On the morning of July 22d it was ascertained that the enemy had retired from his fortified position in our front. The skirmishers advanced into the suburbs of Atlanta, and our lines were also advanced to the works vacated by the enemy, which were soon reversed and strengthened. Some new movement of our rash antagonist was evidently in progress, but of its nature we could gather no information. General Sherman, however, penetrated Hood's design, and the appearance of the enemy upon our left flank was coincident with the extension of our lines, by the prompt movement of the Sixteenth Corps from its reserve position. No time was allowed for throwing up defenses. The rebels pushed forward and engaged the newly formed lines, evidently disappointed to find our flank protected by so large a (p214) force, at the same time assaulting the works of the Seventeenth Corps with great impetuosity. The roar and din of battle raged along the lines from Decatur to the right of the Seventeenth Corps.
Unfortunately, in the formation of the lines of the Sixteenth Corps, a gap was left at its right, into which General McPherson rode, with his staff, in superintending the disposition of the troops, and before he was aware of the position, the rebel line advanced, preceded by the skirmishers. Before he could escape he was fired upon, one of the shots taking effect in his body and another in his horse. He fell lifeless from his saddle, and the horse sped riderless to the rear. The news of his death was not made known to the troops till the next day, and for a time was known only in official circles. The announcement of his death disturbed even the equanimity of General Sherman, from whose presence he had departed but a short time previous. Instantly recovering from the momentary shock produced by the sad event, he issued orders to General Logan to assume command of the Army of the Tennessee and direct the movement of the troops.
The pressure upon our lines had now become so great that they were forced to yield on the left, the Sixteenth Corps falling back steadily, contesting every inch of ground manfully. The contest raged in aggravated fierceness along the lines of (p215) the Seventeenth Corps, the enemy pressing upon and leaping over the works, when the occupants, refusing to yield, leaped upon the other side and continued an almost hopeless resistance with super-human valor. Blood flowed in torrents, both parties sustaining severe losses, that of the enemy being fearful to contemplate, as viewed after the battle.
Such forces as could be spared from the lines were ordered from the Fifteenth Corps to the scene of conflict, and moved forward as rapidly as possible to stem the tide of battle that threatened to involve the entire Army of the Tennessee in rout and ruin. The lines of the Twenty-third Corps were weakened to afford assistance, and by the most desperate efforts the enemy was finally forced from the field, leaving large numbers of his dead and wounded, with a thousand prisoners, in our hands. Our loss had been severe in killed and wounded, and a number at least equal to those captured by our troops fell into the hands of the enemy.
In the midst of the conflict the Division Hospitals in the rear were suddenly ordered to remove to a place of safety, and a scene of activity was presented such as we had never witnessed before. In half an hour after receipt of the order, the sick and wounded, and all the hospital equipage were en route to the rear of the centre. (p216)
Failing to turn our left flank, Hood next attempted to penetrate the lines of the Fifteenth Corps. The line immediately on the left of the railroad had been weakened, and a gap left for the entrance of the enemy at that point.
The result of this blunder was disastrous to the left of Smith's Division and the right of Harrow's. Like a gate upon its hinges, the line was turned from the works by an enfilading fire from the flanking column, constantly strengthened by the force advancing from the front and pouring over the works abandoned by its lines. Thus Smith's Division was driven from the entrenchments, and De Grasse's Battery of 20-pounder Parrott guns fell into the hands of the enemy. The same fate befell the First Brigade of Harrow's Division, commencing with our Regiment, which was forced from the works by companies. The Brigade was rallied, and a charge made for the re-occupation of the line, but not being supported by the troops on the right the works could not be held.
On the second withdrawal of our line, the Second Brigade, having repulsed the assault in their front, formed in line at a right angle with the works, with a portion of the command, opened an enfilading fire upon the enemy's lines, and checked the advance of the flanking column, while the battery, to the left, poured in a storm of shells that forced the foe to retire from the (p217) ground, leaving our works to be re-occupied without opposition.
In the desperate struggle of the 22d of July Hood sustained a loss of not less than ten thousand, in killed, wounded and prisoners, while ours did not exceed four thousand. Many brave officers and men sealed with their blood their devotion to their country. But none was so much lamented by the army at large as our beloved commander, Major General James B. McPherson. The cheers with which Generals Sherman and Logan were received the next day, as they rode along the lines, were tempered with sincere sorrow for the loss of one whom all loved. His eulogy is already written in the hearts of the brave men who followed him to battle, and who now cherish his memory as a precious treasure. Nor did the army under his command alone lament his death. All felt that a great and good man had been offered upon the alter of his country, in a sacred cause; and the news of General McPherson's death carried sorrow to thousands of homes in which his services had been gratefully appreciated. He rests in the soil of the old homestead in Ohio, and under the shade of the orchard trees beneath which he passed the hours of his boyhood. In peace let him rest, for his is an undying fame.
The following lists of casualties in the Regiment includes all occurring up to this date in front of Atlanta: (p218)
Company A -- Killed: John A. Daughters, Richard Doyle. Wounded: Frank F. Shaw. Captured: John G. Little, James N. Reynolds, Edward Richardson, Thomas Stewart.
Company C -- Wounded: Jacob Beekman, George Hedrick, Elias B. Reniker, John Scott, William H. Stewart. Captured: John Barton.
Company D -- Killed: Robert T. Little, Harvey E. Scott. Wounded: Richard M. Cloud. Captured: Sergeant David Laing, William H. Cook, William C. Comer.
Company E -- Captured: Sergeant Hiram A. L. Green, William Bray, John Donavan, Jesse Frances, Harrison B. Heiner, Robert Hardwick, Hezekiah K. Linthicum, Thomas B. Poe, Jefferson Rains, Thomas E. Williams.
Company F -- Killed: Corporal Lawrence Parks, Jesse J. Jordan. Wounded: Peter H. Walton. Captured: William H. Bowen, Baanah T. Birt, Ephraim Behner, John McKeehan, William R. McGinley.
Company G --Killed: Archibald Gardner, James W. Moulden. Wounded: James Lister, died October 2d; Amos Rash. Captured: Captain James Huston, First Lieutenant Robert Alfont, Corporal Elijah Lunsford, Corporal Dezra Schroy, John Cottrell, James Dunham, Joseph Shaffer.
Company H -- Wounded: Benjamin Cohee, died August 25th. Captured: Corporal William (p219) C. Roland, George Ammons, Robert Chandler. Wounded: William Gale, Huston Jones, James M. Lunsford, John A. Robertson, John T. Robertson, Jesse Vanzant, died at Florence, S. C., February 14th, 1865.
Company I -- Wounded: Second Lieutenant James H. Weaver, died August 25th; Joseph Wedrick. Captured: Zenas M. Hines, died at Millen, Ga., November 3d.
Company K -- Wounded: Isaiah Coleman, Samuel Musser, Richard Reed, died August 8th. Captured: First Lieutenant John M. Godown, Sergeant Horace B. Franklin, Sergeant Lucius T. Barbour, Corporal Stephen W. Chase, James W. Fitzgerald, Henry C. Gillespie, died in prison; John W. Jones, George Meyer.
Lieutenant Weaver was shot through the body, on retiring from the field. He was conveyed to one of the adjacent skirmish pits, when the approach of the enemy compelled his attendants to leave him. On re-occupying the works he was conveyed to the hospital. After three days of intense suffering, he died as he had lived, commending himself and family to the care of Him in whose hands are all issues of life.
Harvey E. Scott was shot through the lower jaw and tongue, preventing all utterance. When removed to the hospital we found him in great suffering, which nothing but death could alleviate. The scene presented on that night will never be (p220) forgotten. Amid the dead and dying, at the midnight hour, we searched for familiar faces, and on finding Harvey E. Scott, already suffocating from the swollen and mutilated member, he threw his arms affectionately around us, in token of this gratitude for this last visitation. Who shall describe the deep feelings of the heart, aroused by that strong embrace of the dying man! All the deep yearnings of the soul for loved ones far away were expressed in that one moment. Soon after he passed away, a noble sacrifice for his country.
Lawrence parks was struck five times, while attempting to rally his comrades, as they retired the last time. Two of the wounds were mortal, and he died on the field during the night, kindly and lovingly attended by his afflicted brother, and calmly passed down into the valley of death. At the midnight hour he was committed to rest on the field of battle.
James W. Moulden and Archibald Gardner were also buried in the stillness of that solemn night, with a brief funeral service. Such scenes will linger in memory while life shall last, as the most impressive of all the sad events of the war. Peace be to the memory of those noble men who perished on that memorable day. (p221)