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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Major Bowen writes under date of Oct. 25th:
"Our regiment moved out and occupied the front. Considerable activity seemed to be in other parts of the army. On the 27th the noise of an engagement could be heard down the river, and it was rumored that Hooker was fighting south of Bridgeport, and that our forces had taken prisoners, the force of the enemy that had been holding the river at the suck, 1,000 in number, and that the river is now open within six miles of town. Cannonading is also heard down about the base of the mountain and beyond. Every five minutes there is to be seen a spiteful puff of smoke from Moccasin Point, and presently another is visible between us and Lookout Mountain. The first is the smoke from one of our guns, and the second from the shell which it drops among scattering parties of the enemy as they shown themselves on the mountain's side. And now comes into our camp four companies of the 31st Indiana, that have been to Stephenson to guard a supply train, and it has taken 20 days to make the trip, a distance of 60 miles as they have to go. With such difficulties has the army to be supplied with rations. As a result of this arrival, an orderly makes his appearance and asks: "Is this the headquarters of the 100 Ills?" To which the reply is quickly made: "It is, sir." "I am ordered to report to you with two days' rations for 312 men." "Very good, sir. Orderly, call Q.M. Serg't Garnsey." Then the hungry tigers of the 100th set up a shout long and hearty, for although there has been no grumbling, it has been pretty hard to satisfy a soldier's appetite on half a cracker and corn foraged from the poor mules."
"On the 28th, there has been cannonading all day upon and beyond Lookout mountain. At one time the rebels had a battery upon the very top and were firing upon our troops in the valley toward Shell Mound. Our guns on Moccasin Point threw their shells on to the top of the mountain nine or ten hundred feet high, and silenced one of the enemy's guns. About one o'clock to-day (28th) we hear the reports of musketry and artillery, and know that there is hard fighting going on in a portion of our army, perhaps the battle that is to settle the question whether or not we hold Chattanooga. Next day we learn that the fight was brought on by one of our regiments reconnoitering running into the enemy's lines, and who would not fall back, but stood their ground, were reinforced, and drove a division of the enemy from their breastworks and scattered them over the mountain, taking a battery and some prisoners of Longstreet's corps. (This secured to us possession of Kelly's Ferry and Lookout Valley, and was an important success.)
"On the 30th, Lieut. Gano, of our regiment, started out on a foraging expedition over the river. We have a pontoon bridge across the river on the bend opposite the town, which opens up to our army a rich valley from which to forage, and also opens up communication with Bridgeport.
"Nov. 5th. Provisions are beginning to arrive freely, and the pressure is letting up. The enemy still hold Lookout, but there are indications of an attack upon the extreme right by Grant's and Hooker's forces.
"Nov. 11th. Have been back in town some days from the front, in our old quarters. The paymaster is here. Boats are running regularly between Kelly's Ferry (seven miles below) and Bridgeport, and rations are now coming in freely. Our communications are complete with Hooker's army and we have the inside track of Mr. Bragg. Brisk firing is going on between Moccasin Point and Lookout. The news from the elections and from the sanitary fair at Chicago, has greatly encouraged the boys."
By Nov. 23d, Grant had completed his dispositions, and all was ready for the great movement which was to avenge the failure of Chickamauga, and to settle the question of our possession of this key to the South. Bragg had requested Grant to remove all non-combatants from Chattanooga, as he was about to bombard it. But on the morning of the 25th, he is somewhat astonished to find Sherman with his western boys on his right, Hooker with his veterans from the Potomac on his left, and Thomas, the rock of Chickamauga, on whom he had hurled his legions the 20th of Sept. last, only to be beaten back, now posted in his front again. But he still trusts in what he deems the impregnable and inaccessible sides of Mission Ridge. Hooker had made his successful demonstration on Lookout, and the news of his victory inspired the whole army.
On the morning of the 23d, an unusual movement being observed in the rebel camps, orders were given for a division of the 4th corps to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Orchard Knob. Wood's division was selected to be supported by Sheridan's. (The 100th is now in Sheridan's division). Wood formed his men on the slope outside the fortifications, and advanced rapidly. His reconnaissance was quickly turned into a storming party, and we carry the Knob, and the works about it at the point of the bayonet. This success rendered the enemy's interior line of works untenable.
A strong and important position was secured, and a regiment of rebels (the 28th Ala.) and its colors were captured. General Wood was ordered to hold the position. Reversing the entrenchments of the rebels he made our position impregnable.
"Nov. 25th. The morning was clear and cold. Gen. Wagner came round with the cheering intelligence that Hooker had taken Lookout. As our boys were hardly ready to credit the good news, Wagner says: "You miserable Suckers, don't you think the Yanks can fight as well as you?" About 3 p.m. there is a signal of six guns. Before the echoes have died away in the surrounding hills, our corps advance. Mission Ridge is an elevated ridge, some six or eight hundred feet high, lying about four miles (in front) from Chattanooga, and about one mile from Orchard Knob, with a wooded valley between us and the enemy's entrenchments at the base of the ridge. The ridge itself is crowned with formidable works, bristling with from 50 to 60 cannon, and behind the breastworks are the veteran regiments of the rebel army. As soon as our advance commenced, the rebels opened on us a terrific fire. Had it been a veritable volcano, a burning mountain, it could hardly have surpassed the grandeur of the terribleness of the display it now made. But the advance of our brave boys was hardly checked. On they go, driving the rebels from their rifle-pits at the foot of the mountain. This was the point to which they had been ordered, the principal object of the movement being to make a diversion in favor of Sherman, who was assaulting another portion of the enemy's lines. But the brave men of the army of the Cumberland forgot to stop. They were just mad enough to disappoint the expectations of Mr. Bragg and to go on up the mountain's side, through the storm of fire, and gaining point after point, pressed upward, hardly stopping to rest, or even to shoot. It must have been a moment of anxious suspense to the commanding generals, Grant and Thomas, who were watching the movement from Orchard Knob with their glasses. But the suspense was not long. From the foot of the ridge to the top, it was at least three-fourths of a mile, and very steep. Our men fell back once for a little while under the deadly fire, but soon go on again and stopped but twice to take a little breath in making the ascent, moving rather deliberately until they got within about a hundred yards of the enemy, when they rushed forward with a yell, and the cry of "revenge for Chickamauga," and capturing everything in the rebel works; the rebels not having time to spike the guns, which were immediately turned upon them. Chickamauga was avenged, and the anxious watchers below saw the stars and stripes floating over the rebel works. This achievement is justly regarded as one of the most brilliant of the war, or indeed of any war.
Gen. Thomas, in a circular which he issued after the battle, said to Granger commanding the corps,
"Please accept my congratulations on the success of your troops, and convey to them my cordial thanks for the brilliant style in which they carried the enemy's works. Their conduct cannot be too highly appreciated."
Gen. Granger says,
"In announcing this distinguished recognition of your signal gallantry in carrying, through a terrible storm of iron, a mountain crowned with batteries and encircled with rifle-pits, I am constrained to express my own admiration of your noble conduct, and I am proud to tell you that the veteran generals from other fields, who witnessed your heroic bearing, place your assault and triumph among the most brilliant achievements of the war."
In this battle the 100th was in Sheridan's division, and charged the ridge directly in front of Orchard Knob, where the enemy first gave way, and were entitled to the credit of capturing some of the enemy's guns, but instead of stopping to hand them over and get credit for the act, they pursued the rebels all night. The officers and the men behaved splendidly and with great deliberation. "Revenge for Chickamauga," was the battle cry.
We insert here some lines written by Colonel Bartleson in Libby Prison, on hearing of these successes - his heart and thoughts were with his brave boys, although prevented from leading them in person:
....... (I have chosen not to include this full page of drivel as it does not in any way pertain to the regimental history of this unit. **map**)
The 100th took part in the pursuit of the rebels as far as Chickamauga creek, and then returned, and going back over the ridge, saw the long lines of dead rebels for whom our men were digging trenches, and going down the ridge, came across a number of our own dead who had been collected for burial. The regiment then returned to camp.
In these operations before Chattanooga, and on Mission Ridge, which resulted so successfully for our cause, and placed Grant at the head of our army, the 100th was in front and lost heavily from its already thinned ranks. Only one man was however killed, Henry Doncaster, of Co. H, from Wilton.
Co. A - Captain Rodney S. Bowen, severely in flesh of leg;
Privates, George Strathdee, fracture of left arm; Norman Kahler, fracture of left leg; Roger Brennan, fracture of left leg; John Althouse, severely in leg and faced; Daniel Davis, slightly in hand; Henry Kellogg, slightly in arm;
Co. B - Sergeant, Major E. Searles, flesh of arm; Privates - F.W. Mather, flesh in shoulder; George Morrison, slightly in neck.
Co. C - Privates - John F. Dickman, slightly in knee; Michael Murphy, slightly in shoulder; Plumer Adams, slightly.
Co. D - Privates - George Kines, fracture of left leg; Samuel Shutt, slightly in left knee. Co. E - Private - Wm. Kennedy, slightly.
Co. F - Captain R.S. McClaughry, slightly in hip and foot; Privates - John Bertie, severely in body, (died Nov. 27th); Michael Calahan, slightly in knee.
Co G - Privates - James Ricker, flesh in arm; Edmund Goodenow, slightly; Ira Chapman, flesh in arm; Joseph Therrin, slightly.
Co. H - Lieutenant Samuel G. Nelson, severely in thigh; Privates - Henry Benson, severely in bowels, (dies Nov. 27th); James Burr, flesh in leg; Henry H.Clark, slightly in hand.
Co. I - Capt Hezeziah Gardner, right leg amputated above knee - Privates - Charles Cooper, flesh wound in thigh; James Kinney, flesh in shoulder.
Co. K - Lieutenant John A.Kelly, slightly in foot - Privates - Alonzo Rudd, flesh in leg; Charles Hudson, severely in left shoulder.
Total - one killed; wounded, officers six, privates, twenty-seven.
Major Hammond was in command, and Captain Bowen acting as Major. Bowen was wounded while gloriously discharging his duty, and Major Hammond had his horse shot from under him, and was knocked insensible by a fragment of a shell, but recovered in a few moments.
Perhaps some of my readers may remember to have seen in our city papers last winter, an item to the effect that the gentlemanly clerk of the post office, Major Searles, had submitted to the amputation of one of his fingers. Well, it was the same man reported wounded in the above list. I will say that he was sergeant by military rank, and Major by name, although he had been promoted to lieutenant at the time, but had not received his commission. He was wounded in the wrist and disabled, but fortunately recovered without the loss of his hand, but with one finger badly demoralized. This finger he had been trying to keep these ten years or more since that memorable fight, but at last got disgusted with it, and got the doctor to cut if off, and hence it has become my painful duty to write this obituary notice of the departed - finger. It was a good finger in its day, and had served the country well at Stone River, Chickamauga and Mission Ridge, and should be gratefully remembered. Requiescat in pace!
"Nov. 27th, late at night the regiment received orders to be ready to march in the morning at seven, with three days' rations, and forty rounds of cartridge. What is up now? It is not for soldiers to inquire, and so Saturday, Nov. 28th, a cold and rainy day finds us ready to go where the powers that be direct. But we do not march until afternoon, then we fall in and march along up the river, and on through mud and water long after dark, when we come to the Chickamauga, where we stop and build fires, try to dry our feet, eat supper and go to sleep.
"Nov. 29th, called up at 4, and march ten miles before breakfast! Stop and make our coffee, and after a short rest go on at a rapid rate. The roads get better and the country appears to be a fine one.
"Nov. 30th, go over Pigeon Ridge, and come into a beautiful valley, and now we get an order which tells us that Burnside is invested Knoxville, and we are marching to his relief. We are also told that as we are going through a country where the people are Union, we must not straggle or pillage. About noon we go through a small place called Georgetown, where the Union flag is flying, and soon come to the Hiawasse River. Here we stop and build fires. The rails have to do it, for although the men are said to be loyal, soldiers must have their fire wood. We get some cornstalks and make a bed, but do not lie down more than ten minutes before the bugle sounds and we start on again, and cross the river on flat boats and barges, and go up the bank, stack arms, and break for the rails again. Here we find a steamboat, which has come up from Chattanooga with rations for us, which we draw and go into camp.
"Dec. 1st. Lay in camp till 2 p.m., and then march. We go through a fine country about 11 miles and camp again. Dec. 2d, we go through Decatur, a pretty little place. After going on a while we come to a large house, the owner of which is a bitter rebel. We take his mules and horses from his stables, go into his pasture and drive up his sheep and take them along. Then the boys go into the house and take his provisions. We load on two loads of pork and take it along. We go into camp after a 20 mile march and have a good supper.
"Dec. 3d. March at 6; pass Philadelphia, a pretty town, mostly sesesh, and take the road to Morgan and go into camp within about three miles of the place.
"Dec. 4th. Rations run out and we have to forge, and on the 5th we go past Robinson's mill to the little Tennessee, which we cross near a deserted place called Morgantown; forage again, and so we go on marching, camping and foraging until we reach the vicinity of Knoxville, the night of Dec. 7th.
"Our advance came up with the rear guard of Longstreet at Louden, but he raised the siege of Knoxville, and slipped away through Bulls gap into Western Virginia. Some fault was found with Granger because the corps did not make better time, but I guess those who made the march thought they went fast enough. It must be remembered that this march had been made by our corps after two months of short rations, the exhausting fighting in front of Chattanooga, and on mission Ridge, and the chase after the enemy without any rest. The boys were many of them almost barefooted and all thinly clad, and much of the time on deficient rations. We had left with the expectation of returning soon and were allowed no transportation for extra baggage, only one wagon to a regiment, and hence were poorly prepared for a winter in East Tennessee. But this we soon learn is to be our lot. We stay about Knoxville while the force which was here has gone in pursuit of Longstreet.
"Dec. 12th. Marched to Louisville 14 miles. We had to wade the little river, which made the boys squeal some the water was so cold. Went into camp at Louisville at 7. This is a small place of about fifty families."
The 100th was then detailed by Gen. Wagner to take possession of the mills at Louisville, and forage the country for provisions and grain, and to grind the grain for the division. Each day a captain and a squad of men were sent out to forage. The commanding officer always charged the detail not to be hard on poor people, but at the same time to be sure and not come back empty. The captains of the 100th were all humane men and no doubt executed their orders in the most gentle and judicious manner, but I guess it would have been "poor picking" after them!
After staying here about two weeks the regiment was ordered to join the brigade at Blair's cross roads, about 20 miles above Knoxville. So we cross the Holston and go back to Knoxville and take quarters in an old college. Get supper, draw rations, and then are ordered to fall in again and we march down to the railroad, get aboard some cattle cars and go about 20 miles to a place called "Strawberry Plains." The night was dark as Egypt. The rain poured down in torrents, and it was freezing cold; and no one knew where to find rails and water, those indispensable articles for a soldier's bivouac. At last Capt. Stewart, with Co. A, having pressed through the blackness, rain and sleet, found a rail fence, and the 100th having made their coffee, lay down in the rain once more happy. We left some men in Knoxville with such bad shoes that they could not travel. We hear that the rebels have been reinforced, and that they mean to take Cumberland Gap, and that our corps has been sent down here with Burnside's (now Foster's) to prevent them."
And here, in this delightful region so beautifully names, the bare mention of which will call up such delightful reminiscences of fruit and flowers in the minds of many a soldier, the brigade remained until the 13th of January. Frequent changes were made in the camps, as the necessities of wood and forage required. Much of the time the rations were very scanty, and had to be supplemented from the country, itself not very flush. The corn had to be foraged and ground, many of our boys turning millers. But they could run anything, from a sewing machine to a factory. In the mean while the surgeon of the regiment (Dr. Woodruff) arrived, who had been in Libby since Chickamauga, and many of the convalescents had come up.
By the way, there was quite an interesting episode occurred in the history of our boys about the last of December. The convalescents of the corps (now Granger's) that had been left at Chattanooga, together with some that had returned to that point from their furloughs, including in the number about sixty of the 100th, among them Adjutant Rouse, Capts. Bartlett and McDonald, and Lieut. Col. Waterman, the latter in command of the detachments from seven regiments of Wagner's brigade. They marched from Chattanooga on the morning of the 24th of December, working their way through mud and rain and storm to rejoin their commands.
On the 28th they were at Charleston, and were moving out of the town in front, when they were attacked by a division of Wheeler's cavalry, some 5,000 strong. Our convalescents were hastily got into position, skirmishers were sent out and opened upon the enemy who were dismounted and posted upon the hills, which were covered with a second growth of timber, in front of our boys, and from which they poured a steady and well directed fire. Our forces held them in check a couple of hours until they had got their train safely over the river, when the order to charge was given, and the convalescents went in with a yell. The rebs delivered a heavy fire, and then turned and run, but before they could mount their horses, our boys captured one hundred and twenty-six men, and six officers, including two colonels and the inspector general of Wheeler's staff. The rest took to the hills at the top of their speed. The repel citizens on the way had provided a lunch of the best which could be got, in anticipation of the visit of Wheeler; but had to take the second table, as prisoners. The convalescents joined the brigade on the 12th of January.
"On the 15th of January, the corps started for the French Broad Country, either in hopes of getting better forage, or to feel of Longstreet. On the 16th, went into camp a short distance from Dandridge, a sleepy old town about the size of Chattanooga.
"On the 17th, our regiment was called up at four, and ordered to fill their cartridge boxes and get breakfast. There was fighting at the front yesterday. It is said to be only four miles to Longstreet's line. We are ordered to stay in camp. In the afternoon we hear firing at the front which continues until after dark. We are ordered to be ready at a moment's notice. After dark we "fall in," supposing that we are to cross the "French Broad," which is but a little way off. But we soon find that we are taking the same road we had come on. We think we are going back a little to protect the rear, but we keep on without stopping, except for a few moments to rest. We keep on, the roads are slippery with mud, and rough and uneven with the rocks. It is the worst of marching, bad enough in daylight, but in darkness, just horrible. The men fall out one after another by the way, unable to keep up. We get so sleepy that we can hardly keep awake. And thus we go on all night, that is, part of the force, for many fall out, and lie down to sleep. Toward daylight we stop and rest awhile, and start on again early the 18th, and go on to Strawberry Plains, cross the Holston on a new bridge, make a short halt, and then go on four miles, go into camp, draw rations, and get supper, and thus ended the memorable retreat from Dandridge."
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