Concerning the operation of my regiment during the recent campaign, I have the honor to submit the following report.
On Thursday morning, May 30,1864, the regiment under command of Col. C.J. Dilworth marched from Lee & Gordon’s mills in the direction of Ringold; halted at Ringold and camped temporarily.
The campaign proper opened on the 9th of May, the division to which the 85th is attached holding an important position in the line. As the army advanced and without any important event connected with the regiment, we crossed Tunnel Hill; menaced Buzzard Gap and finally by a long, circuitous route passed through Snake Creek Gap and took position before Resacca. On the 16th Resacca evacuated, the regiment moved with the division down the Gap Road leading from Snake Gap to Rome. Our advance was uninterrupted till arrival in the vicinity of Rome. A battle occurred on afternoon of May 17, the contest lasting till nightfall. The enemy then retreated across the river and burned the bridge. Early on the morning of l8th, the 85th leading the columns, we followed the retreating enemy, crossing the river as best we could by swimming, on rafts, and in canoes. Our flag was hoisted upon the courthouse and rebellious Rome was again under federal rule.
The regiment lay in temporary camp at Rome till May 23. Then marching through Dallas took position about one mile beyond. By a succession of movements, we were soon placed near the center of the army. In the movements our hardships were great, owing to long marches, bad roads, and wet weather.
The rebel line in the Allatoona Mountains was evacuated June 5. On the 10th, we pursued and he was soon driven till his line rested across Kenesaw Mountain. The position assigned to my regiment was near the base of the mountain. Here the line was subjected to a most terrific fire from batteries on the summit.
Our position was not changed until the 26th of June. Marching by night we moved about two miles to the right and formed in the rear as reserve. Monday morning, June 27, the necessary orders had been given and the regiment in light marching order moved to the front. Then followed the memorable battle of Kenesaw. The 85th was assigned the advance and at the signal the works were scaled. With a prolonged cheer the line swept across the fields in front, driving the enemy from his first works.
Oh the summit of the hill we encountered his main work which proved too strong. Entrenchments were thrown up in the face of the foe. This position we held till the evacuation of Marietta on the 2nd of July. In this action the gallant McCook was mortally wounded and the command of the brigade devolved upon Col. Dilworth. Major R.G. Rider was left in command of the regiment.
Pursuit commenced July 3rd. The enemy was overtaken on the 4th; July 5 he continued his retreat and we followed. July 9 he again retired from our front, crossed the Chattahoochee and burned the bridges. Marching up the river we crossed July 18 and were assigned a position near the right.
Advancing on the 19th my regiment was supporting the skirmish line; crossed Peach Creek about four o’clock P.M. The hill in front was held by the enemy. My regiment advanced, following the skirmishers, passed the summit of the hill and a small field beyond it. Suddenly a destructive fire was poured into our ranks from the right and the enemy were soon discovered on our flank in great numbers. We fell back to the brow of the hill under a terrible cross fire and waited for support. The enemy evacuated this line the night of July 20th and we followed to the defenses around Atlanta. From July 20 to August 5 very little fighting occurred. We were often moved and always to the right, sometimes advancing the lines and building new works and sometimes occupying works vacated by other troops.
Oh the 5th day of July [probably August] my regiment was deployed as skirmishers. An advance was ordered. We encountered a heavy line of skirmishers strongly entrenched. We charged, then took the works and many prisoners.
Events to August 26th are unimportant. At 4 A.M. 27th we evacuated our line of works, moving in a southerly direction. Aug. 28th we continued our march, crossing the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad. 30th and 31st were spent in marching and counter-marching. Thursday morning, Sept. 1st we continued our march towards the Macon Railroad. Late in the day a line of entrenchments confronted us beyond an extensive field. The troops moved to the attack. My regiment was in the 2nd line, hence my loss was less severe. The works were carried and the enemy compelled to evacuate Jonesboro.
Late in the action Major Rider commanding the regiment was wounded in the head. The command then devolved upon myself. Friday morning Sept. 2nd we entered Jonesboro. Sept. 3rd my regiment with the 125th Illinois was placed in charge of a large number of prisoners. Joining the remainder of the brigade we were relieved as guards and placed in rear of train. Continuing the march, we entered Atlanta late in the afternoon.
I have the honor to be, sir,
Your obedient servant.
James R. Griffith
Capt. Commanding Regiment
Report of casualties on other side