Saturday, October 17, 2009



Of Colonel Carsakaddon I have been able to learn still less than of General Vandever. He is a native of Pennsylvania, which is all that I know of his earlier history. He settled in Iowa after the year 1850, and at the time of entering the army was the proprietor of a livery-stable. He recruited Company K, 9th Iowa Infantry, in the summer of 1861, and was mustered its captain the 24th of September following. On the promotion of Colonel Vandever to a general officer, he was made colonel of his regiment.

The history of the 9th Iowa, while under the command of Colonel Carsakaddon, need not be given in detail, for it is essentially the same as are those of the 4th, 25th, 26th, 30th and 31st Iowa regiments. Its loss during the Vicksburg Campaign was about one hundred and forty. In the charge of the 22d of May, 1863, it was in the front, and suffered severely. Among the killed in this charge were Captain P. M. Kelsey of Company A, and Lieutenants Jacob Jones and Edward Tyrrell. Captain T. S. Washburn and Lieutenant E. C. Little were both wounded. The former commanded the regiment in the charge. He was a gallant officer, and died of his wounds soon after reaching his home in Iowa. Lieutenant John Sutherland of Company D, was also wounded in the charge of the 22d, and Sergeant, afterwards Major, Inman.

The following incident is deserving of mention: Sergeant J. M. Elson, the color-bearer, was shot through both thighs, while endeavoring to scale the outer slope of the enemy's defenses. The flag fell forward on the enemy's works, where it lay till it was seized [sic] by Lieutenant and Adjutant George Granger. Tearing it from the staff, he put it in his bosom and brought it from the field. While on the march from Memphis to Chattanooga, the regiment lost three men in the affair at Cherokee Station. Its loss on Lookout Mountain was one man wounded, and at Mission Ridge, seven. In the affair at Ringgold it lost three men killed, and eleven wounded.

During the winter of 1863-4, the 9th Iowa was stationed near Woodville, Alabama, and, in the following spring, marched with its brigade and division to the front. It participated in the entire Atlanta Campaign, but most distinguished itself on the 22d of July, 1864, before the city. An account of general movements on these two memorable days may be given with interest. We begin with the 21st instant; for the advance to and beyond Decatur has been already given.

The 21st day of July closed with the enemy in their line of works, just beyond Decatur, and from which Sherman had tried unsuccessfully to force them: it closed with a vigorous fire of musketry along the whole line, and with the prospect that the enemy would not abandon their position till forced to do so. The night following was a magnificent one: the firing ceased late in the evening, and, not long after, the moon rose in all its splendor, lighting up dimly the scene of the recent conflict. Before mid-night, every thing was quiet, with the exception of an incessant rattling of wagon-trains and artillery, away off to the left and front. The sentinels said to each other, that Hood was evacuating Atlanta; and they were happy in the thought that they were to possess the Gate City without further blood-shed; but they were doomed to wretched disappointment.

When morning broke, no enemy were in view. They had abandoned their long line of works, extending from the right of General Thomas to near the left of General McPherson; and where, on the 21st instant, they had brought General Sherman at bay. An advance was, of course, at once ordered. The line of march of the Army of the Tennessee was nearly due west, and along and parallel with the Decatur road. Before the advance was made, the 16th Corps held the right, and joined the 23d; the 15th Corps the centre; and the 17th the left. After the movement was made, and the Army of the Tennessee disposed in line, the 15th Corps covered the Atlanta and Decatur Railroad, leaving the 17th Corps still at its left, and south-east of Atlanta. But the lines were shortened so as to crowd the 16th Corps out; and at the time the enemy made their assault, it was in reserve, in rear of the 15th and 17th Corps. This, as subsequent events proved, was most fortunate.

The enemy had not fled. They were soon discovered in a new and strong line of works, not more than a mile and a half back from those they had just abandoned. Sherman moved up and took position, shortly before twelve o'clock, at noon.

In this maneuver of his forces, the rebel Hood showed strategy. He could count on Sherman's advance in the morning, and, having massed a heavy force on his left, he would strike him, just after the advance was begun. There were two obstacles to his success — the tardiness of his troops in coming into position, and the courage and endurance of the 17th Corps. But the 9th Iowa was attached to the 15th Corps, and was not less than four miles north of the Federal left, when the Iowa Brigade, commanded by Colonel Hall, received the first attack of the enemy.

As soon as the firing commenced on the left, Wood's Division, to which the 9th belonged, was put under arms, and rested in line. On the left of Wood's Division was Morgan L. Smith's. Separating these two commands was a deep and difficult ravine, along the bottom of which ran a small stream. The sides of the ravine were covered with brush and fallen timber; and the banks of the stream, with thick bramble. In front of Smith's right, and near the ravine, was a bald knob, on which the enemy had erected a crescent-shaped work, (now vacant) to cover the approaches from the east. West of this work and in the direction of Atlanta, the ground was descending, and heavily timbered. In front of Wood's right was the Howard House, where Sherman was making his head-quarters, and where the body of the gallant and lamented McPherson was brought, soon after he was killed. I should further state that, the position of Wood's and Smith's commands was along the line of works the enemy had abandoned the previous night: portions of these had already been reversed.

The attack of the enemy broke with great fury on the left. The deep and prolonged roar of musketry, broken, occasionally, by the booming of artillery, seemed constantly approaching and increasing. Soon there were other evidences of the enemy's success. Aids, with despair in their faces, hurried to and from Sherman's head-quarters; and the general himself grew anxious and nervous. General officers were sent for, or reported without orders; and among them were Thomas, Howard, and Logan. General McPherson had already been killed in rear of the 17th Corps, and news of the calamity brought to Sherman. The ambulance bearing his dead body was then approaching the Howard House.

All this had been witnessed by the right wing of Wood's Division, when its attention was suddenly drawn in the opposite direction. Morgan L. Smith was being attacked by the enemy, and not only the smoke of the battle could be seen, but the shouts of the combatants distinctly heard. Smith's command stood firmly for only a few moments, and then broke in confusion, the enemy occupying their works. But these successes were only temporary; and yet, at that instant, with its left wing forced back and its centre broken, it looked as though the Army of the Tennessee was overwhelmed with disaster. In this gallant charge, the enemy captured several prisoners, besides De Grass' Battery of twenty-pounder Parrots. This affair took place in plain view of Sherman's headquarters; and, if I am rightly informed, the general was himself a witness to it. Wood threw back the left wing of his division promptly, so as to confront the advancing enemy. Colonel, now General, J. A. Williamson commanded the right brigade, the extreme right of which was the pivot on which the line turned. Sherman was still present and, after the new line was formed, said, "that battery must be re-captured." Wood accordingly selected the 2d Brigade, only three regiments of which were present—the 4th, 9th and 25th Iowa: the 31st Iowa was detached, and at Roswell, doing guard- and picket-duty. Between Colonel Williamson and the enemy was the ravine of which I have spoken; for the enemy held the works just before occupied by Smith. With the 4th on the right, the 9th on the left, and the 25th in reserve, Colonel Williamson entered the ravine, and, after having with much difficulty worked his way to the opposite slope, shot out on the enemy's flank with such impetuosity as to give them little time for resistance. The 4th and 9th Iowa re-captured De Grass' Battery, and turned it again on the foe. A portion of the 16th Corps now came up, and claimed a share of the honor; but it was awarded by both Generals Sherman and Wood to the 2d Brigade, 1st Division, 15th Army Corps.

For the part taken by these troops, during the balance of this engagement, I refer to the report of Colonel Williamson:

"Leaving the 9th Iowa in the works, I sent the 4th to the right, to occupy a rebel battery which commanded the head of a ravine, leading to our line in the only place where there was not a breast-work. The regiment had not more than formed, when it was assaulted by a brigade of rebel infantry, under command of Colonel Backer, and a very stubborn fight ensued; but the regiment held its position, and finally repulsed the assaults, inflicting great loss on the rebels in killed, wounded, and prisoners.

"The 37th Alabama (rebel) was, according to the statements made by prisoners, nearly annihilated in this engagement. After the last assault made by the rebels was repulsed, the command went to work changing the rebel works and constructing new ones, completing them against day-light. I now received orders to move to the left of the 16th Corps, some two or three miles to the left of our position."

In the movement of the 27th instant from the east to the west side of Atlanta, the 9th Iowa with its brigade was given the post of honor: it covered the rear of its division, in the line of march. Marching all that day and until about ten o'clock at night, it rested on its arms till day-light of the 28th, and then, in line of battle, moved forward to its new position in line. The loss of the 9th Iowa and its brigade in this day's fighting was slight, the enemy making their desperate assaults on the forces to its right. Among the wounded was Colonel Carsakaddon. He was struck by a musket-shot in the forehead, receiving a wound very similar to that received by General Dodge a few days after. Only a portion of Colonel Williamson's Brigade was engaged in the battle of the 28th. This brigade was relieved on the 3d instant, and placed in reserve, the 9th Iowa being sent to picket the extreme right. On the 13th of August, having re-joined its brigade, the regiment took part in assaulting the enemy's skirmish line, which resulted in capturing the entire force in the pits. In the march to Jonesboro, which closed the memorable campaign, the 9th Iowa took part. It reached the Montgomery Railroad in the forenoon of the 28th of August, where it remained with its brigade one day, destroying the road, and then marched to within one mile north of Jonesboro. While lying before Jonesboro on the 31st instant, the enemy made a desperate assault on the 1st Division; and the part which a portion of the 9th took in repelling this assault is thus given by the brigade commander:

"During the assault, four companies of the 9th Iowa, under Captain McSweeny, went forward and took a position in an interval between the right of the 4th Division and the left of the 3d Brigade, where there were no intrenchments [sic], and, while the battle continued, succeeded in throwing up temporary works, which enabled them to hold the position."

The loss of the 2d Brigade in the Atlanta Campaign (and the 4th and 9th Iowa suffered the most severely) was two hundred and eighty.

An account of the march from Atlanta to Savannah, and thence, through the swamps of South Carolina to Goldsboro and Raleigh, will be found in the sketch of Colonel William Smyth, 31st Iowa. After the fall of Atlanta, the 30th Iowa was attached to the 15th Corps' Iowa Brigade, and the brigade itself changed from the 2d to the 3d. On the march from Savannah to Goldsboro, the brigade was commanded by Colonel George A. Stone of the 25th Iowa, and met the enemy at three different points on the line of march. Of the part taken by the 4th and 9th Iowa on the Little Congaree Creek, near Columbia, South Carolina, Colonel Stone says:

"I was ordered to form in two lines of battle, two regiments front, and the other regiment (the 4th Iowa) to cover the front as skirmishers, and to move forward to effect a crossing of the Little Congaree Creek, if possible. Immediately in front of the 4th Iowa was a swamp about waist-deep, and some three hundred yards wide. The regiment did not falter at this obstacle, but gallantly plunged in, led by its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols. We were now about five hundred yards above the position held by the rebels on Little Congaree Creek; but a branch of that same stream intervened between us and the creek itself. It was discovered our position flanked an out-post of the enemy on the same side of the stream we were on, and three companies of the 4th Iowa and four companies of the 9th Iowa were ordered to attack this out-post. Major Anderson of the 4th Iowa commanded the skirmishers making the attack, and Captain Bowman of the 9th commanded the reserve. The attack was made with great vigor, and was entirely successful. The enemy could not withstand the impetuosity of the skirmishers, and broke, after a few minutes' fighting, to the opposite side of the creek. I now ordered my command forward to the branch of the Little Congaree, separating us from the main creek, and with the 4th Iowa went about three-fourths of a mile up the creek, to a point beyond the enemy's right flank, and in their rear. Here I ordered the 4th Iowa to cross on a log as quickly as possible, intending, as soon as that regiment had crossed, to support it with two others, and attack the enemy from the rear."

But the movement was discovered, and the enemy retired.

On the march through the Carolinas, the 9th Iowa was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Abernethy, a most excellent officer. He is a brother of the late Lieutenant-Colonel John Abernethy of the 3d Iowa, who was killed on the 22d of July, before Atlanta. Both entered the service as first sergeants, and rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

After Colonel Carsakaddon was wounded on the 28th of July, he received leave of absence and came North. He did not re-join his regiment till after its arrival at Savannah, Georgia, and, before it left that point on its final campaign, he tendered his resignation.

The colonel is a short, stocky man, with black hair and eyes, and has the appearance of much energy and determination. I am told he is a good sample of a Western man — unpretending and practical, but rather illiterate. He was a brave man, and a gallant officer; and there are few of his old regiment, who do not entertain for him the greatest good-will and affection.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 207-14

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