Monday, May 9, 1864
Moved to the front and took position at the foot Rocky Face Mountain. Morgan and Mitchell's Brigade are on the advance. The enemy has evacuated and moved back to the Gap and on the range of Rocky Face Ridge. Our Division moved forward to a position on the left of the Gap in the Valley, at the foot of the Ridge, with our skirmish line advanced about half-way up the slope, the 1st and 2d Brigade in advance and our Brigade in reserve.
Constant and heavy firing going on all along the line. Very little artillery is heard from either side. The rebs cannot be seen in any great force and consequently artillery can't be used to any particular advantage.
Very heavy skirmishing (on the abrupt slope of Rocky Face Mountain). I have heard no report of casualties. Not much firing heard on the right at this time.
Skirmishers are gradually gaining ground on the immediate left of the Gap. Heavy skirmishing still continues all along the line and bids fair to open into a regular, general battle, a thing which is a dread.
Rocky Face Ridge is a high range of mountains extending from near Rome northward into Tennessee, and is considered one of the most powerful positions formed by Nature. it is difficult to flank. The slope is very steep and in many places is s perpendicular. Overhanging cliffs stretch along its front, making it impossible for an army to successfully make a direct assault.
The advantage of position is altogether against us - in proportions of five to one. The mountain sides of Rocky Face are very steep. It is impossible to charge the enemy. Heavy skirmishing went on all day without any particular advantage being gained. Word has been received from General Grant's forces on the Rapidan, stating that the enemy has been driven from its position and put in retreat toward Richmond. The news greatly inspires our men.
Tuesday, May 10, 1864
Everything remained quiet during the night. There was no firing on our front after 6 p.m. A profound silence reigned on the field at dawn. Very heavy firing began quite early, however, and widened into a full-fledged engagement about nine o'clock. Both musketry artillery have been freely used, but no advantage was gained by either side. Northern troops and rebs held their respective ground along the mountain side and tip. Brigade moved on the front line.
about 10 a.m.
Regiment made a rather serious blunder by abandoning their position where there was no real cause or serious apprehension of danger, though we had been much annoyed by sharp-shooters station on Rocky Face Mountain, in which one man was seriously wounded and another slightly wounded, at a range of about 1200 yards. Moved on the extreme and relieved General Morgan's Brigade, 52d Ohio, on the skirmish line. Position on the hills immediately to the left of the railroad.
fighting has been heavy, with both musketry and artillery, but as yet I perceive that no great material advantage has been gained along the mountain side.
Wednesday, May 11, 1864
Very heavy firing on our picket line at three o'clock this morning brought every man to his feet, ready for action. The rebels tried to surprise and capture our picket reserve, but failed. The 52d Ohio was on the line, a regiment both watchful and brave. They stood their ground and repulsed the enemy, with a loss of but few men. Brisk skirmishing continued during most of the day in which we had one man killed and several wounded in the Brigade.
At 5 p.m., General Whitaker made a reconnaissance with a hundred picket men from his command and drove the enemy pickets and skirmishers several hundred yards. Then the rebels gave fierce battle and forced Whitaker and his men off the field. They retired with a loss of only about ten men killed and wounded.
Our brigade was relieved from duty on the front at dark and march marched back across the Valley and went into bivouac for the night. Officers and men are much fatigued and in want of sleep.
Augustus S. Dickson, William A. Stodgell and Sergeant Barnett E. Haines departed with an ambulance train. (Haines died of intermittent fever on May 31st at the General Field Hospital, Chattanooga.)
Later, there was general muster and all baggage was ordered sent to the rear, in anticipation of an advance. Dark came and all was profoundly quiet. Our Brigade retired to rest arms early, with orders that reveille would beat at 3:30 a.m. At that time, everything must be in readiness to leave at an early hour.
No firing during the night on our front.
A person would scarcely think that we rest on the eve of the most deadly conflict.
Thursday, May 12, 1864
Reveille sounded at 5 o'clock. We departed from camp at half-past six and proceeded to the right, in the direction of Snake Creek Gap. Marched about three miles and halted to let the 1st and 2nd Brigades pass to the front. lay in an open field for about two hours and again moved on. Weather fair but unusually cool. Halted at Cemetery Church and cemetery. Halted again about a half-mile from the church and took dinner.
After resting about two hours, we moved forward. The movement is necessarily slow as the road is bad and difficult to pass artillery over, which often detains the column.
About sundown, we came up with some other troops at the mouth of Snake Creek Gap. We stopped for supper in a nice grove. Afterward, we left the wagon train to take care of itself and entered the Gap, marching through it a distance of about four miles.
The night was very dark and the heavy rains here, over the past few days, have made the roads very muddy in some places, almost impassable.
Water around here is scarce and bad. Along the route, marched through the village of Snake Creek..
The men - good, true, and hardy - bear it all. They made their way through and laid down in an open field on the south side of the Gap at 2:30 a.m. of the 13th.
I got finished about 3:30 a.m. Laid down and slept about an hour.
Friday, May 13, 1864
Snake Creek Valley, south of Snake Creek Gap, in the Rocky Face Mountains:
After about tow hours sleep, we had reveille at daylight and a hastily-prepared breakfast. Then we again moved forward from Snake Creek. Strange as it may appear to my brother officers in the regiment, every man of my command was in line, though I was soon compelled to leave two of my best men behind on account of sickness. No other company in regiment could boast of taking every man through that Gap in that dreadful dark night.
The health of the men is gradually failing. Many of them are complaining of sore throats and sore mouths, some billiousness, though I trust not many men will be disabled. I was oblige to leave two of my best men - Hughes and William A. Groves - making three men since I started from Ringgold, corporal Ben F. Scott having been shipped to the rear from Buzzard Roost several days back.
We went on about two miles up the Valley and halted. The Brigade
was here massed and lay in that position until nearly sundown.
A general move then commenced, much of it on the double quick,
in the course of which a large portion of the Army then situated
there apparently changed front from Northeast to Southeast and
after having marched on various roads and towards nearly all points
of the compass, our Brigade took position in reserve, in a thick
underbrush, and bivouacked for the night.
The men soon settled into quiet slumber, having had but few hours sleep in the previous three nights. Many are so exhausted from hard marching and loss of sleep that they are barely able to do duty. Weather is clear and very hot.
A thousand rumors - good, bad, and indifferent - are constantly going the rounds.
Saturday, May 14, 1864
Slept until daylight. Then had reveille. Everything remained quiet during the night. The men feel much refreshed after getting a good night's rest. Skirmishing started quite early and soon ripened into heavy fighting. A general engagement commenced about 12 noon and continued almost incessantly for about two and a half hours. This resulted in pushing the enemy from several important positions and back inside their main line of works, in which they make a stubborn resistance. They have repulsed several heavy charges made on their works situated on the heights south of the Oostanaula River Creek.
No part of our Brigade has been engaged today, but we have been exposed to a heavy artillery fire from the enemy several times and have had several men killed and wounded. we have been unable to return a single shot. During the day, we proceeded steadily forward from our position to another until about three in the afternoon, when we cam in came in front t of the enemy's main line of works and then had to halt in a position where we were in range of the enemy's shells. Many of those shells were hurled at us. We stayed here until sometime after dark, when we proceeded about three-fourths of a mile to our right and took position on a space in front of the rebel works. There, we built temporary breastworks for protection against sharpshooters. This kept our troops busy. Being but poorly supplied with entrenching tools, most of the night was spent in our construction of the works.
The night was clear and moon-lit, which was much in our favor, as chopping down trees constituted the great portion of the labor. The men suffer much for want of sleep.
Sunday, May 15, 1864
Very heavy skirmishing began at daylight. The sky was clear, but a heavy fog overlay the Valley. Artillery firing from our breastworks began about six o'clock and went on for nearly two hours. It did very little damage to the enemy, who are supposed to have formidable works on our immediate front. Two men from Company C were wounded, one severely and one slightly, about seven in the morning.
The fog obscured the rebel lines from our view at first, but it has now burnt off because of the hot sun. Our artillery has blasted the southerners with terrible fury, but, sad to say, not to any great effect. The enemy have strong works which afford them sufficient shelter.
The southern sharpshooters have annoyed us very much during the after-part of the day, endangering the lives of every creature that showed above the trenches. And judging from what I have been able to see, the enemy have been compelled to use the same precautions. The distance between our works and that of the enemy is about 500 yards. That is an easy range for an Enfield or Springfield rifle musket.
today closes the ninth day since the general advance on the enemy began, during which not a day has passed without musketry and artillery being freely used. Artillery firing went on at intervals today, but the rifle fire was continuous and heavy. It only ceased when night threw a dark mantle over all. Then everything was quiet until after eleven.
Around 12 midnight
A panic, of all things has seized our pickets. They have opened a heavy skirmish fire. That immediately raised the main line. Holy hell broke loose, for the main line poured in tremendous volley after volley for a few minutes, while our magnificent artillery rent the heavens with a rain of grape and canister. The air was heavy with gunsmoke and saltpetre fumes. Flames roiled about the treetops and there was a howling of shot and shell. Naturally, it was impossible to sleep with all that going on.
And, most ridiculous of all, this immense expenditure of gunfire and ammunition was all, literally, without effect, for the Confederates had, at no time, been outside their own works.
The alarm which first set off our picket sharpshooters was apparently the distant sound of some stir amongst the enemy and was speedily taken up along the line. Of course the rebels gave back as good as they got, but for both sides, it was all a waste.
Monday, May 16, 1864
At 4:30 a.m., I was ordered to make an advance on the enemy's works with my company and Company 'I' of the 86th, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the enemy were still there. The patrol, however, soon found that the enemy had pulled out during the night and moved south of the Oostanaula River, which gave us possession of Resaca and a clear, continuous railroad track back to Chattanooga. By the rebel move, we found that Dalton was evacuated and that we had entire possession of all the country in our rear.
We pursued the rebel rearguard to the village of Resaca. company F was deployed as skirmishers, but soon found our line had been preceded by a line of skirmishers from some other Corps. Our regiment skirmished through the town of Resaca, or, rather, the village of Resaca, for it only has about forty houses. It is situated on the north bank of the river, completely encircled by a chain of parapets and every approach was protected by powerful fortifications for artillery and all that plus the usual other artificial works, so that Resaca is a powerful, natural position.
When the 86th had gotten through Resaca, we then marched back to sugar Creek Valley, where our knapsacks had been stored several days ago. After a few minutes rest at this place, we set out again and marched toward Rome, our regiment being detailed as train guard.
Proceeded from Sugar Creek Valley at 10 o'clock p.m. in the direction of Rome. Marched in the van of the division wagon train and moved very slowly the first three miles, after which the road was much better. The train moved off briskly, making it very hard marching to keep up. Went about fourteen miles and then settled into camp near a good spring, at the foot of a low range of mountains. The men were very much fatigued, having marched about twenty four miles this day and under very adverse circumstances. They have had to go most of the distance in the van of a wagon train, halting frequently and proceeding at a very irregular gait.
Since it was quite late when this place was attained, most of my lads went to sleep without super and soon all was quiet about the camp. So closed the day, the first time in over a week in which we were spared the hateful sound of enemy musketry or artillery, or a combination of both, plus our replies. for every time they shoot at us, we have to shoot back at them.
Tuesday, May 17, 1864
Marched from our bivouac at daylight and moved forward rapidly abut ten miles. We crossed Arumuchee Creek and filed into the timber. There, we took dinner about 12 noon.
After about an hour and a half, we went forward again towards Rome - almost entirely unmolested - until we arrived within two miles of town. It was about half-past five, when we encountered the enemy in force, outside their fortification. dispositions were immediately made to give them battle and, if possible, to push them across the Oostanaula River, yet save for ourselves the bridge across the stream.
We engaged the rebels on the north side of Rome. Our men were very much excited and thanks to the inefficiency of our field officers, became almost beyond control.
As the 1st Brigade had the advance, it was deployed on the right of the road and our brigade on the left, where, after some exchange of fire, we managed to drive the enemy back for some little distance. In the meantime, the 1st Brigade had moved by the right flank, with their right thrown forward so as to flank the rebels on their left and give room for the 2d Brigade to form on our immediate right and between us and the 1st Brigade. While in this position, the enemy counter-attacked in considerable force on the front of our brigade. This rebel jab hurt and gave rise to great excitement in our ranks and quite a bit of wavering backward and forward, amid great volleys of musketry. During this bedlam, our brigade lost many men. From my company, I lost John Vogler, John Wesley McCulloch killed, James McNaughton and William M. Gardner wounded.
In the regiment, five men were killed and twelve severely wounded.
the regiment was badly managed, the colonel having sought shelter behind a tree and remained there like a frightened puppy without uttering a word or giving a single command throughout the entire engagement and in the most trying moments that the outfit ever experienced. Both officers and men vie in the one opinion that the colonel is a contemptible coward, unworthy of the high and honorable position he now holds. Officers who had up to this time been his best personal friends have now become thoroughly disgusted with him and have lost all confidence in his courage or ability as a regimental commander. While every man, officer or private, throughout the regiment, earnestly prays that it may never again fall to his unhappy lot to be forced to pass through another battle under the present imbecile and incompetent commander.
Only the obstinate courage and stubborn fighting of the men gained us the victory. The imbecile officers and incompetent commanders could not cheat the boys out of a victory which hard fighting brought them.
The 22d Indiana was the heavy loser on this field and was equally badly managed. their loss was fifty killed and wounded, amongst the latter was Lt. Col. W. Wiles and Major Sheer, besides a number of line officers. As those two regiments stood the whole brunt of the fighting, there was but a very slight loss in either of the other regiments of the brigade.
Many of the men say they can never hope for anything except to be uselessly slaughtered because of the inefficient management of our field officers. I fear the confidence of the men has become so impaired that our present officers will never be able to redeem themselves and obtain sufficient confidence to restore what was lost.
Company F, 86th Illinois, lost two fine lads. Johnny Vogler was shot through the abdomen and Wes McCulloch was shot through the head. Both lived several hours afterwards, but then died and were buried near the general field hospital. In losses, the regiment had many killed and 1200 wounded - a great percentage of whom will yet die from the wounds.
Joe MacManus was shot in the left arm.
The effects of John Wesley McCulloch as found on his person after he fell on the field: one (1) watch with detachable fob of silver and one dollar and 25/100 in cash . He was 28. Will have to write his wife back home.
Immediately after the battle, the rebels withdrew a short distance. Our line remained in its old position and was actively fortified. We bivouacked there for the night.
Lost four Enfield muskets in this battle. Two of them belonged to the men killer - Wes McCulloch and Johnny Vogler. Instead of these weapons being returned to my custody, all the guns were simply picked up and carried along with the wounded, to the field hospital. No means of transportation was provided for cast off equipment. I applied to Lt. Scraggs in order to have the guns put into the Ordnance Train, but was refused. he said he had no means of getting the guns from the hospital and over to where his depot was situated.
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