|In Dubuque we received clumsy swords and rifles from Lieut. C.
Brodbeck, a Swiss organizer and exerciser. On the 6th of October we were
mustered-in to the N.S. service. We then got 6 days leave and on the 18th
received our rifles and our backwages. After that we were ordered to
Minnesota where indian unrest had broken out. On October 11th we boarded 2
steamboats and began our journey to St. Paul on the Mississippi River, which we
reached on the 14th. We were immediately transported further to Fort
Snelling, which lies about 6 miles above St. Paul where the Minnesota River
meets the Mississippi River. It is a fairly sturdy fort sitting on a
plateau and it is very sound.
From here Companies A B C E F G were sent at once on an
expedition against the Chippewa indians. 170 miles farther North at the
Mill Lake mission. 2 cannons were to be brought along and since nobody
understood anything of the workings of artillary, I and a Corporal from our
Company named Ant. Bechel, who had served 9 years in the
French artillary, were appointed to temporary command.
On the 16th we marched off and came through a beautiful open
area with good, rich farmland to Minneapolis on the Mississippi not far from the
St. Anthony Falls, which were almost ruined, however previously must have been
an impressive sight to see. On the second day we came to Anoka, a lovely
little town on the Rum River which we followed from now on.
On the 3rd day we marched to St. Franxis and the 4th to
Princetown. Up to now we had come through nice, cultivated farmland.
The last towns had pole-built forts, so-called stockades, for protection against
indians. Many land owners had already fled.
On the next day we went further and after 2 miles came into the
deep forest at the entrance of which civilization had never seen. The last
farm that we passed we heard Germans who were satisfied and happy with their
lives. The forest we were in had tall, slender trees, dense growth 200
feet tall and straight as an arrow. 4 feet thickness was not rare.
For a change, here and there we saw a beautiful lake with clear water and
thousands of wild ducks and geese in the area. The shores were grown over with
head high grass. Further on were little Tammarisk forests with their
yellowish needles almost like Larch trees. Then a stag sprung up and ran
past us. On the shores of the Rum river raccoons, muskrats, and so forth
played amongst themselves.
We marched another 100 miles through these woods always
clearing the way with
axes for the artillary until on the 26th of October we came to
the Mill Lake Indian camp. The indians belonged to the Chippewa tribe
about 1500 heads strong. They had their wigwams on a romantic place they
had cleared out. The Rum river wrapped around it then through high, dark
evergreen forests and then formed Mill lake. We struck camp on an
available spot and built a fire as a sign of our arrival and fired a few cannon
shots which sent the savages into a frenzy. The huts of the indians were
made of crossed sticks and matted rushes and tree bark was hung around it and
had the shape of a sugar loaf. In the middle of every wigwam was a big
fire around which the family were wrapped in old blankets and were seated with
essential pipe in mouth, either thoughtfully staring into the fire or playing
cards which was their greatest passion.
The Chippewa indians are tall and have a slender, well built
frame with black eyes and hair and bronze complexion. The women are shorter and
are servile. Many half-breeds were under them. The women kept themselves busy
making moccasins and girdles as well as armbands from which beads were hung;
these they offered to sell, while the men only ran around in the wild.
On the lake they had countless numbers of canoes made from
animal hides, patched together with resin. They are so light that one man can
easily carry several.
Most speak some French and a few of the younger ones English.
The next day our agent came with his aides from the government
to make payment and the natives came in procession to our camp to show their
servitude. At the front came the chief (Hole in the Day) clothed with black
pants and a tailcoat with large epaulets and a Napoleon hat. He had a silver
necklace with the likeness of the king of England around his neck. He was a big,
bony-framed old man with almost a white complexion. Following him the various
chiefs with tomahawks, old sabers and painted faces and rings in their noses and
ears of which one carried the kalumet or peace pipe together with the tobacco
bag. Then an old, torn up U.S. flag was brought and set together with a flag of
feathers. After this was the music, which was made with 3 or 4 drums from which
they didn't miss a beat. To this a monotonous song was howled. After this came
When the procession was all in the camp a welcome was given by
the Colonel and the agents. As a sign of friendship the kalumet was smoked;
first the old chief received a pair of reins, then our Colonel, and so forth,
sat down with the indians and the negotiations began. Several indians spoke and
interpretation was made for us through a Frenchman. Next, a wardance was
performed and battle songs sung, at which they broke up the
The next day we marched on again, this time southerly along the
banks of the Rum river until St. Anthony, one of many German occupied towns,
where we went along the banks of the Mississippi river, on past Minnehaha
Waterfall, the most beautiful little falls I have ever seen. Then back to Fort
Snelling again, which we reached on the 4th of November. Here we stayed until
Because our company was ordered south during the time we were
away I, therefore, did not have to go, so I enjoyed my time in St. Paul
very much. On the 11th we were boarded on transports, came through Lake Pepin to
Ritz Landing and Winona and on the evening of the 13th to Lansing where we
stayed 3 days. One whole company was housed here. Then we went to Prairie Du
Chien which we reached at 3 oąclock in the morning. I, with some friends, went
across (the river) to McGregor where we spent some enjoyable hours.
Next noon we rode to Chicago on the railroad and from there to
Cairo, which we reached on the early morning of the 16th. Here we found the
other 4 companies of our regiment who were guarding southern prisoners. We were
stuck in old, run down barracks where the mice and rats gave us no rest.
On the 19th we already got orders for Memphis. We shipped out
on the 20th and got to Memphis on the evening of the 21st. Grant had prepared
his land campaign against Vicksburg here. On the 26th the Army of Memphis
departed and on Dec. 1st, at the Tallahatchie, they had a battle with the rebel
General Price after which the latter drew back.
Part of the army stayed there and a part under Sherman were
sent back to go by water to Vicksburg and cooperate with Grant. Our regiment was
sent to Waterford on the Miss. Central railroad around which our Company was
stationed to guard.
On the 9th after many adventures, nightly alarms on College
Hill, etc. we came into a heavy rain before which I myself got protection in a
smiths (sawmill). Here we stayed until the 17th where I with 12 other men kept
guard outside in the rough, dug out trenches. We were laying in a cotton press
at night when around 1 o'clock we were attacked by about 20 rebels.
The posts came back and asked me to go to the fort which
I refused so only one man was dispatched to alarm the Company. The rebels came
upon us carelessly enough and didnąt think their movements were so closely
watched. We gave them a good volley whereupon they themselves made dust; only
around the hospital did they find the advantage where they took 6 guardsmen and
2 horses captive.
We went after them in the morning but could not catch up and
were ordered immediately to Waterford where with still more Regiments we marched
to Holly Springs where our main depot was and which the rebels, through
treachery, had taken from commander Morre (Murphy).
It was there that several million dollars worth of supplies
were burned and for this reason our army was forced to postpone the operation
On the 20th we came to Holly Springs but we found it had been
abandoned by the rebels and half the town was burned down. On the 23rd we left
that place and marched back to the railroad. However, the whole army had left
it's position and the line of operation was shifted back 100 miles. We were
transported to Jackson, Tenn., which we reached on the night of Dec. 30th at 12
o'clock and camped in the open air.
The next morning we put up tents; however, in the evening the
drums already called us to march again; the enemy Generals Sorresk and Van Dorn
were on the march against Jackson and we had to march the whole night with
swiftness. We rested 1 hour in the morning and then went forward again. Soon we
met 1 regiment with 400 prisoners and 6 cannons and they brought us good news
that the foe had been defeated and were in full flight. But we were trying to
cut off the retreat over the Tennessee river after their defeat at Parkers Cross
With hungry bellies (we only had 2 rations in our oatbags) we
marched along in the rain and mud, on and on, but only to see, on the 4th, the
last rebels cross over the river.
The foe had his cannons so well positioned on the other side
that we had to immediately fall back again. (Nightly alarms before we came to
the river, barricade works, posted guards, hunger, rain, mud and so forth).
On the 6th we got back to Bethel. From there the regiment was
sent back to Jackson on the railroad; our company had to go by wagons and
forage. (confiscating, getting lost, madness) until we arrived again in Jackson
on the 11th of January. Herewith our first campaign was concluded and we were
employed while garrisoned at Jackson.
The weather was cold and wet and many of our people were sick
or dead and many were troubled with guard duty and foraging and had to exercise
quite a bit. Also, I got jaundice and had alot of pain. In addition we were
depressed because luck had not been for our side lately and everywhere we had
So it was until the 19th of April when we were ordered to
Corinth; here we had to fill the places of the other regiments which were away
on an expedition to Tuscumbia. We had alot to do in a week, having to go to
Burnsville, 20 miles away, 2 times by railway to bring provisions to the
returning expedition. There were several bridges burned but fortunately we got
On the 1st of May we returned to Jackson and on the 3rd our
regimental company was stationed evenly along the Mobile & Ohio and Mississippi
Central railroads with the headquarters and quartermasters office in Jackson.
There were 20 men, 3 corp. and 1 sergeant needed to stay back as guards and the
choice fell on me. So for 4 weeks I had a very nice time until on the 1st of
June when the regiments returned.
On that same day an attack was expected from General Forrest
and while all the troops were ordered out I had to guard the headquarters with
my command. However, the attack did not happen and on the 4th of June the place
was entirely cleared of our troops.
We went by railway to Bolivar and then to La Grange which we
reached on the 6th. Here we remained until the 8th and then went by foot 10
miles farther to Moscow on the Memphis and Charleston railroad where our
regiment was stationed again.
Another 2 cannons and 2 companies of cavalry came along and we
had good times there. There were blackberries and apples, peaches etc., in
abundance and although the guerillas continually swarmed around us and often
attempted raids we were always on our guard. It was the same for our foraging
party which often dared to go as far as 10 miles out and fortunately always came
We had alot of fun there and were very often alarmed by
guerillas, which we then waylayed the whole night, but (we had gotten so used to
it) only caught some of these fellows 2 times. The watches were very hard, but
we got so used to it that we felt as safe on outpost as in camp.
On the 20th of June at 12 o'clock at night, we were suddenly
ordered to La Grange where the foe was threatening the town. It was doubtful
that by the time our forces got there we would be strong enough . We marched in
the dark night in a strong rain and arrived in the morning tired and soaked,
however, it had only been a false alarm and no enemy was seen. We lay down in an
old barn while it continued to rain and there we found out where we could get
whiskey. So we were right well pleased and despite the soaked clothes and cold
were in good spirits.
Next afternoon we were ordered back again by train and in the
evening about 10 o'clock we were just having a nice drink of whiskey when we
were bothered again by the alarm drums; however, once again it was a false alarm
and we fell back again into our old, everyday lives.
On the lookouts we had suffered alot from mosquitos and it was
then that many people had attacks of fever so that we all longed to be away. I
soon had it good though, because our orderly sergeant got sick so I had to fill
his place and therefore was not bothered with the watch any more. So things were
looking up (because we had money and Sutler beer) until the 20th of August when
we were roused to march with 7 Iowa regiments to Memphis.
In the morning, at the start of our march, I myself did not
feel entirely well already, and as we passed Lafayette I could not hardly keep
up anymore; but I held out as long as possible and came with them to
Collierville where we made camp.
The next morning we got as far as Germantown but I soon felt so
sick that I had to be carried. Also, on the next day, when we were marching to
Memphis I had to be carried and there our regiment was ordered down river, so I
was brought to the hospital where I laid for 5 weeks with an intermittent fever.
My treatment at the hospital was very good and when I could get around again
they brought me beer and soon I was on my legs again.
During this time I also met Rud. Weber who was from the 9th
Illinois regiment. My regiment, during this time, was transported to Helena and
there, with an Expeditions army, marched to capture Little Rock, Arkansas. They
had suffered alot from heat and lack of water but drove the enemy away (Battle
at Bayou Meto) and prepared to move into winter housing.
On the 26th of September I was healthy enough that I could
travel by wagon with my regiment and on the 27th floated down the Mississippi,
past Helena and Napoleon, into the mouth of the White river, passed by Clarendon
until reaching DeValls Bluff. From there to Little Rock with the railway,
where I arrived on the 3rd of October.
The regiment was situated on the banks of the Arkansas river
across from the town and were busy building barracks. Little Rock is a pretty
town with a huge prison and arsenal and capitol and inhabited by many Germans.
The duties there were not hard and we had good times until the
14th of November when we were ordered back to Memphis ( the sick went on the
On the 17th we got to Memphis and moved into our camp 2 miles
from the town where we spent our time on outpost duty.
On the 2nd of December our company was detached from our
regiment and stationed on the Charlestown and Memphis railway. We had to do
guard duty there and had to search and question passengers; also, every day 1
sergeant and 10 men as guards had to accompany the passenger train to Grand
Junction 150 miles away. The duty was therefore rather hard but we had
comfortable quarters there and it was the same at the depot. We did not
have to sit out in the rain while on duty and had the freedom to go to
town, so we had a wonderful life. We were not allowed to indulge in drinking
there, so every morning we took the opportunity to confiscate some bottles of
this precious stuff during inspection of passengers. Naturally, it was for our
own use. We also had to provide for our barracks provost who was nearby and
since sales of drinks in the town was not allowed either, we
often dropped off there too.
We made acquaintances with ladies, went to dances and circles
(?), in short, lived wonderfully and in freedom. With pleasure I remember yet
the happy hours that I lived in a German-owned (by the name of H. Lau) saloon; I
and another sergeant, Schecker, called it our
Guard duty on the train was soon becoming sickening to me.
On the 25th of Decmber we were attacked, namely by the rebels
in Lafayette, while we were taking on water (on the train). We were rescued only
through the quick thinking of the engineer who at once ran us back. A corporal
of ours was wounded and the whole water wagon was shot full of bullet holes.
The 2nd time, on the 12th of January, we were attacked between
Germantown and Collierville. The rebels had set a torpedo on the railroad tracks
and as soon as the engine hit it, it exploded, after which the rebels
immediately began firing but without doing any harm. The train went forward
anyway, in spite of the fact that over 2 feet of track was damaged. We sat in a
passenger car and saw how funny it was the way everyone threw themselves on the
ground and how crinoline dresses of the ladies got ruffled, a memorable sight to
Often citizens were arrested, and on guard duty in the
guardhouse we always had pastimes and sometimes could make rather alot of money.
(Arrest the guard and take sabers and 2 guns from me and _______________.)
Everything must come to an end, so this also. On the 28th of
January '64 we were roused and transported to Vicksburg where we were rejoined
by our army corps; from there we were to make a major expedition into the
interior of the country. The troops were formed from the 11th Corps under Gen.
Hurlbut and the 17th Corps under Gen. McPhearson. The entire army was commanded
by Gen. Sherman. Our division was under Brigadier General A. J. Smith.
We were encamped there by divisions 3 miles behind Vicksburg,
where during the siege the worst battle had been waged. Trenches marked the
places where so many young men had lost their lives.
On the 2nd of February they set the troops in motion and we
marched through a hilly, deserted area; we crossed over the Black river and
camped. On the 3rd we crossed the Bleak river and soon struck at the rebel
outposts which were slowly driven back. On the next day the resistance was more
violent and we had to drive back the foes' line of defense 2 times; that night
we were situated on the plantation of the president Jeff. Davis.
Early the next morning we went further and kept the enemy under
constant attack until they were driven back to within 5 miles of Jackson where
it seemed they wanted to be stubborn. Then to our right there arose thick
billows of smoke and it was reported that the 17th Corps, which had advanced in
a more southerly direction, was coming up.
Soon we also heard the boom of cannons and in order to divide
the enemy's forces we now joined the attack and after a little resistance drove
the rebels back, with us in pursuit. At the same time McPhearson had
captured Clinton, set it on fire, and moved on in the assault on Jackson. This,
then, forced us to engage the foe, who quickly retreated in order to avoid being
We captured 1 cannon and 50 prisoners of theirs. However, the
darkness brought our pursuit to an end and we lay ourselves down to a restless
sleep in preparation of the morning's battle. The foe, however, had left
Jackson. The 17th corps, after 3 tries that same evening, had taken possession
of the unfortunate capitol of the state of Mississippi.
On the 7th we halted our movement and what still remained of
the once beautiful town was now just burned and in ruins. The finest furniture
and paintings were broken, pianos on the streets were smashed and the horses had
beds made from silk sheets.
We left Jackson that same day, crossed over the big Pearl river
and camped at night in the forest. On the 8th we broke at 12 noon and came
through Brandon at 2 o'clock and marched until 8 in the evening.
On the 9th we passed the 27th Army Corps and marched until 1
o'clock at night when we encamped, tired and weak. The roads were covered for
miles around with exhausted soldiers, who caught up first thing the next
The 10th we came through Hillsborough which was burned down and
where our advance guards still had skirmishes with the rebels. There I saw a
rebel Major shot.
On the 12th we passed Decatur which, again, was burned. On the
evening of the 13th, the rebels got on to quite a high hill. They were separated
from us by a wide stream. The bridge stood there burning and the cavalry dared
not cross over the stream there, so our regiment was sent for; it was already
near dark as we crossed over the stream on felled trees. However, in the assault
to gain the hills, the enemy, which had already erected an encampment there, was
driven out. We took several guns, revolvers, and officers sabers and cooking
gear and beds.
The next morning we found one dead enemy laying in the stream
from where we had drawn our water the night before. Here we got our wagon train
back and took 3 rations for our knapsacks and set out in pursuit the next
morning under steady skirmishes.
Approaching Meridian, a railroad junction where 5-6 railroads
come together, we thought the enemy would give us a battle, but we were
mistaken; after the first cannon shots they abandoned their works and we overran
the town where now only some poor houses stood and where the government's
supplies etc, were, which we then claimed as booty.
On the 16th we went 6 miles north to Marion and there destroyed
10 miles of railroad; on the 17th the same. (Very cold, a little battle from the
enemy running around).
On the 19th of February we prepared a foraging party because
our rations were all gone. However, besides a few chickens and geese and
cornmeal we didn't get much of anything. We took 4 men and a rebel captain
prisoner. I was so lucky to rouse up a chicken on which I lived for 1 day.
On the 20th we set out because a Cavalry Expedition, which had
been coming from Memphis, and with whom we were supposed to join, had not had
been lucky and from lack of provisions had turned back.
We had traveled from Vicksburg on across through the state,
200 miles, until the border of Alabama and for days had waded through swamps and
destroyed everything 10 - 12 miles on every side of our path. Every plantation
and all the cotton was burned, negroes and cattle were taken with us and hogs
slaughtered. In short, the area was so ruined that crows could no longer live
there. The ground was quite good and cotton was the main product. The forests
were mostly pines, yet cypress also grew alot in the swamps.
We marched through Marion Station on the 20th, which we burned,
and came to Hillsborough again by another way during the dawn of the 23rd. On
the 25th we set out across the Pearl river and on the 26th came to Contur, the
friendliest little town I have ever seen. The town had never been occupied by
our troops and we were now also under special orders not to ruin the manor
houses and adjoining dwellings. (Destroyed railways, had battles with guerillas,
Here we got full rations again for the first time in a long
time and on the 1st of March set forth again under heavy rain; on the 2nd we
passed Lexington and on the 3rd, Brownsville; crossed over the Black river on
the 4th and on the 5th came to Vicksburg again. From here General Sherman went
with the greater part of his army to Tennessee; our division was attached to the
Gulf Department to reinforce Banks, who was preparing to undertake the Red River
expedition in order to capture Shreveport, where the rebels had many supplies,
powder manufacturing, etc.
On the 10th of March we left Vicksburg with a fleet of around
20 transports, passed Natchez and Port Adams on the 11th and arrived shortly at
the mouth of the Red River where we anchored for the night.
On the 12th we ran up the Red River but soon left it and
traveled up the Atchafalaya and landed at Simsport in the evening. The enemy was
expected to be nearby so we put out heavy guards, left the boats the next
morning and marched inland where the rebels' Fort Walker was situated 3 miles
away. Near the banks we found an abandoned rebel camp already and when we
arrived at Fort Walker found the birds there had also flown.
We went back again, supplied ourselves with 5 days rations and
prepared ourselves to set out in pursuit the same evening. We marched until 1
o'clock at night, camped until 6 in the morning and on the 14th continued
further. We soon found the footprints of the rebels. However, at Moreauville we
had to sit along a river because they were bound up on the other side of the
After our artillery had thrown several bombs into the woods,
our regiment, which was in front, crossed over on a small boat. Every time one
company was over it was sent into the bushes as skirmishers; soon we drove out
the enemy and occupied the edge of the woods until a bridge was built and the
whole army was over. We then went forward again and we could see from
unmistakable signs that the enemy was not far from us. So we often went
into battle step.
The next afternoon we came through Montezuma and in the evening
to Marksville (beautiful prairie, nice church in the woods, many French) where
we were placed as guards so that the army did not damage the church during our
While the first regiment was going through the town we heard
shooting on the other side and thought our artillery was cleaning out the woods,
thereby we would have a safe night camp, but hardly were we through too, than we
heard the small weapons fire of our skirmishers and found that the enemy were
occupying the strong Fort de Russy. Since our sharpshooters were forewarned at a
distance, they were able to shut down the hostile cannons of the fort. (The last
canister of shots would have taken out nearly our entire company). We
proceeded into battle and with casualties of about 30 men took into our
possession the fort and 11 cannons, 400 prisoners, a quantity of rations and
ammunition. We had marched 32 miles that day and by sunset a rather hot
days work was done.
There were only French who lived here and many could not speak
English. The countryside was outstanding; a great tree-less plain 50 miles wide
with forest surrounding it; on the edges the people lived in quaint little
houses; almost everyone here was a cattlebreeder. There they built themselves a
little church with a slender steeple sticking out of the treetops of the oaks
and on it a golden cupola, glistening white in the sunshine; we passed some
convents the same day and the nuns shouted out curiosities from behind
iron bars and looked at the passing soldiers with big eyes.
The nights were very cold and we froze through completely on the open prairie.
On the morning of the 15th we got on the boats again, which in
the meantime had come up the Red River until they got to the fort.
On the 16th we came to Alexandria which was abandoned by the
rebels. Here we stayed until the 24th (20 miles from there a detachment of ours
captured nearly 400 men and 4 cannons in a surprise attack.) where Gen. Banks
was situated with the 13th and 14th Corps of New Orleans. They had never served
in the fields but were nicely dressed and very proud; they looked down on us
with contempt and Banks himself reproached the old man, Smith, about our poor
clothes and thought that he had demanded 10,000 soldiers, but had been sent
Smith answered that he gave the devil to the fine, spruced-up
soldiers with the paper collars (white neckcollars) and that his gorillas
surpassed the polished masters every time both in fighting and in marching. The
main reason was, however, that Banks was jealous of our success and begrudged
our good luck at Fort de Russy.
From that moment on both of the Generals of the Armies stood on
anxious feet. We kept the name gorillas and later were mentioned with respect
throughout the whole United States and all the rebels hunted with fear.
On the 25th we left Alexandria and camped 18 miles from there
on Bayou Matin.
On the 26th we came to the Red River again at Blanchard's
plantation where we stayed until the 3rd of April; meanwhile our boats had gone
through the rapids 7 miles above Alexandria to get to us. (Destruction of
Blanchard's, house, paintings, library, piano).
We got on the boats once again and on the 4th came to Grand
Ecore. On the 5th, Banks went with the cavalry and the 13th and 14th Corps to
Shreveport to, as he said, give his people glory in taking the latter town.
On the 6th we marched on, well satisfied that we should form a
special reserve. On the afternoon of the 8th we heard a cannonade in our front
and knew now that the enemy was found. In the evening we came to Pleasant Hill,
50 miles from Grand Ecore, where we camped. Around 1 o'clock in the morning we
were awoken already, had to make breakfast, and then put out the fires.
We assumed that all was not right already and soon the news
also came that Banks was defeated 17 miles away near Mansfield and were in full
retreat. While it was still light everything came back, wagons, cannons,
ambulances, artillery, cavalry, infantry and all in varied confusion. They
brought back hair-raising stories of the superior forces of the enemy, the size
of which they had not seen in a long time.
We still laid peacefully in camp, smoking our pipes, hearing
how Banks had ordered the retreat of the entire army, but how Smith and his
under-general, Mower, had demonstrated and how the old man said he did not bring
his troops so far only to retreat.
Banks had finally given in and we got command of the departure.
We went through Pleasant Hill about 1 mile where we were placed in horse shoe
formation in battle lines. Our brigade took the center and advanced yet another
half mile, to where the first attackers fell back, from where, when the enemy,
in the belief that we had been on the run from their victory-drunk advance,
would come upon our hidden main line, they should receive a hot reception. We
sent out skirmishers who shot around with the
enemy sharpshooters; nevertheless, using but only 2 cannons to
play around with the enemy we were not able to lure them to us. We were in good
spirits, our coffee boiling and joking about the cowardly rebels.
Around 7 o'clock in the evening the shooting at the outposts
all at once became stronger; in no time we took our places; before us was a hill
which gently rose to the crest about 200 paces from us. On the same hill we saw
our skirmishers returning at a brisk run. Hardly were they in our lines than a
Regiment Cavalry roared in with their objective being to take our front line of
cannons. Barely had they reached the crest of the hill than the command was
shouted to "fire" along our line, and men and horses rolled on the ground. Again
the enemy sent cavalry and they shared the fate of the ones before.
We then heard in the distance a cry and shout like wolves do
when they are hungry. It was the enemy infantry, 6 lines strong and advancing in
battle step. The time had come now for us to turn back, but through a
misunderstanding, no command was given. Our regiment lay still, fingers on
triggers. Before us was a hill so the enemy could not see us and which was why
they carelessly advanced. Both of their wings opened to our sight and they
quickly drew back. We heard the buzz of bullets and here and there wounded,
painful outcrys. However, there was never an enemy at our front.
Finally we heard shooting at our wings and with fright saw that
the enemy had gone around us. We fell back then, the rebels were thick behind
us, yelling for us to surrender, shooting with cannons and guns. 2 times our
company rallied, the flags in the middle, but we always had to fall back.
The major commanded me to rally the company. I made an arc with
about 10 men and we shot our guns off. Then I looked around me and saw my Major
was leaving so I called to my people to rescue themselves. The battle was at
it's height. The rebels were hardly 20 paces behind us and ahead of us lay an
enormous tree which we had to go over; 4 were stopped by deadly balls during the
attempt, 6 escaped.
Shortly thereafter I found a man from our company laying on the
flag, who himself had taken it in his hands from the fallen flag-bearer. He
tried to rescue it but had also taken a hit in the leg from a bullet. I took the
flag with me but had to leave the man to his fate. We finally reached our 2nd
line with which we fell behind and rallied. The enemy was well received by our
people; first they were brought to a standstill, then caught their lines off
guard, and finally they gave way. Now we set our sights on the attack and our
wages were 4 cannons and 800 prisoners.
The moon shone down pale on the bloody field beneath us and the
still of the night was only broken up by the moans of the wounded. The enemy had
lost around 2,000 dead and wounded and we lost 1,100; from our own troops we got
back 22; 8 were dead and 10 badly and 4 slightly wounded. We all had marks on us
and our General, who had already been in a couple dozen fights, said that he had
never heard such heavy rifle fire.
That night I went back to the field to find the wounded and
there lay friend and foe in silence next to each other, it was a sight I would
The enemy pulled back 10 miles that night. Our regiment went on
outpost and the next morning at 4 o'clock we also got a big surprise and were
commanded to go back; our brigade was the last to leave the place and each of us
was thinking how it would hurt us to leave behind our wounded; still, we did not
have enough wagons so we had to leave many behind.
On the 12th we came again to Grand Ecore where we formed the
right wing. The indignation against Banks was now heard even among his own
people, as opposed to the greetings of hurrahs our old man, A. J. Smith,
received from all the soldiers and every soldier mentioned the event in their
letters and put the blame on Banks.
The 13th and 14th Corps refortified themselves to great
strength and trained day and night, while we were only used as good outposts to
provide information for the movement of the enemy.
Our transports were going to Shreveport during our march to
Pleasant Hill and knew nothing of our holding back and so penetrated forward.
The enemy used this to build batteries along the banks and when the Admiral
finally wanted to turn around on the narrow, and, for the moment, shallow river
to stop the building of the batteries, our gunboats could not find a way to
shoot over the high, steep banks and thus the situation was rather critical.
We heard cannon shots the whole day and it pleased us to get
marching orders in the evening because we had all our stores on the boats.
The evening of the 13th of April we went 10 miles until we got
to Campti where we camped; here we found that several boats could not yet pass
the rebel batteries.
The next morning we burned the whole town and were put in
battle lines 2 miles farther, moving slowly. After several skirmishes the enemy
was driven away and they, along with their batteries, made dust; whereupon the
boats were set in motion and we marched back again to Grand Ecore.
At the same time General Steele was coming from Little Rock
with an Expeditions Army to cooperate with us. Through our fall-back it became
possible for the enemy to send reinforcements against Steele, and at Camden,
Arkansas, were themselves forced to turn back. Meanwhile the enemy had blocked
the Red River and so our communications with the Mississippi was cut off. 2
boats which tried to get through were already taken and destroyed and we were
forced, because of lack of provisions, to turn around.
On the evening of the 20th our division got orders to march 4
miles away to Natchitoches to stop the pursuing enemy while preparations were
being made to evacuate Grand Ecore. On the evening of the 21st the boats left
Grand Ecore and after many supplies were destroyed the army was also set in
motion about 10 o'clock. During that whole time we lay behind the town of
Natchitoches in battle lines, our skirmishers fighting with the enemy.
(Natchitoches is an old, pretty town founded by the Spanish, 2 miles from the
Red River, which used to flow by the town; the town is known around here for its
crime, gambling and loose women etc.)
Around 12 o'clock we started our retreat also, crossing over
the old river bed of the Red River and camped on the other side until 7 o'clock
in the morning of the 22nd. The whole army had now passed and our assignment was
to cover the retreat. Without being harassed by the enemy, we marched the whole
day until late in the night, 33 miles away and then camped. The next morning we
marched to Cloutierville but soon had to get back into battle formation again to
stop the pursuing enemy (there, Banks could not go forward with his
enormous train of 2000 wagons).
However, in the evening we set forth again on our march,
crossed through Cloutierville for the 2nd time and camped 2 miles further on.
During that time the rebels had occupied the crossing over the Cane river in our
front and layed out a strong battery on an opposing hill.
The morning of the 24th around 3 o'clock we were already
awakened by cannons, which the rebels, because our careless outposts had given
away their positions with their fires, had shot and wounded 5 - 6 men. We were
quickly on our legs, cooked breakfast, and were in battle lines by daybreak,
slowly advancing toward the enemy; a mutual cannonade ensued now and suddenly we
heard at our back, actually, now our front, a cannonade. It was Banks who wanted
to force the enemy from their position on the Cane river and the crossing. So,
at this time there were 2 battles being fought by our army, one at Cloutierville
and the 2nd at the Cane river.
About 10 o'clock we drove our enemy into flight and at the same
time Banks had forced the crossing over the river and taken 2 enemy cannons; we
went further again until we got to Bayou Rapids at Blanchard's plantation where
we had stayed earlier.
On the 25th we were hardly set in motion when the enemy was
again slashing at us; however, several well-aimed cannon balls kept them at a
respectful distance and we marched undisturbed until 15 miles from Alexandria
where we camped.
On the 26th our brigade moved out early and were hidden 3 miles
away in a big field in the woods. The whole division marched on past us and soon
came our rear guard, made up of cavalry who were retreating slowly over the
field, skirmishing with the enemy.
The enemy went into the trap; unfortunately one of our people's
guns went off, whereon the enemy stopped and they immediately turned around; we
now opened fire and killed several. However, the purpose , to take the whole
advance troop captive , was a failure and we followed the army, reaching
Alexandria in the evening, where we took the same place we had camped earlier.
On the 30th of April, in the evening, a division of
reinforcements came on from the 13th Corps of the Mississippi and marched 3
miles from the town where they moved into camp.
On the 1st of May the drums were suddenly beaten to begin a
general march on the double and they went forth with us through the town in
double quick time. We heard neither rifle fire nor the thunder of cannons
and asked each other in wonder what was wrong. However, hardly had we gotten the
town behind us when the newly arrived division came towards us to tell us how
the enemy, with superior might approaching, had thrown away their knapsacks and
rifles and hastily made dust.
As we were coming to the camp we found that our own people had
burned their own things which they could not bring with them and the sutlers had
even destroyed all the supplies. However, we saw nothing of the enemy and
although we stayed in battle lines the whole night we were not bothered at all.
On the 2nd morning we went 7 miles farther to Moore's
plantation (Moore was the rebel Governor of the state of Louisiana) where we met
the enemy; we pushed around the whole day, skirmishing all the time. We had
strict orders not to let it come to a battle and the only reason for the
skirmishes was to give our people the opportunity to go foraging on the land.
Moore's plantation, the most beautiful one I saw, with 2 sugar factories, was
totally ruined, the royal estate houses destroyed, (books, pianos, paintings,
couches ruined) carpets and beds used for sleeping, the buildings burned,
beautiful greenhouses leveled to the ground, etc.
On the next day we began the skirmishing anew and though the
orders were strong to avoid a battle, we still pushed the enemy 7 miles further
on the 4th and it ended in a fight on Moore's Bayou, in which the rebels
We received orders on the 5th to go back and took our old
position again on Moor's plantation. Here we had to hold back the enemy until
Banks made his preparations to leave Alexandria which was to happen on the 13th.
After we had burned half the town we set ourselves in motion
and came to Marksville on the 15th, continually skirmishing with the enemy.
On the 16th our artillery, with that of the enemy, had a strong
fight on the Marksville prairie, whereat no infantry actually came into the
fight, but we were a match for the enemy there and so the way was finally opened
which allowed us to move undisturbed.
The night of the 16th we camped 5 miles behind Moreauville. On
the morning of the 17th we went into a garden 1/2 mile from camp to get peas,
but were chased by the oncoming enemy. Soon thereafter we broke from camp and
marched until one mile from Fort Walker.
The morning of the 18th at 4 o'clock we set out over a bayou
and marched through Fort Walker. However, the enemy was close behind us
and Banks had not yet crossed over
the Atchafalaya which was 3 miles away, so we and the 7th
brigade had to go back again about 9 o'clock in the morning to match up once
again with the enemy.
The bayou was hardly at our backs again when we soon received
several cannon balls. 30 of our cannons were quickly in position and a
terrifying cannon duel ensued which lasted for 3 hours. We had nothing to do
except to cover the cannons which, however, was dangerous enough because we had
to lay stretched out on the ground in order to protect ourselves from the balls.
It was very hot there and we suffered alot from the heat with our faces so close
to the hot ground. Here and there a painful cry showed us that a ball had done
it's job and not far from me a cannon ball cut a man, who was at the right
height, in 2 pieces.
Now and then the rebels tried to take our battery and then we
had to drive them back. Finally the rebels were so close to a battery which we
covered that the balls of the cannons became dangerous. We were ordered to
charge and with a Hurrah, we went after them up to a bushy area wherein the
rebels set up again, our cannons coming close behind. We were ordered to lay
down and our people fired away with canister and grape shots over our heads
which fearfully thinned out the lines of the enemy; then we advanced again and
drove the enemy through the woods over to the other side of an open field. We
had hardly appeared in the opening than we were caught face to face with a rebel
battery ready to play with us and we had to withdraw into the woods. However,
the enemy's desire to come after us again was gone and after several rounds a
stillness set in. The enemy pulled back leaving the field to us (exploding of
the ammunitions wagons)
The rebels were 12,000 men strong and commanded by the French
prince Polignac; in comparison we had only 2 brigades with 3,000 men. We lost
400 dead, 1500 wounded and 100 prisoners. From now on we had rest before the
On the 19th we stayed at the same place and after Banks had
crossed over the Atchafalaya on the 20th, we also went over the river the same
day and the next day came to the Mississippi. We were all happy because from the
9th of April until the 20th of May, over a stretch of 250 miles, we had heard
the cannons every day, the rebels always on our heels and it was only the
prudence and the military talent of General Smith as well as the perseverance
attributed to his people that the whole army was not imprisoned. Day and night
we were in motion on our legs, often without rations, often attacked by the
enemy while sleeping, yet finally we were now, fortunately, coming back and it
pleased us heartily to come to our old department again.
The Red River valley is one of the most beautiful plains of the
south. The main product is sugar from the great plantations which is abundant
and pretty. In the plains alot of cattle are raised , especially among the
French inhabitants, which there are many of here.
On the 20th of May we climbed aboard the boats and came to
Vicksburg on the 22nd, where we put on new clothes, got several days rest, which
was, however, poor enough since we camped right on a sandy, tree-less plain and
suffered alot from the heat.
On the 4th of June we got on the boats again and traveled up
the river. On the 5th we laid over at Columbia and there we had learned that
General Marmaduke had blocked the river farther ahead with a strong battery, so
we left the boats in order to drive away the enemy.
On the morning of June 6th it rained terribly, nevertheless we
marched against the enemy and after a march of 6 miles we hit them on Lake
Chicot. After a small skirmish we were ordered to assault the hostile battery
and we went forth over an open field. When we were about 200 paces nearer, the
battery opened up on us with canister shot and many dropped down silently. We
let loose at them with Hurrah, but who could describe our shock, when we saw our
advance brought to a standstill on the edge of a deep bayou. We quickly laid
down before the balls could be shot and looked for a way to cross over the bayou
at another place. However, in the meantime the rebels made dust; we pursued them
until Lake Village where we camped and on the next morning went back to the
On the 8th we went on to Memphis where on the 11th we moved
into a camp 3 miles from the town. After 3 or 4 days we were paid and thought
we would now get proper care but fate had planned it differently. Shortly
before this an expedition under Major General Sturgis had gone out from Memphis
to destroy the railway between Corinth and Mobile. However, at Guntown he was so
totally defeated by the rebels that the troops,
individually and without rifles, had to find their way back to
We were determined to hone out the notches again and on the
27th of June were ordered to Moscow on the railway, on which trip the guerillas
fired at the train and several people died or were wounded.
On the 30th we marched to La Grange and started on the
expedition. On the 7th we came through Ripley and on the 9th we crossed over the
Tallahatchie and camped at New Albany (set out with General Smith).
On the 11th we came to Pontotoc where we met the enemy; we
camped 2 mile on the other side of the town and our outposts were close to those
of the enemy's.
On the next day we found out from reconnaissance that the enemy
had set out strong, hidden batteries on the only ways to Ocolona that we could
take. Therefore, we left our camp on the next morning in complete silence, went
back through Pontotoc and took a way on the left to Tupelo; we left behind just
so many cavalry as to fool the enemy.
When we had marched about 10 miles we met a small rebel outpost
from which we killed 7 men. 2 miles from Tupelo we made a stop and searched out
a good place to fight, from which we would be able to give the enemy, who was
following us in the meantime, a worthy reception.
On the next morning at 3 o'clock the enemy showed us early on
that it would be ready for the bloody battle through a well aimed cannon shot
which flew way over our heads. In a moment it roared on all sides and death took
a rich harvest. We were posted in the center in the 2nd line and therefore had
no part on the outcome of the battle. However, many times the bullets flew thick
over our heads and sent many young men to eternity.
5 times the rebels attacked but each time they had to give way
before our first line, leaving many of their people laying on the field. The 5th
time we made a counter attack and drove them 2 miles away where they pulled back
1,200 of their people remained on the battlefield and 200
prisoners were in our hands. General Forrest, undefeated until now, was wounded
and 3 Colonels died.
We had only 32 dead and 200 wounded. During the time that we
engaged the enemy, our cavalry was going to the railway and had destroyed it and
burned a 3 mile long bridge.
Next afternoon our brigade was ordered to cover the left wings
where the enemy wanted to make it appear like they were marching against the
same. However, all remained quiet allowing us to cover the artillery.
The enemy seemed to have no more desire to follow us further
after getting both lessons and so we came to Salem where rations had been sent
On the 18th we came to New Albany again, on the 22nd to La
Grange, on the 23rd to Moscow, on the 24th to Collierville from where we were
ordered to Memphis the same day on the railway.
We remained there until the 3rd of August when we undertook an
expedition to Grenada and Columbia in Mississippi in order to suck up an area
which had not yet been affected by the war and to engage a hostile power there
under General Forrest, then to meet Sherman's Communication which lay right in
front of Atlanta.
We were ordered by railway to Holly Springs where they had
gathered the army and we remained there until the 12th. Then we went to
Waterford and from there to the Tallahatchie which we crossed over and went to
Abbeville where we camped and from where our cavalry had driven the rebels the
We had to stay there three days because of heavy rains which
had made the paths impassable; we then marched to Oxford. However, on the
morning of the 17th we got the news 2 miles form Oxford confirming that Forrest
had been in Memphis, which was occupied by only 100 day staff, and had left the
town again after only a 2 hour stopover.
Now we had no further reason to march forward because to leave
this brave General operating at our backs was dangerous. In addition, the paths
were so bad that we almost could not take along the wagons.
So we went back and on the 21st came to Holly Springs.
(Dangerous foraging on the Tallahatchie, guerillas, apples , peaches, etc.) From
there we marched to Memphis where we arrived on the 25th.
The first division left Memphis on September 1st on boats and
were ordered to Arkansas and from there to march to Missouri where the rebel
General Price was preparing to make an invasion into the latter state.
Our division took boats to Cairo on the 4th where we stayed 8
days, then were ordered to Sulphur Springs, 20 miles from St. Louis in Missouri.
(Good beer from a German).
On the 15th we went to Jefferson Barracks 7 miles from St.
Louis. We still did not know from which way the rebel General Price was coming
so we had to lay over there several days and had a good time.
St Louis and the surrounding area is inhabited almost entirely
by Germans and near by our camp was a good saloon called Days Rest; we often
went to Carandolch, a suburb of St Louis, and several times to St Louis itself.
We were among friends here and didn't need to be afraid of a
guerilla laying behind every tree or to see in every citizen a rebel. It was the
first time since we were in the service that we came so far north so we enjoyed
life to the fullest.
All things were cheap, and the beer was good and only 5 cents a
glass, whereas, in the south we often had to pay 25 cents for the same yet got
only bad stuff. I looked for several acquaintances and had a few good sprees.
However, we soon found out that Price was indeed coming and in
fact was around Pilot Knob, a fortified place on the Iron Mountain railroad.
Therefore we were ordered by railway to DeSoto where 2 brigades stayed; our
brigade was stationed on the railway from there to Pilot Knob and our regiment
went to Mineral Point. The area there is very mountainous and contains alot of
minerals like iron and lead.
The railroad travelled over many small rivers and through big
tunnels and so we had to keep a sharp watch so that bridges were not burned. So,
on the 23rd of September we arrived in Mineral Point with the railroad.
On the 24th we caught a guerilla there (Shelly Coole) who was
just about to burn a bridge over the railroad; he was held under guard but tried
to escape by taking the rifle from the guard and then tried to shoot the
sergeant, but he was recaptured and watched closely.
On the morning of the 25th the enemy showed itself at Pilot
Knob. There they had besieged General Ewing with his 700 men but they had to
retreat with a loss of 1,200 men, whereon the garrison left the fort and
fortunately got to Centralia.
The 24th Missouri, which wanted to get to Pilot Knob, could not
get through and came back on the morning of the 25th. The troops were positioned
in battle lines in order to hold back the enemy until the preparations for
leaving the place were complete.
Ours and 2 other companies were placed on the depot and as soon
as the first rail car was ready we went back with it to the Merrimac bridge
where we stayed. In the evening the other troops came too and we took a
good position on a ridge, the river in front of us.
The next morning we went to DeSoto and on the 28th back to
Jefferson Barracks. On the way from Mineral Point to DeSoto the guerilla had cut
the throat of the sergeant that guarded him so that he immediately fell down
dead, then wounded still 4 others and then looked for an escape. He was
recaptured, terribly mishandled, and hanged the next morning in DeSoto; at that
time he confessed to have killed 31 people in all.
In Jefferson Barracks we had several good days once again and
then set out on the great expedition against Price.
On the 3rd of October we marched to Kirkwood and on the 4th,
during a heavy rain, to Gray Summit where we stayed until the 7th. Then we went
to the Meramec river where we camped in the vicinity of a mill between the hills
on one of the most romantic places I have ever seen. On the 8th we marched
through Union City where we met a militia brigade which marched with us. We
marched 32 miles and in the evening came to a small river where we camped and
stayed the next day. The militia did not go there.
On the 10th we crossed over the Gasconade, a beautiful, clear
river; on the 11th through Linn, on the 12th we waded through the Osage river
and on the 13th came to Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri with a beautiful
state prison on the Missouri river. The area from St. Louis to here is almost
entirely inhabited by Germans and is very mountainous and arid.
On the 14th we went to California, on the 16th through Tipton
and Syracuse to a railroad bridge where provisions and the first Division came
to us. On the 18th we came through Sedalia, on the 19th through Georgetown and
on the 21st to Lexington. The area here is tree-less and we marched across great
prairies; the towns were all deserted by the rebels who were 3-4 days march
ahead of us. The hostile rear-guard had left Lexington 2 days before and our
cavalry was on their heels. If our cavalry did their job well, then the
possibility was there that they could hold back the enemy long
enough for us to get there and then things would happen to the hostile army.
Therefore, on the 22nd we marched very hard; also on the 23rd
until 10 o'clock in the evening when we came into camp, cooked supper and around
12 at night left again.
In the morning we came through Independence, a very pretty
town. Here our spirits were renewed because we saw the most certain signs that
there was a fight here. Dead horses, broken down wagons and dead enemies
themselves covered the path and with renewed courage we went forward again.
At 6 o'clock we came up to the Big Blue river but only to see
by the battlefield that the enemy had luckily gotten across and were in full
flight with our cavalry behind them. Since this was the only place where the
enemy could have been delayed long enough for us to arrive we gave up all
further pursuit and camped on the other shore.
After we had rested up we looked over the battlefield where the
dead still lay nearby. I was so happy to find a good pair of socks on an enemy
because I was barefoot several days already and my feet hurt me very much, so I
claimed it as good booty.
Then I went into the hospital where about 100 wounded rebels
lay and although I had seen alot of dead and wounded, I felt sorry for the poor
people which lay there on the bare ground in their blood and in great pain.
On the 25th we marched on past Kansas City where the rebels had
lost their wagon train and where our cavalry had taken 10 canons and 500
prisoners along with General Marmaduke; then through Santa Fe in Kansas, where
we camped. Here we met a part-Kansas Indian who wanted to help us drive the
On the 26th we went to Harrisonville, from where we set out on
the way back on the 29th. We suffered alot since many were without shoes, but we
had to march every day, so we had no time to wash and were so full of pests that
we almost could not help ourselves.
At the same time it began to get cold and we didn't have many
coverings and for that reason we had to maintain a big fire at night.
On the 30th we marched to Pleasant Hill from where we marched
in individual brigades. On the 31st we came through Lone Jack, on the 2nd to
Lexington again; on the 3rd we marched through Dover and came to Waverly on the
Missouri river. It had snowed the whole night and in the morning we had to crawl
through the snow. Then we went 23 miles farther in a bitter cold and came to
Glasgow on the 5th, which lay on the north side of the Missouri river and which
we crossed over the same night.
We stayed there on the 6th, on the 7th we went to Fayette where
we camped in a low area but were driven away by rain. We stayed there until the
10th; on the 8th was election day for the president.
On the 9th the paths were too poor. On the 10th Rocheport, on
the 11th to Columbia, on the 13th through Williamsburg, on the 14th through
Danville to High Hill and on the 15th to Warrentown where there is a great
institute. On the 17th we came on into St. Charles and crossed over the
From there we went to St. Louis on the 18th where we camped 4
miles from the town in camp Gamble.
To describe the suffering and deprivation of these marches is
more than my pen can stand. We had put up with extreme heat, cold, pests and
intense marches and if we had not had so many apples and enough pork we would
have starved. Barefoot, ragged and sick we marched on. I had even thrown away my
shirt in Glasgow because of the many pests, then marched like that another 180
Yet, hardly had we arrived and were paid-up and given new
clothes than all suffering was forgotten and proud and as easy going as before,
we told of our adventures in the town over a glass of cool beer.
However, this good life could not last long. General Sherman
had set out on his great march from Atlanta to Savannah and General Thomas was
left behind to watch the enemy but the enemy was too strong and our troops
pulled back slowly to Nashville. Therefore, we were ordered to Nashville as
quickly as possible as reinforcements. On the 25th we left St. Louis on boats,
came to Cairo on the evening of the 27th where we stayed until the 29th, then
went up the Ohio river, on past Mound City, Paducah and Smithland, then into the
Cumberland river on past Clarksville, to Nashville where we arrived early in the
morning on December 1st.
At the same time we were ordered off the boats and marched
through the town to the road to Franklin. 3 miles outside of the town we camped
and in the evening already heard the skirmish fire of the rebels which had
followed the retreating Union army.
Thomas had had to retreat with his troops before the superior
forces of the rebels and although he had given them a battle at Franklin where
the rebels attacked in vain 15 times, he pulled back yet again at night and the
rebel armies now lay by Nashville boastfully claiming they would be eating
breakfast in the town in several days.
The rebels under their daring General Hood were 70,000 men
strong; our army numbered about as many but there were still reinforcements on
Yet that same evening our army took their places by Nashville
surrounding a chain of hills called Cumberland Heights. Our line was over 7
miles long and both wings rested on the Cumberland river where they were
supported by the cannon boats.
The right wing was formed from the 16th Army Corps under Major
General A.J. Smith under the name Detachment of the Tennessee. In the center was
the 4th Corps under Major General Wood and the left wing under Major General
Steedman, consisting of various troops drawn together from Tennessee and
Mississippi, and made up of substitutes and conventionals from Sherman's army
and several regiments of negroes who joined General Schofield with the 23rd
We threw up rough breastworks the whole night and by the next
morning were thoroughly covered against an assault by the enemy, but the latter
made no sign of an assault and we had time to strengthen the weak places in our
fortifications. Everything was quiet now except for the usual fire of the
skirmish line which was not answered by the enemy.
On the next day the rebels tried to post batteries on the
opposite heights but were hindered from getting it done by our cannons.
Meanwhile it began to snow and freeze and the troops suffered much from the
cold, especially at the outposts which were able to retire only at night.
The rebels made no show of a siege so we prepared for our own
assault and on the morning of the 15th of December at daybreak they moved our
troops in long lines behind the fortifications from where we would pay a visit
to the enemy on the opposite heights. The plan was to direct the attention of
the rebels to the left wing and the center through strong skirmishes but to make
no direct assault. During that time the right wing should make the main assault,
attacking the enemy in the front and the flank and to gradually
dislodge it's whole line.
With brave steps our columns moved forward and soon drove back
the outposts of the enemy; the flank attacks were carried out with good luck and
by evening we had nearly gone around it's left wing. That night our advance
occupied the target and the enemy had pulled back to it's 2nd fortified line 3
miles from our location.
The chain of hills, which they still occupied (Overton Hills),
were crowned with batteries and the enemy seemed secure behind the strong
earthen walls. Although we knew that we would have hard work again the next day,
we were still of good courage because we had driven the enemy back 3 miles and
had taken 800 prisoners and 12 cannons.
Early the next morning we were set in motion again to begin the
assault; we had hardly gotten the attention of the enemy when they greeted us
with 80 cannons and our cannons did not hold back the reply; so began a
frightful cannon duel.
The 4th corps in the center tried 4 times to break through the
lines of the enemy, but every time had to go back again with casualties. Then
the rebels undertook an assault there but in vain as well. During that time our
right wing was slowly advancing and it was successful in carrying out several
fortunate flanking attacks and driving the enemy from us.
Now the battle got hotter and hotter but the enemy still held a
strong position on a hill just to our right and all efforts to drive them out
were unsuccessful. It was now three o'clock in the afternoon. Then, all at once
we heard rifle fire and Hurrah in back of the rebels; it was the others and they
were successful in surrounding the enemy. Immediately the attack was ordered
along the whole line and with joy we went forward.
The hostile cannons shot a canister salvo and although many
poor devils fell, we went forward. The lines of the rebels staggered and they
rushed in wild flight from us or stayed lying behind their fortifications
begging for mercy with pleading looks.
We followed the enemy until dark, then camped because the rain
streaming down had no respect for the shining victory. 72 cannons, 8000
prisoners, 37 flags, a mass of wagons, horses, ammunition, rifles and other
stuff was our wages and never before was such a complete victory achieved like
On the morning of the 17th we took off in pursuit again, but
because of the rains we could only go forward slowly. The rebels had thrown away
everything so they only had themselves to take along, thus we could not catch up
with the army.
On the 18th we came to Franklin and on the 22nd to Duck river,
where we had to wait until the 24th because of a problem with a pontoon bridge.
We then crossed over, went through Columbia, and came to Pulaski on the 29th. It
rained or snowed every day and we suffered much from cold and wetness.
On the 30th we came through Lawrenceborough and on the 31st we
had a very cold night; at 12 o'clock we were awakened by lovely music from the
Newport Regiment which was blowing-in the new year.
On the 2nd of January we came through Greensburg to Clifton on
the Tennessee river and here our march had reached it's end for now. The area
through which we came was sparsley populated, very mountainous but rich in
minerals, especially rich in iron ore.
Charles Ewringmann Photo
Charles Ewringmann Letter