Tuesday, June 14, 1864
Stayed in camp until about four o'clock this afternoon. Then our lines moved forward to wards the right of the mountain, where we took up a position on the right of the 2nd Brigade and on the left of the 1st Brigade. The 22d Indiana, 85th Illinois, 125th Illinois and the 52d Ohio were on the front line and ordered to build strong works, with a well-constructed abbatis in front.
This was done while the 86th Illinois lay in reserve, so as to be available for any place where it might be needed. A strong skirmish line was sent out which soon became hotly engaged and kept up a continuous fire all day and night, until next morning. Then it slackened, only to break out anew and more fiercely.
While in this position, the line was advanced on our right and left - on the right by General Morgan of the 1st Brigade and on the left by Colonel Mitchell commanding the 2d Brigade.
Being at leisure, I had the pleasure of a good view of the fight on the left for some distance, principally on the front of the 16th Corps line, which proved a brilliant affair. Our skirmishers over-ran the rebel rifle pits and captured many prisoners, with but a slight loss on our side.
I here witnessed the evidence of the most cordial good feeling between the enlisted men of the two most powerful opposing armies. Some of our men by the fortunes of war had fallen wounded, were being carried to the rear by the voluntary act of the rebel prisoners. Yankees carried Rebels and Rebels carried Yankees and vice versa, while our line moved on to still further action and drove the enemy's skirmishers into their main works.
Greatly artillery fire was aimed steadily at the rebels as they retreated. The exact amount of damage done by that firing is difficult to tell, but by a revel deserter now with us, we have been able to learn that the rebel general, Preston Polk, commanding the forces of their Mobile Army now here, was killed by a shell. Much damage is said to have been done in places where the fire was mainly directed. General Polk was killed while standing in his own headquarters and in consultation with General Joe E. Johnston, their chief. Unfortunate shell! Why could it not have finished them both?
Companies A, B, G, and K of our regiment were at this time on the skirmish line, where everything was particularly quiet, considering the amount of noise on either flank. In this way, everything went well. The line was advanced a little and at dark, companies F and D were detailed for duty on the skirmish line. They accordingly moved out through the thicket and swamp, which intervened between the skirmish line and main line.
My company took position on the left of the 1st Brigade line and on the right of Company A. The space being too large for one company to fill, it was deemed advisable to move Company D on our right, strengthening the line there. Preparations were immediately started for the construction of substantial rifle pits. In this work, we were much annoyed by the southern sharp-shooters. They were only a few paces over the crest of the ridge on our front and stationed behind the trees. In this way , we passed the night without any serious trouble until about midnight. Then the rebels made a slight advance on a portion of our lines and quickly stirred up a tremendous musketry. That lasted about one hour and then all became more quiet than it had been at any time since we came on the line. Both sides retained the same ground as they did before the fracas.
Lay inactive all forenoon. Weather was cool and pleasant. A general advance of the skirmish line was made all along our front. Companies A, K, G and B on the skirmish line in the afternoon. Companies F and D were detailed after nightfall, but took position and fortified. Very little firing on our front.
Thursday, June 16, 1864
At 8 o'clock this morning, we were relieved from the skirmish line and returned to camp. Issued more trousers and stockings to the boys. We were also given notice that the enemy was suspected of massing on our front with a view toward making an attack there. Everybody was immediately rushed into the trenches and put in readiness for any emergency.
However, nothing happened. All soon grew quiet again and the men retired to their tents with the assurance that nothing further was expected.
We all went to sleep.
Friday, June 17, 1864
Stayed in camp idle nearly all day without any excitement, although heavy firing was at times heard both on our right and left. Five companies of our regiment were ordered into the breastworks, to fill space evacuated by a portion of the 125th Illinois, then on skirmish line. At this time it was deemed unsafe to be in even the slightest part of the line of works, without it being well-manned and always ready for instant action - if called on. Nothing occurred to disturb us, though, except a tremendous rain shower, which, despite all that was done, soaked us all to the skin.
Saturday, June 18, 1864
All quiet today and everybody in our line is laying around idle.
This went on until about five in the afternoon, when we received orders to advance. We did this without firing a gun, except what was fired on the skirmish line. We advanced about half a mile and again threw up a strong line of works with a strong abattis and etc., in front of it.
Once more we rested for the night.
Sunday, June 19, 1864
The enemy has again stole off under cover of night and left the way open for us to proceed forward a short distance closer to the mountain. We moved out early just a brief way and stacked arms, then waited for other troops to move ahead. While pausing here and waiting developments on the front, the infernal Georgia sky opened and sent down the most torrential downpour imaginable. I can't imagine where all the rain comes from or just why it always seems to strike us.
Mud became so deep that it was virtually impossible to move a step. Heavy skirmishing has been going g on near the foot of the mountain and occasionally heavy artillery fired from our batteries, directed on the signal station on the highest point of Kenesaw Mountain.
After considerable firing from the batteries and an eternal crackling of musketry nearly until sundown, we again moved forward and took position at the foot of the mountain and on a little ridge, which was separated by a very small stream running along our front. As it has rained most of the day, everyone is soaking wet. The colonel Commanding thought that a little 'spiritas fermenti' might be a good thing to stimulate the weary soldier after this thorough drenching and the many sleepless nights he had spent since the campaign began.
Great care was taken in issuing the liquor, but notwithstanding all the care, some of the men became beastly intoxicated and raved about the camp like mad men. More especially so in the 22d Indiana, several of whom had to be tied to trees until they became sober, before they could be made to behave themselves.
Thus we stayed until the next day about four o'clock.
Monday, June 20, 1864
Everything was quiet last night. Clouds have passed off and leave a clear sky this morning. Heavy cannonading during the greater part of the day, which turned into a terrific fire, such as one as is seldom heard from artillery. It commenced at five p.m. and lasted until dark.
At four in the afternoon, we moved to the right and took position near the foot of Little Kenesaw, where we again constructed a heavy line of breastworks which was here found to be more of a job than at any other place we had yet stopped. This was because of the rocks and large stones with which the surface is completely covered. But our skirmish line was so far advance that we experienced very little difficulty or annoyance from the rebel pickets. As heavy batteries were in position on the mountain heights, it became absolutely necessary to build very strong works for protection from their fire, if they chose to open on us, which thankfully, they have as yet not seen fit to do. Our army is now again closing in on the enemy who are strongly fortified on both flanks of Kenesaw and completely covering Marietta and the railroad to their rear.
Tuesday, June 21, 1864
Rained some during last night and early this morning. Very little firing with musketry and no artillery, barely giving us the evidence that the enemy is still there. Lay in easy range of artillery from the mountain, but have not been molested. At 10 o'clock this morning, the rebels began some heavy cannonading from the mountain. It was repeated at intervals during the day and then tremendously heavy about sunset. Never heard anything like it!
The men appeared to be wholly indifferent as to the rebel battery and consequently little care was taken about keeping in the works.
Wednesday, June 22, 1864
This morning, for the first time since we took up this position, the weather is clear and very warm. In fact, the heat made the trenches downright oppressive. The men strolled to the front of the works and took shelter under the shady trees.
While the woods were thus covered, the rebels opened a withering cannonade and caused a huge, speedy scattering of our men. They rushed for cover, but the southern shooting was so deadly that before all the men could reach a place of safety, some were severely wounded. Among the group of injured was John M. W. Smith of my company, who lost an arm (his left hand) from the effect of a wound by a shell at that time.
During this cannonade, the rebs threw four hundred shells in little less than an hour from their mountain batteries. this earned a vigorous reply from our batteries, both on the right and left. The noise of both, I think I never heard its equal in any action.
Thursday, June 23, 1864
Turned over to the Colonel the guns and company account.
The enemy opened on our position with artillery at midnight, but because of the darkness, did very little damage. About ten o'clock this morning, the rebels unleashed their batteries again, but nothing that was important happened to us.
Our works are daily strengthened at this place, while our right is gradually pressing forward on the enemy's left flank and holding all the ground that they gain. The Army of the Tennessee is steadily jabbing and bothering the rebels' right, to such an extent that the southerners can scarcely tell at what place to prepare for an assault, which must, of course, happen eventually.
In this situations, we lay comfortable sleeping. At about ten o'clock at night, the rebels commenced another heavy cannonade on our line, but again, because of the darkness, the shooting was far less-accurate than in broad daylight. Soon, again, however, things grew quiet into perfect stillness and the men laid down in their tents, from which they were not again disturbed.
Friday, June 24, 1864
Everything is quiet this morning, though the rebels have evidently been very busy in strengthening their works, over which the rebel flag floats defiantly. At intervals, our batteries aim a few shells at the flag, but won no reply until about ten a.m. then the rebels let fly at a terrible rate and again threw about four hundred shots in less than an hour. This happened again several times during the day.
Saturday, June 25, 1864
This day's work has merely been a repetition of what was accomplished yesterday, only perhaps a little more fiercely, that is to say, no less than twelve hundred shells have been hurled from the mountain heights and quite as many from us. Such terrific cannonading I never heard or could imagine.
The 3rd Division battery, known as 'Leather Breeches' and commanded by a captain who is a Norwegian by birth, became eminently distinguished for the rapidity of his firing as well as for the accuracy of it. This captain is the chief of artillery of the division. He commands two batteries consisting of six guns each. These were constantly fired by number, heaving a steady stream of shot and shell into the enemy camp and affording them very little time or opportunity to reply, without endangering their Rebellious carcasses to the destruction of the flying missiles. This was about the order of things until after dark, when everything about both lines assumed its usual quietude.
At midnight, orders came down for us to quietly leave our line of earthworks, which were immediately filled by other troops. Our division was moved about two and a half miles to the right and placed in reserve. We were so far in the rear that we were not troubled or annoyed by musketry, except the noise which has long since ceased to be s source of irritation. Here we enjoyed a little rest for the first time since we advanced from Big Shanty.
Sunday, June 26, 1864
Various rumors are circulating via the grapevine telegraph as to the movements of the rebels, daring deeds of Hooker, and diverse other bits of conjure, all too good to admit of any credit on the excuse of being well founded. But something apparent to each of us is that we are enjoying the sweet sunshine of peace in our present position and these quiet moments, so far as our own brigade is interested, have caused all here to begin to think that our turn for favoritism has come. I am inclined to be skeptical about this and am well aware of soldiers' capacity for self deception. It is true that our brigade is in the background and General Morgan's pet brigade is on the front line. There is something gratifying about this particular aspect, for we have so far borne the burden of every conflict, while they have escaped without loss or fatigue. But I would scarcely attribute this present situation to any decision, accidental or otherwise, on the part of Higher Echelons, to make our brigade the new lap dog of the powers-that-be.
Obtained from the quartermaster today some stockings for myself, one pair for Alex Snyder, John Freemold (one pair) and also a pair each for Wm. Caulkins and Wm. S. Coon, etc.
Monday, June 27, 1864
Now it is Monday and a most beautiful day, with every prospect of becoming intensely hot. signed a quartermaster's receipt quite early, for more spades, pick axes and axe handles. Then I sat back for a moment to enjoy the scene. Scarcely a leaf is astir, nor a musket fired. The sun rose clear and splendid, with not a cloud to mar the blue sky. Our only thought is of the happy hours of peace and contentment which stretch ahead for us, we hope, at least one more day.
A different fate is in store for many of us for we are destined to die and be blind to tomorrow's sum which will rise above a terrible carnage - that which has gone on for the last fifty days, virtually without pause.
Just now, the Sergeant Major of our regiment brought an order for all the commissioned officers to assemble at regimental headquarters. There we were informed by the Lieutenant-Colonel commanding, that our brigade is ordered to charge the rebel works. so much for the foolish dream of our soldiers who thought that our few days in reserve presaged a new status as a pet brigade. Pet my foot. Rested for the slaughter would be more like it.
It was exactly eight a.m. when the Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding gave us a detailed statement of the prospects and intentions, then bade us inform our commands, as well as also to get ready for the impending conflict. The stupidity of this order is enough to paralyze me. However, I obeyed the orders so far as related to getting ready. This amounted to having plenty of ammunition, a musket, and to divest the men of all surplus baggage and equipment.
But the role of Judas is more than I can swallow and must here acknowledge myself as altogether too skeptical, to have the least confidence in the success of the enterprise. I think it far better not to give the plan of operation to my men, lest I gag on my words and reveal that I have the horrors, which, in turn, would give them the horrors, too. I consider the folly of this undertaking of itself sufficient notice for their own peace of mind.
So the minutes passed.
Regiment formed in front of the 4th Army Corps in four lines deep, to charge the enemy works. There was a moment of hideous silence among the men. Then, at a given signal of artillery, the entire line moved off at quick time with fixed bayonets, until we passed our outer skirmisher's works. There we took up the Double Quick and struck up the yell and raced straight for the Rebel works - all giving every promise of success.
Then colonel McCook was wounded and fell. It was a desperate encounter and frightful.
We were beaten back.
The men rallied and made a second assault under a galling southern fire. We advanced to within twenty steps of the rebel works.
We were beaten back.
We retreated to about forty paces from the works and concentrated a heavy fire on the rebels. The shooting did succeed in keeping them down, while we constructed breastworks in the rear of first line of protection. But the misery of that loss, the wretched failure, it stuck in my throat. I became entirely outdone and overheated, and went to the rear, where I remained until next morning.
Tuesday, June 28, 1864
Regiment lay in the front line of works with other lines of good works in back of them. Much firing during the day, in which the rebs could not raise a head above their own trenches, without drawing a volley from us. But the memory of Monday's debacle stays.
Wednesday, June 29, 1864
Relieved from the front line and lay in the rear line. Front line busily engaged during the day, firing at the rebels who happen to appear above their works. Rebels mad a spirited little attack at midnight, but were beaten off. Obtained the quartermaster one pair of drawers each for W. S. Coon and John F. Wilson. Also a shirt for John F. Wilson.
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