part of a volume entitled Fifteen Years Ago: or the Patriotism of Will County by George H. Woodruff
Submitted by Merryann Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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"On the 25th inst., Gen. Thomas issued a congratulary order in which he said:"The major general commanding, congratulates the troops upon the brilliant success which has attended the Union arms in the late battles and which has been officially reported as follows: "In the battle of the 20th inst. in which the 20th corps and one division of the 14th corps was engaged, the Union loss in killed, wounded and missing was 1,733. In front of the 20th corps there was put out of the fight 6,000 rebels: 563 of the enemy were buried by our troops, and the rebels were permitted to bury 250. The 2nd division of the 4th army corps, (embracing our 100th) repulsed seven assaults of the enemy with slight loss to them themselves, which must swell the rebel loss much beyong the 6,000. Prisoners captured 300 and 7 stands of colors.""The army now built substantial works. Heavy artillery was brought up and planted along the line, and the tediousness of a siege commenced. While we kept behind our works we were comparatively safe, but when on the skirmish line, or going anywhere from behind the works, the risk was great. On the 28th, Lieut. Stewart, of Co. A, tried the experiment of stopping a solid shot, nearly spent, which was playfully rolling along. The result was that he was sent to the hospital for some time, but he ultimately recovered. Just before the accident, Lieut. Stewart had come up to headquarters, and finding the time hanging heavily on his hands, had stumped the surgeon to play a game of cards. But the surgeon was sleepy, and not inclined just then. Stewart commenced to blackguard the medical department, and said he should like to know what it was good for, if it was not to furnish amusement to the rest of the regiment. The surgeon told him that it would not be long before he would be glad enough to avail himself of their services, when he wanted an arm or a leg amputated. Stewart replied that he shouldn't trouble them, if he wanted such a job done, he would get a big nigger with a buck-saw to do the job. Just then the spent ball came rolling along where the lieutenant was lying, and struck him on the cheek bone, - literally and figuratively "stopping his jaw" for a while. While fixing the lieutenant up for hospital, the surgeon told him that it was a judgment upon him for his irreverent treatment of the medical department.On the 39th, another brave officer of the 100th was wounded, George W. Rouse, who went out as adjutant, but was now acting as brigade inspector. While on the skirmish line he had his right leg crushed by a solid shot, necessitating amputation, from the effects of which he died August 3d, another costly sacrifice which our county had to make to preserve the Union."On the 5th of August, a "demonstration" was ordered in front of our brigade. Co. I, of our regiment, was on the skirmish line, and during the attack, Lieut. George Schoonmaker, of Wilmington, another good officer and good man, commanding the company, was instantly killed. So, in a week we had lost two officers killed, and one severely wounded, and the regiment was now reduced to one hundred and fifty men and ten officers present for duty."About the 20th of August, it began to be rumored that some change in the manner of attack was soon to be made. Thursday morning, the 24th, the 100th went to the skirmish line, breaking camp, something unusual. Before dark that evening, the artillery had been moved out, except one or two pieces, to division front. By 8 p.m. the balance of the division was quietly moving out. The 100th and the other pickets formed a rear guard. We all supposed that it was a move to the right, and were surprised to find that our course held on for three or four miles, straight for the rear, and then began to think we were falling back to the Chattahoochie. But before daylight we turned to the right, and marched till 6 a.m., then rested an hour. About this time the enemy could be seen occupying part of our old works, and we took position to resist, should they attempt to follow. But they were puzzled to understand our change of program. The 20th corps had gone back to the river. The day was very hot, and the march was kept up until noon without halting. We camped about 4 p.m. On the 27th we rested most of the day, the road being occupied by the 14th corps, and the army of the Tennessee. About 3 p.m. we started again, passing these troops, we camped about 9 in a thick underbrush. It was so dark that candles had to be used to establish the line. Next morning we changed position and build works. On the afternoon of the 39th, we moved again and threw up more works, stayed until afternoon of the 31st. This was the position of the army at this time, the 23d corps on our left, 14th on our right, and the army of the Tennessee on the right of the 14th. The right wing of our corps rested on the Montgomery road near Red Oak. September 1st we moved on to the Flint river, and the same day the 23d corps struck the Macon railroad about two and a half miles below "Rough and Ready," destroying it. The army of the Tennessee had an engagement near Jonesboro. On the 2d, we struck the railroad about two miles below Rough and Ready, and commenced tearing it up. This was hard work, but being a new experience the men went at it with a will. The corps would march its length along a side of track, stack arms and unsling knapsacks, and with rails from the neighboring fences, pry up the track, ties and all, throw it bottom side up, knock off the ties and make a bonfire of them, and then lay the rails across, so that when heated, they would bend with their own weight, or could be bent against a tree, and thus be rendered useless until re-rolled. While engaged at this the 14th corps and the army of the Tennessee were fighting near Jonesboro. About 6 p.m. our corps went to their left, formed a line and advanced, and drove the rebs from their works, capturing ten guns and from three to five hundred prisoners, but it was dark before they could do much. Three of the regiment were wounded, but only one severe enough to be sent to the hospital. Next day we marched on through Jonesboro to near "Lovejoys," and skirmished all afternoon. We heard a mighty thundering in the direction of Atlanta, which we afterwards learned was caused by the explosion of eighty car loads of ammunition and the rebel magazines."On the next day Gen. Sherman issued a congratulatory order officially announcing that his "flanking machine" was again successful, and that Atlanta, the goal of the campaign was won, and occupied by the 20th corps, on the day previous, and that the present task was done and well done."We remained here until the 5th, most of the time exchanging fire with the enemy. It was an exposed position. Charlie Styles, who it will be remembered, was married at Athens just before starting out on the campaign, was hit and killed while playing his fife in his tent door. Surgeon Woodruff had his horse shot while here. This was the most southern point to which the 100th went. About 8 p.m. we started back. The night was dark, the roads muddy, and the pioneers hard work to make some places passable for the artillery."We entered Atlanta on the 8th day of September, and went into camp about three miles east of the city. We fixed up a very comfortable camp, and all were enjoying a rest, and hoping that it might last for some time. Some officers and men had visited this city about a year previous as prisoners of war, and were pleased to make its acquaintance again under so different circumstances. It was a great treat, after a four month's campaign, three at least of which had been under fire, losing many of our comrades, and kept upon a constant strain, encountering rocks, underbrush, dust, mud and rain, ragged and powder stained, dirty and barefooted, - it was a treat which can only be appreciated by those who have been through a similar experience, to be allowed once more to clean up, wear clean clothes, and move about without being on the "qui vive" gasinst rebel bullets and shells."Sunday morning, Sept. 25th, we were enjoying a most delightful day, emphatically a day of rest - listening to the music of the bands, and congratulating ourselves that the campaign was over; when we were astonished by the reception of orders for our brigade to prepare to move immediately."Long ere this we had learned that there is no use in a soldier's grumbling, or asking for the why and wherefore; all we have to do is to obey orders. So we go into town, load into a train, and start for Chattanooga. The trip is quickly made by rail, as now we had not to fight our way step by step. We arrived there Monday noon, camping in town and awaiting orders. About midnight we were ordered out and put on duty as provost guard. This was taken as indication that our brigade was to do garrison duty, which pleased us all. But Tuesday afternoon we were relieved by convalescents and ordered to camp on a hill in the east part of the town. The troops which had been garrisoning Chattanooga had been sent to Huntsville, Tallahassee, and other points to guard the railroad from the raids of rebel cavalry, which were trying to do what mischief they could in Sherman's rear. We were therefore kept moving about lively."Oct. 7th, we went by railroad to Cleveland, thence to Resacca and back the next day, and on the night of the 11th, we were roused about midnight, went to the cars, but did not start out till 5 a.m., when we ran out as far a Ringgold, bivouacked near the town, and started back again between Seven and eight p.m. We ran off the track in the night, and did not get on again until 11 o'clock next day, (13th)."The 14th was an exciting day. Reports came of the surrender of Dalton by our force there, and the evacuation of Tunnel Hill and Ringgold. The troops in Chattanooga were set to work on the fortifications. In the afternoon of the 15th we went to Ringgold again, and back next night to Chattanooga. We did not leave the cars, but drew three days' rations,a nd about daylight started for Bridgeport. On the 18th returned to Chattanooga, disembarked, and started off on the march again, camping that night on the old Chickamauga battle field where we had been just one year and a month before, and where we had left many a brave comrade."On the 19th we marched 15 miles; on the 20th, 12 miles, passing through Lafayette. On the 21st we reached Alpine about noon, rested two hours, then our brigade moved west to Henderson's Gap in Lookout Range. Next morning we crossed the mountain, camping in Mill's valley. The sides of the mountain were steep, but the roads were good. The distance across was 12 miles. We crossed two rivers on the mountain, on one of which there was a fine waterfall, and the whole route presented much to interest the lover of nature. Mill's Valley we found a very nice one, rich in grain, vegetables and cattle, all of which were very acceptable, and a grateful variation of our fare."On the afternoon of the 24th we recrossed to the camp of the 21st, remaining there until the 28th, this time taking two sections of artillery, drawn by convalescent horses. The men had often to turn to and reinforce them, up and down the mountain. On the 29th we marched all day, camping about three miles from Trenton. On the 30th we went up Sand Mountain and nearly across 85, and on the 31s5 descended and went to Bridgeport, halted, and drew rations. While at Bridgeport, headquarter's mess drew new tents, and camped in the dooryard of a large residence, which must have been a place of great beauty before the war. The yard showed evidences of having been filled with choice shrubbery. A magnificent climbing rose was over the door-way. The dining table of the mess was placed upon what had been a fine flower bed, and a beautiful peach tree was the hitching post for the officers' horses. Some roses and other shrubs remained to mark the pathway, and the cook hung his dish-cloth upon a choice rosebush. Although the owner is a rebel, we cannot but feel a pang at seeing so much that was beautiful thus destroyed. The palings of the fence have been taken by the cook to boil the coffee, and the big mule teams drive ruthlessly over the garden where some southern lady has no doubt expended much time and money. But these people have sown to the wind, and must reap the whirlwind!"We then marched five miles toward Stephenson. Nov. 1st went on to Stephenson, took the cars about three p.m., and woke up next morning in Athens, Ala. Most of the day was occupied in drawing clothing, etc., and towards night we moved out about two and a half miles and camped."The next day (3d) we started again, reaching Pulaski, Tenn. on the 5th. On the way to Pulaski we were obliged to cross the Elk river 15 miles south of Pulaski, at a place called Elkton. The stream was 200 yards wide, and in the center was mid-sides to our horses. This was a cold job for a raw November day, but the boys plunged in with a yell, and stepped out with a shout. No boy's play, this, as the men had to carry their guns and ammunition over their heads, as these must be kept dry whatever else might get wet."At Pulaski we fortified our position as though we were to remain through the winter. Hereabouts is a fine, rich cotton country, and many northerners had come in here and rented cotton plantations, and during the year had raised a fine crop and succeeded in getting it to market, without loss from rebel raids. Everywhere our army has been followed by an army of speculators, ready to make money out of the sufferings of the country, many of them caring little which side wins, so that they can get rich. We remained at Pulaski until the 22d of November, and in that time were visited by one of Uncle Sam's peddlers of greenbacks."Then commenced the falling back to Nashville, rendered necessary by the operations of Hood. On the 22d we went to Louisville. Next day quiet. On the 24th we started at 2 a.m., going through Columbia, and began to hear the familiar sound of cannonading and musketry behind us. That afternoon and the next day we spent in building works, and about 8 p.m. moved about one and a half miles to another position near the railroad. On the 25th and 27th there was picket firing all day, and about two o'clock of the night of the 27th, we struck tents and fell back across Duck river, crossing at midnight, and moved to the Franklin pike. On the forenoon of the 29th we marched toward Spring Hill."When within about two miles of Spring Hill, an orderly brought a note to Gen. Stanley, our corps commander, who was riding at the head of our regiment. He took a rapid glance at the note, and ordered "double quick," to which the 100th responded with a will, actually running one and a half miles, changing by right flank into line of battle, without even slacking their pace; and without halting or wavering to receive the charge of the rebel cavalry who were coming on with drawn sabers, and yelling like demons. But when within about thirty paces, seeing that our lines did not give way, they turned and fled. We pursued them until we met their infantry skirmishers, when we halted and prepared for defence. Here our division repulsed five charges made in quick succession, but the division of the rebel Gen. Clayborne, and maintained our position until 4 o'clock next morning when we quietly withdrew towards Franklin. This encounter occurred ont he farm of a Mr. Peters, the man who killed the rebel Gen. Van Dorn, of whose attentions to his family he was jealous."We arrived at Franklin about noon, the enemy closely following us. Scholfield's corps were then behind a good line of works, our division was placed in line in front of them, and some slight works thrown up hurriedly. We could see Hood's army marching over the hills, south of us, and watch them form their lines. Then commenced the battle, the enemy charging us in great force about four o'clock. We were compelled to leave the first line, falling back to the second line of works, and there the battle raged till almost nine p.m. The enemy charged the works five times, some of them being killed close on them. Gen. Clayborne and his horse fell right on our works. The fighting was terrific. We were now behind works, and the enemy in the open field; almost the first battle in which the 100th had had this advantage. There was a small grove of young locust trees just in front of part of our line, every tree of which was cut off by bullets. The enemy withdrew, having been repulsed each time. Clayborne's division was nearly annihilated. Our list of casualties was again a sad one, for we lost one of the most valued of our remaining officers. Maj. Rodney S. Bowen was wounded in the thigh, and was placed in the last ambulance that started for Nashville, and died at that place three days after."Michael Murphy, our brave color sergeant, Co. C, was shot down while planting the colors in the face of the foe, and when Murphy fell, Andrew W. Johnson, of Co. D, sprang forward and snatched the colors and saved them from capture, for which he was made color sergeant.
Of the missing some afterwards came up. Some of the wounded had to be left at Franklin for want of transportation.
Of this battle of Franklin, some one writes in the papers of the time:
"Our forces abandoning the line of Duck River, fell back to Franklin. Thomas was waiting for the arrival of A.J. Smith's corps, before giving Hood battle, who had the largest army. Our cavalry skirmished with the rebel cavalry all day. Gen. Hatch having considerable of a fight Tuesday evening. The rebs tore up the railroad tracks at Thompson's station and Spring Hill, but as we had fallen back to Franklin this did not hurt us. The rebels attacked our army around Franklin in force Wednesday morning, Nov. 30th, and the fighting continued with greater or less severity through the day, resulting in the repulse of the rebels with a loss of estimated at 4,000 or 5,000 killed, wounded and prisoners. In the assault the enemy showed much bravery, but our victory was complete, and the slaughter of the enemy terrible. The 23d corps, Gen. Cox, and the 4th corps, Gen. Stanley, bore the brunt of the battle and exhibited great valor. Gen. Scholfield fought the battle on the plan which had been well digested between General Thomas and himself. One rebel brigadier was among the captured. Our own loss was about 600 in all. A thousand prisoners, including one brigadier and 107 other officers, were brought into Nashville."
Official statements make the rebel loss 6,252; Union, 2,326.
After the battle of Franklin, our army under Scholfield fell back to Nashville where it effected a junction with A.J. Smith's corps, and went within the outer defenses of the city.
"We started at midnight of the day on which the battle had been fought, marching until noon of the next day. As may readily be imagined, this was a terrible march after such a hard day's fight. So exhausted were the men, that officers on their horses, and men on their feet fell asleep while moving. We reached Nashville, twenty-five miles from Franklin, and about 3 p.m. were safe within the outer defenses, the enemy having crowded us all the way. The men had to be kept up and forced along by the prick of the bayonet by the rear guard, to keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy, who were closely pressing the rear. When within four miles of Nashville they were allowed to rest and make coffee for the first time in forty-eight hours; and then went into position on the Granny White Pike, and threw up breastworks.
"Gen. Thomas placed his forces in line of battle three miles north of Nashville, and the enemy advanced within five miles, the space intervening being the scene of more or less skirmishing until the battle of Nashville.
"The next day after our arrival, (the 3d), the enemy was seen advancing in two lines of battle, and our boys were ready and anxious for them to attack. But our artillery soon drove them to their holes - literally to their holes, for they had actually commenced to burrow in the ground to protect themselves from the cold, and our sharpshooters and parrot guns. Reinforcements were constantly concentrating here, and Thomas waited until he got a "good ready" before going out to give Hood battle. "Old George" was sometimes thought a little "slow," but he had always shown himself sure, and honestly entitled to the sobriquet of "Old Reliable." The north got impatient. It is said that Grant telegraphed to ask why he did not attack Hood, and also that he sent Logan to see what was the matter, with authority to supersede him. If so, Logan had the good sense to let him alone.
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