After dark, we brought our dead and wounded back. We had lost our colonel, lieutenant colonel, captain and both lieutenants; wounded 35 men out of 70 in my company, of whom 13 were killed dead. The rest of the regiments suffered about the same. The wounded, we sent to the hospital. The dead, we laid side by side in the rear of our line.
At daybreak we were relieved by the second line and fell back to their position. We hardly got there when the Rebels attacked our first line, which gave way and in a few minutes came swarming back in disorder. Some of them rallied on us but the most of them kept on. The Rebels came right at their heels, but we, together with the 15th Missouri, as brave a regiment as was ever mustered, and the few from the 101st Ohio, who had rallied, checked them for some time; but the troops on our right gave way and we were compelled to fall back but we took the guns of our battery with us, the horses having most of them been shot down. We formed several times, checking them each time until we were relieved by Rousseau Division. The enemy was by this time in the shape of a horse shoe. During the rest of the Battle, which lasted four days, we were not very heavily engaged. When the Rebels retreated we went and buried our brave comrades who we found stripped of their clothing by the Rebels.
After that, it always seemed that we had something to fight for when we thought of the boys who had given their lives for their country at Rebel hands.
Up to this point I had kept a diary, but we had orders to pile knapsacks and I lost it. Some Rebels probably have the pleasure of hearing my sentiments concerning them. I don't suppose it done them much good, but I hated to lose it.
The morning after the battle I wrote a letter home. As soon as it arrived, the postmaster opened it, and before my father got it, it published in the paper.
We went into camp at Murfreesboro, and all through the winter we took the rain and snow and mud. We had but one tent in the company. Half the men had no blankets, and we had to depend on fires to keep us from freezing. It was a wonder we did not all die. We went on several scouts during the winter, once to Franklin, Tennessee, and stayed there two weeks. When we started back the snow was six inches deep. It turned warm and commenced thawing. I had a pair of sewed shoes and the soles came off. I tied them on with strings the first day, but the strings gave out and I let them go. We had two miles of swamp to go through. It had been piked and not wore down very much. The stones were sharp and the water was knee deep on the ice on each side of the road. My feet were cut to pieces and so sore for a month that I could not wear a shoe.
Just before we got to Murfreesboro, the boys commenced tearing off the legs of their pants above the knees, threw away their old ragged blouses, tore off their shirt sleeves, threw away their old hats, kicked off their old shoes, and went through town the raggedest set of men that was ever seen, I expect. We did not get anything for two weeks. We stayed at Murfreesboro until about the 2nd of June. When we were ordered to move, we started south and soon found the enemy. Our division fought them for two days at Liberty Gap. When they retreated, we followed, driving them from Hoovers Gap. When they evacuated (at) Tullahoma, we followed to the Cumberland Mountains, where we stayed for a while. I think that it rained every day on this company, and the roads and marching were fearful.
We finally crossed the mountains to Stevenson, Alabama, and soon after crossed the Tennessee River at Capertons Ferry; crossed Raccoon Range and Lookout Mountain and went toward Rome, Georgia, intending to cut off the retreat of the Rebels, who had hastily evacuated Chattanooga. We had got pretty well down towards Rome when we were ordered to fall back across the mountain and join the rest of the army as Longstreet was joining his forces with Johnson to give us a drubbing. We made all haste to get back, marched along the crest of the mountain until we thought we could form a junction with the rest of the forces. We had just got down the mountain when our advance was attacked by the cavalry and fought them continually all day, but it didn't seem to check us very much.
We made pretty good time the next day. We fought them by brigades, all the time moving to their left, to close up on the main army. About ten o'clock we made connection with the rest of the troops, but before we had time to form our line, we were attacked. I was wounded in the commencement of the fight, and as we had to fall back, I was sent to the hospital. In the evening I got away and went to the regiment which had went to General Rosencrans' headquarters. I found that eight men had been killed in the company and three wounded, making eleven out of thirty-five, leaving 25 men.
After I had come up the next morning, we joined the brigade and went to take position on the line. Being somewhat sore and weak, the captain told me not to march in ranks. So when they formed on the line, I was in the rear. The regiment took position along a fence. The pickets said there was no Rebels in front, but the skirmish line had hardly been sent forward when the Rebels came charging in our front, four lines deep. We were on the extreme right and only one line without any support. We checked them in our front, but they came around our right and in the rear. The colonel was close to me when he gave the order to fall back. He was shot and killed instantly. Very few heard the order, and the most of the regiment was captured. I got away, although some of the Rebels were within a hundred feet yelling, "Surrender, halt, you damn Yankee."
That only made me run the faster. I did not know I could run so. I went back until I met Sheridan's division when I stopped, thinking they would check the Rebels; but they fared no better that we and in a few minutes they were in full retreat. I went back to Rosencrans' headquarters and had just got there when the cavalry made a dash, but we drove them back and started the train back towards Rossville. The cavalry made several dashes, but we refused them and got the train to Rossville. There I found our colors and sixty men commanded by my captain all that was left of the regiment. Fifteen of my company had been captured, leaving ten of the fifteen. Only six ever got back, and three of them made their escape about the middle of the afternoon.
General Davis, having gathered together enough men to make a couple of regiments, marched us back to the battlefield. We marched past him as he sat on his horse. Captain Hotchkis, who commanded our battery and whose guns we had saved, said, with tears in his eyes, "General, that is all that's left of the 21st." The general says, "It will make a damned good company yet." We marched until we got on a ridge in the rear of the lines when we saw quite a force of Rebels coming in the rear. We lay down and waited until they got close enough, when we gave them a rally and charged, capturing over a thousand. That night the army fell back to Rossville.
There has been a great deal said and wrote about the Battle of Chickamonga and about General Thomas saving the army. Now I don't think Thomas done any harder fighting than the rest of (us). In fact, his men did not suffer the loss that we did. In fact, his position had to be held and had all the troops to do it with. The third and largest division, Johnson's, and a brigade each from Davis and Sheridan's divisions were sent to Thomas from our corps, leaving us only four brigades to hold a line nearly as long as Thomases; and I have heard it was the same with Crittenden's corps. Anyhow, the troops sent from our corps did not suffer half the loss that we did. That the right wing were defeated, I will admit, but Thomas had no need to fall back; and I believe could have whipped them right there without falling back to Chattanooga. At any rate, we lay there all day the day after the fight and was not molested and the next night fell back to Chattanooga at our leisure.
After we got back to Chattanooga, the army was reorganized and we were put in the fourth corps, my regiment being nothing but a remnant, and, having no regimental officers, was detailed in squads here and there, front being General Stanley's provost guards. General Steadman also took his provost guards. My company were with the ordinance. We stayed a while at Chattanooga, when our division was sent back to keep the cracker line open.
We went back to Bridgeport. About this time Grant came and took command. We stayed there until John Hooker came from the east and Sherman from the west to help us out. We went with Hooker to Lookout; and there I was where the shot and shell were thickest, with the ammunition wagons. The Battle of Lookout Mountain was but a good-sized skirmish, there being but a skirmish line of the rebels.
We next went to Mission Ridge, which was pretty lively while it lasted. We did not stay at Chattanooga but a short time until we were sent to Blue Springs. We stayed there a while when we were relieved and joined the regiment at Ooltewah, Tennessee, and was sent to guard McDonald's Gap. Here we reenlisted as veterans, elected officers. I was elected first duty sergeant.
While here I came very near being captured. The valley outside of the Gap was patrolled by both sides, but we had orders not to interfere with one another. There were some girls lived outside the lines who brought cakes and pies and other things into camp. On fellow, by the name of Buckannon, got at me to go out home with the girls. We started, slipped the pickets and went with them. It was a good deal further than I thought and I was scared before we got there; but the girls said there was no danger.
When we got there they told their brother, a little fellow, to watch the road for Rebels. Pretty soon he came running in saying, "The Rebs is coming, the Rebs is coming." We did not know what to do. The girls told us to climb up in the loft, which was laid with loose clapboards. We scooted up in no time, but I could not believe but what the girls had sold us. The rebels came up, about a dozen of them. The girls met them at the door. They asked if there had been any Yanks there that day. They told them there had been two, but they had gone. They asked which way. They said, "Back towards their camp." "How long?" "About half an hour," said the girls.
One of them said, "By God, let's catch them fellows." They jumped on their horses and away they went; and down we came. One of the girls said I was too white to live long, but they went with us and showed us a road that ran along the foot of the mountain which had not been traveled for a long time and which they said would lead us back to camp. We got back safe but I never wanted to go to Pike's Peak again.
We stayed there until about the middle of March, when we started to go home on our furloughs. Went by rail to Nashville, then took the boat for St. Louis, where we were treated like princes. They gave us all we could eat and drink; and the best, at that. But in our own State they noticed us about as much as if we were dogs. We never had a free dinner tendered us in the State, only at our own county. They tried to put us in the old lousy, dirty barrack at Camp Butler till our papers were made, after getting our new clothes to go home in.
I got home at last, having been gone three years lacking one month. So ends my first three years' service. We enjoyed our thirty days' furlough and went back to the front by the way of Indianapolis and Louisville. We joined the army at Kingston, took part in all of the rest of the campaigns, ending in the capture of Atlanta.
In the final move in which Sherman flanked Atlanta I was on
the picket line on the extreme left of the lines. The officer
of the day came around in the evening and said the army were all
moving to the right and that we were to bring up the rear, cautioning
us to be quiet and for every man to be at his post. He said we
would not move until after dark. After giving us our instructions,
he went away, saying he would be back before we started. After
dark he came back but the officer of guard could not be found.
He then asked for the sergeants but the other sergeant had gone
with the captain. He then gave me the instructions and went away,
promising to send an officer to take command. When the signal
was given, we started following the skirmish line. It seemed the
Rebels found out something was going on for they opened a heavy
fire on us and we were under a constant fire. Two of the men were
severely wounded and we had to carry them on litters as they had
not (provided) us even a stretcher. I sent a man ahead for an
ambulance, but he did not come back. As we were stopping every
few minutes, I finally sent eight men to carry them forward until
they found an ambulance, which they did, and returned, which was
more than I expected. The Rebels would holler at Yanks, "Where
are you going?"
Some of the boys would answer, "Going home to ?ate."
We kept this up all night and it seemed a terrible long night. At daylight the Rebels left their works and started toward us, but as we were in our own works we didn't propose to run; although they had about five to our one. When they saw we was not scared, they halted and we kept up fire on them at long range. In a short time the officer of the day came to us and told us (to) leave the works and if they followed us to keep them back as well as we could. As soon as we left the works, the Rebels followed us. When they reached our works, how they did yell. We turned on them a(nd) fired a rally or two at them when they started for us again. We came to an open field when we gave them another round and started on the double quick across the open space. Here they slightly wounded two more of the boys.
When (we) reached the woods we formed and kept them back. They kept coming until we thought, we have to git. When a brigade of our troops came up (we) gave them a drubbing and drove them back into their works. We were then relieved and went to our regiments; but I tell you, the boys were plucky and good fellows, all of them.
We went on around Atlanta until we struck the railroad at Rough and Ready Station south of Atlanta. The Rebels thought we had raised the siege and left, and had telegraphed the news all over the South. A train load of the aristocrats had come to Atlanta to have a jollification, the most of them were ladies. When they got to Atlanta they found out their mistake and tried to get back before we got possession of the railroad. But they were too late. We tore up the track in front, and when they saw that, they started back but found we had them in a trap.
Now if we didn't get a blessing from those ladies. They called themselves ladies but they swore harder than gunboat marines and called us more bad names than you could find in the bible. They call us Lincoln traveling abolition cutthroats and everything bad they could twist their tongues around. If we had been one twentieth part as bad as they tried to make us I don't know what would have become of them, but we sent them back to Atlanta without harming a hair of their heads. Sweet critters.
After we got possession of the railroad, the 4th Corps set to work to tear up the road. We would string out along the road for a quarter of a mile and commence turning, and over it would go like breaking sod. After we turned it over we would pile the ties and set them afire and lay the rails on them. When the rails got hot they would give them a twist so they could not be used again, wrap them around the trees, what the boys called making neck ties. That evening we fought the Battle of Jonesboro. That night the Rebels blew up their ammunition, the report of which was heard and felt plainly at Jonesboro a distance of twenty miles. We followed the Rebs to Lovejoy and then went back to Atlanta.
Here Sherman gave us a rest, after publishing orders for all the citizens to leave, giving them their choice north or south and furnishing transportation to the Rebel lines or to the Ohio River.
Co. G had a man we all called Sugar Sticks. As mean and sneaking as anybody could be, he stole a citizen's clothes, his transportation papers, his wife and two children, and started with them to God's country; but when he got (to) Chattanooga they knew him, (everybody knew Sugar Sticks) and arrested him; and he was sent to military prison.
While here, Sherman and Hood exchanged 2000 prisoners, and two boys from my company who had been captured at Chickamonga, smuggled themselves in. Was sent to our lines. They had (been) prisoners a year. Steel had on the same clothes he had on when captured. Only he had taken his blouse to patch his shirt and pants. Hat and shoes, he had none. Payne had got hold of a couple of meal sacks. He cut the bottoms off, put sleeves in one and called it a shirt. Sewed the other part way up, then cut it a part of the way and called it pants. He looked comical, but he said he was the best dressed man in Andersonville. They were both nearly dead with the scurvy and starvation. We fed them very careful at first. They stayed with us a month though their time had been out for some time.
Go to page 4 of the Journal
Go to Samuel Broughton's Discharge Papers from 1864 and 1865 and obituaries.
Many thanks to Kathy and Mel Jangard who submitted this information.
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