Wednesday, May 18, 1864
This day, troops lay idle until rather late. Very little doing, except completing our temporary breastworks. Two companies from the regiment were detailed as skirmishers. In a very short time, these men succeeded in clearing the rebels from the north side of the river.
I was detailed to superintend the construction of a bridge across the Oostanaula River. I examined the river opposite to, and for some distance above the town, to find a suitable place to construct such a bridge. it would be used for moving troops and wagon trains across the river and into town.
Colonel Dilworth, in the meantime, was busily engaged in floating his regiment across on rafts about two miles above the town and by three in the afternoon, had manage to get most of his outfit over. They then marched down on the south side of the river and forced the few remaining rebels out of town. That enabled me to get started. I decided to have the bridge constructed immediately in front of town.
I located five old river scows which the enemy had originally set afire. The fire, however, had failed to destroy the hulls entirely and they were salvageable.
When all these little arrangements had been settled, I went
to the best hotel in town and took supper. I found but little
to eat there, yet it was a decided improvement over my own campside
table. There I seldom see anything but hard bread, bacon, sugar
and coffee - although it is, of course, very good fare for a soldier,
if he has enough of it.
Thus the day ended. Rome was ours and the Stars and Stripes floated triumphantly from the courthouse steeple for the first time since the secession of Georgia.
Thursday, May 19, 1864
Early this morning, we went to work at building a good wagon bridge. I found that this could very easily be accomplished. By spiking heavy planks on the sides and caulking the bottoms of the five river scows, we were enabled to make a good bridge. However, other lumber was needed and we carried none.
My orders permitted me to take anything that could be made useful. On looking around Rome, I found several good plank sidewalks. I immediately dispatched a detail of men to take those plank sidewalks up, perfectly good lumber, and carry the planks to the riverbank.
When the hulls were fixed a little, we swung them around in the stream. Then we laid a few planks on. That formed a rudimentary bridge that was good enough to pass several horses over, along with two regiments of troops. These traversed safely to the other bank and moved to support Colonel Dilworth, who it was feared, would not be able to hold his ground against the Confederate cavalry then hovering around the east end of town.
Once these troops were across, we got back to work by half-past four in the afternoon, a good, substantial pontoon bridge stretched across the river. At this place, the river is about ninety yards wide and twenty-two feet deep, with a rather sluggish current. The remainder of the brigade traveled over this evening, also Barnett's Battery and a portion of the wagon train. The brigade proceeded into a pleasant grove on Kingston Road, about a half mile outside of town.
Rome is a well-situated town of 4,500 inhabitants and is located in the forks between the Oostanaula and Etawah Rivers, which form the Coosa River just below town.
Friday, May 20, 1864
Pontoon bridge across the river is still in fair condition, except one scow, which promises to give trouble. By passing heavy wagon trains over, the weak places show. The boat gunnels of the scows have been charred so much, due to the rebels' burning, that scarcely enough good wood remains to hold the thing together. Rations are again short, but the troops are not as destitute as they have been on many former occasions and we have the promise of a speedy supply for them.
Nothing unusual occurred today until about five o'clock, when a train loaded with Yankee prisoners cam in on the Kingston & Rome Railroad. This greatly surprised both citizens and soldiers. rousing cheers were given by the boys for the rapidity with which our engineers have constructed the bridge across the Oostanaula at Resaca. The rebels had managed to destroy that bridge prior to their evacuation. With the railroad operating, food can be hauled in.
I spent much of my time today in the town, having conversations with local citizens. Most of them are professed rebels. they said they would never come back to live under the old federal rule again. I also met some who pretended to be well pleased with the recent change in local administration. The citizens generally treat the soldiers with a great deal of respect and never fail to say that those Female Demons who shamefully mistreated Colonel Straight's men, after they were prisoners, have all left town. The remaining citizens say they are not responsible for those act of villainy committed by those women.
Colonel Straight commanded a force of mounted infantry and was captured near this place about a year ago with his entire command. In passing through Rome, the chivalrous Ladies 'spit' in the faces of these men, some of whom were wounded, and offered every indignity that their devilish natures could invent. The fear that justice might now overtake these women have caused them to flee this place.
The weather is quite warm now but not as oppressive as I feared it would be in this climate, at this season.
Saturday, May 21, 1864
Weather is still pleasant and quite warm though not so uncomfortable as it has been on the march. Men have no illness and are gradually better able to endure the heat than persons on a fatiguing march through dust and mud, as the case may be.
Artillery passed over the river into town. A rumor is afloat that a column of rebel infantry is moving on this place, but the report is considered unreliable and no very serious apprehensions are felt.
Sunday, May 22, 1864
this being Sunday, church bells are ringing in all parts of town. for the first time in many weary months, the sounds of chimes remind us of bygone days, when we were at home. It seems almost civilized here, yet we are dispersed and scoffed at, by all the local citizens. It is a strange and unpleasant thing and reminds us of the good homes and love from which circumstances separate us.
Monday, May 23, 1864
Stayed in camp all day in comparative idleness. Marching orders for six a.m. departure tomorrow have been announced. 1st Brigade of the 17th Army Corps has arrived to relieve this Division. We move tomorrow to join the main army.
The main army has been pushing forward during our stay here in Rome. it has crossed the Oostanaula and proceeded on to Kingston. It has occupied Kingston without meeting any great resistance form the enemy, who have retreated to and taken possession of Cartersville. The Confederates have firmly established themselves there on the range of the Allatoona Mountains and at Allatoona Pass. That is a powerful, natural position where a small force of our army is now menacing them, while the main portion of the army is in motion toward the right, in the direction of Dallas.
Dallas, I hear, is a town of about two hundred inhabitants and is attractively located on the range of the Allatoona Hills. The army is moving with a view towards dislodging the enemy by flank movement on his left. All of us regret very much to leave the comforts of Rome, though it is always understood that whenever a particular place is occupied, we are liable to pull up stakes at very short notice.
Tuesday, May 24, 1864
The Brigade broke camp this morning and crossed the Etawah River at half-past six, then marched in a direction southeast. A portion of our regiment was detailed as rear guard to the wagon train and in this order moved on slowly through a very good countryside, parts of which are well improved.
In the Southern style, the plantations are generally very large, with one good house and from eight to a dozen Negro juts. These are usually badly constructed log cabins and are located near the central residence, without any particular order of arrangement. Saw a great many Negro women and children, but very few colored men are about. They have been taken further South by their chivalrous masters who are afraid that their valuable property might avail themselves of the benefits of the Emancipation Proclamation. The terms of that document are generally well understood by the slaves of North Georgia.
Our progress has been rather slow today, as we have been detained some by the wagon train. halted for dinner about thirteen miles from Rome and after a rest of about two hours, we again went forward. We joined the 16th Army Corps at the foot of the Allatoona range. By the, it was nightfall. We proceeded on to a small creek and camped for the night in a thick underbrush.
While our movement was in progress, there raged, all the time one of the most terrific thunderstorms that I ever saw. Early in the night, the rain simply cascaded down in torrents. The men were anyway exhausted and so pathetically devoid of strength that before they could manage to raise any shelter, all were drenched to the skin. As the night wore on, the rain stopped and the sky grew clear. It turned very cool, with further bad results among the boys. Our misery was compounded because everything was so soaking wet and fires were built only with the greatest difficulty.
I have good reason to fear for the health of my men.
Wednesday, May 25, 1864
Resumed the march at six a.m. and passed through a Gap in the mountains. We proceeded about twelve miles by a zig-zag rout and through and over the mountain on a very bad road in most places, and in many places, was no road at all.
We stopped for dinner on a small creek. Water has been very scarce along our line of march this forenoon and it is quite a warm day. Consequently, everyone is thirsty.
After a pause of about an hour, we again moved out, traveling over such a road - most of the way - as traveled over earlier in the day. It led toward Dallas, so we pushed vigorously onward and about half an hour before sundown, heard very great artillery and musketry firing on our front. We soon ascertained the firing to have been occasioned by the second division of the 20th Army Corps, who had come in contact with the rebels. The southerners had anticipated our intentions and had made dispositions to counteract our flank movement.
Our brigade went a short distance and camped on the west side of Pumpkin Vine Creek. Just before attaining the camp site, we were subjected to another of these wretched, confederate rain-and-thunderstorms. But a good portion of the men rushed to raise their shelter tents, so that fortunately, only a few lads got wet. The storm passed after a half-hour. The sky cleared and the night turned quite cool.
This day, as also on many others, I became excessively weary and footsore, so that it was with the greatest difficulty that I kept up with my command. The interest which I feel in my company and my desire to command it in future, as in former engagements, alone have held me in my place. if my will was no better than my physical strength, I fear that I should fail on many occasions.
Thursday, May 26, 1864
Departed at six in the morning and took the wrong road. This was discovered after we had gone about a mile and a half. We then had to counter-march back to where we had camped last night.
We proceeded on the road leading to Dallas, crossing Pumpkin Vine Creek on a good wagon bridge, which the enemy had failed to destroy. We reached the town at three in the afternoon and march marched through, then took a position on the left of the road running from Dallas to Marietta, on the crest of a ridge. There we built temporary breastworks. rations were issued to the command. The men's haversacks were by this time nearly or quite empty. Then we bivouacked for the night.
Having marched but a short distance this day, the men are much less fatigued than on the two previous days. We are now again up with the main portion of the Army, but separated from our Corps, which was left at Cartersville to threaten the enemy at Allatoona Pass. It is also intended that this section of our outfit disguise our plan to flank the rebels out of one of the most powerful positions an army ever held.
The 1st and 3rd Divisions of our Corps has marched along the line of railroad from Resacca to where it now lays and our Division - the 2nd - has gone by way of Rome to Dallas. We are at this time separated and have between us, and the other divisions of the Corps, the whole of the Army of the Ohio, as well as the 4th and 20th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland.
The Army of the Tennessee is deployed on our right and faces the enemy, who have taken position on a high range of hills which they have fortified well through the construction of a chain of parapets. These run from left to right as far as our lines extend. Since almost the entire distance of the rebel lines in this are run through heavy sections of timber, they have been able to fall trees and obstruct the approaches to their key points. This makes it nearly impossible for an attacking force to make a successful, direct assault. therefore, other means have had to be adopted. This time, the movement is by the left and towards the railroad. All this, of course, commenced some days ago.
Friday, May 27, 1864
The weather this morning is unusually cool and while the sky is clear, everything bears a hostile attitude. On the line, artillery and musketry firing is heavy and constant - on our front and on the right. In front of the 20th Corps, the firing is terrific and has been that way at intervals all during the forenoon.
At 8:30 a.m., our Brigade was ordered to the front line. It immediately moved out by the right flank and advanced about a half mile. There a position was occupied in tow lines on a ridge, from which the enemy's skirmishers had just been driven by our men. Our skirmishers had by then advanced about five hundred yards further, from where the brigade was presently in line. Those fellows were hotly engaged by the enemy, who stubbornly contested the ground on our front.
We stayed in this position but a short time, then we again advanced. This time we went across the hill and into an open field up ahead. During this passage, we were subjected to a heavy fire from the rebel artillery. But is was generally aimed too high and thus passed over us, doing but little injury among our
ranks. After going across, we again halted, this time behind a fence and thick underbrush. This stretched the full length of the fence row and completely hid us from the enemy's view. The enemy therefore slackened fire, apparently deceived that we had withdrawn after having been first convinced that the rebel shooting was without effect.
We laid about an hour in this hidden position. In the meantime, our skirmish line had been heavily re-inforced, had driven the rebels about half a mile and were still gradually gaining ground on our front. We were then again ordered forward and proceeded by the left flank through a shaded, natural avenue, our passage being covered all the while, until we reached a skirt of woods in front. There we again deployed.
The brigade was here formed in one line, except one regiments, which was required for picket and skirmishing. The line of the Brigade was set on the crest of a hill through a piece of open woods. Not anticipating any attack from the enemy, we did not fortify, although our custom on former occasions was to do so when in comparable proximity to the rebels.
The 22d Indiana which had been on skirmish all day had by then advanced and forced the rebels to their outer line of works on the crest of another hill. This was a hill I mentioned earlier. it formed the rebels' main line of defense. Thus the day passed and night fell. The 22d Indiana held the position in easy musket range until about 10 p.m. Just as these lads were being relieved by the 125th Illinois, the rebels made a bold charge on our skirmish line, with the evident intention of driving them back and recovering some ground lost earlier during the afternoon.
But the rebels' timing was bad; in fact, it was disastrous. Our skirmish line was very strong and well supported. By that critical moment, the skirmish line had the backing of an additional regiment. That additional regiment, while in the act of relieving, was deployed just in the rear of the line and almost along the whole length of it, giving the effect of two, or a double, and 'very strong', skirmish line.
In truth, it was nearly equal in terms of power to a regular line of formal battle. The southerners had not expected to find anything more than a mere line of skirmishers and their preparations were therefore insufficient. On came their probing assault.
The night was very dark and a profound quiet was everywhere. All at once, to the great surprise of our men, the rebels thundered furiously down the hill into our front. A terrible fusillade broke out, for opponents shot at each other from a very short range. In many spots, hand to hand struggles went on. There were curses and hideous shrieks. Men were clubbed with muskets, frequently one person was without knowledge of his victim - for the darkness blocked any chance of identification. And the darkness further compounded difficulties by destroying men's sense of direction, so that they really did not know which way to shoot.
The engagement went on for about twenty, utterly hysterical, minutes.
During that time, active preparations were astir at Company F's sector, for in case the assault proved too much for our pickets along the guard perimeter, we would be the next targets of the rebels. The company was situated in a place where three large, cut logs reposed. I therefore set my men to arranging the logs for defense purposes. In short order, a good substantial breastwork was ready, the work on which was done under heavy fire, amid the chorus of hideous yells and howls from the fro. Not only did our limbs fly to the task of building out of an anxiety for safety, but we were driven with terror, to be perfectly honest. Such sounds were enough to freeze the blood.
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