Thursday, June 2, 1864
The day began almost as usual. Much picket firing had been kept up all during the night and continued on into this morning, but with little damage on either side. Only one man was wounded during the entire day's shooting on our front. The 86th Illinois relieved the 22d Indiana on front line at dark. Weather turned bad. A heavy thunderstorm and tremendous shower of rain started in the afternoon and occasional showers continued during the early part of the night. The later part of the night was clear and starlit. Rather cool. All quiet.
Friday, June 3, 1864
Morning is clear and rebels are mostly quiet on our front. They are kept that way by our men firing at all heads appearing above the rebel works. At about ten o'clock, orders were given not to fire unless the enemy advanced or made some unusual demonstration.
Saturday, June 4, 1864
Still here in the same position, having been kept awake all the time, both night and day, since we first took up this line. And very little sleep was afforded us for several days in front of Dallas. The men are now totally exhausted and nearly dead for want of rest.
A position like the one held by this brigade fully taxes the physical endurance of the American Soldier. The loss of six consecutive nights' sleep, even though the men have nothing else to attend to , is enough to prostrate any person of ordinary constitution, and the soldiers have spent much of this time in strengthening this fortification and breastworks.
They did it besides fighting by regular turns, which was by alternate days first - one day on, then one day off. I often feared during that terrible enemy musketry fire that many of our men would be killed needlessly, for they appear to have grown entirely indifferent to their personal safety. They were frequently exposed, when they might just as easily have kept under cover.
The old saying that men would get used to hanging is very nearly proved by the conduct of soldiers who are constantly under fire, and more especially when they are much exhausted and sleepy. Rations have been regularly issued and in full. On that point, I doubt if ever an army of such immense proportions fared as well as this has, while operating in the field so far from a base of supplies. The officers of the Commissary Department have shown themselves fully equal to the emergency. When the soldier has plenty of rations in his haversack, all is well.
But a little sleep for the lad would make things better.
At an early hour this morning, our Division was relieved by troops of the 4th Army Corps. We immediately took up our line of march to the left. After proceeding about two miles, mostly over a very rough country and by zigzag paths, we joined the other two divisions of our (the 14th) Army Corps. We had been separated from those fellows since we left Resaca. We found most of the Corps laying in reserve and accordingly took our position in the center, in the second line of works. Here, we were greeted by huge rainshowers, which soaked us all completely.
Neither officers nor men had anything more than a shelter tent. it is the most practical for campaigning, but offers only a partial protection against heavy rain. having been hastily pitched, only a few had any ditches ready, to drain the rain water. Therefore, after the rain was shed y the tent, the water ran under our beds, such as they were, making everything most uncomfortable. However, all old soldiers are accustomed to such lodgings, and they don't suffer much from that kind of a drenching. Now we seldom experience any inconvenience from it, other than the additional load which has to be borne when clothing and blankets are sopping wet.
Sunday, June 5, 1864
Heavy firing is heard all along the line this morning. The constant roar of artillery and the crackling of musketry betokened that something out of the ordinary course of operations was in progress. Either it was the intention for us to make an attack or an important move had been discovered and our generals were about to frustrate the enemy, if possible. this state of affairs continued until about ten or eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when the firing almost completely stopped and as the sky had now cleared off, the day became terribly hot.
Our positions being in an open field, no shelter could be found which offered protection from the scorching, mid-summer heat in this southern latitude. the men suffered bitterly in such oven-like circumstances, everything sweat and stink, but when the heavy firing on the front slackened, and no immediate danger attack was apparent, the men then hastily constructed cover from brush and tents in which they soon found relief and laid idle most of the balance of the day.
About five o'clock in the evening, it was found that the rebels had pulled out of the left of the line and so far to the right as where we lay. The disposition of our army at the time was as follows: the 15th Army Corps on the right and front in reserve, then the 4th, 14th and 20th to the left, with the 23rd and 17th Army Corps moving toward the left, in the course of which they could be available as a reserve, at any time, if the enemy provoked anything serious on our front anywhere.
No danger was anticipated on any of those flank movements, for two very good reasons: one, they could not concentrate sufficient force on our flank to gain anything, without greatly weakening their line and thereby laying a broad foundation for a disastrous defeat to themselves - if we should press them at any place along their center, which in such a case must be easily broken. That would cut their army in two and enable us to annihilate it by detail. Second, a reason why they could not operate on us in that way is the great importance of keeping a large force at all times ready to protect their own flanks from being crushed by our constant, heavy flanking columns. These harassed them and threatened to take advantage of anything that should offer the least appearance of an advantage, to our reserve forces.
No army in the world has perhaps been so constantly harassed as has been General Johnston's on this campaign. The fight has been continuous and incessant ever since the 7th of May. Very little rest has been given, either night or day and every inch of ground has been stubbornly fought over, from Buzzard Roost to this place. Though but few decisive battles have been fought, the rebels have only yielded ground when they were no longer able to hold it and then as little as possible was given and new and stronger defenses were relocated only a short distance back. By this means, they have always occupied their own chosen ground and placed our army at a great disadvantage.
As before stated, at about five o'clock, it was found that the rebels had evacuated on our front. All firing now stopped and many eager fellows trod their way across to the rebel works, which were of the most formidable character. They were low and nearly entirely dug into the ground, with the most powerful abattis in front. It was also lined with heavy earthworks for artillery, which after the same style as the trenches, were almost on a level with the ground. As the ground was considerably elevated, it gave the rebels a great advantage over us. the whole length of this line had a good, large head log on it and in many places, their works for artillery had bomb-proof covers on them, so that nothing short of a center shot could cause any damage.
Darkness soon settled in. A great many of the men were badly down from exhaustion. They went to sleep early. Hundreds of others spent many hours speculating where the Confederates would next choose to make a stand. Most of the men concur that no further resistance will be made to our progress this side of the Chattahoochee River. Though we have now been away from our base for a good while, we have thus far had plenty to eat. Every issue has been a full one and not the slightest murmur can be heard by any of the men, though a little complaint is sometime heard by Line Officers who have been accustomed to better living.
Monday, June 6, 1864
Orders were received to march at an early hour. The rebels have abandoned the whole length of their line and fallen back towards the Chattahoochee River. At 7 a.m., our brigade took up this line for march by the left flank and moved along our line of works in the direction of Big Shanty, then about eight miles distant. After marching about six miles, we went into position on the right of the 15th Army Corps, which had moved by a shorter route and took possession across the railroad in front of Big Shanty.
In the course of our march today, we crossed a small stream, the name of which I was unfortunately unable to learn, a very common occurrence with the soldier, as no citizens can be found anywhere along the line to give this very desirable information.
With General Officers or other Officers of high rank, this difficulty is obviated usually by very accurate topographical maps or by guides whom they are able to pick up in the country, who can most times be made quite useful. In our present position, though not menaced by the enemy, the Colonel Commanding has deemed it advisable to build works. this was accordingly done and by nightfall, we were again strongly entrenched in our new position and all slept well for the night.
I availed myself of the advantage of a good bath in a little creek in our front.
Tuesday, June 7, 1864
We are now entrenched in a position on the right of the 15th Army Corps, near Ackworth and about three-quarters of a mile to the right of the railroad. The position is considered safe, if attacked, but we don't apprehend any danger of an attack here, and no great numbers of rebels are said to be on this side of the Chattahoochee River. The weather is pleasant most of the time, except for being excessively hot in the middle of the day. Our time is mainly spent in procuring some few articles of clothing of which the men have by this time become much in need. And also in washing their clothing, the importance of which is plain, no opportunity having been afforded since we left Rome.
Wednesday, June8, 1864
Today, I was visited by Captain A.S. Starling and other members of the 8th Missouri Regiment, formerly called Meagher's Illinois. Though we have often been near each other on the field, I have not seen him for more than six months and often wished for an opportunity. I am not naturally inclined to run about much, in the Army, and consequently do not call on my most intimate friends, unless they chance to be near by - which will be readily seen by the narration of a little circumstance, of a brother I have in this army who I have not seen since 1856 and have been about him or within three or four miles of him since the campaign opened. I often wish I could enjoy running about and visiting a little more than I do. I am very anxious to see my brother and other friends and they are certainly at no place more welcome than with me, but straggling is despicable.
Thursday, June 9, 1864
Had orders to march early this morning, but were countermanded later on. Brigade lay in camp all day. Nothing unusual is heard of. Weather quite pleasant, but very warm.
Friday, June 10, 1864
This morning, we again moved towards the enemy who are supposed to be in position at Pine Mountain. We are aiming in the direction of Atlanta. The weather was rather nice when we moved out, but soon a heavy shower of rain came down. That made our march miserable, as we went through the woods and underbrush for most of the day. Our movement caused very wet branches and leaves to shed raindrops on us. The cumulative effect was as if we went through two rainstorms simultaneously. One should either be wrapped in rubber from head to tow or else go about stark naked, because there is nothing half-way about the rain in Georgia.
Cursing the weather and our ill-luck, we proceeded until the foot of the mountain was attained, where we found the 3rd Division massed up in an open field and the 1st Division then in line and skirmishing heavily with the enemy. Our division moved to the right of the 3rd and massed in the woods, where preparations were immediately made for dinner. Unfortunately, these preparations also came to naught, thanks to this wretched Georgia summer, for one of the most tremendous rain showers that I ever saw then ensued. The water literally fell in torrents for about an hour and of course extinguished all our little fires, so that we could not make our coffee. The rebels have in Mother Nature an ally which surpasses all others. In this maddening situation, we remained until about four o'clock. At that time, we proceeded to the left abut one and a half miles and took up a new position. companies A, F, and D - all with bellies rumbling angrily - were deployed as skirmish companies and pressed steadily forward in the direction of a little to the right of Kenesaw Mountain.
Dirty, hungry, tired, angry, stinking - we were nearly beside ourselves. Oh, to have come upon the enemy then! However, after some distance, the line was halted and then our only task was to build heavy works, partly of logs and rails and partly of cordwood, which we found piled up nearby. there we lay until sundown, not having seen more than half a dozen rebels since about 11 o'clock.
After all the arrangements had been made for our comfort during the night ahead and some of the men had laid down to sleep, an order came to move forward instantly, towards Kenesaw Mountain. Exasperation overrode mere exhaustion and there were such voluble curses as may surely be imagined, as everyone fell in and we set out again. We had to move by means of a kind of blind road. It led around through the woods. After having gone about a mile and a half, we again went into position, this time about a mile and a half from the foot of Kenesaw Mountain, with our left resting on the railroad.
But our torture continued. We again set to work at building more fortifications, which we managed to complete in about two hours - these having been the third line of works constructed by us this day.
the men were exhausted, but all felt the importance of having these works, for we wanted to be alive to greet the morning sun 'ere our bodies be covered with ten, rather than five, layers of filth. Therefore, every bit of energy was accordingly exerted. The duty was heavy, it always is, but none shrank from it and in this wise, works were soon built in each new position. Every deep trench, every log inplaced, every strategic aspect anticipated - this meant that the men could rest with considerable safety and a full assurance that if attacked, we could hold this ground.
We were on the extreme left of the line of the Army of the Cumberland and joined on the right of the 16th Corps, Army of the Tennessee. with good works on our front, protection on our flanks, and utter numbness in our bodies, we felt that the whole rebel army could not dislodge us - and truthfully, 'we were damn well past caring.' So we slept for the night.
Saturday, June 11, 1864
Lieutenant John Hall is rejoining the company from duty in Invalid Corps, where he has been since August, 1863. Was idle until about 11 a.m., then moved directly south of 3rd Brigade. In the advance, Companies A, F, and D are deployed as skirmishers. Found no enemy and returned to the regiment about 4 p.m. Had several heavy showers.
Constant and heavy skirmishing occurred all along our front; occasionally very heavy cannonading. That was in front of the 16th Corps, principally directed at the rebel's skirmish line, which is uncomfortable close to ours and which nothing short of an artillery barrage could dislodge, without them inflicting a severe lose on us.
In several attempts, our skirmishers were foiled and it became obvious that only something heavy could drive them out of their strong entrenchment. The artillery made short work of the matter. The practice was most excellent and every shot told with powerful effect, knocking their rail works to bits and driving them like sheep. This gave to us that important ground without the loss of a single man and soon enabled us to advance our lines within easy artillery range of their main line.
Sunday, June 12, 1864
Remained in front line of the regiment, resting on the railroad near the foot of the Kenesaw Mountain. Heavy skirmishing on the front, with musketry and artillery quite heavy about 10 a.m. Firing continued hotly all day. While this has gone on, General Hooker with the 20th Army Corps, General Howard with the 4th and General Schofield with the 23rd Army Corps have been swinging around on the rebel left and have driven them to their position nearer Kenesaw Mountain.
This was fortunately done without any heavy fighting, most of it having been accomplished by the skirmishers and by rapid movements on the flanks. All this has prevented the rebels from concentrating at any given point a sufficient force to successfully check the movement.
Monday, June 13, 1864
Weather has turned bad and rained almost incessantly until about noon. Orders for us to be ready to march at a moment's notice were then given, but afterwards counter-manded. Lt. John Hall returned to the company from Washington.
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