Falling Water, and the boys in blue, far down, are like drops of indigo. And all along this rugged way, at every station and bridge and ravine, are rifle pits and earthworks, the rude signature rebellion has compelled; grim war's mark visible in every direction.
"So, through these grand and everlasting halls we made our way, and when the morning walked to and fro upon the top of night, and stepped from height to height, and pines took fire and cliffs of gray were glorified, it seemed a mighty minister, and I did not wonder that God gave the law from Sinai; that the beatitudes were shed, like Hermon's dew, from a mountain.
"We wind around the angle of the mountain wall of Lookout, and camps are glittering on the hills everywhere, sentinels pacing to and fro, regiments checking the low ground, trains moving in different directions, the whole landscape alive with crowds and caravans, and forts dumb but not dead; and there, in the middle of it all, lies Chattanooga, with its ceaseless eddies of armed life, swords and muskets forever drifting and shifting about in them; good words and bad stirred in together; 'hardtack' and hard talk struggling in and out together at the same mouths; and hurry treading on the heels of haste. Upon all sides you see a ceaseless play of blue legs, with an unending procession of blue coats. And on all this multitude you may look all day, and not see one woman of the noble race that put men upon their honor and make the world braver and purer. To be sure, there is Aunt Dinah in turban all afire, like a very sooty chimney red-hot at the top; and there, too, is a colorless native from the rural districts, dressed in white, uncrinolined, unflounced, unwashed, as limp as a wet napkin; see her, standing on a corner, spitting at a mark-- tobacco juice at that--and she delivers her fire with great accuracy.
"But it was not this stronghold, nor all this beautiful scenery, that we came to see. It was to find our neighbors over on Mission Ridge and on the summit of Lookout, where they are arranging a reception for us.
"It was to see the old deeds, long packed away in history, step out from the silent lines of the printed page, and stand unsandaled on the ground, to make room for the new, of the year just closing, realized already and so soon to be made tangible, earnest, solemn and glorious."On the 3rd day of July, 1863, the Potomac army had won a great victory at Gettysburg; and on the 4th day of that month, Vicksburg had been surrendered to the Army of the Tennessee. A glance at the map will quickly reveal that fact, that Chattanooga lies very near the direct line between those two places, but somewhat nearer to the latter. It was the center of the Confederate lines east of the Mississippi River. Their right and left wings had been defeated at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, respectively. After the defeat of the Army of the Cumberland, on September 20th, 1863, the Confederate forces, under General Bragg, occupied and fortified Mission Ridge and Lookout Mountain. Their commanders gave it out, defiantly, and with much assurance, that their position was invulnerable. It commanded East Tennessee, and was a menace to any further advance of the Federal armies on either side east or west of it. It was , therefore, necessary that the Army of the Cumberland should be supported, and that the army of General Bragg should be dislodged from its commanding position. The task has been confided to General Grant late in September of that year. Before the end of October, he had fought and won the battle of Wauhatchie, and thereby opened up and secured communications directly from Bridgeport, Alabama, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, by a good wagon road only thirty- five miles long, and also by the Tennessee River as far as Kelly's Ferry, which was within nine or ten miles of Chattanooga. He had, by nightfall on November 22nd, gathered an army of about 60,000 men in and around Chattanooga.
It was particularly auspicious and fortunate that this force, gathered at this central position, at once represented all the great armies of the Union. The Army of the Cumberland was there. The Army of the Ohio went to its support with great alacrity. General Hooker's forces, of the Army of the Potomac, came with marvelous speed and much enthusiasm from the far east. And General Sherman, with a part of the invincible Army of the Tennessee, swept across the country, from the far west, like a cyclone, into this vortex of war.
General Grant was becoming extremely solicitous as to the safety of General Burnside's army at Knoxville, Tennessee. General Longstreet was already moving against that place with a formidable force, and was likely to be reinforced from General Bragg's army. To prevent this, General Grant determined to attack General Bragg's forces without further delay. But, before the curtain is raised upon that drama, which was to be completed in three acts, and in three days, the 23rd and 24th and 25th days of November, A. D. 1863, a glance at the field on which it was to be enacted might be profitable.
The Tennessee River flows in a southwesterly course to a point about three miles above Chattanooga. There it turns sharply to the south, makes a bend of more than a mile around high hills on the north side, and from thence flows nearly due west to a point just below the city. There it turns again sharply to the south, bearing a little west, and makes straight for the rugged face of Lookout Mountain, full three miles away. There it makes a turn, or curve, like the front end of a horseshoe, and then, as if it were thrown back by the mountain, flows in a northerly direction three miles, or more, and there turns again to its southwesterly course. North Chickamauga Creek, which flows nearly due south, empties into the Tennessee River, on the north side, six or seven miles above Chattanooga. South Chickamauga Creek, which rises at the head of the cove formed by the union of the south end of Mission Ridge with Pigeon Mountain, about thirty miles south of Chattanooga, flows in a north-northeasterly course until it passes the north end of the mountain spur that lies west and north of the north end of Mission Ridge, and from thence across the valley, in a northwest course, and empties into the Tennessee River, on the south side, about four miles above Chattanooga. Mission Ridge, from its northern extremity, which is about six miles east-southeast from Chattanooga, extends about six or seven miles nearly southwest, and then bears to the course about south- southwest and unites with Pigeon Mountain as above indicated. A mountain spur, terminating abruptly, at its northern extremity, on South Chickamauga Creek, extends from thence, in a southwesterly course, and laps the north end of Mission Ridge about an eighth of a mile, forming a deep valley between the two. This valley, passing around the north end of Mission Ridge, broadens out and ultimately becomes merged in the valley of South Chickamauga Creek. The country south of the north end of Mission Ridge, and west of that valley, is somewhat lower than the Ridge, but still quite high, uneven and hilly. The road to Dalton, George, passes across this table-land beyond the Ridge. The Chattanooga & Cleveland Railroad crosses the Ridge, through a tunnel, about three-eighths of a mile from the north end. Nearly due south of Chattanooga, Mission Ridge is separated from the Lookout range of mountains by Chattanooga Creek. That stream winds its way northward between the two mountain ranges, and empties into the Tennessee River on the east side and near the base of Lookout Mountain. Citico Creek heads in two branches, one having its source in the valley and the other in Mission Ridge, farther to the south, flows in a northerly course, passing some distance east of Orchard Knob, and empties into the Tennessee River about midway between South Chickamauga and Chattanooga Creeks. The Tennessee Valley, between the river and Mission Ridge, from Chickamauga Creek to Chattanooga Creek, is from two to four miles wide. Lookout Mountain is the northern extremity of the Lookout Range. That range extends south-southwest, parallel with and west of Mission Ridge, sixty miles, or more, across the corner of Georgia and into Alabama. Lookout Mountain rises, very abruptly, a little more than sixteen hundred feet above the level of the Tennessee River, and about three thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea. The Raccoon Mountains lie west of and parallel with the Lookout Range. Lookout Valley, broad and beautiful, lie between the two ranges. Lookout Creek flows northward, through that valley, and empties into the Tennessee River on the west side and near the base of Lookout Mountain. Fort Wood was on a high hill, nearly due east from Chattanooga, and about one mile distant. General Grant's headquarters were there on the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. Orchard Knob was nearly a mile farther away.
The defensive lines of the enemy were on the crest of Mission Ridge and Lookout Mountain, extending from the tunnel of Chattanooga Creek, across that stream and valley, and to the point of Lookout, and also reaching far down the eastern slope of that towering palisade of rock. More than ten miles of formidable forts and earthworks, commanding every foot of ground below, gave warning to the Federal armies of the desperate character of the enterprise before them. The advanced lines of the Confederates extended far down into the Tennessee Valley. Orchard Knob was in their possession. Their pickets touched the Tennessee River at the big bend above Chattanooga, and guarded the south bank of the river from that point to the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek, from whence their picket line was extended up that stream to the mountain spur, and from thence around to there main line on Mission Ridge. Pickets were also stationed, for the purposes of observation, on the east bank of North Chickamauga Creek. Small cavalry forces, mostly for the purposes of observation, were on each flank. The total forces of the enemy numbered about 45,000 men. The Armies of the Cumberland and Ohio were mostly in the Tennessee Valley, between Citico and Chattanooga Creek, in and around Chattanooga, and between the city and Fort Wood. General Thomas was in command of the Army of the Cumberland, and his headquarters were at Fort Wood. The forces of General Hooker, and the division of General Osterhaus, were behind (west of) the Raccoon Mountains and in Lookout Valley. Three of General Sherman's divisions, and the division of General Jeff C. Davis, were behind the hills on the north side of the Tennessee River, nearly opposite the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek. The Federal forces numbered about 60,000 men. Such was the field, and the disposition of the opposing forces, in a general way, immediately preceding those three historic days in November.
That the part taken by the Ninety-Third Illinois may be better understood and appreciated, it may be helpful to quote the general story of those three days as told by Mr. B. F. Taylor, the distinguished author already quoted above. He wrote:
"The smiting of the enemy's crescent front at Mission Ridge on Monday, the 23rd of November, 1863, the capture of Lookout Mountain on Tuesday, the 24th, and the storming of Mission Ridge on Wednesday, the 25th, were already the three acts of one splendid drama. But first let us take a survey of the scene just before the battle. It was Sunday by the calendar; Sunday by the sweet Sabbath bells of the peaceful North; but what shall I name it here? Look southwestward from the camps, just across the river, and you will see Chattanooga, and men hurrying in all directions. The doors of the ordnance depot are thrown wide open, and wagon trains are being loaded with materials that make heavy loads and heavy hearts. They are to be held in readiness to supply any part of the line with their missiles of death. Men are busy wrenching up and carrying away seats in a church, leaving a clear area for a hospital; pallets for pews. Yesterday was gloomy with clouds and rain. To-day dawned out of Paradise. Would you have the picture? Stand with me, as I stood this morning, in Chattanooga. As the sun comes up, the mists lift grandly, trail along the top of the mountains, and are folded up in heaven. The horizon , all around, rises and falls like the waves of the sea. Stretching along the east, and trending slightly away to the southwest, you see an undulating ridge, edged with a thin fringe of trees. Along the sides, which have been shorn of their woods for the play of the battle-hammers, if you look closely, you can see camps, sprinkled like flocks, away on until the ridge melts out of sight; and you can see guns, and men in gray. That is Mission Ridge, and you are looking upon what your heart does not warm to. You are in the presence of the enemy. Now, turning to the right, you look south upon the lowlands, and the farther edge of the picture is dotted with more tents and more men in gray. Away in the distance a cone rises, not far enough off to be blue, but you forget it in an instant as the eye climbs bravely up a wooded line, higher and higher, to a craggy crown, wrinkled with ravines and crested with trees; then, dropping abruptly away, as you turn southwestward, subsides into a valley, through which the wandering Tennessee creeps into this Federal stronghold. Lookout Mountain is before you, grim and grand. The glorious glimpses of five stated granted to them who stand upon the mighty threshold between this world and that, are denied to us just now, and we must bide our time. The morning has worn away to 8 o'clock, when from the very tip of the crest rolls a little gray cloud, as if unseen hands were about to wind the rugged brow with a turban. In an instant, a heavy growl, and the rebel gun has said 'good morning' to Hooker's camps in the valley beyond. You cannot get out of sight of Lookout. Go where you will within all this horizon, yet, turning southward, there frowns the mountain. It rises an everlasting thunderstorm that will never pass over. Seen dimly through the mist, it looms up nearly two thousand feet and recedes, but when the sun shines strongly out it draws so near as to startle you, and you feel as if you were beneath the eaves of a roof whence drips an iron rain. And yet, from the spot where we stand, it is three miles to its summit, three miles to Mission Ridge, and three miles to Moccasin Point.
"But your eyes are not weary, and so they follow down the faltering line of Lookout, dip into the gateway of the Tennessee, and rise again to a red ridge, that seems to you, where you stand, like a vast tumulus, big with the dead of an elder time. From it, even while you look, comes the Federal 'good morning' back again. You hear the gun as it utters the shell, and then, traveling after it, the crash of the iron egg as it hatches on Lookout. That red ridge is Moccasin Point. Glancing up the western horizon is Raccoon Range, and upon a peak of it, just west of us, is a Federal signal-station. Then away to the northwest and across the north, the mountain edges trace the line of beauty, curving and bending until the graceful profile of the horizon is complete. And with this sweep of grandeur lies a city whose name, made famous forever by the events of these three November days, shall endure when yours and mine, like a writing upon slate by a wet finger, have been effaced by time-- Chattanooga. Once a town with one main business street, and residences built up in the true Southern architecture, holes in the middle, or balconies, and the chimneys turned out of doors. As you pass down the central street, the dingy signs of old dead business catch the eye. Where 'A. Baker, attorney at law,' once uttered oracles and tobacco-juice, Federal stores have taken Blackstone's place; where ribbons ran smoothly over salesmen's fingers, boxes of hardtack are piled; for groceries and provisions, you will find kegs and kegs of the fine black grains that sow fields with death and homes with desolation; boxes of cartridges without end; rows of canisters; nests of shells, out of which shall be hatched a terrible brood; cluster of grape, containing no wine, that quickly crush out the wine of life; and thousands of cases of every species of death-dealing combustibles known in warfare. Fences have gone lightly up in campfires; tents are pitched, like mushrooms, in the flower-beds; trees have turned to ash, and, across the whole, War has scrawled his autograph. But never think you have seen the town at one glance; it is down here and up there and over yonder; the little hills swell beneath it like billows; you will gain the idea if I say it is a town gone to pieces in a heavy sea.
"But a new architecture has sprung up. Slopes, valleys and hills, as far as you can see, are covered with Federal camps. It is nothing but camps, and then more camps. I wrote about 'old dead business,' but I was too fast. It is all business, but conducted by the new firm of 'U. S.' The anvils ring, the stores are filled, wagons in endless lines and hurrying crowds throng all the street, but the workman and the clerk and the patron is each a boy in blue. Chattanooga is as populous as an ant-hill. And there is more of the new architecture. Breastworks, rifle pits, forts, defenses of every name and nature, crown the hills and slopes. Here, is Fort Wood, talking to Mission Ridge, and there are Negley and Palmer, and so on around the horizon. Spreading away to the left and right and south, as you face Lookout, are Federal camps, drifting on almost to the base of the mountain, and lying bravely beneath its grim shadow. You look, and wonder how it can all be. This neighborly nearness overturns all your notions of hostile armies. Two thin picket lines, parallel and a few rods apart--not so far as you can jerk a peach-stone. They pass thus lovingly together from the left, down Mission Ridge, curve to the right along the lowlands and past the foot of the great mountain. They are lines of the blue and the gray.
"There in those lowlands, and sloping up the side of Lookout and curving away to the east and north along Mission Ridge, lie the masses of the enemy, a crescent front five miles and more in length, and throughout all we are snug up to them, breast to breast. What effect do you think it would have upon that hostile host to strike it near its northern horn and turn it back on Mission Ridge away from its railroad communications, and strike it, too, where it is wedged into the foot of Lookout, thus doubling it back upon itself? We will wait and see.
"Signal-lights are features in celestial scenery that never appear in your peaceful Northern skies. Had you stood with me upon the hills last night, you would have seen, just over the edge of the highest lift of the Raccoon Range, a crazy planet, bigger than Venus at the full, waltzing in mad fashion about another soberer light. Watch it for a while. There is method in its madness after all. The antic light describes a quadrant, makes a semicircle, stops, rises, falls, sweeps right, sweep left, rounds out an orbit, strikes off at a tangent. It is talking to-somebody behind Lookout. On Mission Ridge are lights of evil omen. The hostile signals are working, too; blazing, disappearing, showing here and there and yonder; now on the mountain, now all along the ridge, like wills-o'-the- wisp. To-day the army telegraph gesticulates like Roscius, but it is flags and not lights that have gone crazy, and so the talk goes on around the sky. "At 10 o'clock this morning Fort Wood spoke, a roar, and crosses the interval, strikes at the heels of a lazy column moving along the Ridge, and changes its rate of motion. No steed was ever more obedient to the touch of the rowels. Again the 'Rodman' speaks, and down goes the carriage of an angry gun for kindling wood. It can toss its compliments as lightly over to Mission Ridge as you can toss an apple over the orchard fence. The shriek of a shell, with no musketry to soften it, is terrible, unearthly, and there's an end of it; while a shell, that does its duty, has thunder and a cloud at both ends of its line of flight. There goes Fort Wood again. Listen! A few beats of the pulse, and yonder, well up the side of the Ridge, lies a fleece of smoke that was not there an instant ago, and here--bomb--comes the sound of the bursting missile. A shell is a dissyllable."
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