Archive for the ‘Chickamauga timeline’ Category

September 15, 1863. “McPherson’s corps has joined McCook on the right…”

September 15, 2015


From the diary of Lt. Robert B. Davidson, the 35th Ohio, 

Sept. 15, 1863.

Weather hot.  we started at seven (7) AM and encamped at twelve (12) noon, after a march of four miles.  Water is plenty and good all over this country but we are unfortunately not close to a good spring this time.  This is a very fertile country, especially the valleys.  The finest corn I ever saw in these valleys.  MY diarrhea is worse today.  It is reported that McPherson’s Corps has joined McCook on the right, and Burnside has joined us on the left.  The reserve corps had moved up.  Genl. Steadman ( commander in the reserve corps) has come up with his division.

The rumors concerning McPherson and Burnside are interesting. Of these, only the news about Steedman was accurate; leading elements of the Reserve Corps reached Rossville the previous day.

Captain William A. Boyd, the 84th Indiana, Steedman’s division of the Reserve corps, describes his march through Chattanooga to Rossville on the 14th: 

Near noon we passed over a part of Lookout [Mountain] high above the river overlooking the city of Chattanooga, and the beautiful valleys and hills adjacent. We left the town to the left and halted at Rossville Georgia, six miles to the east of south. Rossville is entirely untenanted, and never held more than six or eight log homes. The last one of them was the former residence of the Cherokee Chief John Ross. A large cool spring issues from the base of the mountain in rear of the house.

September 15,

We made a shelter of the bushes and limbs of trees. The men had nothing but rubber blankets and the officers but little more.

Sergeant Styles Porter, of the 52nd Ohio, was also present at Rossville on the 15th, describing some internal strife:  

Sept 15, 1863.

Still without rations, some of the boys go out to try their luck foraging, but a few carry it to excess. Then General Gordon Granger sends out a mounted squad of infantry with orders to bring in every soldier they could find. Something like a hundred are caught, about fifty of whom are brought to General Granger’s headquarters, where he had them tied to trees, with their shirts off, intending to have them whipped. When the whip was brought Granger ordered the guard to use it, but the guard refused. The excitement got up the men gathered in knots, discussing the matter. Col. Dan McCook, Major Holmes and Captain Rothacker went to General Granger and protested, with the result that the whipping was abandoned. The General and his staff would certainly have been annihilated by the infuriated soldiers had not the haughty chief let the men go without whipping. Still, to satisfy a fiendish disposition the General ordered an unusually heavy camp guard and seven roll calls a day. I have often wondered why so many of our army officers take so much pleasure in insulting and wounding the feelings of respectable men.


September 1st, 1863. “I like to be in a level country…”

September 1, 2015

William J. Carroll of the 13th Michigan, (Buell’s Brigade, Thomas J. Wood’s Division, 21st Corps) on mountains: 

Sequatchie Valley, September 1, 1863,

Dear Sister,

We had to cross the mountains to get hear and now we have another clime to get out. This valley is 75 miles long and 5 wide. We got plenty of potatoes and peaches when we first came hear but they ar gon now. I think we shall move soon. I want to get out of this valley and get away from the mountains. I like to be in a level country whair you don’t have to clime a mountain every time you move.

Meanwhile, Lt. Augustus B. Carpenter of the 19th US Regular Infantry, on guard duty at Stevenson, was marveling at the precision of the army’s movement: 

“The Rebels may give us a hard fight [at Chattanooga] but if they do they are gone. They will either be captured or scattered, and that most effectually. Gen. Rosecrans is not coming down here for no idle purpose. He is going to strike a blow here that will prove mortal to to the fond and cherished hopes of the confederacy . . .

The Chattanooga and Nashville Railroad between here and Nashville presents now a very busy scene.Trains heavily loaded come puffing into town and deposit their burden of provisions, forage, and munitions of war, and then hasten back for more. The roads are crowded with government wagons which haul the stuff off to the different commands and places of storage. Troops are moving here and there. One gazes on the scene with the feelings of the highest veneration for the mastermind who causes and controls the movements of all in this department. Everything is like clock work, order and system prevails . . .


August 26 & 27th, 1863: The General, Major and myself ‘adjourned’ and took a drink…’

August 26, 2015

From the diary of Lieutenant Robert B. Davidson, Company B, 35th Ohio Infantry, Van Derveer’s Brigade, John Brannan’s 3rd Division, 14th Army Corps, Near Bridgeport Alabama. 

August 26th 1863

Weather cool.  There has been a cool breeze all day. After breakfast this morning, Foster Webb and myself started out in the country foraging on a mule and I had a horse.  After going about five or six miles we got some potatoes and then started for camp, on the way back we got some very nice apples.  In the afternoon about 4 o’clock Alonzo Fisk, (first sergeant of our company) and myself started for the top of the hill on which we were encamped.  After a very tiresome trip up a very steep and rough hill, we were refreshed by a drink of water from a small spring which we found in a little hollow on the top of the hill.   From that spot on the hill we had a splendid view of the Tennessee River and its valley for a long distance, both up and down the river.  Looking down the valley we could see the fortifications of Bridge Port and the piers of the bridge at that place.  From there we could follow the railroad with our eyes up the south bank of the river toward Chattanooga .  Looking to the south we could see a range of very high hills in Alabama over the tops of the low range close to the river bank. On our road down the hill we amused ourselves by rolling large stones down the side of the mountain.   The air this evening is very chilly.

In addition to his daily narration of events, Lieutenant Davidson recorded his impressions of some other officers in the regiment. Here are two of the most pertinent: 

Description of the officers regiment.

Col Van Derveer – Hight about 5 feet 11 in Black hair.  Dark complexion.  Steady habits, quick tempered.  A little stoopid.  Was a lawyer.

H.V.N. Boynton, Major, Promoted to Let Col July 1863.  About 5ft 7in high Dark Hair.  Dark complexion.  Steady moral habits Pleasant agreeable disposition.  Very polite.  Was a professor in a military academy.

While Lieutenant Davidson waited on the north bank of the Tennessee River for operations to commence, Confederate General Braxton Bragg was being reinforced. 

From the diary of Captain E. John Ellis, 16th Louisiana Infantry, Daniel Adams’s Brigade, Breckinridge’s division, en route to Chattanooga:

“On the 27th of August we took the cars for Meridian.Thence we went to Mobile, thence to Montgomery, and then to West Point [Ga.] We were crowded at the latter place to such an extent that Col. Gober left a detachment of 100 men and two car loads of baggage under my charge with orders to follow the command as soon as I could procure the necessary transportation. The post commandant of West Point, a Major in rank, [but] a General in feeling, would only consent to give me three cars. Fortunately for me, Brig. Gen. Adams arrived at Midnight and on explaining my situation, he told me to take all the cars necessary for transportation of my men and baggage. I chose five box cars. The Major expostulated, the General swore at him, the Major subsided, and the General, Major and myself “adjourned” and took a drink.



August 21 and 22, 1863. “Our uncivil salutation”

August 22, 2015

From the journal of William O. Crouse, Capt. Eli Lilly’s 18th Indiana Battery, Wilder’s Brigade, writing the day after his battery’s arrival opposite Chattanooga:

August 22nd

[From Poe’s Tavern] the brigade separated, 4 guns with mountain howitzers marching south towards Chattanooga and 2 guns with 98th Ills to Harrison’s Landing. . . . The main body, marching down the valley seventeen miles to Chattanooga, took possession of the heights north of town and began shelling the city. It was a day of fasting for the citizens, and having no intelligence of our coming, were no doubt surprised by our uncivil salutation.

Surprised they were. Lilly’s shells caught Chattanoogans – soldiers and civilians alike – completely off-guard. President Davis had declared August 22nd to be a day of fasting and prayer across the Confederacy, a spiritual scourging to make up for the loss of Vicksburg and the depressing news out of Pennsylvania that summer. 

 Colonel Newton Davis of the 24th Alabama, Manigault’s Brigade, Hindman’s Division; reported that same scene in a letter home: 

Camp on Lookout Creek, August 22nd, 1863,

Dear Bettie,

Yesterday the little city of Chattanooga was in a state of excitement all day. The Yanks made their appearance very suddenly on the opposite side of the River and commenced shelling the town. The streets are always crowded with soldiers & citizens, men, women & children. You never saw such skidadling in all your life. Shopkeepers, peach & apple vendors, and speculators of all descriptions, both Jews and Gentiles, commenced running in every direction. The shelling was kept up nearly all day. I understand that four persons were killed and some seven or eight wounded, mostly citizens. One lady was killed and a little girl had her thigh broken. . . . All the floating population . . . are leaving on the trains as fast as they can get off.