Chapter XV

Battle of Resaca

On the morning of May 13th the troops advanced from their fortified position upon the enemy, who was entrenched on a low range of hills north of Resaca, and about six miles distant.  The cavalry met the enemy, and in the skirmish that ensued General Kilpatrick was severely wounded, and conveyed to the rear. Our forces formed in line of battle, on the Rome road, running north and south, about two miles west of Resaca, the Sixteenth Corps on the right, and the First, Second and Fourth Divisions of the Fifteenth Corps on the left, in the order named.  The First Brigade formed the extreme left of the right wing, the Regiment on the right of the Brigade.

At two o'clock P. M. the order was given to move forward, and the line advanced in beautiful order, up a gentle ascent, from the summit of which the outposts of the enemy were visible.  Companies B and C were detailed as skirmishers, (p189) and ordered forward.  The enemy opened upon our lines with artillery, and a few shots took effect among the troops.  But the skirmish line was pushed across the intervening fields and up the hillside occupied by the enemy, and he hurried away with his artillery, abandoning the outer line of defenses, and retiring to the hill beyond.

Our lines were again advanced, presenting an imposing scene as they moved down the hill, and emerging from the woods, stretched across the waving fields of grain in beautiful order, and disappeared in the belt of timber that hid the enemy from view.  With a brief halt at the farther edge of the woods, the order for advance was again given.  The line advanced, at once drawing a murderous fire from the enemy, posted on the hillside beyond a low field, through which ran a deep creek.  A portion of the line halted in the dense undergrowth that skirted the field, but the Regiment advanced into the open ground, where the troops suffered severely, and were finally forced to retire under cover, whence a well directed fire could be returned upon the enemy returned upon the enemy.  The first line held this position till night, when it was relieved by the Second Brigade.

The Regiment sustained a greater loss than any other that was engaged, losing forty men in killed and wounded.  Major Baldwin and Adjutant (p190) Parks had their horses shot under them, on entering the field.  The troops exhibited great coolness under the most galling fire. The wounded were continually coming to the rear, and others were falling, mortally wounded or dead, in the open field.  Leonard Flanigan, of Company H, had received a slight wound in his hand, and while wrapping his handkerchief round the injured part was struck a second time, and instantly killed. Our shoemaker, who had recently returned to duty with his Company, was wounded in both arms before he had fired a shot.  In removing the dead at night we were fired upon by our own pickets.  The early part of the night was occupied in the burial of the dead.  Under cover of the darkness they were brought from the field, and laid side by side in the woods, till preparations could be made for interment.

The most remarkable event of the day was the death of Captain Peoples, of Company E, who had long had a presentiment that he would be killed in the first battle in  which he should be engaged.  This idea had obtained possession of his mind, during the presence of the Regiment in front of Dalton, in February previous, and had continued to control his thoughts.  As he was leading his Company through the belt of timber, just before encountering the terrible fire of the enemy, he said to Sergeant B. F. Perce, "I shall (p191) be killed in this battle, but I am ready." The line moved forward into the open field, and the Captain and Sergeant lay down near each other, to protect themselves from the fire; and while in the act of raising his head a ball struck him in the centre of the forehead, passing entirely through the head.  The Sergeant and others of the Company brought the body from the field after darkness had set in, and washed it for burial.  The grave was in readiness at the still hour of midnight,  and we committed the precious dust to rest, with a few broken utterances of grief and a prayer for the afflicted wife in her far-off home.  The stars kept vigil during this solemn burial, which forcibly reminded us of that of Sir John Moore.

The following is a full list of casualties in the Regiment:

Company A -- Wounded: George W. Robinson, died May 16th.
Company B -- Wounded: Marion Edwards.

Company C -- Wounded: Joseph Grey.
Company D -- Killed: John Shigley.  Wounded: Captain Benjamin F. Price, Sergeant John H. Shultz, William H. Parcells, James W. Sines, William H. Sleeth.
Company E -- Killed: Captain Thomas N. Peoples.  Wounded: Thomas F. Carter, died May 31st; James Donovan, Robert A. Richardson.
Company F -- Wounded: Peter Strow, died June 25th.
Company G -- Wounded: Alfred Dobbins, Andrew Forgey, died May 16th; Hugh Forgey, died June 9th; Peter Shaffer, Hiram P. Shaffer, Aaron Wright, died May 14th.
Company H -- Killed: William H. Crane, Leonard Flanigan, John Stader.  Wounded: Robert Gaff, Daniel A. Green.
Company I -- Killed: Henry Callahan.  Wounded: Sergeant William H. Sparrow, George W. Long, William H. Robinson.
Company K -- Killed: John J. Comparet, John Rogers.  Wounded: Sergeant Nicholas Miller, Joseph R. Chase, William Connell, Martin Frederickson, James Hays, Conrad Hoffmeyer, Levi Spitler, died June 9th; Edward Taylor, Quicy O. Whitham.

While these events were transpiring on the right, our forces were getting in position upon the left, in readiness for action the following day.  The enemy concentrated on Johnson's Division of the Fourteenth Corps, and pressed it back some distance, but reinforcements from the Twentieth Corps arrived in time to check the foe, and regain the lost ground, after a severe engagement, in which both sides lost heavily.  On the evening of the 14th Morgan L. Smith's Division charged the strong position of the enemy in their front, and drove him from his works.  The rebels endeavored to regain the ground, but failed, suffering (p193) severely in the attempt.  The Brigade was ordered up as a support, but our aid was not required.  On the 15th no advance was made by our lines on the right, and no fighting, except that of the skirmish lines, occurred.  The Regiment was not again placed on the front line, remaining in reserve during the last two days we were in the face of the enemy. On our left, Hooker renewed the battle early in the morning, driving the enemy back, occupying his position and capturing several pieces of artillery.  In the meantime the Sixteenth Corps was ordered across the Oustanaula to threaten the enemy's line of communication, while Schofield was moving around the left flank to the rear of Johnston's position.  Hopes were entertained of capturing a considerable portion of his right wing, when, on the night of May 15th, he withdrew his army across the river, under a feint by his centre.  About midnight he moved his lines forward, as if intending an assault of our works, on the left of the Fourteenth Corps, when a fearful cannonading commenced, which shook the earth and indicated the progress of a terrible battle.  This was accompanied by the continuous roll of musketry, denoting the engagement of the infantry in our works with the advancing lines of the enemy.  For more than an hour the roar and rattle continued, accompanied by the yelling and cheering of the troops.  Of all the terrible scenes (p194) presented upon the vast theatre of war, nothing is more awfully impressive than a battle at midnight.  A feeling of inexpressible awe was produced by the events of that last night at Resaca.

Morning came, revealing the fact that Johnston had made good use of the night in removing his army across the Oustanaula, and immediate pursuit was ordered.  General Dodge had not effected the design for which he was ordered across the river, having met resistance in his effort to reach the railroad, which he was unable to overcome.  Johnston, therefore, was enabled to retreat in good order, with all his munitions of war.  The last train from Rescca was on the point of leaving the depot, when a portion of the Twenty-sixth Illinois, deployed as skirmishers, entered the town, and nearly succeeded in effecting its capture.  The train moved across the river, and the bridge was immediately fired and destroyed.  Resaca was ours, and fairly won, but the enemy had escaped.

The army was at once put in motion, the right wing crossing the river at the ferry below Resaca, and camping, on the night of the 16th, on the Rome road west of Calhoun, while the centre followed the line of Johnston's retreat.  Bate's Division of rebel cavalry formed the right flank of the retreating army, in advance of our right wing.  During the 17th the rear of this force was constantly kept in view of our advance, and some (p195) skirmishing occurred during the day, causing occasional halts.  A brisk engagement between Wood's Division of  the Fourth Corps and the rear guard of the enemy took place late in the afternoon of the 17th.

On the 18th the right wing reached Adairsville, forming a junction with the Fourth Corps, under command of Major General Howard, whose advance skirmishing with the enemy at this place in the morning.  At Adairsville we again diverged from the main line of retreat pursued by Johnston, and moved through a wild and rugged region for a distance of 5 miles, emerging, through a narrow gap, into a cultivated dale of great beauty. A large plantation, bearing the name of "Woodland," and owned by a wealthy Englishman, who claimed British citizenship, lay embowered in the midst of a vast region of country similar to that through which we had passed.  Barnsley's residence was an elegant mansion, thought not entirely finished, and the grounds surpassed in magnificence all we had ever seen.  Flowers in  infinite variety, cooling shades, and refreshing fountains adorned this lovely spot, in striking contrast with the barrenness that surrounded it.  Here a skirmish had occurred during the day, in which Colonel Earl, of the Second Georgia Cavalry, was killed.  We camped on the plantation, and made free use of the fences for fuel, and whatever (p196) else was found convenient was summarily disposed of. From accounts found in the mansion it seemed that this man had amassed his fortune by long continued pursuit of trade in cotton at Savannah, whence he had retired to this secluded vale to enjoy the benefits of his vast wealth.  At that distance in the interior, he had adorned his grounds with the beauties of nature and art, and to give a foreign air to the place, he had collected a heterogeneous mass of ragged rocks from the sea-shore of distant lands, and placed them in his grounds to set off the cultured beauty of this country residence of an aristocratic Englishman.  Again we almost forgot the sad scenes of war, in the midst of this blooming paradise.

In the skirmish that had occurred here, Wilder's Brigade of cavalry, consisted of the Fourth Michigan, Seventeenth and Seventy-second Indiana, and Ninety-eight Illinois, was compelled to retire before a superior force of the enemy, nearly two hundred of the Fourth Michigan being captured.  The rebel Colonel Earle was killed at the first fire, on leading his regiment forward.

On the 19th we resumed the march and reached Kingston, where we remained till the 28th.  A skirmish also took place here on that morning, resulting in a loss to the enemy of eighty men, killed and wounded, ours being very slight.  Kingston is fifty-nine miles from Atlanta, twenty (p197) from Rome, and seventy-nine from Chattanooga, by railroad.  In reaching this place, from the latter point, we had marched about eighty-five miles.  The enemy had been forced back fifty miles in less than two weeks, and was still retreating toward Atlanta.  Our success was encouraging, and vigorous efforts were in progress for the further prosecution of the campaign.  The occupation of Rome, by Davis' Division of the Fourteenth Corps, was coincident with our arrival at Kingston.  The enemy retired beyond the Etowah, burning the bridges, except one at Kingston, over which the right wing crossed.  Thomas advanced the centre to the river, at the railroad crossing, and the left occupied a position above.  The army paused to await the arrival of supplies, the railroad being already repaired from Resaca.

On the 23d the pursuit was resumed, the right wing crossing the fertile valley of the Etowah, trampling under foot the rich harvests designed to feed the rebel army, and entered a broad belt of pine forest, from which we emerged late in the afternoon, and camped on the Eulaula Creek.  The following day we moved through Van Wert, the former capital of Polk County, and camped among the pines, on a flinty, barren soil, and reached Pumpkin Vine Creek, on the 25th.  The enemy was again in position, at Dallas, to resist our progress, and disposition of our forces was (p198) made for offensive operations.  On the morning of the 25th the troops moved forward, leaving our Brigade to guard the train of the Division, with which we followed in the evening, occupying the entire night in reaching Dallas, where we arrived at eight o'clock A.M., May 27th. (p199)

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