Page images


burned the bridge as they left, and we were behind holding the bag. If I was familiar with Johnson, I'd say: "Pretty sharp. Joe, and I'd carry the joke no further."

Here along the road on the slopes, in tne redoubt, and through the thickets, lay the dead and mangled. In one house not far distant from the scene of conflict the rebels had huddled at least twenty ambulance loads of wounded. But to the hill. Here in front of Ward and Coburn, and Wood and Geary, the dead were numerous. We found one dead Colonel, but on his person no marks or papers by which to recognize him. A short distance from the battle-field lived a family that had members in the rebel army, and it was supposed they were in this battle. The mother and sisters were searching the thickets and looking into the faces of the dead in feverish anxiety to know whether their dear ones were among the number who should never wake again to earth's reveille.

time connected with the army as Sutler of the Nineteenth regular infantry, performed praiseworthy service as a volunteer aid on the staff of General R. W. Johnson. He flinched from no duty, encountered danger, and performed every task with satisfaction to the General.

Major Connolly, of General Baird's staff, is equally deserving of commendation for his attention to duty and unflinching bravery.

Our losses from the seventh up to the sixteenth, will amount to at least four thousand men.

The enemy's loss will, I apprehend, not exceed in killed, wounded, and missing, twentyfive hundred, as he fought mostly behind breastA. J. DAUGHERTY. works.


RESACCA, GA., May 17.

The preliminary operations of General SherAt the foot of the hill, near a long row of dead men laid out for burial, stood the four guns, man's campaign are already known to the pubto capture or retain which all these lives were lic-the massing of General Thomas' army at paid. The boys of the brigade felt and exam-Chattanooga; the advance to Ringgold, and the ined every piece of mechanism, point, or clasp, or ring. A soldier was astraddle every piece, and some supported two. They would step about, and scrutinize and talk about them fully as proud of them as an affianced bride would be of a charming trousseau.

In front of Logan's line even more ghastly sights were seen than on the enemy's right. The dead that lay here had lain for two days, and were badly swollen. They were lying in the ditches, on the knolls near the works, in the ravines, in every conceivable place, and in every possible shape. As I travelled among the corpses on the night of the sixteenth instant, just above me on a knoll a party of church members were singing a hymn. A few feet from them lay the corpse of an old bald-headed man. There was a strange contrast between the mellow sweetness of their voices chanting a hymn, and the cold, rigid features and the glassy glare of the eyeballs, as the moonbeams fell upon them. There was too much food for solemn thought. Death, to which we all must come at last, and they who were preparing for it.

On a little knoll we found three bodies. Wild flowers of every hue were blooming here as though nature had decked these rolling green swards for a gala day. To descend from the knolls into the thickets to hunt dead men was the straw too much for my curiosity, and I returned to camp to revisit the field in dreams.

Lieutenant Shaw, on the staff of General Elliott, Chief of Cavalry of the Department of the Cumberland, was very conspicuous on the field bearing orders, and in making and reporting observations. Always cool amidst danger, and remarkably concise, he is worthy of the many compliments that were paid him during the four memorable days before Resacca.

Mr. C. F. Wagner of New York, for a loug

passage of Taylor's Ridge; the march of McPherson from Huntsville, Decatur, and other places, towards the great theatre of operations in North Georgia; the descent of Schofield from East Tennessee to form part of the left of the grand army-all these things are known.

Equally well understood are the next series of movements-the march from the eastern foot of Taylor's Ridge to the western base of the Chattanooga Mountain; the occupation of the town of Tunnel by a portion of Palmer's corps; the retreat of the enemy, after some insignificant skirmishing, from the Tunnel Hill range of eminences; the movement of Schofield and Newton along the east side of Rocky Face, a part of Chattanooga Mountain; the ascent of the northern slope of the ridge by Harker, until stopped by an almost impassable ravine, across which the enemy opened a fierce fire; the splendid achievement of Colonel John G. Mitchell, in driving the rebels from the mouth of Buzzard Roost Gap, taking possession of three hills at its western entrance, thus closing it as effectually against the rebels, should they attempt to assail our rear through it, as they had closed it against any direct advance of ours upon Dalton; the fearless charge of Colonel B. F. Scribner across some open fields to the right of the gap, by which he cleared everything except the ridge itself of the rebel sharpshooters, and then retired with his troops orderly as if on parade, although exposed to a plunging fire from six pieces of artillery on the summit of Rocky Face; the brave but unavailing effort of General Geary to penetrate the enemy's strong barrier by way of Dug Gap. I cannot now pause to dwell upon any of these. Hereafter, even the hurried correspondent, grasping at events as they pass, may find time and opportunity to notice some of them at greater length.

But no one of these achievements, nor all of

them combined, had or could put us in posses- time. Had General Dodge thought best to do so, sion of Rocky Face Ridge, the impregnable ram- or had General McPherson deemed it prudent, part upon and behind which the rebels lay, and we might then have occupied these works; for which we must either penetrate or turn ere we they were defended by only a couple of the enccould ever hope to see Dalton. Boldly and ab-my's brigades. The reason we did not then take ruptly the ridge rises out of the valley, covered possession of Resacca, is probably because it was to its summit with a thick growth of pines, and not at that time determined by the commanding traversed by innumerable ravines. Two-thirds General to make his principal attack upon the of the way up the individual seeking to ascend enemy's left wing. is met by a stupendous cliff, rising perpendicularly to a height ranging from twenty to sixty feet, according to locality. Could we hope to storm this ridge? A line of skirmishers could defend it against a host. Could we hope to pass through Buzzard Roost Gap, lined as it was with rifle-pits and cannon? Annihilation awaited the force that should attempt it. Could Schofield proceed down the valley, along the east side of the ridge, and effect an entrance into Dalton in that way? By so doing he would cut himself off from support by the rest of the army, and probably be crushed by the enemy massing his forces against him. Besides, before going far upon his way, he would find another gorge almost as easily defensible as that of Buzzard Roost.

All this we had discovered last February, when Palmer, under the direction of Thomas, reconnoitred that stronghold of the enemy; but it is sometimes well to learn a lesson a second time. Four days we lay at the foot of Rocky Face, engaged in almost incessant skirmishing with the enemy's sharpshooters, effecting little or nothing toward the accomplishment of our object, and losing about eight hundred men.

A portion of Hooker's corps went down to the gap on the eleventh, and passed through. On the morning of the twelfth, the Fourteenth corps, General Palmer, began its march for the same locality, Geary's division, of Hooker's corps, preceded; Schofield's corps and Newton's division, of Howard's, followed. Stanley relieved Davis at the mouth of Buzzard Roost Gap, and Wood shifted down toward the right to support Stanley, ready to carry these two divisions into Dalton as soon as the attack upon the rebel left should compel them to withdraw from Buzzard Roost. As long as the great movement toward Snake Creek Gap was going on, it was Howard's business to keep up as much noise as possible at Buzzard's Roost, in order to deceive the enemy as to what was taking place, and make him believe as long as possible that the assault was to be made directly in front. Accordingly, long after we had left Buzzard Roost, on the morning of the twelfth, we could hear Howard's cannon pounding away lively as ever.

my question, "Where are the people gone?"
the invariable answer" Down below!" meaning,
of course, further South. The head of this
family was a villainous looking fellow, with
rebel, rebel, depicted in unmistakable lineaments
all over his countenance. It is very silly for
any of the people to run away from their homes
on the approach of the Union army, but I could
not avoid thinking that this fellow remained
behind from pure impudence. "I don't see,"
said he to me," what all you folks are going to
do down thar. I reckon if all that have passed
here in the last two days are thar now, they
must be piled on top of one another!" "I
reckon," said I, a little nettled, " that when they
get ready they'll go through the Gap to the
other side." "If they do they'll get hurt!" was
his cool rejoinder, and I could not prevent a
smile as I found myself unable to add anything

All along the road to Snake Creek Gap 1 found the country deserted, as usual, when our army first passes through; and the members of But a blow was about being struck in another the only family I saw in the entire fifteen miles' direction. Twelve or fifteen miles south of Buz-ride to Snake Creek Gap, gave me in answer to zard Roost is a long oblique cut in Chattanooga Mountain, called Snake Creek Gap, from a small stream which, running through the cut in a south-east direction, finds its way into the Oostenaula below Resacca. Thither McPherson, with parts of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth corps, wended his way, after passing through Ship Gap in Taylor's Ridge, and marching by the town of Villanow. It was on Monday, the ninth of May, when he reached the western entrance of Snake Creek Gap, and prepared to wrest it from the enemy. Singularly enough, it had been left both unfortified and unguarded by the rebels; a brigade which was hurried forward to dispute McPherson's passage, came too late; and ere the day was closed, that General found himself in full possession of this important pass, with scarcely the firing of a gun. On Tuesday, the tenth, General Dodge, with two divisions of the Sixteenth corps, closely supported by General Logan, with the Fifteenth, moved from the mouth of the gap, passed the Sugar Valley Post Office, drove in some small bodies of rebel skirmishers, and actually advanced to the range of hills which, in this direction, overlook Resacca. There were the enemy's formidable lines of works in open view; not so strong, indeed, as they were afterwards t formidable nevertheless even at that

I passed on through the famous gap, which is some four or five miles in length, and found the idea of the rebel citizen almost realized. Infantry, cavalry, and artillery covered the earth wherever the eye was directed; the gap throughout its whole extent literally swarming with living men. It called forcibly to my mind the mighty hosts of which we read in ancient history, sacred and profane. As I passed on,

the immense masses everywhere confronted me. Surely no nobler body of men, in all that constitutes genuine nobility, was ever collected together upon this continent. Here was a force much larger than that with which Napoleon, when a mere boy, won a score of pitched battles, destroyed four mighty armies, conquered all Italy, and sent the Austrian eagles screaming with terror back over the Noric Alps. The pride, the flower, the chivalry, the strength of the whole vast West was here. In able hands, how effective it might be made for the suppression of treason and the advancement of our glorious cause! Was it in such hands? The ardent enthusiast might answer unhesitatingly in the affirmative; the thoughtful patriot would only hope and pray.

All this day the army was employed in coming through the gap, and getting into position on the eastern side. Strange that the enemy never once attempted to interfere with our arrangements! Had he thrown himself with determined valor upon the heads of our columns as they were debouching into the plain, he might have inflicted upon us a heavy loss, and given us a world of trouble. But he was busy strengthening his defences at Resacca. All the operations of our army were covered with consummate skill by the cavalry, and it may be the enemy did not even know our infantry was through the gap, until a corps or two was in line of battle upon the eastern side.

Early on the morning of Friday, the thirteenth of May, preparations were made to advance towards Resacca. General Kilpatrick galloped forth to beat up the enemy's pickets. While he and members of his staff were in advance of his men, he fell into an ambuscade laid by a small party of the enemy, and received a painful, although not dangerous wound. Both he and his staff escaped with some difficulty from the rebels. The command of General Kilpatrick's division now devolved upon Colonel Murray, Third Kentucky cavalry, heretofore commanding a brigade in the division. It could not have fallen into better hands, for Colonel Murray is a young man who truly as any with whom I am acquainted, represents the chivalry of Kentucky. The command of Colonel Murray's brigade devolved upon Colonel Atkins, Ninety-second Illinois; and this, too, was fortunate, for the army contains no better man than he. The cavalry operations were conducted to general satisfaction all through the day.

At one o'clock P. M. news arrived that General Howard had passed through Buzzard Roost Gap and entered Dalton, finding the place entirely evacuated by the enemy. Shortly after the announcement of this intelligence, Osterhaus' and Harrow's divisions, of the Fifteenth corps, Logan's, began to advance towards Resacca. The rebels retreated rapidly until they came to a point where the Sugar Valley road, which so far runs nearly south, bends suddenly round some steep hills to the east, and passing through a ravine between two hills, continues

its course to Resacca. Here a heavy skirmish commenced, and at three P. M. the enemy opened a battery of twelve-pounders upon our troops, and shelled them most viciously. Our own batteries replied with spirit and effect, and a charge being sounded, a part of Osterhaus' division rushed forward and carried the hill upon which the rebel batteries had been planted. The rebels withdrew precipitately into their works, and this initial success encouraged our men greatly. It exasperated the rebels, however, for, concentrating the fire from a dozen cannon upon the summit of the hill, they hurled round shot and shell upon it so furiously, that it seemed impossible anything could continue there alive. But Foelkner's and De Gress' batteries were not to be intimidated, any more than were the Twenty-seventh Missouri infantry, which occupied the hill. The former returned fire for fire, and the latter crouching close to the side of the eminence, held fast to their position. The firing at last ceased, and just as the sun was about to go down, Sherman, Thomas, Elliott, and other Generals came up to the summit of the height, and through their glasses viewed long and attentively the rebel works around Resacca.

The sun had not risen on the morning of the fourteenth, Saturday, when the skirmishing recommenced; and until two P. M. there was not a single minute in which the dropping sound of musketry could not have been heard. It was half-past twelve, perhaps, when the rebels opened a severe fire of both small arms and artillery upon the left of the Fifteenth corps. At the same time the noise of battle could be distinctly heard away to the left. This last was readily understood.

After entering Dalton the day before, and finding nothing there save a ruined and deserted town, Howard, with Wood and Stanley's divisions, had moved rapidly southward, to effect a junction with the remainder of the army. The rebels were making a feeble effort to prevent this, and hence the firing upon the left. By noon the pickets of Howard communicated with those of Schofield or rather with Newton's division of his own corps, which had marched down the western side of Rocky Face, and passed through Snake Creek Gap in company with Schofield. Half an hour later the lines communicated, and thus the entire army was again united and in order of battle surrounding the enemy's works; Howard being upon the extreme left, Schofield next in order. Hooker next, Palmer next, Logan next, and Dodge on the right.

Whoever would form a general idea of the field of battle, has only to conceive of a river, the Oostenaula, with a great bend; at the middle of the semicircle thus formed, is the town of Resacca, through which runs the Western and Atlanta Railroad.

The rebel works extend generally north and south in front of the town, bending east and west at the extremities, so as to rest both flanks upon the river. Outside of this arc, and in a

[ocr errors]


manner surrounding it, extend our lines. little stream called Camp Creek flows through a narrow valley with precipitous bluffs on each side. For more than a mile our lines extend on one side of this valley, and the rebel lines on the other. The opposing armies shoot at each other across this valley! A country abounding in steep hills thickly wooded, with almost impassable ravines, and with here and there a cleared patch of ground, makes up the remainder of this great theatre of warfare where two mighty armies were about to enact another tragedy.

The rebel army was divided into three great corps: Hardee's on the right, Hood in the centre, and Polk on the left. All the reinforcements brought up from Mobile, Savannah, and other parts, were distributed among these three. About one o'clock it was determined to attack the enemy's lines, partly for the purpose of directing his attention from the left of the Fifteenth corps, where, as I have said, he had commenced a fierce fire, but mainly to test his strength and determination, and if possible to drive him from his works upon this part of the field.

The attack was commenced by Schofield, who, with Newton, advanced gradually up to the enemy's work, Wood and Stanley pressing closely the extreme rebel right. Further to our right, Carlin's and King's brigades of Johnson's division assailed the enemy's lines in front of them with great vigor and determination. Never was field more stubbornly contested. Officers vied with the men in acts of daring. Judah's division, of Schofield's corps, blazed like a volcano all round a low hill upon which were the rebel works they designed to storm. But every instant their ranks were thinned by showers of bullets and grapeshot hurled among them by the rebels, who fought with comparative security inside their rifle-pits.

Our line wavered. Turchin's brigade of Baird's division was ordered to the rescue. As a portion of Johnson's men had done, they burled themselves down the almost perpendicular bluffs of which I have spoken; waded through Camp Creek, waist deep at the foot; and attempted to charge across the valley under a most murderous fire. The charge was unsuccessful the bulk of the brigade withdrew; but a couple of regiments crossed the valley, and taking shelter under the very bluffs upon which the enemy's works were constructed, lay there in comparative security until the friendly night came on, when they quietly withdrew.

The order was finally given for the whole line to withdraw, which it did in good order. The enemy had been driven from a portion of his outer line of works, and although we did not occupy them at that time, the fire of our artillery was so effective that the rebels never reoccupied them.

Joe Johnston now determined to assume the offensive in earnest, and began massing his troops upon his right, with the design of turning our left. The movement would probably have been successful had it not been discovered in time and prevented. To Lieutenant W. L. Shaw, of General Elliott's staff, the honor of the discovery belongs. From a hill upon the right of our lines his keen eye detected the rebel columns moving towards our left. Hooker was instantly despatched to breast the coming storm, but before he could arrive it burst upon a portion of our line. Cruft's brigade of Stanley's division occupied an advanced position to the east of the Tilton and Resacca road, which Stanley had been ordered to hold. Upon this brigade the rebels fell in immense numbers, and after a gallant resistance it was broken and pushed back. As it emerged from the woods near the road, and came across some open fields west of the same, the enemy pressed after it with terrific yells. It seemed as if the left was really about to be turned, but Simonson's old battery, the Fifth Indiana, was posted at the western edge of the field, and as the rebels advanced, it poured into them so destructive a fire of grape and canister, that notwithstanding they rushed with determined bravery to within one hundred feet of the battery, they were finally driven back in great disorder. A brigade of Hooker's men, which had arrived at the nick of time, contributed greatly to this result, and manfully supported the battery.

Just as the battle ended upon the left a terrible conflict broke out upon the right. During the afternoon portions of Logan's corps, and Sprague's brigade of the Sixteenth corps, had dislodged the enemy from a line of works almost exactly in front of the town. Just after dark the rebels made a desperate effort to regain them. With long lines of infantry, whose fixed bayonets glittered in the moonlight, they charged up the hill upon which the works were situated, and forced their way to the very foot of the bulwarks. But a deadly fire from the Union lines mowed them down, until at last they gave up the fruitless contest and fled with precipitation and terror down the heights. It was nearly ten o'clock before the storm of battle ceased to rage.

commenced, but it was not until about half-past Early on Sunday morning the skirmishing reone that anything of importance took place.

Colonel John G. Mitchell's brigade, of Davis' division, was now sent to the assistance of Turchin. It came gallantly into the fight, as does any body of troops with Colonel Mitchell for a leader. But the relentless storm from the en- It should be observed here, that in order to emy's works fell upon it also; the Colonel him- fill up the gap occasioned by Hooker's withself narrowly escaped death, a shell exploding drawal the day before, the whole of Palmer's at the feet of his horse, a huge fragment knock-corps was shifted to the right, or rather was ing to flinders the field glass which hung at his expanded so as to cover twice as much ground side, and which alone saved his life. as it did the day before.

Hooker was now upon the extreme left, and about one P. M. commenced a general assault upon the works immediately in front. With dauntless bravery his men advanced to the attack, and Ward's brigade, of Butterfield's division, stormed a small fort, and captured four pieces of artillery. A tremendous fire from a long line of rebel rifle-pits, behind and around the fort, compelled the greater portion to retire; but enough remained to hold the cannon and prevent the rebels from recapturing the works. In this fight, Colonel Harrison, of the Seventieth Indiana, who assumed command of Ward's brigade upon the latter being wounded, particularly distinguished himself.

Our plan of battle for the coming day was to mass the bulk of our forces upon the wings of our army, assailing the rebels on both flanks at once, while our centre was held by a single line. Had this design been known to the enemy, he might have attempted to break our centre during the night. Consequently, the utmost vigilance was exercised after dark, and some rapid firing which took place in front of Johnson's division about midnight, caused the whole army to stand to its guns. But at that very hour the rear guard of the rebel forces was evacuating Resacca. The firing precipitated its movements, because the rebels in the town supposed we had discovered the retreat and were about attacking in force in the middle of the night.

When morning dawned, not a rebel, save some stragglers, was in or around Resacca. McPherson immediately started in pursuit. Ere this, his advance must have reached Calhoun; and while I am warned that the sixteenth of May has passed away, and the seventeenth is about to dawn, I see the Army of the Cumberland filing out from Resacca to join in the chase.

KINGSTON, GA., May 20.

Kingston. There a stand will certainly be ma le, or it may be that a gap in the Altoona Moun tains, at Altoona, six miles from the Etowah, may be chosen. The Etowah-improperly called the Hightower and Highflower-unites with the Oostenaula at Rome, forming the Coosa. A railroad unites Kingston with Rome, the distance being about thirty miles in a western direction.

My last letter gave an account of operations in McPherson's command on the right, up to Saturday night, the fourteenth. That day and evening, heavy fighting near Resacca was going on, in part of which one brigade of Dodge's command participated-Colonel Sprague's, of General Veatch's division. General Fuller's brigade was held in reserve. I regret being unable, on account of the steady moving of troops, to obtain particulars of their engagement. The Sixty-third and Forty-third Ohio are in Colonel Sprague's brigade. Their loss is not great. I am informed that this brigade had the honor of first entering Resacca.

Resacca being evacuated, and the enemy in full retreat, early Sunday morning General Dodge's second division was ordered to lay a pontoon bridge, and cross the Oostenaula at Lay's Ferry, in order to throw a column on the Rome road below Calhoun, and thus harass the enemy as much as possible. The first brigade, Colonel Rice, advanced a line of skirmishers, supported by artillery and infantry, and in a short time cleared the opposite bank of the force stationed there. The Sixty-sixth Indiana lost a number in killed and wounded, by supposing the enemy to be gone, and by marching by flank into range, where a volley taught them to form in line of battle in short order. Under cover of artillery, the pontoon wagons were brought to the river bank, and by ten o'clock the first brigade of infantry was over the river. The remainder of the troops were immediately forwarded, and all the infantry of two brigades-the First and Second-thrown across.

A skirmish line was thrown out, which soon developed a considerable force in plain view.

General Sherman's advance occupied this place yesterday, before noon. The rebel rear guard had left after daylight. The day before, eleven engines with trains, lay here, and moved south The Seventh Iowa, of the First brigade, and before the rear of the army; this morning, the Sixty-sixth Indiana, were thrown forward on before daylight, a Yankee engineer pulled the the right of the road, under cover of the woods whistle that sounded the arrival of the first en- towards a brick house, behind which the main gine under Federal direction. As the roar of rebel force was formed. The artillery got exthe whistle resounded through these mountains, cellent range, and literally perforated the house it received an answering echo from the thou-and outhouses with round shot and shell. The sands of Union soldiers who literally swarm all over the ground. The "boys" facetiously remark that General Johnston is on the train just in advance of Sherman, and keeps his train flagged in order to avoid being run into. Now (ten A. M.) it is reported that the train is eight miles further down, the next two bridges below being uninjured. The pursuit was so close that no attempt was made to burn the first bridge. At the second, our cavalry arrived in time to capture the squad which was attempting to fire the bridge, and with the prisoners' greasy haversacks, put the fire out.

The Etowah River is fourteen miles from

skirmish line was all that was visible in the open field, and when all was ready, a staff officer rode forward with the order for it to advance. Away went the blue line like so many moving dots, exploding into puffs of smoke at intervals, and again collecting into their original form. They had proceeded but a little way, until from the woods beyond emerged a dirty gray and brown line of big monsters bearing bright guns at a "right shoulder shift," and threatening to swallow up the little sprinkling of Yankees before them. Alas! they could not see the compact line of blue waiting to fall upon their left and crush it. Like sheep to the slaughter, they came

« PreviousContinue »