Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

all was lost, commenced withdrawing, closely followed till nightfall, which put an end to further movements. The next day the pursuit was continued and the enemy overtaken in a gap of tbe inountains near Ringgold. Here he made a stubborn resistance but was finally forced from his strong position, the 13th Illinois bearing an honorable part in the fight.

The Illinois regiments in the maguificent charges of Mission Ridge and the co-operative struggles, were the 12th, the 19th, 22d, 26th, 27th, 35th, 420, 44th, 48th, 51st, 59th, 63, 730, 78th, 79th, 80th, 84th, 86th, 88th, 89th, 93d, 104th and 115th. The 26th lost 101 men, the 420, 45, and the 51st, 30. They were first in Sher. man's and first in Thomas' advance, and first to surmount the battery.crowned crests of the ridge.

Considering Bragg's almost impregnable position on the summits of the mountains and the daring and skillful generalship used in wresting it from his grasp, the battles in the vicinity of Chattanooga must be regarded among the most remarkable on record. Though outnumbered toward the close of the campaign, the lofty eyry in which he had perched his forces gave him decidedly the advantage. Failing to hold it the passes which it overlooked and commanded now became salient points for the farther advance of the national armies, and Chattanooga became henceforth as serviceable in the cause of the Union as it had bitherto been defiant to loyalty. The Union loss in the series of engagements, terminating in this auspicious result, was reported 5,600; that of the enemy in killed and wounded at 2,500; prisoners 6,000; artillery

40 guns.

was

Siege and Relief of Knoxville.The sequence of the campaign was the relief of Burnside at Knoxville. While in command of the department of the Ohio before it had been merged into that of the Mississippi and Grant assumed command, Burnside undertook an expedition into East Tennessee to relieve the loyal inhabitants. The people of this region had been devotedly attached to the Union and as a consequence had suffered terribly from conscription persecution and spoilation. The dungeon, bullet and halter, used to crush out their loyalty, had only served to intensify it, and Burnside

welcomed among them with every expression of delight. He immediately took possession of Knoxville, and shortly after the battle of Chicamanga Longstreet was sent with an army of 20,000 to crush him before he could be reinforced.

After severe fighting the city was closely environed and preparations made to carry it by storm. The garrison, consisting in part of the 65th and 112th Illinois, entertained no doubt of their ability to defend themselves, but their supplies were nearly es. hausted and the danger of starvation compelling a surrender was iminent. Messengers had informed Grant of their destitution and as soon as the fate of Chattanooga was decided Granger was ordered to Knoxville with a relieving force. Grant, however, on finding his command inadequate, substituted Sherman's, containing the 27th, 44th, 48th, 60th and 80th Illinois, although it was imposing a severe task on his brave but exhausted men. Leaving their surplus clothing behind to augment their speed, they had marched by land from Memphis, fought their way through the battles of Chattanooga, and now, without a moment's

respite, and without suitable apparal for the altered 'temperature of the advanced season-without a word of complaint they cheerfully set out the night after the order was issued, and by morning they had made 15 miles, and at night of the succeeding day 26 more, though the rebels had delayed their advance by burning bridges and otherwise interposing obstacles.

Longstreet had entertained hopes that starvation would induce Burnside to surrender, but after hearing of Bragg's defeat and that a relieving force was coming, determined, on the 29th of November, to carry the place by storm. A storming column accordingly made its appearance, and for hours a deadly struggle ensued. More than 1,000 in killed and wounded was the cost of the assault, but the fort was not taken. Sherman, fearing the garrison might despair of success, when his army was within 40 miles of the beleagured place, sent forward a brigade of his fleetest cavalry to announce his coming. The clatter of their hoofs were heard on the night of the 3d of December, and the beseiged army with inexpressible delight received the welcome intelligence. The march was continued till the night of the 5th, when news was received that Longstreet had raised the seige and retreated into Virginia. Sherman immediately halted the army, and after personally visiting Knoxville and having an interview with Burnside, returned with it to Chattanooga.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER LXIII.

1864ILLINOIS IN THE ATLANTA AND NASHVILLE

CAMPAIGNS.

Battles of Rocky Face Mountain, Resaca, New Hope Church, Peach

Tree Creek, Atlanta, Jonesboro', Alatoona, Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville.

Grant, the former colonel of the 21st Illinois, had now fully won the confidence of the people, and congress reviving the grade of lieutenant-general on the 2d of March, 1864, he was commissioned as the generalissimo of the nation's armies. For a long time there had existed a feeling of dissatisfaction in regard to the want of concert in the movements of the armies in the east and west. It was too frequently the case when a success occurred in one part of the field the enemy was permitted to send a relieving force from another, and thus neutralize the effect of victory. Whether this was the fault of Halleck or not, public opinion required a new head for the army, and Grant whose fitness was wisely estimated by his past successes, was raised to the high position which only Washington before him had filled.

If the task before him was not more difficult than that of his predecessor, the field of his operations was far more extensive.

Never before had one commander surveyed such a vast field of operations and looked over such a mighty array subject to his single control. From the Potomac to the Rio Grande, for 5,000 miles arose the smoke of camp fires, and the shouts of embattled hosts, evoking his leadership. To aid him in the gigantic task before him 600 vessels lined the rivers and darkened coasts for 2,500 miles, wbile 4,000 guns lay ready to send their stern summons into rebel defenses.*

As consequence of Grant's promotion, Sherman placed in command of the department of the Mississippi, comprising the armies of the Cumberland, Tennessee and Ohio. The army of the Cumberland, consisting of the 4th, 14th and 20th corps, was commanded by Thomas; the 4th corps by Howard ; and its divisions by Stanley, Newton and Wood, the 14th by Palmer, and its divisions by Davis, Johnson and Baired; the 20th corps by Hooker, and its divisions by Williams and Butterfield. The army of the Tennessee, consisting of the 15th corps and portions of the 16th and 17th, was under McPherson; the 15th corps was under Logan and its divisions under M. L. Smith, J. E. Smith,

a

was

Headle.

Osterhaus and Harrow; the 16th corps under Dodge and its divisions under Ransom, Corse and Sweeney; the 17th corps under Blair, and its divisions under C. R. Woods and Legget. The army of the Ohio was under the leadership of Schofield.

The cavalry consisted of Kilpatrick's and Garrards' divisions of the army of the Cumberland, E. McCook's brigade of the army of the Tennessee and McCook's division of the army of the Ohio.

Sherman, the central figure of the drama now about to be enacted in Georgia, had by great energy and skillful generalship acquired a prestige of great value and assistance in playing the difficult role that fell to his lot. He had won high scholastic honors in the military curriculum of West Point. As the commander of a brigade at Bull Run he exhibited noticeable soldierly skill; at Shiloh, as the head of a raw division, both Grant and Halleck declared that they were indebted to him for the success of the battle; and finally, in the well earned plaudits as the commander of a corps in the recent battle of Chattanooga, other laurels were won and his present promotion secured. His principal subordinate officers were men of repute, generals whom the stern ordeal of war had tried and proved to possess a high order of mil. itary talent.

Grant, before repairing to his new field of labor, had a long in.. terview with Sherman, in which the plans of the campaigns it was proposed to institute against Richmond and Atlanta were fully discussed. It was decided to simultaneously move from the Rapidan and Tennessee, with two great armies southward, and so vig. orously press the confederate forces both east and west that relieving parties could not be sent from one department to another. It was also settled that the campaigns should commence about the first of May, and Sherman accordingly set out from his winter quarters around Chattanooga, with an army of near 100,000 men

Johnson, who assumed command after Bragg's ill-starred campaign, confronted him with an army of some 60,000 men, consisting of 3 corps under Polk, Hardee, and Hood. To compensate for his want of numbers he had selected and fortified his position, and the national army, as it followed him into Georgia, was forced to keep open a long line of communications, which greatly reduced the number of men available for the field. His army ay at Dalton, so strongly fortified that an attack in front was impossible. Barring his approaches in this direction was Rocky Face Mountain, here cloven by Mill Creek, on the banks of which the railroad found a passage to the town. This narrow defile, the only gateway to the rebel position, was artificially flooded and swept by artillery placed on its rocky apaulments, while inaccessible spurs, frowning with batteries protected his flanks.

and 254 guns.

Battle of Rocky Face Mountain.-Sherman now commenced that series of movements which won for him the appellation of the “Great flanker," and by which he proposed to turn Johnson's craggy citadel and compel him to fight outside of its impregnable fastnesses. Resaca is situated 18 miles farther southward on the railroad, and for this purpose McPherson was sent on a westward detour through Ship and Snake Gaps to cut off the confederate communications at that point. To cover this movement Thomas entered the Mill Creek Gap, and on the 8th and 9th of May, 1864, made a bold push for the summit of the mountain, the 420, 44th, 51st, 59th, 79th, 88th, 89th and 107th Illinois, fighting with great deter: mination, but without dislodging the enemy. His attention was, however, diverted from McPherson, who unmolested arrived within a few miles of Resaca.

Battle of Resaca.-A reconnoisance, however, showed that the town was too strong to be carried, Johnson having provided for such contingency by sending thither troops at the first intimation of danger. It was designed not only to make the enemy retreat southward by getting on his base of supplies, but to have MCPherson strike him on the flank and the rest of the army in the rear after he had been dislodged from his position. McPherson being unable to accomplish his part of the programme, all the remaining forces, with the exception of Howard's corps, wbich was left to watch Dalton, were sent to bis aid, and Johnson, seeing his position was no longer tenable, suddenly evacuated it and fell back to Resaca. Sherman finding him strongly fortified, determined to institute another flank movement, and turn him out of it. For this purpose on the 14th he pontooned the Ostenaula, which crosses the railroad south of Resaca, and on the 15th Sweeney's division and a force of cavalry were sent to break the railroad be. hind Calhoun and Kingston. Simultaneously, McPherson's, Thomas and Schofield's forces assaulted the right and centre of the rebel line. The former driving Polk from his position, planted his artillery on commanding heights, and swept the confederate bridge over the river, while Sweeney, unmolested, crossed farther down the stream. The crossing of the stream, as is usually the case in exposed situations, was attended with a number of bril. liant incidents. A: Dodge's corps moved up to Lay's ferry a heavy fire was opened upon them from the opposite bank to prevent its crossing. Six companies of the 66th Illinois and 81st Ohio were sent across in pontoons to dislodge them, during which a storm of bullets was encountered, toppling many of them over into the water, and ruefully singing their requiems as they disappeared beneath the waves. Undaunted by the loss of tbeir com. rades, they gained the shore, and charging up the bank, soon drove the enemy from his position. The next day and succeeding night the fight was renewed. Hooker, driving the enemy from several points, captured 4 of bis guns and a large number of pris

A short time after midnight the enemy gave way and retreated across the Ostenaula, leaving Resaca the prize of the in. vading army. In the several engagements our loss amounted to some 5,600, that of the confederates being much less, as they fought behind breastworks.

The Illinois regiments present were the 27th, 420, 44th, 48th, 51st, 520, 59th, 60th, 64th, 75th, 80th, 84th, 86th, 88th, 89th, 92d, 98th, 101st, 1020, 104th, 105th, 107th, i11th, 112th, 115th and 127th. Outnumbering the troops of any other single State, the victory was largely an Illinois triumph. On one occasion our men had been ordered back, which evoked exultant shouts from the enemy, who supposed we were repulsed. The color-bearer of the 127th Illinois, becoming exasperated, and, regardless of danger, returned to an embrasure and defiantly flaunted his standard in

oners.

« AnteriorContinuar »