Showing posts with label Osterhaus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Osterhaus. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 26, 1864 – 12 p.m.

Eight miles east of Oconee River, three miles south of M. & S. R. R.
November 26, 1864, 12 p.m. 

Howard wrote Osterhaus a letter congratulating him on the success in the Griswoldville fight, and had it published to us to-day.


GoRDON, GA., November 23d, 1864.


Mayor General Osterhaus, Com'dg 15th Corps:


I take sincere pleasure in congratulating the Brigade of General Walcutt, of General Wood's Division of the 15th Corps, on its complete sucess in the action of yesterday.


Officers from other commands who were looking on say that there never was a better brigade of soldiers.


I am exceedingly sorry that any of our brave men should fall, and for the suffering of the wounded, the thanks of the army are doubly due to them.


I tender my sympathy through you to the brave and excellent commander of the brigade, Brigadier General Walcutt.


It is hoped that his wound will not disable him.


Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


Major General.


P. S. The loss of the enemy is estimated from 1,500 to 2,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. O. O. H., M. G.

We lay in camp until 4 p.m., when we started, and after three miles of miserable pine swamp we crossed the Oconee on pontoons. It was dark, but I noticed that the current was rapid and the water looked deep. 

I counted 80 steps on the bridge and ten boats under it. I am sure that I to-day saw palm-leaf fan material growing. It is a most singular looking plant. The country this side of the river to our camp is quite level and four-fifths cultivated. All the woods pine, and soil all sand. 

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 326-7

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: October 13, 1864

Three miles from Rome, Ga., October 13, 1864.

Started at 8 this morning and landed here at dark. Heard 40 or 50 cannon shots in vicinity of Rome during the day's march. The country to-day is fair for Georgia, but not equal to that between Cartersville and Kingston. While we were resting to-day, Osterhaus (at present commanding our corps) rode by our regiment and a few scamps hollowed “sowbelly, sowbelly.” You know the men have been living on army beef for a month, and it is not desirable fare; still they were only in fun, and I noticed the general smile, but some puppy finally cried out “kraut,” and another echoed it with “kraut by the barrel.” The general wheeled his horse and rode up to us, his face white with passion. “Vat regiment ish dis?” No one answered. He rode up near me and again asked, “Vat regiment ish dis?" I told him. “Vy don't you kit up?” I arose and again answered him respectfully, “The 103d Illinois, sir.” “Vare ish your colonel?” “At the right of the regiment, sir.” He rode up to Wright and gave him the devil. I have not been so mortified for a long time. We all think a great deal of Osterhaus, and just coming into his division were all desirous that his first impressions of our regiment should be favorable. As it is, two or three insulting puppies have given us a name with him that I have no doubt will cause us trouble for a long time. Yelping “sauer kraut” at a German is a poor way to gain his favor.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 309-10

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: September 6, 1864

September 6, 1864.

Lay quiet all day. Some Rebel cavalry followed us up and fired a few shots into our regiment's works from the old Rebel fort, but Osterhaus swung his pickets around and gobbled 25 of them, and the rest troubled us no more.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 299

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: July 18, 1864

Near Stone Mountain, July 18, 1864.

Osterhaus (or his division, for I hear that he resigned and yesterday started for the North, en route for Mexico, where he formerly resided, and that he intends entering the Mexican Army to fight “Johnny Crapeau”) was ahead to-day, and only lost a dozen or 50 men. Our brigade has been train guard, and we did not get into camp until 11 p. m. This night marching hurts us more than the hottest day marching. We camp to-night near Stone Mountain, and the depot of the same name 16 miles from Atlanta. It is evident to me that the Army of the Tennessee is doing the “flanking them out” this time. The 1st Division cut the railroad effectually. A train came from the East while they were at it, but discovering the smoke, reversed the engine and escaped. The 17th Corps I hear is close behind us protecting the commissary trains and forming our rear guard.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 281-2

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: July 17, 1864

June 17, 1864.

After erecting some good works at Roswell (the best we have yet built), capable of holding at least 25,000 men, we were provided with three days’ rations and cartridges “ad libitum,” for another of what an Augusta paper calls “Sherman leap-frog-like advance.” Our corps is the extreme left of the army. We moved out this morning, our brigade in advance of our division, and Osterhaus and Smith's Divisions following on the Decatur road. Did I tell you in my last among the “locals,” that these Roswell factories have been turning out 35,000 yards per day of jeans, etc., for the Confederate Army, that there is the greatest abundance of blackberries and whortleberries here, that one of the 48th Illinois was drowned in the Chattahoochie while bathing, and that of several hundred factory girls I have seen, hardly one who is passably handsome? Some fine fat ones, and a few neat feet, but they are not “clipper built,” and lack “get up” and “figure heads.”

We moved six miles without meeting a Rebel, and then only a squadron of cavalry that lacked a devilish sight of being “chivalry,” for they more than ran without just cause. We only went two miles farther and then bivouacked. Our brigade was thrown half a mile in front and across the road. We put up a rail barricade across the road and a temporary rail-work along our front, and then abandoned ourselves to the longings of our breadbaskets, and desisted not until every man was in himself a miniature blackberry patch. The boys brought me pint after pint of great black fellows they had picked in the shade of dense woods or on a steep bank, and I assure you they disappeared without an exception. This road, the last 10 days, has been filled with refugee citizens running from the Yankees. An old gentleman in whose yard the reserve pickets have stacked their arms, told me that all the men of his acquaintance over 45 years old are, and always have been, Unionists, and are to-day ready and willing to give up slavery for our cause. I have been a deluded believer in the hoax of fine “Georgia plantations,” but I assure you I am now thoroughly convalescent. I haven't seen five farm houses equal to Mrs. James ———, and only one that showed evidences of taste. That was where I saw the Rebel General Iverson dead among the flowers. The country is all hilly, and the soil, where there is any, is only fit for turnips. The timber is all scrub oak and pine, and some more viney bushes peculiar to the climate.

I notice some of the white moss hanging from the trees, like that there was so much of at Black river. The 16th Corps is on our right moving on a parallel road, and the 23d joins them. I don't know whether our other corps have crossed yet or not.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 280-1

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: July 5, 1864

July 5, 1864.

Can hear no firing this p. m. It seems the Rebels have got across the Chattahoochie. We are about 12 miles from Atlanta. The river will probably trouble us some, but we all think “Pap” will make it before August 1st. Johnston don't dare give us anything like a fair fight. We are all in splendid spirits and the boys have made the woods ring with their Fourth of July cheers, tired as they are. We have lost no men since the charge of the 27th. I have an Atlanta paper, giving an acount of that fight. They say we were all drunk with whisky and fought more like devils than men.

p. m. We have continued our march about four or five miles today. Osterhaus and M. L. Smith are ahead of us, and I think we are on the right of the army again. The 4th Division, 17th Army Corps is engaged one-half mile ahead of us or rather are shooting a little with their big guns. I climbed a tree a half hour ago, and what do you think? — saw Atlanta, and saw it plainly, too. I suppose it is ten miles distant, not more than 12. The country looks about as level as a floor, excepting one-half mountain, to the left of the city, some miles. We seem to be on the last ridge that amounts to anything. We are, I suppose, two and one-half miles from the river at this point, though we hold it farther to the right. Very large columns of smoke were rolling up from different parts of the city. I suppose they were the explosions of foundries, machine shops, etc. Dense clouds of dust can be seen at several points across the river; suppose it means trains or troops moving.

Have seen but few wounded going back to-day. We are laying along some very good rifle pits, occasionally embrasured for artillery, which the 17th Army Corps took this morning. They were not very stoutly defended, though, and the artillery had been moved back. With some pretty lively skirmishing the line has been advanced this evening. Not much loss on our side; saw some one-half dozen ambulance loads only.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 273-4

Monday, May 13, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: July 3, 1864

July 3, 1864.

Rebels all gone this morning. Our boys were on the mountains at daylight. Hundreds of deserters have come in. Osterhaus moved around the left of the mountain to Marietta, all the rest of the army went to the right of it. We are about one-half a mile from town; have not been in. All who have, say it is the prettiest place we have seen South. Some artillery firing has been heard this p. m. five or six miles south, and there are rumors that an advance has captured a large number of prisoners, but nothing reliable.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 272

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: June 19, 1864

June 19, 1864.

This is the 50th day of the campaign. Our brigade has been under musketry fire 12 days, artillery about 30. We have as a brigade fought three nice little battles, in as many days, repulsing two charges, and making one which was a perfect success. We have captured all told about 650 prisoners, and I think 1,000 a very low estimate of the number we have killed and wounded. I think Cheatham's and Bates' Rebel divisions will say the same. We have thus cleared ourselves with a loss to us of nearly 300, or fully one-fifth of the command. The other nine days we were on the skirmish line, in the rifle pits or front line.

This morning an order was read to pursue the enemy immediately and in ten minutes the “assembly” was sounded. The enemy had fallen back on his flanks, and maybe was intending to evacuate, for our right had swung around him further than I, if in his place, would consider healthy. But he had not yet left the Twin Mountains. The line now runs from right to left by Corps 23d, 20th, 4th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th. The 14th Corps lost heavily to-day, but drove the Rebels four miles. The 23d Corps was still going at last accounts. The artillery firing to-day was beautiful. Our division advanced about one-half mile only. The Twin Mountains are right in front of us, and I have seen the Rebels shooting from six batteries on the crest and sides. Our batteries on a line 600 yards in front answer them promptly.

Only one shell has burst near us, and that 100 yards to our right.

The 55th had one killed and two wounded just in front of us, by shells. All parts of the line advanced from one to five miles to-day, the right swinging forward farthest, a-la-gate. Osterhaus' headquarters are 30 yards to our right. A solid shot from the mountain went through one of his tents yesterday. It has rained hard all day, but nobody minds it a particle. The general feeling is that the Rebels have fallen back to their main position, although they have abandoned ground that we would have held one against five. I can't hear that any line of battle has been engaged to-day, but the force on the advance skirmish lines was probably doubled at least. You would not smile at the idea of sleeping on the ground allotted to us to-night. Mud from six to eight inches deep.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 263-4

Monday, February 4, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: June 15, 1864

June 15, 1864.

This has been a star day, and a better feeling lot of men that compose our brigade will be hard to find, for to-night any way. The morning was occupied in cleaning guns, etc. At 11 o'clock the assembly was sounded, and we moved one and one-half miles, which brought us on the left of the whole army. By 1 p. m. we had our line formed running from right to left, 103d Illinois, 6th Iowa, 46th Ohio, 40th Illinois, with the 97th Indiana deployed as skirmishers. We were in about the center of an open lot of plantations, facing a densely-wooded hill of maybe 300 acres. It was a plumb one-third of a mile to it and already the enemy's sharpshooters were reaching our men from it.

One of Company K’s men was shot here, and one of H’s. At precisely 1 p. m. we started, the men having been notified that they would have to get to that woods as quickly as possible. The Rebels opened pretty lively. Right in front of where I am now writing is a house. On the porch I see 11 children, not over nine years old. All belong to one woman. Haven't seen her, but from what I have seen in this country, wouldn't dispute the man who would tell me she was only 20 years old. This is a great stock country. As we started, the boys raised a cheer that was a cheer, and we went down on them regular storm fashion. A hundred yards before we got to the hill we ran into a strong line of rifle pits swarming with Johnnies. They caved and commenced begging. The pit I came to had about 20 in it. They were scared until some of them were blue, and if you ever heard begging for life it was then. Somebody yelled out “Let's take the hill,” and we left the prisoners and broke. At the foot of the hill we came to a muddy rapid stream, from 10 to 15 feet wide and no crossing, so we plunged in. I got wet to my middle, and many did to their breasts.

The banks were steep and slippery and muddy. Though we all expected a serious fight on the hill, up we went every man for himself, and through to an open field, over which some 200 straggling sandy looking Johnnies were trying to get away, which most of them accomplished, as we were too tired to continue the pursuit fast enough to overtake them. However, the boys shot a lot of them. Well, they call it a gallant thing. We took 542 prisoners, and killed and wounded I suppose 100.

The whole loss in our brigade is not 10 killed and 50 wounded. I only had one man wounded in my company, Corp. E. D. Slater. There were three killed and nine wounded in the regiment.

There were three regiments of Rebels—the 31st, 40th and 54th Alabama. They ought to have killed and wounded at least 500 of us, but we scared them out of it. They shot too high all the time. Osterhaus also had a hard fight to-day, was successful in taking a line of rifle pits. Thomas drove them a mile.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 261-2

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 27, 1864

Near Dallas, Ga., May 27, 1864, 8 a. m.

There has been some very heavy fighting on our left this morning, and everywhere along the line. We have been moving in line since 6 o'clock, supporting skirmishers and the 3d Brigade. Have driven the Rebels about three-quarters of a mile. The 14th Corps must have had a severe fight about 6:30. The bullets have whistled pretty thick this a. m.

Skirmish line, 11 a. m. — Osterhaus and Smith (I think), have just had a big fight on our left. At 8:30 I was ordered to take Companies E, K, B and G, deploy them and relieve the 3d Brigade skirmishers. Deployed and moved forward over one-half mile through the very densest brush—couldn't see six feet, expecting every minute to find the 3d Brigade skirmishers, but they had been drawn in, and we were right into the Rebels before we saw them. Three of my company were wounded in an instant and three of K's taken prisoner, but our boys made the Rebels skedaddle, and all of them got away. Twenty-one Rebels came up in rear of Captain Smith and two of his men. Private Benson shot one of them, and Smith roared out for the rest to surrender, which they did. They (Rebels) said they would not have been taken if the Georgia brigade had not fallen back. I think that is doing pretty well for four companies of our regiment, running a whole brigade. Firing is very heavy all around us.

Twelve thirty m. — A chunk of Rebel shell lit 15 feet from me. Lively artillery firing right over head.

Four p. m.—At 2:15, after firing a few shells, the Rebels set up a yell along our whole front. I knew a charge was coming. At 2:30 another yell was much nearer. My men then commenced firing on them, but they came on yelling pretty well, but not as heartily as I have heard. They came jumping along through the brush more then, making the bullets rain among us. I think they could not fly much thicker. My men did nobly,but they were too many for us, and we had to fall back. I heard their officers halloo to them, “to yell and stand steady,” and they were right amongst us before we left. Our line of battle checked them and made them run. I lost A. Huffard — killed; Seth Williams — died in two hours; Wm. Gustine — severely wounded; E. Suydam — ditto; S. Hudson — ditto; H. Stearns — slight wound; J. H. Craig — ditto; F. Cary — ditto; W. Roberts — ditto; W. G. Dunblazier — captured.

Seven p. m. — I tell you this was exciting. My men all stood like heroes (save one), and some of them did not fall back when I wanted them to. The bush was so thick that we could hardly get through in any kind of line. Gustine and Suydam were about 20 feet on my left when they were shot, but I couldn't see them. The Rebels were not 15 feet from them. I had 31 men on the line, and nine killed and wounded, and one prisoner, is considerable of a loss. They took six more of Company K prisoners, but three of them got off. I don't think anyone can imagine how exciting such a fracas as that is in thick brush. As quick as our line started the Rebels running, I went back on the ground, and found a lot of dead and wounded Rebels. Every prisoner of the 20th Georgia had whiskey in his canteen, and all said they had all issued to them that they wanted. I never say such a dirty, greasy, set of mortals. They have had no rest since they left Dalton. On account of my skirmishers losing so heavily, we have been relieved from the line, and are now in rifle pits, and are supporting those who relieved us.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 248-50

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 26, 1864 – 8 a.m.

Pumpkin Vine Creek, near Dallas, Ga.,
May 26, 1864, 8 a. m.

We did not make more than seven or eight miles yesterday, on account of some bad road that troubled the trains very much. We got into camp at dark, just as a thunderstorm broke. We hurried up our arrangements for the night — kicking out a level place on the hillside to sleep — gathering pine boughs to keep the water from washing us away, and spreading our rubbers over rail frames. Everything just finished, was just pulling our stock of bed clothes over me (one rubber coat), when the brigade bugle sounded the “assembly.” It was dark as pitch and raining far from gently — no use grumbling — so everybody commenced yelping, singing, or laughing. In ten minutes we were under way, and though we didn't move a mile, every man who didn't tumble half a dozen times would command good wages in a circus. We finally formed line of battle on a bushy hillside, and I dropped down on the wet leaves and slept soundly until 1 o'clock, and woke up wet and half frozen, took up my bed and made for a fire and dried out. Do you remember the case when the Saviour commanded a convalescent to take up his bed and walk? I always pitied that man, carrying a four-post bedstead, feathers, straw and covering and failed to see it, but if he had no more bedding than I had. I can better understand it. Heavy cannonading all the p. m. yesterday. It seemed some five or six miles east; don't understand the way matters are shaping at all. Sherman has such a way of keeping everything to himself. The country between Van Wirt and Dallas is very rough, but little of it under cultivation; along this creek are some nice looking farms. The Rebels were going to make a stand, but didn't.

Two p. m.—We started at 8 this morning, and have not made more than one and one-half miles. Soldiers from the front say that Hardee's Corps fronts us two miles ahead, and that he proposes to fight. I have heard no firing that near this morning, but have heard artillery eight or ten miles east. A number of prisoners have been sent back, who all report Hardee at Dallas. I think Thomas now joins our left. McPherson last night rode up to some Rebel pickets, who saluted him with a shower of hot lead, fortunately missing him. Osterhaus' commissary drives along a lot of cattle for the division. Last night he got off the road and drove them into a party of secesh, who took commissary, beef and all. Back at Kingston, a big box came to General Harrow with heavy express charges. An ambulance hauled it 20 miles before it caught up with him, and on opening it he found a lot of stones, a horse's tail, and a block of wood with a horses' face pinned on it labeled, “head and tail of your Potomac horse.” At Van Wirt before we got there the Rebels had a celebration over Lee's capturing Grant and half of his army. There's a great deal of ague in the regiment. We will have a great deal of sickness after the campaign closes. I have only seen one man at home in Georgia who looked capable of doing duty as a soldier. My health is excellent. This creek runs into the Talladega river.

One mile south of Dallas, 2 p. m.

After a lively skirmishing Jeff C. Davis' division of the 14th Army Corps occupied Dallas at 2 p. m. The Rebels retired stubbornly. We passed Dallas about dark, and are now the front and extreme right of the whole army. I guess fighting is over for the night. Two very lively little fights have occurred before dark. The heavy fighting yesterday was Hooker. He whipped and drove them four miles, taking their wounded.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 247-8

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 18, 1864

May 18, 1864.

Our division has had the advance to-day, but no infantry fighting. At noon we get into Adairsville and meet the 4th Army Corps. Saw Generals Howard, Thomas, Sickles and a hundred others. We are camped five miles southwest of town and by the prettiest place I ever saw. The house is excellent, the grounds excel in beauty anything I ever imagined. The occupants have run away. Our cavalry had a sharp fight here this p. m., and on one of the gravel walks in the beautiful garden lies a Rebel colonel, shot in five places. He must have been a noble looking man; looks 50 years old, and has a fine form and features. Think his name is Irwin. I think there must be a hundred varieties of the rose in bloom here and the most splendid specimens of cactus. I do wish you could see it. At Adairsville, night before last, we lost 400 killed and wounded in a skirmish.

Nine a. m. — Rapid artillery firing on our left front. We are waiting for Osterhaus and Morgan L. Smith to get out of the way. Our division has the rear to-day. Our cars got into Adairsville yesterday evening and the last Rebel train left in the morning. Firing on the left very heavy.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 243-4

Monday, August 13, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 15, 1864

May 15, 1864, 1:30 a. m. At 11 p. m. went again on the skirmish line with Captain Post and superintended the construction of rifle pits for our skirmishers. A good deal of fun between our boys and the Rebels talking only 50 yards apart.

Five thirty a. m. — At 3 a. m. moved and are now supporting Osterhaus, who is going to charge the railroad. Will see fighting this morning.

Nine a. m. — The skirmishers are fighting briskly. Osterhaus' artillery is on both sides and behind us. Sherman has just passed us to the front. When we first came here about daylight the Rebels charged our folks on the hill ahead, but were repulsed without our assistance. McPherson is now passing. Osterhaus gained that hill last night by a charge, losing about 200 men in the operation. From a hill 50 yards from our position I can see the Rebel fort at Resaca and Rebels in abundance. It is not a mile distant.

One thirty p. m. — Our artillery is beginning to open on them. One man was killed and two wounded within 40 yards of the regiment by Rebel sharpshooters.

Seven p. m.—No charge yet to-day, but has been heavy fighting on the left. I have seen, this evening, Rebel trains moving in all directions. We have a good view of all their works.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 241-2

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: May 3, 1864

Twelve miles east of Bridgeport, May 3, 1864.

Have made about 15 miles to-day. This is the fourth time I have been over the same ground, have ridden over it five times. This is the first time I ever started on a march where real judgment was used in breaking the men in. We always before made from 15 to 25 miles the first day and broke down about one-fourth of our men. This time you see, our first two day's marches were short and the 15 miles to-day seemed to affect no one. I hear from good authority here that Thomas is in Dalton, after some heavy skirmishing. Everything is moving to the front here. A portion of the 12th, or 20th Corps now, is just ahead of us. Morgan L. Smith and Osterhaus are just behind us, but Logan will not be along until relieved by some other troops.

I expect Dodge, with some 6,000 of the 16th Army Corps, is behind us. The 17th Army Corps was coming into Huntsville as we left.

Camp is in an orchard, and apples are as large as hazel nuts and we make sauce of them.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 233

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: December 8, 1863

Mud Creek Cove, Jackson County, Ala.
December 8, 1863.

I was at Stevenson yesterday and put a letter in the office for you, but with my accustomed shrewdness failed to either stamp or frank it. It graphically described the gallant exploits of the detachment I have the honer to command during the past three weeks, and its loss will be deplored in common with the other heavy losses of this “cruel war.” I can now but give you the topics it discussed or elaborated, and leave to your imagination the finishing and stringing together the skeleton. First and foremost, stealing horses; second, defying bravely the tears and entreaties of helpless women, and taking their last measure of meal and rasher of bacon; third, the splendid conduct of our regiment and brigade at the late Mission Ridge fight; fourth, reflections. Do you remember, how, after the evacuation of Corinth one and one-half years ago, Halleck thought the rebellion virtually ended? And how many of the soldiers wrote home that they expected to be mustered out within three months? Then Halleck sent Buell with half of the army toward Chattanooga, Sherman and Hurlburt to Memphis, McClernand and Logan to Jackson, Tennessee; kept some four divisions at Corinth, and with three others opened and guarded 95 miles of railroad east to Decatur. That was what he called letting the army enjoy the rest they had earned by their glorious victory. The whole of the splendid army that had forced the Rebels to leave Corinth, was divided, subdivided and the subdivisions divided until, except Buell’s, there was hardly a detachment left strong enough to hold its own against any overgrown band of guerrillas. The result you know. Buell's retreat with his heavy losses of detachments at Munfordsville, etc., our evacuation of the M. & C. R. R. between Memphis and Corinth, the driving in of our guards from Decatur to Corinth, and the fight there in October which we gained only because our side weighed only one ounce the most; and finally they shut us up in Memphis, Bolivar, Corinth and Nashville so closely that foraging parties hardly dared venture ten miles from the siege guns, and there our army stayed until relieved by “500,000 more.” I don't like to slander so great and noble a man as Grant, by insinuating that he has any notion similar to Halleck’s, but what I have seen with my naked eye, and heard from good authority with my uncovered ears, makes me think he has in his opinion at the Lookout, Mission Ridge, Ringgold fight, bursted the rebellion to flinders. I know that Sherman with six divisions has gone to Knoxville. John E. Smith's and Osterhaus' divisions are at Bridgeport on their way to Huntsville or Decatur. Some 12 companies of artillery, (nearly enough for a corps) went to Nashville yesterday, and Hooker with the nth and 12th Corps, are going back to the Potomac. Does that sound anything like active forward movements? And don't it sound exactly like Halleck's disposition of the army after he got Corinth? I predict that no good will come from scattering the army in this way, and much harm. Bragg has fallen back to Dalton, only 25 or 30 miles from Chattanooga, and 15 less than Beauregard ran from Corinth. The Rebel cavalry are already driving in our foragers at Chattanooga. That's all I have to say about the matter. Our regiment, brigade and division have gone with Sherman to Burnside's relief. They are probably at Knoxville now. All accounts agree that the regiment behaved splendidly; and Fulton county ought to either disown her soldiers or quit disgracing them by her d-----sh copperheadism. You didn't have any fears for my safety when you heard of the fight, did you? Of course you knew I wouldn't be there. I heard three days before the fight that it would probably open Sunday or Monday. Tuesday I was out in the Cumberland mountains, near Paint Rock, some 50 miles from Chattanooga, when suddenly we heard the sound of cannonading. I thought of our regiment being in the fight and my company away, and cursed my luck to the best of my ability. I never expect to be in a battle. Being shot by a guerrilla is as good as I will probably get. It is strange that there was only the one vicinity in which we could hear the firing that day, and 25 miles nearer the scene of action they were unable to hear it. We are meeting with good success hunting horses. We only lack about 200 of having enough to mount the brigade and will have them by the time they get back from Knoxville. My men were never as healthy as now. My old convalescent “stand-bys” now walk into their double rations of fresh meat and corn pone tremendously, and do their share of duty splendidly. For four weeks we have had nothing to eat but corn bread and fresh pork. I am beginning to like it. It positively does taste better every day, and I destroy immense quantities. When reading about the elephant browsing upon the tree tops, did you ever imagine what an awful crashing he would make? That's about like the smash I make among the spareribs and hoecake. I thought that when they set me up as horse thief, that my measure was filled, that earth had nothing left too bitter for me to quaff or “chaw.” But last night a draught was put to my lips of which I drank, and lo, I am undone. Can't look an honest man in the face. Fortunately there are no honest men in this command, so I am spared the mortification of turning my eyes. I was sent out to steal sheep. Can't call taking aught from these poor miserable citizen devils here anything but stealing. I made a pretty good haul. They go to the front to-day; I expect for hospital use. Of course we have to take them, but these citizens are on the verge of bankruptcy as far as eating is concerned. Saw Bill and Davis Trites at Bridgeport two days since. All right. Had just got back with their division from Chattanooga. Were both well. Captain Walsh, who was killed, was one of the finest officers in our regiment. I had formed a strong attachment for him, and mourn his loss as a dear friend and splendid fellow. His company, in camp, joins mine on the left and we were more intimate than I was with any other officer in this command.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 202-5

Friday, March 23, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 11, 1863

Winchester, Tenn., November 11, 1863.

We arrived here at 9 this a. m., our brigade making the distance from Salem, 11 miles, in three hours. That, we call fast walking. I wrote you last from Florence., Ala., on the 1st inst. From there we marched to Rodgersville and thence up the right bank of Elk river to Fayetteville, where we crossed there onto this place. Rumor says that we draw 20 days' rations here. It is three-fourths official, too. It is certain that we leave here in the morning, but nobody knows where for. We could certainly march to Chattanooga in six days, but could go much quicker by the railroad from Decherd station, which is only two miles from here. The wagon road from here to Chattanooga is awful. But one brigade has ever marched it. The mountains commence right here and continue to, the Lord knows where. Our brigade is to be mounted immediately. In the last 60 miles marching we have mounted 800 or nearly half. The citizens along the road very kindly furnished all of stock and equipments. My company was mounted four days ago. Company C is to be mounted next. As fast as the men are mounted they are put out as foragers for more horses, etc. The first day my company was mounted we got 30 horses, and would have done better, but confound me if I could take horses from crying women, although I am satisfied that half of their howling is sham, got up for the occasion. My first day's foraging almost used me up. We had fed our horses and I went to unhitch a mule from the fence to give him in charge of one of the men, and the brute scared and jerked the rail from the fence and started like lightning. The end of the rail struck me on the calves of my legs and elevated my boots five feet. The attraction of gravitation brought me down to the globe and I landed with a great deal of vim on a rock about the size of our parlor floor, and as smooth as a peach stone. The only severe injury either the rock or myself sustained was a very badly sprained wrist. I got that. My left hip and left shoulder were hurt some, but the wrist has pained me so confoundedly that I don't count them. It has pained me so for the last two days and is so tender that I could stand neither the jolting of a horse or wagon. I tried to ride my horse this morning; we were in column and had to strike a trot and that beat me. Think I will be all right for the saddle in a few days, though will have a tender wrist for a good while. Well, our division came through in the advance and our brigade has had the lead most of the time. We have had plenty of forage, but light issues of regular rations probably average. Half Morgan L. Smith's and John E. Smith's divisions are close up to us, will be here to-morrow. Osterhaus and Dodge are behind them. We have five divisions all told, probably 25,000 or 30,000 men. We met here the first troops belonging to the Army of the Cumberland.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 200-2

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: September 27, 1863

September 27.

We sent our sick, nearly 100 in number, by wagon to the Big Black railroad depot, six miles, where they took the cars for Vicksburg. They will there await our arrival. I have now but 31 men in my company in camp. Ten months ago I marched 72 men from Bolivar, Tenn., to Lagrange. Not one has been lost by the bullet, and today a difference of 41 in the duty list. A rumor prevails to-day that Rosecrans has had a severe battle and has been defeated. It is impossible to learn or hear anything in this place until the date alone would make it uninteresting. Blair's division moved into Vicksburg from the depot to-day to embark. Osterhaus' division is already on its way up the river. In the evening, with Captains Bishop and Smith and Lieutenant Johnson, had a rather dull game of “California Seven Up.” All kinds of rumors today about the fight in northern Georgia. Have no hope of ever hearing the truth of the matter in camp. We are now 12 days behind in papers. The 3d brigade of our division and some cavalry started, with three days rations, on a scout across the river to-day. Suppose the object is to cover our move to Vicksburg, though I don't believe there are 100 armed Rebels this side of the Alabama line. The soldiers of our division have been having some high fun for the last two days. Orders are very strict against firing in camp, but the men found out they could get up some artificial firing by putting green can in the fire. The steam from the sap generating between the joints will make an explosion equal to a gun fired. And they got up some artillery firing by putting canteens half full of water, stopping them tightly and then putting them in the flames. They did this just to bore the officers who are held responsible by the general for all firing. To-night the general has ordered all the officers of the 40th Illinois to patrol the camp the whole night. This, of course, tickles the men hugely, and from their beds in their tents they have been talking over the duties of a sentry for the benefit of their officer's ears. The devilment that soldiers cannot contrive must be unearthly. To-day some of the 6th Iowa filled an oyster can half full of powder, set a slow train to it and planted it in the ground, they then set a cracker box over it and got a negro to dancing on the box A coal was then touched to the train and the "nigger" was blown full 20 feet. He landed, fortunately, without injury, but so badly scared that he was crazy for an hour. In the evening called on Captain Pinney of the 46th Ohio, and spent a very pleasant evening. He says that Vallandigham will poll about ten votes in their regiment; but that his disciples dare not open their mouths to advocate his cause. He says the loyal men would kill them sure if they dared to boast of their allegiance to a traitor.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 191-2

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Captain Charles Wright Wills: September 26, 1863

Messengers Ferry, Big Black River, Miss.,
September 26, 1863.

Pass in your congratulations. We are under marching orders for Chattanooga. Our whole corps is going. We steam o'er sand-bars to Memphis, and then will probably “foot it,” though may go by cars as far as Corinth. From Memphis the march will be some 450 miles. We will pass through my favorite portion of Dixie, the Tennessee valley in North Alabama. We are all much rejoiced at the idea of leaving a country where there is no enemy save mosquitoes and chiggers and ague. We keep up the form of picketing; but I find it decidedly uninteresting to do such duty, knowing that coons and owls will cause all our alarms. Aside from knowing there is no enemy near, the picket duty is delightful here. I have seldom passed a more pleasant night than the one before last. The moon is about full, and our picket line (the post under my charge), about one and a half miles long, runs along the river bank through most beautiful little magnolia and beech groves and open grass plots. But a knowledge that there are guerrillas in the country is necessary to a thorough appreciation of picket duty. We are camped on the Messenger plantation. The owner thereof was very wealthy. Worth $1,000,000.00. Had some 500 negroes, etc. He armed and uniformed a secesh regiment at his own expense, and was, and is yet probably, a Rebel to the core. He fled at the approach of our troops, leaving his wife to manage for him. General Osterhaus called on her and asked her if she desired Federal protection. She said she didn't ask anything of him or any of his crew. The general told her she had just an hour to select and load two wagons with kitchen furniture and start across the river. She moved, was gone about a month, begged permission to return and is now eating government rations, which she is too poor to pay for.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 190

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Charles A. Dana to Edwin M. Stanton, June 22, 1863 – 9 a.m.

NEAR VICKSBURG, MISS., June 22, 1863 9 a.m.,
VIA MEMPHIS, June 28 Noon.
(Received July 1 — 11 p.m.)

Joe Johnston's plan is at last developed. He began yesterday to throw his army across the Big Black at various points above Bridgeport, and principally in the vicinity of Birdsong's Ferry. A squadron of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry had a fight at Bridgeport with about 500 rebel horse, and lost 40 or 50 killed, wounded, and captured, besides one mountain howitzer. At once on the receipt of this intelligence the troops prepared for Sherman here, with the division at Haynes' Bluff, proceeded to move out, and before 11 a.m. to-day all will be at their destination on the heights and beyond the bottoms in the headwaters of Clear Creek. Johnston must move up mainly by the Benton or Jackson road, which makes a detour from Oak Ridge Post-Office to the northeast, until in the region of his crossing it nearly touches the Big Black; but the greater part of this road winds along very narrow and precipitous ridges, heavily wooded, where a column cannot deploy, and where the advance can easily be checked or its attack repulsed. On this side of Oak Ridge, about the head of Clear Creek, there is a broad, open region, extensively cultivated, where a great army might deploy and fight advantageously — at least on equal terms. The effort of Sherman will be to settle the question before Joe Johnston can get to this open place. Sherman has in all about 30,000, besides cavalry. General Grant holds in readiness to march to re-enforce him five brigades more, under A. J. Smith and Herron, while Osterhaus, with one brigade stationed at the Vicksburg and Jackson Railroad crossing of Big Black, is to join him in case of need. As to the strength that Joe Johnston commands, we have no new information. If he pushes his advance, a battle may be fought to-day or to-morrow. The roads he has before him have all been obstructed.

Nothing to report here except steady progress in the siege. Ord is working very hard to bring up the lines where McClernand left them behind, but it will take some time to remedy the disorder which that incompetent commander produced in every part of the corps he has left.

Allow me to represent the very great necessity that some first-rate officer, with suitable energy, patient in character, should be sent here, or found here, to take the place of General J. P. Hawkins, and conduct the organization of the African forces. Hawkins is sick, and very probably will not again be robust enough to efficiently resume his duties in this climate, and the public service is suffering terribly in this most delicate matter in consequence of his absence. I do not know here an officer who could do the duty half as well as he, so that I make no recommendation; but none but a man of the very highest qualities can succeed in the work. I am happy to report that the sentiment of this army with regard to the employment of negro troops has been revolutionized by the bravery of the blacks in the recent battle of Milliken's Bend. Prominent officers, who used in private to sneer at the idea, are now heartily in favor of it.

Secretary of War.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 24, Part 1 (Serial No. 36), p. 105-6

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant John S. Morgan: Wednesday, March 22, 1865

Fine day; lay in camp all day quite a no of the men out to forage, see some Rebs. Capt sent back with detail for rations. Men pull the wagons. Evening Genls Granger & Veach have Hd Qtrs in our camp. Heavy artillery heard all day supposed by some to be Steele fighting Genls. Canby Smith & Osterhaus are at Fish river Foragers sees the ruins of a large turpentine factory. destroyed by fire about 2 weeks ago, which accounts for the big smokes we had noticed & find 100 prs good new drawers & 200 prs negro's cotton pants

SOURCE: “Diary of John S. Morgan, Company G, 33rd Iowa Infantry,” Annals of Iowa, 3rd Series, Vol. 13, No. 8, April 1923, p. 579