Showing posts with label 44th USCT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 44th USCT. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Official Reports of the Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, November 14, 1864 — January 23, 1865: No. 190. — Report of Col. Lewis Johnson, Forty-fourth U. S. Colored Troops, of operations December 2-3, 1864.

No. 190.

Report of Col. Lewis Johnson, Forty-fourth U. S. Colored Troops,
of operations December 2-3, 1864.

HDQRS. FORTY-FOURTH U.S. COLORED INFANTRY,         
Nashville, Tenn., December 4, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the affair which occurred on the 2d and 3d instant, at Stockade No. 2, on Mill Creek (Chattanooga and Nashville Railroad), between the troops temporarily under my command and the enemy under General Forrest:

At 8 a.m. the train containing the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry and Companies A and D of the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry left Murfreesborough and arrived at the bridge over Mill Creek, guarded by Block-house No. 2, at about 11 a.m., when suddenly a battery opened upon the train, nearly all of which was upon the trestle bridge. The locomotive and first car were struck and several of the men injured. I immediately got my command off the train and moved it up to the stockade, which I supposed was evacuated, but, on my arrival there, found it occupied by a detachment of the One hundred and fifteenth Ohio Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant Harter. As the block-house was full, and three batteries were shelling us terribly, and a heavy musketry fire commenced from all sides, I formed my men around the house and then pushed a portion up a hill on the east side of the fort, which entirely commanded it, and from where the heaviest fire was kept up. Unable to carry the crest of the hill I kept the men on the side of it, and had logs and stumps of trees converted into a breast-work. This position afforded them much shelter, and they held it against several assaults of the enemy. The batteries, which continued their fire, injured the block house constantly; they had to change position a dozen times, being silenced by our musketry. At about 5 p.m. the enemy managed to establish a battery on the hill of which I spoke above, and it was this battery which did more harm than all the rest. It knocked the lookout of the stockade to pieces, and also the roof, which caved in at several places. The shots fired by it struck the house every time, and a number penetrated it; one shell, exploding inside, killed the railroad conductor, who had sought shelter in the house, and wounded several of the garrison. It was now dark and the artillery fire ceased, but musketry was still kept up. I drew the command back to the block-house, and left a strong skirmish line at the position which we had occupied during the day. As my ammunition was nearly exhausted (the men who came off the train only had forty rounds), and I expected an assault, I stopped all firing in order to reserve the tour rounds I had left per man for the last effort. The firing was kept up until 3 a.m. of the 3d, but not answered by my men. My position was quite desperate, and when I took into consideration that my stock of ammunition was almost expended, the stockade so much used up that a few shots would have knocked it down, and having lost one-third of the men, I resolved to abandon the stockade and fight my way to Nashville. I knew that should the place be surrendered or taken by assault a butchery would follow, and I also knew that re-enforcements would have been sent to me if it had been possible to send them. I therefore left the block-house at 3.30 a.m., and, contrary to my expectations, got through the rebel lines without much trouble. I arrived at Nashville about daylight.

In addition to the above I have to state that I left Surg J. T. Strong, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, and Chaplain Railsback, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, in the block-house to take care of the wounded men.

The soldiers and officers of the different commands behaved well and steady during the entire fight, and especially during the retreat; every man did his duty; not a shot was fired, but silently they marched, determined to die rather than be taken prisoners.

The forces engaged numbered as follows: Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, 227 muskets; Companies A and D, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, 80 muskets; detachment One hundred and fifteenth Ohio Volunteers, 25 muskets; total, 332 muskets.

The losses are:
                       
Command.
Killed.
Wounded.
Missing.
Total.

 A
O
M
O
M
O
M
O
M
44th U.S. Colored Infantry
....
8
....
35
2
37
2
80
82
Companies A and D, 14th U.S. Infantry.
....
2
....
5
....
18
....
25
25
Detachment 115th Ohio Volunteers
....
2
....
6
....
....
....
8
8
Total
....
12
....
46
2
55
2
113
115

[O = Officers  M = Men  A = Aggregate]

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. JOHNSON,                       
Colonel, Commanding.
 Lieut. JOHN E. CLELAND,
            Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 45, Part 1 (Serial No. 93), p. 540-1

Official Reports of the Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, November 14, 1864 — January 23, 1865: No. 188. — Report of Col. William R. Shafter, Seventeenth U. S. Colored Troops, of operations December 15-16, 1864.

No. 188.

Report of Col. William R. Shafter, Seventeenth U. S. Colored Troops,
of operations December 15-16, 1864.

HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH REGT. U.S. COLORED INFANTRY,                      
Nashville, Tenn., January 30, 1865.

COLONEL: In obedience to your instructions, I have the honor to report the part taken by the Seventeenth U.S. Colored Infantry in the battle of Nashville, December 15, 1864, as follows:

On the morning of December 15 I reported to you for duty with my regiment, in pursuance of orders from Brigadier-General Miller, commanding post of Nashville, and was by you assigned to the First Provisional Brigade. At about 7 a.m. I marched out on the Murfreesborough pike about one mile from the city, and formed line of battle to the right of and parallel with the pike, the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry forming on my left, that regiment being our extreme left. Skirmishers from the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry reporting the enemy as too strong for them, my regiment, with the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, was ordered to advance and drive the enemy from his rifle-pits, which was at once done, the two regiments charging to the railroad, but were prevented from going farther by a deep cut, known as Rains' Cut. At that time we were at least 100 yards beyond and to the rear of the enemy's earth-works near Rains' house, and had we been well supported on our right I think the work could have been taken. As it was, we were soon obliged to fall back, which was done in rather a disorderly manner. As soon, however, as we were out of range of the enemy's canister we reformed and were soon afterward moved around to the right of the enemy's earth-work and took a second position near Rains' house, where we kept up a sharp skirmish with the enemy till night, when he withdrew from our immediate front.

The conduct of all my officers was all that I desire, and from the fact that it was the first time the men had ever been under fire I think they, too, did well I am satisfied that with practice they would make good fighters.

My loss was: Commissioned officers, killed, 2; mortally wounded, 1; badly wounded, 3. Enlisted men, killed, 14; wounded, 64; missing, none; many of the wounded have since died.

I inclose complete list of killed and wounded.*

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. R. SHAFTER,                  
Colonel Seventeenth U. S. Colored Infantry, Commanding.
Col. THOMAS J. MORGAN,
Fourteenth U. S. Colored Infantry.
_______________

* Embodied in table, p. 103.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 45, Part 1 (Serial No. 93), p. 538-9

Official Reports of the Campaign in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, November 14, 1864 — January 23, 1865: No. 186. — Report of Col. Thomas J. Morgan, Fourteenth U. S. Colored Troops, commanding First Colored Brigade, of operations November 29, 1864-January 12, 1865.

No. 186.

Report of Col. Thomas J. Morgan, Fourteenth U. S. Colored Troops, commanding
First Colored Brigade, of operations November 29, 1864-January 12, 1865.

CHATTANOOGA, TENN., January 16, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the forces under my command in the recent campaign:

On November 29, 1864, by order of Major-General Steedman I assumed command of the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, the Sixteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Col. William B. Gaw, and the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, Col. L. Johnson, at Chattanooga, Tenn., and proceeded by railroad to Cowan, Tenn., and thence by railroad to Nashville, Tenn., reaching there with the Sixteenth and the main portion of the Fourteenth Regiments U.S. Colored Infantry on the 1st day of December, 1864. Col. L. Johnson, with the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, and Capt. C. W. Baker, with Companies A and D of the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, occupied the rear section of the train which was transporting General Steedman's command to Nashville, Tenn. Seven miles north of Murfreesborough a train containing artillery and horses ran off the track and stopped the progress of the rear train, which, for some reason unexplained, was taken back to Murfreesborough with troops on board, a guard being left with the wrecked cars. During the night a construction train from Nashville removed the wreck and brought the remaining cars, horses, artillery, and guard, at an early hour on the 2d ultimo, to Nashville. At 8 a.m. 2d ultimo Colonel Johnson again started for Nashville, but when near Mill Creek he was attacked by a rebel cavalry command under General Forrest. The fight that ensued was quite creditable to the forces under Colonel Johnson. Colonel Johnson and Captain Baker are entitled to credit for the skill with which they fought and baffled the enemy and brought out their commands. I append the reports of those officers concerning this affair, marked A, B.1 During the 2d ultimo the portion of the brigade with me, conforming to the movements of General Cruft, occupied the extreme left of the first line of battle, formed near house of Robert Rains, and constructed in its front, hastily, a line of defense, a breast-work of rails and earth with a light palisade in front. On the 3d this line was abandoned and a new line established nearer the city, where the brigade, increased by the return of Colonel Johnson and Captain Baker and the addition of a battalion of the Eighteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, under Major L. D. Joy, took position near the residence of Maj. William B. Lewis. On December 5 and 7 reconnaissances were made by the brigade, in conjunction with other troops, and the enemy were found to occupy the first line of works built by General Steedman near Rains' house; each day the enemy was driven from the left of their works, with slight loss to us. On the 5th one lieutenant and seven enlisted men of the enemy were captured by this brigade. A citizen living near the Murfreesborough pike was killed by a member of Company B, Sixteenth U.S. Colored Infantry. The report of Colonel Gaw concerning this is inclosed, marked C.2 The conduct of officers and men on those occasions, save the misconduct of Colonel Gaw, which was reported at the time, was, so far as came under my observation, good. The coolness of the enlisted men under fire was especially gratifying to me.

On the night of the 14th of December orders were received to move at daybreak to make a demonstration upon the left, to occupy our first line of works, near Rains' house, if practicable, and to strongly menace the enemy's right to prevent the moving of his troops to resist the advance of the right of [the] Federal army when the main attack was to be made. On the evening of the 14th Colonel Gaw, by unsoldierly process, succeeded in getting his regiment taken from the First Brigade and ordered to a safer place in the rear. An excellent regiment, the Seventeenth U.S. Colored Infantry, under a brave and gallant officer, Colonel Shafter, reported to me instead of the Sixteenth. Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor, commanding brigade of white troops, reported to me, and remained with me during the two days’ battle. I inclose Colonel Grosvenor's report of the part taken by his command.3 A section of artillery from Captain Osborne's (Twentieth Indiana) battery likewise was put under my charge. In company with my adjutant-general, during the night of the 14th ultimo, I visited the picket-line near the enemy's work, which it was designed to attack on morning of the 15th. The Murfreesborough pike at this point runs a little east of south, nearly parallel with Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. The line of works was built almost at right angles with these roads. We ascertained from the pickets that the rebels had been at work actively during the afternoon with the spade, and their line of fires extended well toward the south. I concluded that a curtain had been built to protect the flank of the work, and that a line of rifle-pits had been made on the ground marked by the fires, and that if these rifle-pits could be carried and a column pushed well to the rear, the works near Rains’ house would become untenable and the ground east of Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad be given up to us with little loss. Accordingly, on the morning of the 15th, when the fog, which lay like a winding sheet over the two armies, began to disappear, I moved my command out upon the Murfreesborough pike and disposed it as follows: The Fourteenth Colored Infantry was deployed in front as skirmishers; the Seventeenth and Forty-fourth Colored Infantry were formed in line of battle in rear of Fourteenth, and given in charge of Colonel Shafter, of the Seventeenth; the section of Captain Osborne's (Twentieth Indiana) battery was supported by the battalion Eighteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Maj. L. D. Joy; Colonel Grosvenor was directed to send one battalion of his command to guard the left flank and to hold the remainder of his command in rear of Colonel Shafter. The artillery then opened upon the enemy, and the lines moved forward. The Fourteenth advanced until they drew a severe fire, when Colonel Shafter was ordered to carry the rifle-pits, which he did handsomely, killing, wounding, capturing, or driving away the enemy from his front. He pushed forward until he reached the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, when he was met by a destructive fire at short range from a battery planted on the opposite side of a deep cut made by railroad. Seeing that Colonel Shafter had carried the line in his front, and that the enemy still held their position on his right, I ordered up to his support the reserve of Colonel Grosvenor. This command carried a portion of the line, but was quickly compelled to return, with severe loss, by reason of musketry fire on its right flank. What I had thought to be a mere curtain, proved to be a rude but strong lunette, with ditch in front and heavy head-logs on top of parapet, forming a very safe cover for Granbury's brigade, which occupied it. About the time of the repulse of Colonel Grosvenor Colonel Shafter was compelled to withdraw his line from the range of the artillery. The entire command was then withdrawn, by order of General Steedman, and moved to the north of Rains' house. A strong skirmish line, connecting on the right, at the railroad, with Colonel Thompson's command, advanced very close to the enemy's line. Sharpshooters loop-holed a dwelling-house and outbuildings and silenced the enemy. Thus the day wore away; the general's purpose, as communicated to me the night previous, had been accomplished; the enemy had been deceived, and, in expectation of a real advance upon his right, had detained his troops there, while his left was being disastrously driven back. The troops under my command have, as a whole, behaved well, and if they failed to accomplish all I expected it was my fault, not theirs; I was deceived as to the character of the work built by the enemy on the 14th. Could I have known the exact nature of the work, the troops would have carried it by a direct assault from the north side, with perhaps less loss than was sustained. During the night of the 15th the enemy retired from our front.

On the 16th my command, by order of General Steedman, crossed the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, the Nolensville pike, and the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad, skirmishing with and driving the enemy. At an early hour in the afternoon the command joined the left of Colonel Thompson and confronted Overton Hill. Colonel Grosvenor was ordered to join the left of Second Colored Brigade and conform to its movements.  He thus took part in the first assault upon Overton Hill. Colonel Shafter, with Seventeenth, was in echelon to rear of Grosvenor; Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, with Fourteenth, was directed to support and protect the artillery; Colonel Johnson, Forty-fourth, was directed to guard the left. Captain Osborne's (Twentieth Indiana) battery and Captain Aleshire's (Eighteenth Ohio) battery kept up an incessant fire upon the enemy, and did excellent work. Subsequently the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry was deployed as skirmishers in front of the artillery and directly facing the enemy's works, where they kept and received a brisk fire. When the first assault upon the hill failed the assaulting column retired in disorder, passing through my skirmish line without shaking it. At one time I thought and so reported that the line was being forced back, but it was not true. The line remained; did its work amid the confusion that followed the repulse. When the Sixty-eighth Indiana struck this line they asked what regiment. Being answered, Fourteenth, they cried, “Bully for you; we'll stay with you,” and they did. I assisted Colonel Thompson in reforming his broken lines. When the final assault was being made upon Overton Hill the forces under me moved forward and joined in the pursuit of the enemy, which followed as far as Franklin, Tenn. Subsequently the First Colored Brigade, as part of Second Provisional Division, accompanied the expedition toward Tuscumbia, Ala., going as far as Leighton, Ala. On its return it joined General Cruft's forces in the fruitless chase after General Lyon's rebel cavalry. The brigade was disbanded January 12, 1865.

Colonel Shafter, Seventeenth, acquitted himself well, is cool and brave, and a good disciplinarian. Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, does not possess sufficient courage to command brave men.4 Captain Baker in reality commanded the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry in the battle of the 15th and 16th, and acquitted himself with great credit. He is brave, cool, untiring, and deserves promotion. Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor obeyed every order with promptness, and is a good soldier. To each member of my staff, Lieutenants Cleland and Hall, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, Wadsworth and Dickinson, Sixteenth U.S. Colored infantry, and Wyrill, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, I am indebted for the promptness with which they carried out my desires, exposing themselves cheerfully to necessary danger. The wounded of the First Colored Brigade were faithfully cared for by Surgeon Clemons, Seventeenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Surgeon Strong, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, and Assistant Surgeon Oleson, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry.

I have as yet received no reports from battalion commanders and no lists of casualties; these will be forwarded as soon as received.

I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. J. MORGAN,            
Colonel Fourteenth U. S. Colored Infantry.
 Maj. S. B. MOE,
            Asst. Adjt. Gen., District of the Etowah.
_______________

1 See pp. 540, 538.

2 Not found.

3 See p. 526.

4 Colonel Corbin was subsequently tried before a general court-martial on the charge of “cowardice” and “misbehavior before the enemy,” &c.; was found not guilty, and “most honorably” acquitted.  Vide General Orders, No. 6, headquarters First Separate Divion, Army of the Cumberland, March 14, 1865.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 45, Part 1 (Serial No. 93), p. 534-8