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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The night, after the day of the battle at Allatoona, was dark and dreary. The sun, as it sank behind the western hills, only occasionally threw faint streams of light, through gathering clouds, upon that blood-red field. A little later, the face of the moon was heavily veiled, and the mutterings of thunder came rolling through the valleys and gorges, and lightning flashed and blazed around the tops of the mountains. It was a fitting afterpiece, following the great tragedy of the day. Then rain fell, in torrents, as if to wash the red stains from those hills. All night long, the cries and shrieks of many Confederate wounded, the moans of the dying and the mutterings of thunder were continually heard, from every direction, and the downpour of rain was incessant. Recurring flashes of lightning cast lurid light upon many scenes, there, of indescribable horror. It would have been kindlier had they remained undisclosed. And so the long, weird and dreary night wore away.
At daylight, on the morning of the 6th, the command at Allatoona resumed the unpleasant work that follows every battle. Our wounded had been taken to hospitals immediately after the battle closed the day before. Rain, in gradually diminishing quantity, continued to fall for two or three hours, and then ceased. The enemy's wounded were suffering severely, and measures were at once inaugurated for their relief. By noon, all of them, except those more or less concealed in the woods and valleys, were removed to hospitals where they could receive proper care and attention.
During the day, all the Federal dead were gathered and buried. Those of the Ninety-Third Illinois were buried on the crest of the Ridge, near the Cartersville road, about two hundred feet, almost due southwest, from the western fort. As they fought side by side in the battle, so, now, they were laid side by side in one common grave. A headboard was placed above each one, his name, company and regiment being carved thereon. After the war ended, their bodies were removed and replaced in the national Cemetery at Marietta, Georgia.
During that day, also, a considerable number of the Confederate dead were buried, but not all of them. That work was finished the next day, except as to those that were afterward found and buried as heretofore mentioned.
When night came, at the end of the second day after the battle, the depleted garrison at Allatoona, worn and weary and sad, many of them well nigh exhausted, found opportunity for rest and sleep. General Corse, with his command, returned to Rome on the 7th. But a brigade of the Twenty-third Army Corps reached Allatoona that afternoon, went into camp there, and furnished pickets for the night. General Sherman's whole army, except the Twentieth Corps, was now moving northwest along a line of the railroad, and that brigade was the first to reach Allatoona. After the battle was fought and won, the head of the column that was moving to our aid on the day of the battle was halted between Allatoona and Big Shanty, and remained there until the movements of the main body of the Confederate army, then in the neighborhood of Lost Mountain and Dallas, should be developed. On the 7th, General Sherman telegraphed to General Corse, that he was apprehensive that General Hood would swing back against Kingston and the Etowah bridge. And he added, speaking of General Hood: "He is eccentric, and I cannot guess his movements as I could those of Johnston, who was a sensible man, and only did sensible things. If Hood does not mind, I will catch him in a worse snap than he has been yet."
On the 8th, 9th and 10th, three whole days and nights, General Sherman's army was continually passing Allatoona. It was immense; apparently, and in fact, an irresistible military force. No one, at Allatoona, any longer wondered that the Confederates had been beaten and driven from every position. And no one doubted the ability and power of that army to accomplish any task that might be set before it. It was a grand army, under a great commander. It will be borne in mind, however, that although General Sherman was in the immediate command of the army, he was, in addition, the commander of the military division of the Mississippi, which included all the armies in the West. On the 10th, General Hood's army crossed the Coosa River, about eleven miles below Rome, Georgia. The confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers, near Rome, forms the Coosa River, which flows southwest from there. General Sherman reached Kingston that day. With a considerable force of his cavalry, (about one-fourth of the Confederate army was cavalry), General Hood moved rapidly upon Resaca. On his arrival there, he demanded the surrender of the place, and notified Colonel Weaver, who was in command at Resaca, that if his demand for surrender was refused he would take no prisoners. General Sherman had caused the garrison at Resaca to be well reinforced, and was moving his army as rapidly as possible to reach there. Colonel Weaver flatly refused to surrender. General Hood did not attack, fearing, if he did, that General Sherman might force him to a general engagement before he could get away. General Hood then pushed rapidly on to Dalton, destroying the railroad as he went. On his demand, the garrison at Dalton ignominiously surrendered, at a time when General Sherman could have forced a general engagement within twenty-four hours had the garrison held fast: provided, of course, that General Hood had, in that case, attacked the place. General Hood immediately moved on, through Tunnel Hill, to Villanow. General Sherman was now maneuvering to force him to battle. General Howard's army went to Snake Creek Gap, where the enemy had taken possession of the former Federal works, and tried to hold General Hood's forces there until General Stanley's corps could reach his rear at Villanow. But General Hood did not intend to hazard a battle, and immediately retired to Gadsden, Alabama. General Wheeler's cavalry covered his retreat. General Sherman followed him as far as Gaylesville, Alabama. Both armies now paused for a time.
General Sherman's forces now covered Bridgeport, Alabama, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Dalton, Resaca, and Rome, Georgia, and also the railroad to Atlanta. He did not propose to continue a fruitless chase after an army that would not fight. He did not propose to be drawn away from the great advantage gained by the Atlanta campaign. Neither did he propose to abandon the great "March to the Sea," the plans for which were already formed in his own mind, and, in fact, had already been communicated to General Grant and the War Department. His positions, now, were such that he could protect all he had gained in the Atlanta campaign, and hold the use of the railroad, to transport supplies and munitions of war to Atlanta for his contemplated campaign across Georgia, and until he, himself, should be ready to destroy it before starting on that famous march. The Confederates had destroyed about twelve miles of the railroad, burning every tie and bending many of the rails. In his Memoirs, General Sherman said, that the repair of it called for thirty-five thousand new ties and six miles of new iron; and he added, that Col. W. W. Wright came down from Chattanooga, with ten thousand men, iron, spikes, etc., and in about seven days the road was all right again. The repairing of it was completed about the 25th day of October. General Hood had hoped that General Sherman would divide his army and give him a chance to fight it in detail. If General Hood had only crossed the Tennessee River, General Sherman would have divided his army immediately. With one part of it he would have fought and whipped the Confederates on the north side of the river, while with the other part, on the south side, he would have cut off their retreat and captured them. But General Beauregard, who had then joined General Hood, and out- ranked him, foresaw the danger and averted it.
On October 26th, General Sherman telegraphed to General Thomas as follows:
"A reconnoissance pushed down to Gadsden to-day, reveals the fact that rebel army is not there, and the chances are it has moved west. If it turns up at Guntersville, I will be after it, but if it goes, as I believe, to Decatur and beyond, I must leave it to you at present, and push for the heart of Georgia."And on October 29th, he sent another message to General Rosecrans, as follows:
"I have pushed Beauregard to the west of Decatur, but I know he is pledged to invade Tennessee and Kentucky, having his base on the old Mobile and Ohio road. I have put Thomas in Tennessee, and given him as many troops as he thinks necessary, but I don't want to leave it to chance, and, therefore, would like to have Smith's and Mower's divisions up the Tennessee River as soon as possible. * * * I propose, myself, to push straight down into the heart of Georgia, smashing things generally."
Prior to the 1st day of November, General Sherman had sent twenty-five thousand infantry, from his Atlanta army, to General Thomas, and Gens. A. J. Smith's and Mower's divisions were expected to reach him before General Hood's army could attack him, and, in the meantime, Gen. James H. Wilson was expected to take command of and reorganize his cavalry, which, it was believed, could be increased to about twelve thousand men. The corps of General Stanley and Schofield, the Fourth and Twenty-third, sent by General Sherman to general Thomas, were veterans. New regiments of recruits were continually reaching General Thomas, and these were being grafted into those two veteran corps. The Confederate army, when it crossed the Chattahoochie River, about the 1st of October, and started north, contained, of all arms, about thirty-six thousand men, all veterans. This force had been augmented by general Forrest's and Rhoddy's cavalry, and some additional troops, until the total must have been nearly fifty thousand. The army under the immediate command of General Thomas was being augmented and strengthened to such extend that no doubt should remain of its ability to defend Tennessee against General Hood's army. When that was assured, General Sherman would start through Georgia.
On November 3rd, General Beauregard, with General Hood's army, was entrenched at Florence, Alabama. He had a pontoon bridge across the Tennessee River, which was protected from the federal gunboats by the Muscle Shoals above and the Colbert Shoals below it. He could cross his army only between those two shoals. At that date, General Sherman had shifted his forces back toward Atlanta. The Twentieth Corps had remained at Atlanta, the Fifteenth and Seventeen Corps were near Kenesaw Mountain, and the Fourteenth Corps was at Kingston. General Sherman was at Kingston. On that day, he said:
"I can be ready in five days, but am waiting to be more certain that Thomas will be prepared for any contingency that may arise. It is now raining, which is favorable to us and unfavorable to the enemy. Davis has utterly failed in his threat to force me to leave in thirty days, for my railroad is in good order from Nashville to Atlanta, and his army is farther from my communications now than it was twenty days ago. * * * I propose to adhere, as nearly as possible, to my original plan, and, on reaching the seacoast, will be available for reinforcing the army in Virginia, leaving behind a track of desolation, as well as a sufficient force to hold fast all that is of permanent value to our cause."
On the 6th day of November, General Sherman sent his final communication to General Grant, about his plans, and discussed the merits of the three different routes, on either of which he might go. The first, was Charleston or Savannah, cutting the only east and west railroad remaining to the Confederacy, and destroying the enemy's depots at Macon and Augusta; the second, and easiest route, was down the fertile valley of Flint River, to the navigable waters of the Appalachicola River, taking up our prisoners of war still at Andersonville, and destroying about four hundred thousand bales of cotton near Albany and fort Gaines, Georgia; and the third, down the valley of the Chattahoochie River, to Opelika and Montgomery, Alabama, and thence, to Pensacola or Tensas Bayou, in communication with Fort Morgan, at the entrance to Mobile Bay. In this communication, he said to General Grant:
"In my judgment, the first would have a material effect upon your campaign in Virginia; the second, would be the safest of execution; but the third, should more properly fall within the sphere of my own command, and have a direct bearing upon my own enemy, Beauregard. If, therefore, I should start before I hear farther from you, or before farther developments turn my course, you may take it for granted that I have moved via Griffin to Barnesville; that I break up the road between Columbus and Macon good, and then, if I feign on Columbus, will move via Macon and Millen to Savannah, or, it I feign on Macon, you may take it for granted I have shot off toward Opelika, Montgomery, Mobile Bay or Pensacola."
Curiously enough, this seems to be about the only point in General Sherman's plan that he departed from, and it was the very one that he had given General Grant for the purpose of enabling him to determine which was finally pursued. General Sherman made no feint on Columbus at all. He did make a strong feint on Macon. And then took the route to Savannah, instead of that to Opelika, Montgomery, Mobile Bay and Pensacola, as he said he would do. The probability is, that, in his communication to General Grant, he unintentionally reversed his feints. No explanation of the reversal was ever made. It is known that General Sherman though the first route much more effective, in anticipated results, than either of the others. On the 8th day of November, General Sherman wired to G. W. Tyler, at Louisville, Kentucky:
"Dispatch me to-morrow night and the next night a summary of all news, especially of elections, that I may report them to Governor Brown, at Milledgeville, where I expect a friendly interview in a few days. Keep this very secret, for the word will lose sight of me shortly, and you will hear worse stories than when I went to Meridian. Jeff Davis' thirty days are up for wiping us out, and we are not wiped out yet by a good deal."He clearly shows, in this dispatch, that he intended to go to Savannah.
On the 11th day of November, General Sherman wired to General Halleck, at Washington:
"My arrangements are now all complete. Last night, we burned all foundries, mills and shops of every kind in Rome, and to-morrow I leave Kingston, with the rearguard, for Atlanta, which I propose to dispose of in a similar manner, and to start on the 16th on the projected grand raid. * * * I have balanced all the figures well, and am satisfied that General Thomas has in Tennessee a force sufficient for all probabilities.* * * To-morrow our wires will be broken, and this is probably my last dispatch. I would like to have Foster break the Savannah and Charleston Road about Pocotaligo about the 1st of December. All other preparations are to my entire satisfaction."That again indicated the route to Savannah very clearly. On the same day, General Sherman wired to General Thomas, that Atlanta would be burned in two days more, that the wires would be broken the next day, and that he would leave Atlanta on the 16th, with sixty thousand men, well provisioned, but expecting to live liberally on the country. On the 12th, General Thomas answered:
"I have no fears that Beauregard can do us any harm now, and if he does not follow you, I will then thoroughly organize my troops, and, I believe, shall have men enough to ruin him unless he gets out of the way very rapidly. * * * I am now convinced that the great part of Beauregard's army is near Florence and Tuscumbia, and that you will at least have a clear road before you for several days, and that your success will be fully equal to your expectations."General Sherman replied: "All right." And the wires were then cut.
By the 14th day of November, the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth and Twentieth Corps, sixty thousand strong, were at Atlanta. Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick's cavalry division, five thousand five hundred strong, was also there. The artillery consisted of sixty guns, one to each thousand men. All the useless baggage had been sent to the rear. The railroad had been destroyed as far north as Dalton. Rome and Atlanta had been burned. Dwellings and churches only escaped destruction. Everything was ready for the grand "March to the Sea."
These general movements of the army are given here more fully than might be deemed necessary in a regimental history. But it is done for several purposes. First, to illustrate the marvelous energy and endurance and force and powers of a large army when skillfully directed. Considering that General Sherman's army had just completed the Atlanta campaign, covering full five months of continuous marching and intrenching and fighting, and that it was about to enter upon the campaign across Georgia, the duration and hardships and dangers of which were uncertain and problematical, these movements, detailed in this chapter, were really wonderful. Under the circumstances existing, it is quite safe to say, that the marching done, and the work performed, and the results accomplished by this army, in the month and a half that intervened between the end of the Atlanta campaign and the beginning of the campaign across Georgia, were never exceeded, if, indeed, they were ever equaled, by any other army. Second, to illustrate the superior generalship of General Sherman. He closely watched and accurately measured every movement of, and persistently denied every temptation offered him by, General Hood and Beauregard; he held fast to and secured all the material results of the Atlanta campaign; sufficiently strengthened the hands of General Thomas to enable him to hold Tennessee; and, at the same time, prepared a new thunderbolt for the enemy. And third, to lay the foundation for a better understanding of the campaign across Georgia; the reasons underlying the successful execution of it, and its effect as a factor in the termination of the war. During the period of these general movements of the army, from the 5th day of October to the 11th day of November, inclusive, the Ninety-Third Illinois remained at Allatoona, pursuing the daily routine of garrison duty. On the 30th day of October, Lieutenant Colonel Buswell, who had been at home, on leave of absence, returned to and assumed command of the regiment. On the 7th of November, Captains Brown and Taggart started home, on leave of absence; and on the 8th, Captain Lee returned from absence with leave.
Rain had been falling for five or six days, when, on the 8th of November, General Sherman telegraphed to all post commanders: "This is the storm I have been waiting for. When it is over we will move." When the telegram was read, some one said: "The old woman knew the cow would eat the grindstone." And the dispatch did remind one of the humor of that old saying. But the General did not say, that he knew beforehand that the storm would come. He only said, he had been "waiting for" it. Of course, he had been "waiting for" it--to quit. He could do nothing else. On the 9th, 10th and 11th days of November, the regiment made all necessary preparations to move. On the 10th, all the sick and disabled were sent to Chattanooga. All tents and extra baggage being sent to the rear, everything was in readiness. On the 12th, at 9 o'clock in the morning, the regiment left Allatoona, and marched, on the Marietta road, to a point a mile and a half southeast of Ackworth. On the 13th, the march was continued to a point four miles south of Marietta. On the 14th, the regiment crossed the Chattahoochie River. About 9 o'clock in the morning, marched to Atlanta, Georgia, and went into camp one mile south of the city. The distance marched, from Allatoona to Atlanta, was thirty-six miles. This closes the record down to the Georgia campaign. All the forces that were to participate in it were now at and near Atlanta, and ready to start.
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