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REPORT of Capt. Charles H. Vantine,
Twenty-first Ohio Infantry.

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This was provided by Willard Smith from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

AUGUST 16-SEPTEMBER 22, 1863.--The Chickamauga Campaign.
No. 44. --Reports of Maj. Arnold McMahan and Capt. Charles H. Vantine, Twenty-first Ohio Infantry. HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGIMENT OHIO VOL. INFTY., Chattanooga, Tenn., September 27, 1863.

 

I added paragraphing to make it more readable on the web. I don't know if the original was paragraphed or not. cvy

SIR:
In obedience to orders just received, I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the proceedings of my command since leaving Cave Spring, Ala.: On September 1, l863, the regiment left Cave Spring, Ala.. taking up the line of march at about 7 p.m., Lieut. Col. D. M. Stoughton being in command. Passing through Stevenson we crossed the Tennessee River the same evening, bivouacked on south side of the river until morning, going into bivouac at 1a.m. of 2d instant.

Took up line of march on morning of 2d instant at 7 o'clock; went into bivouac evening of 2d at 4 o'clock, near Bridgeport, Ala., and near foot of Big Raccoon Mountain. On 3d we crossed Big Raccoon, the companies being scattered along the mountain to help the teams up. At about 3 p.m., the teams being over, took up line of march and marched 6 miles, going into bivouac at about sundown. On the 4th instant we marched to foot of the mountain and went into bivouac about 4 p.m. On the 5th a reconnaissance was made some 2 or 3 miles into the valley to the iron-works, capturing some salt and some tobacco.

The troops composing the reconnoitering force were Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and one section of Battery G, First Ohio Volunteer Artillery. No enemy was discovered during the day. The regiment went into bivouac at 5 p.m. Company D being detached on picket, did not rejoin the command until next day. At daylight on the 6th the command was marched back to foot of Big Raccoon for knapsacks.

After getting knapsacks started back and marched until about 6 p.m., when we went into bivouac. On 7th we marched about 4 miles and reached the foot of Lookout Mountain. On 8th we crossed Lookout; the companies were scattered along the mountain to assist the train up. The train was got over at 10 p.m., when we marched to the top and went into bivouac. On the 9th we marched to the foot of the mountain and went into bivouac about 4 p.m.

On the 10th we moved from our position at the foot of Lookout and advanced slowly toward Pigeon Gap, Twenty-first being in advance, Companies F and C being deployed as skirmishers, light skirmishing being the order of the day. We reached a hill that evening within a mile or mile and one-half of the Gap. At 3 a.m. we changed position going about three-quarters of a mile to the rear of the hill occupied the evening before, the regiment being formed in the edge of a dense wood, completely concealing it from the enemy. At 6 a.m. of the 11th we changed position a short distance to the left. We lay there until 10 a.m., when we were moved to the rear to protect the wagon train from some rebel cavalry who were reported about to attack it.

While lying here we threw up a slight breastwork of rails, logs, &c. At 3 p.m. we were ordered back still farther, the corps being compelled to fall back. We marched about 2 miles to the rear and took up position in a wood on the left as support to Battery G, in double column on the center closed en masse. The artillery were firing quite rapidly, and in about half an hour we were moved still farther to the rear, marching by the left flank. Shortly after we were deployed in line of battle. After a short time we again commenced the retrograde movement, marching by the right of companies about 4 miles. At 9 p.m. we took position on the brow of a hill and went into bivouac.

Moved our position slightly on morning of 12th and formed line of battle; stacked arms. On 12th and 13th we lay in the same position taken up the morning of the 12th. On 14th changed position to the right about three-quarters of a mile. We lay in that position until the l7th, when we took up the line of march at 7 a.m. We marched to Chickamauga Creek and went into bivouac on its banks that night about dark. On 18th took up line of march at 3 p.m., marched 5 miles to the front and got into bivouac after dark. We lay there about three hours, when we were ordered back to the Chickamauga again. We reached the creek, threw out pickets, and went into bivouac by 4 a.m. of 19th.

At daylight we threw out pickets and marched back a mile, where we took position as support for Battery G; threw up breastworks of logs and stones. Lay there until 3 p.m., when we were again marched up to the front about 5 miles. Heavy fighting had been going on all day on our left. About 6 p.m. reached the battlefield, formed line of battle, and marched forward in a strip of woods about a mile. Just after entering the woods we were saluted by a volley of about ten or twelve guns. We returned the fire, when the enemy threw down their arms and fled. Lay in line of battle all night, every man on the alert. We lost 3 men wounded and 2 killed on 19th.

Next morning (20th) we were moved from our position about 9 a.m. over to the left, the enemy having made a spirited attack on that point. After changing position several times we were finally put in position on the brow of a hill as support to a battery belonging to General Brannan's division. At about 11.30 a.m. the enemy advanced on us in heavy force. We, however, held our ground until 3 p.m., when some of the Reserve Corps came up and relieved us, charging down the hill and driving the enemy in gallant style. They kept the enemy at bay for about one hour, when they fell back and we were again engaged with the enemy.

In the meantime we had thrown up a slight breastwork of logs and stone, behind which we fought until about 5 p.m., when we were relieved by some of General Brannan's division. Our ammunition was exhausted, and we could not procure any more. At about half past 5 p.m. the enemy sent up messengers to Brannan's men stating that some of them were waiting for them (our men) to cease firing in order to give themselves (i.e., the enemy) up. The firing ceased and the enemy came up, but instead of giving themselves up they fired a volley and charged up the hill, gaining possession of it entirely. The commanding officer of Brannan's troops asked that the Twenty-first should charge up and retake the hill.

After some delay one round of ammunition was procured per man from the dead and wounded. With this one round in our guns, we charged up the hill. We delivered our volley, but the enemy was in too large force, and we were forced back. Twice again, with no ammunition, we charged, with the vain hope of retaking the hill. But we were repulsed. In the meantime Brannan's men were reforming and we lay down to wait until they reorganized, intending to make one grand charge, and if possible retake the hill. While we were waiting a column was observed filing in a small ravine on our right flank.

Supposing they were our men (they being dressed in blue jeans) we took no notice of them until they formed line of battle facing toward us. They formed and commenced advancing on us; when asked who they were, said they were "Jeff. Davis' men;" supposed they were some of J. C. Davis' division. When they were within a few rods of us they called upon us to "surrender," "lay down," &c. A portion of the men jumped up to retreat toward General Brannan's division, when they poured in a heavy volley, wounding and killing a great many. A few of the men of the Twenty-first who escaped formed, and were led to Rossville by Colonel Walker, of the Thirty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

On the morning of the 21st we collected all that could be found, reported to Colonel Sirwell, our brigade commander, and took position on the left of the Seventy-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. On the 21st, together with the rest of the brigade, we took up position on a hill near Rossville, where we lay until about 12 m., when we were withdrawn and marched to Chattanooga, reaching our present camp on the 22d. Since then we have done nothing but work on the fort, &c.

Of the officers and men of this command I have only to say that they have done their duty. We ask no higher praise than that. Every man fought as if the fate of the nation rested on his individual efforts. Lieut. Col. D. M. Stoughton was wounded about 3.30 p.m. on the 20th. A cooler, braver, or more patriotic officer than he never drew sword. You will see by the official report of killed, wounded, and missing that we lost some 272 officers and men.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES H. VANTINE, Captain Co. I, Comdg. 21st Ohio Vol. Infantry.
Capt. CHAS. B. GILLESPIE, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Brigade.