Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Major Charles Fessenden Morse: May 20, 1864

Cassville, Ga., May 20, 1864.

I take this, my first opportunity since the fight of the 15th, to let you know that I am alive and well. I will tell you briefly what we have done since my last letter was written from near Ringgold.

May 7th, we marched about seven miles to Trickam P. O., taking up our position in line opposite Buzzard's Roost, which the enemy held in force. On the 8th and 9th we lay quietly in bivouac.

About seven A.M., on the 10th, we were moved off by a circuitous route to the southwest, passing through Snake Creek Gap in the afternoon, and camping at its outlet in the rear of McPhereon's force. During May 12th the whole army, with the exception of the Fourth Corps and Stoneman's cavalry, concentrated in our vicinity. On the 13th everything moved forward towards Resaca, going into position near the enemy, and endeavors were made to bring on a general engagement; nothing more than skirmishing resulted, however.

On the 14th, fighting began early and lasted throughout the day; late in the afternoon we moved to the extreme left, where Howard (who had come down from Dalton) had been heavily engaged and worsted. We double-quicked into line, and opened on the rebels as they were advancing with a yell to take a battery from which they had driven our men; our fire checked them, then drove them back, and we advanced with a cheer, regaining all the lost ground. By the time we had done this, it was eight o'clock and bright moonlight, so our line was halted and strengthened during the night by a strong line of works. Early next morning, our regiment was selected to make a reconnoisance in our front to discover the position of the enemy. This was a very delicate manoeuvre, but was capitally executed by Colonel Coggswell with the loss of only two men; the regiment behaved perfectly, not firing a shot, though under quite a disagreeable fire from skirmishers.

We developed the enemy's line and then returned, having done exactly what we were ordered to do. Soon after our return, our whole corps (now about twenty-two thousand strong), was massed for a tremendous attack on the enemy's right. At one P. M., we moved rapidly forward and became at once engaged; our regiment was in the front line, supported on the left by the Twenty-seventh Indiana and on the right by the Third Wisconsin. We advanced about a half mile and then were stopped by a line of breastworks. Our skirmishers crawled to within a hundred yards of them, and our line formed close in the rear. We were hardly settled in position when the enemy massed quite a body of troops in our immediate front and advanced to the attack, with the evident intention of turning our left, which had become somewhat exposed; our regiment and the Twenty-seventh Indiana marched forward and met them with a cheer half way, and poured a terrible fire into their ranks, following it up with the “Virginia” style of shooting. The enemy seemed perfectly astonished, and fired wild and high; in less than half an hour, we had fairly whipped, with our two regiments, a rebel brigade of five regiments, killing and capturing large numbers of them; our right and left did equally well. Night came on and the fighting ceased. The next morning, on advancing, we found no enemy. Since then, by a series of marches, we have reached this place. Yesterday, we came up with the enemy and had a very lively skirmish; they left during the night. To-day we have been resting. The news from Virginia is grand, but the details terrible. So far, our losses in the regiment have been about thirty killed and wounded, no officers hurt. This is written in haste and with very little idea when it can be mailed.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 164-6

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