Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brigadier-General Edward Hatch


The gallant young Edward Hatch is one of the very best of the Iowa general officers. He was born in Maine, in the year 1832. The town of his nativity, the character of his education, and the date of his removal to Iowa, I have failed to learn. He was a resident of Muscatine, Iowa, as early as 1858, and engaged in the lumber business with a Mr. Fullerton of that city. I regret that I can not give more of his history. In August, 1861, Mr. Hatch was made Major of the 2d Iowa Cavalry. A few weeks later, he was commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel of his regiment, and, on the promotion of Colonel Elliott to brigadier-general, in June 1862, he was made colonel. For gallant and meritorious services he was, in the spring of 1864, appointed and confirmed a brigadier-general. He richly earned his promotion; for, from the first, he has been a working, fighting officer.

General Elliott left the 2d Iowa Cavalry soon after the fall of Corinth; and from that date I resume the history of the regiment, first premising that it was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hatch from the time of its arrival before Corinth, Colonel Elliott being in command of the brigade to which it was attached.

Since May, 1862, the regiment's field of service has been principally in Tennessee and in Northern Alabama and Mississippi. A full history of its operations can not be given in the limited space to which I am confined, and I shall therefore allude to only the most important items of its service.

During the summer and fall of 1862, the regiment was attached to the cavalry brigade of the gallant Philip H. Sheridan, and made its head-quarters, a chief portion of the time, near Rienzi, Mississippi. After General Grant's unsuccessful march through Central Mississippi, in November, 1862, the 2d Iowa changed its head-quarters to La Grange, Tennessee. It was from that point the regiment moved out to co-operate with Colonel Grierson, at the time that officer started on his wonderful raid through Mississippi. Much interest attaches to this movement, and I therefore give briefly its antecedents and its results.

"In accordance with previous instructions, [I quote from General Grant's official report] Major-General S. A. Hurlbut started Colonel B. H. Grierson with a cavalry force from La Grange, Tennessee, to make a raid through the central portion of the State of Mississippi, to destroy railroad and other public property, for the purpose of creating a diversion in favor of the army moving to the attack of Vicksburg. On the 17th of April, this expedition started, and arrived at Baton Rouge on the 2d of May, having successfully traversed the whole State of Mississippi. The expedition was skillfully conducted, and reflects great credit on Colonel Grierson and all of his command. The notice given this raid by the Southern press confirms our estimate of its importance."

Colonel Hatch and the 2d Iowa did not accompany Colonel Grierson on this raid, but operated in other quarters, and in conjunction with him, so as to draw the attention of the enemy from the real movement, and thus secure the expedition a sure and unmolested start. For a full account of the part taken by the 2d Iowa in this movement, I can not do better than to give in full the official report of Colonel Hatch:

"Head-Quarters 2d Iowa Cavalry,
La Grange, Tennessee, April 27th, 1863."


"I have the honor to report: Complying with orders from Colonel Grierson, commanding 1st Cavalry Brigade, left camp with my regiment at La Grange, Tennessee, April 17tb, and marched with the brigade to the neighborhood of Ripley, Mississippi, and camped.

"On the morning of the 18th of April, by order of Colonel Grierson, marched my regiment east of Ripley three miles, thence south-east through Molino, and camped five miles south of that place, skirmishing during the day with Smith's regiment of Partisan Rangers, organized near there at a place known as Chesterville. On the 19th, marched south-west, forming a junction with Colonel Grierson, five miles south of Pontotoc, Mississippi. There Major Love, of my regiment, was detached with a portion of the regiment to return to La Grange, reducing me to about five hundred men.

"On the morning of the 20th, marched with Colonel Grierson thirteen mile south-east of Houston, and camped. On the morning of the 21st of April, complying with Colonel Grierson's order, I moved in rear of his column. At 3 o'clock A. M., left Colonel Grierson at the junction of the roads leading to Louisville, West Point and Columbus, thence to proceed to the railroad at West Point, destroying the railroad-bridge over the Okatibbayhah River, thence to move rapidly southward to Macon, destroying the railroad and government stores, and thence to find my way back north to La Grange, by the most practicable route. For some reason unknown to me, the column did not move till 7 o'clock A. M. This delay, as the following report will show, was fatal to carrying out Colonel Grierson's order.

"At the point Colonel Grierson turned south from the direction I was to travel, a detachment of my regiment moved with him four miles, then marched back to that point to obliterate the tracks of Colonel Grierson going south with the 6th and 7th Illinois Cavalry, which had been concentrating for some days in anticipation of a movement on Columbus. About 12 o'clock, on reaching the town of Palo Alto, I was attacked in rear and on each flank by a force under General Dolsen, consisting of Smith's Partisan Regiment, Bartoe's Regiment and Inge's Battalion. In my front, between me and West Point, was an Alabama Regiment, recently from Pensacola, with artillery — my front being well protected by the Hooka River. In the attack made by the enemy, a company in the rear was cut off and nearly all taken. The enemy then closed in on my flank, and advanced in two lines upon my rear, with two flags of truce flying, enabling him to approach very close, my command being at that time in a lane, with high fences and hedges upon either side, my men dismounted and well covered. Changing my front to the rear, I waited until the enemy were close upon me, and opened with my rifles and one two-pounder from the front, and with carbines on the flanks, breaking his lines, driving him back, pushing him about three miles, capturing arms and horses, and re-taking the company that was lost in the first attack. From that time until it was dark, it was a constant skirmish, the enemy having taken mine for the main column. Believing it was important to divert the enemy's cavalry from Colonel Grierson, I moved slowly northward, fighting by the rear, crossing the Hooka River, and drawing their force immediately in my rear.

"On the 22d, marched north near the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, the enemy continuing to follow, their forces augmented by all the citizens in the country, armed with shotguns and hunting-rifles, firing constantly on our flank. At 4 o'clock, P. M., attacked Okalona, driving out the enemy's cavalry and State forces, burning the barracks for five thousand men, and destroying stores and ammunition. I then marched north-west five miles, and camped.

"On the 23d, marched north, and hearing that Chalmer's forces intended cutting me off, I destroyed the bridge over the Chivoppa Creek, to check the forces following me in the rear. Camped that night near Tupelo. On the 24th, marched north through Birmingham, where I was attacked in the rear by what I believe to be Chalmer's forces. At 10 o'clock, A. M., my ammunition giving out, I retreated slowly towards Molino, stopping occasionally to repel their charges, concealing my men at all favorable points with the two-pounder, which did excellent service. I waited till the enemy were nearly on me, when I opened a fire at short range, the enemy suffering terribly, with small loss to me. In this way the attack was kept up for six miles, when the enemy was evidently tired, and with the exception of annoyance from guerrilla parties, we were not troubled by the enemy from that point to La Grange, where I arrived on the 26th.

"We captured about three hundred shot-guns and rifles, mostly Enfield, which for want of transportation were destroyed, and had but ten men killed, wounded and missing. I left camp with seventy rounds of ammunition, and had two on reaching it. I had decided, on reaching Okalona, to go south, but, upon examining my ammunition, I had but twenty-one rounds left, which did not warrant the movement. The fight at Palo Alto gave the enemy time to guard the railroad at West Point, and to prepare for an attack on Columbus, with some two thousand State troops, under General Ruggles.

"I left camp with two hundred and fifty horses: worn out for want of proper and sufficient forage, they broke down at the end of the second day, and I mounted my men upon the mules from my train and borrowed mules. I have nearly mounted my regiment, returned the mules borrowed, and filled up my train, captured fifty prisoners and killed and wounded not less than one hundred of the enemy.

“The fight at Palo Alto, diverting the enemy from Colonel Grierson, has, undoubtedly, given him thirty-six hours' start."

The raid of Colonel Grierson, to which the operations above detailed were collateral, ranks among the first of the war, for daring and success; but the "Patriotism of Illinois" is not impartial in declaring that the entire credit of the affair belongs to Illinois officers. Had not Colonel Hatch, by his maneuvering and hard fighting, diverted the attention of the enemy's cavalry, the result would doubtless have been different. But it is true that the movement filled the enemy with consternation. At the time this handful of Federal troops was sweeping down through Mississippi, Porter was running the Vicksburg Batteries, and McClernand was gathering his corps on the west bank of the river below the city. The combination of movements filled the enemy with amazement, and for several days it was said they stood and looked on with wonder, not knowing what points were most threatened, and most in need of defense. Those who joined Grant's forces on the final Vicksburg Campaign, and who were afforded the opportunity of reading the rebel papers picked up at Raymond, Clinton, and at other points along the route, will remember how great the alarm had been: they will also remember how poor Pemberton was belabored for having allowed "this handful of thieving Yanks to pass unmolested under his very nose."

The 2d Iowa's next move of importance was that made to Jackson, in pursuit of Forest, about the middle of July, 1863. It was on this march, and while charging through the city of Jackson, that Lieutenant John Humphreys was severely wounded. This, considering the numbers engaged, was a gallant affair. One incident of the fight is thus given by Major, afterward Colonel Coon : " In one place, the contest was so close between Company M and a superior force of Forest's men, that one man, named H. H. Bromer, had a hand-to-hand fight, after exhausting all the weapons in his hands.

The 2d Iowa Cavalry re-enlisted as a veteran regiment in the winter of 1863-4, and came North. Afterward, it returned to Memphis, from which point it marched on the expeditions of Sturgis and Smith against Forest; but an account of these operations will be found elsewhere.

Much of the time since promoted to a general officer, General Hatch has commanded a cavalry division. He distinguished himself in resisting Hood's advance into Tennessee, and, especially, in the part he took in routing the rebel forces at Nashville.

The general has a handsome person and an agreeable address. He is about five feet eleven inches in hight, has dark hair and eyes, and, if I am rightly informed, possesses great energy and determination. He is dignified if the occasion requires it, and yet, he can crack a joke and tip a beer-mug with the best of them.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p.571-6

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