previous next

No. 136. report of Lieut. Col. Maris R. Vernon, Seventy-eighth Illinois Infantry.

Hdqrs. Seventy-Eighth Illinois Vol. Infantry, Jonesborough, Ga., September 5, 1864.
Captain: In compliance with orders, I have the honor to submit the following report, showing the operations of the Seventy-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in the campaign commencing May 2 and terminating with the battle of Jonesborough, September 1, and the capture of Atlanta, September 2, 1864:

The regiment broke camp at Rossville, Ga., on the 2d day of May, with 23 commissioned officers and 516 enlisted men, Col. Carter Van Vleck commanding. The first day's march brought us to Ringgold, where we remained until the morning of the 7th, when, in the advance upon Tunnel Hill, we first struck the enemy, and after a slight skirmish occupied his works. On the 8th the regiment formed a part of the column that carried the first ledge of hills in front of Rocky Face. The accompanying exhibit1 gives a list of the killed and wounded in the regiment in each engagement and skirmish during the campaign. On the 9th the regiment acted as support to an assault made upon Rocky Face. On the 12th moved to the right, passing through Snake Creek Gap; next confronting the enemy at Resaca on the 14th. 15th, we put up our first line of fortifications. 16th, the enemy having fallen back from Resaca, the regiment marched with the division, General Jefferson C. Davis commanding, upon Rome, some forty miles due south. On the afternoon of the 17th skirmished with the enemy, driving him to his [688] main line of fortifications before the city. On the morning of the 18th, the enemy having evacuated the place in the night, we went into camp, and remained until the 23d. In the capture of Rome, a considerable amount of stores fell into our possession. Again advancing, we crossed the Etowah, and marched in a southeasterly course, coming up with the enemy on the evening of the 26th at Dallas. The morning of the 27th we moved into position half mile north of the town. At 12 m. changed front, and advanced half mile to the east. The evening of the 28th moved one mile to the left and fortified. 29th, the regiment briskly engaged on the skirmish line. 31st, at 10 p. m. again moved to the left. June I, under a scorching sun, the whole division moved some five miles to the left, and went into position, relieving a division of the Fourth Corps, the Seventy-eighth on the front line. The enemy's lines being very close here, we had several casualties. On the night of the 3d, the regiment being on skirmish line, repelled an advance of the enemy. On the 4th we again moved to the left. The enemy falling back the night of the 5th, we passed through his works on the following morning, and moved in the direction of Acworth, going into camp some two miles to the southwest of it. After three days rest we again moved out, and next skirmished with the enemy on the 11th. On the 13th Company B, Lieutenant Woodruff commanding, advanced the skirmish line, capturing 6 prisoners. The skirmishing here for several days was kept up with great vigor on both sides. Scarcely a day passed but that some were killed or wounded. In the advance of the line on the 19th it was found the enemy had taken to his main works on Kenesaw Mountain and around Marietta. Our line was formed at the base of the mountain, where we remained until the night of the 25th, subjected to a continuous shelling from the rebel batteries on Kenesaw, which was alike annoying by day and unseasonable by night. After a night's march the morning of the 26th found us in rear of the Fourth Corps, facing to the east. On the 27th the regiment participated in that evermemorable assault upon the enemy's works around Kenesaw. By reference to list of killed and wounded you will see that it sustained a heavy loss. Of the commissioned officers, First Lieut. George A. Brown, Company A, was mortally wounded, and died three days after. Capt. William B. Akins, Company K, slight wound in the head by piece of shell, and Capt. Thomas L. Howden, Company G, slight in head and back by shell. Though the enemy's works were not carried, yet the line in which the Seventy-eighth advanced held its ground, and intrenched itself less than 100 yards from the enemy's main line of fortifications. Under cover of night our works were strengthened, and we were able to hold them against a charge made by the enemy in the night of the 29th. We occupied this position until the morning of the 3d, when the enemy having again fallen back, we started in pursuit, coming up with his rear guard toward night in a strong position, and well fortified. After the day's march a part of the night was devoted to intrenching. On the 5th we were again following up the enemy's retreating columns, skirmishing all day, and capturing several prisoners. In the evening we went into position, and fortified in sight of, and within musketrange of, his strong defenses on the Chattahoochee. On the 9th the enemy withdrew across the river, and on the following day the regiment went into camp, remaining until the 17th, when it crossed, and advanced one mile in the direction of Atlanta. 18th, moved forward two miles. 19th, crossed Peach Tree Creek at 5 p. m., to [689] support of the Third Brigade; advanced under a flank fire from the enemy, and soon entered into a spirited engagement, lasting until dark, when we put up fortifications within 200 yards of their works. 20th, a continuous fire was kept up to-day on the enemy from our main line, the regiment expending 17,000 rounds of ammunition. The result was he abandoned his works before sunset. 22d, advanced to the Atlanta and Turner's Ferry road, striking it three miles to the west of Atlanta; put up works and remained in this position until the 28th, when the regiment, with the division, made a reconnaissance to Turner's Ferry, skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry nearly the whole distance, at one time charging and routing a vastly superior number, dismounted and posted behind good defensive works. 29th, advanced the line one mile in front of the Fifteenth Corps and put up fortifications. 30th, again moved to the right and again fortified. 31st, made a reconnaissance to the front, advancing over one mile; then returning to our trenches we rested until the 3d [August].

August 4, the right was again advanced to-day, the regiment going on the skirmish line at dark. 5th, drove the enemy's pickets back over half a mile, reaching the Sandtown road. Again, on the 8th. at 11 p. m., the regiment advanced to a position in front of the main line and erected works supporting Captain Barnett's battery, in sight of the enemy's lines, and within short range of four of his heavy forts, mounting from four to six guns each. The regiment was relieved from this position on the evening of the 10th and ordered back to the second line of works. On the lth a calamity, the most melancholy of the campaign, occurred to the regiment. Its beloved commander and honored chief, Col. Carter Van Vleck, received a mortal wound, from which he died on the evening of the 23d, following. A stray shot from the enemy nearly a mile distant winged its way over two lines of works, selecting for its victim one of the bravest and best of men, the ball striking just above the left eye and penetrating the brain. In his death the regiment lost a faithful commander and the army a brave and valuable officer. No better soldier or more devoted patriot ever drew sword in defense of his country than Col. Carter Van Vleck. While we here grieve for his loss, a family, before the most happy, now in melancholy mourns his death. Capt. William D. Ruddell, also on the 11th of August, received a serious wound in the back of the head from musketball. On the 12th the regiment moved with the brigade one mile to the right, going into position, relieving a division of the Twentythird Corps. We remained here doing our regular picket duty until the 26th, when preparations were made for another move, changing the entire front of the army. At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 27th the whole command was in motion, moving to the right and toward the enemy's rear. 28th, we were on the march again this morning at daylight; at 3 p. m. crossed the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad some six miles west of East Point. Passing one mile to the south of the railroad, bivouacked for the night and fortified. 29th, the regiment advanced out two miles due east on a reconnaissance and to protect the operations of destroying the railroad; returned to the brigade at 4 p. m. 30th, we marched to-day in a southerly course a distance of ten miles, occupying a position at night three miles east of the Macon railroad and some six miles north of Jonesborough, the regiment going on the skirmish line at sunset. 31st, advanced a distance of two miles to the main wagon [690] road leading from Atlanta to Jonesborough and fortified our position, the skirmish line reaching the Macon railroad.

September 1 at 10 a. m. the whole command was on the march toward Jonesborough, and at 3 p. m. we were formed in line of battle in front of and about half a mile from the enemy's fortified position on the railroad, north of the town, the Seventy-eighth Illinois and Ninety-eighth Ohio forming the front line, the enemy's works presenting to us two fronts running at right angles to each other, with one battery in the angle and another farther to his left, the center of our line being opposite the angle. The order was given to advance to a knoll some 300 yards in front of his works, which was done under a severe fire of shot and shell. Resting here a few minutes, the men lying flat on the ground, the order was again given to advance, quick time, and commence firing. As the men rose up and passed over the crest of the knoll a terrible fire of shell, grape-shot, and musketry was opened upon the line. Major Green was among the first to receive a wound, which compelled him to leave the field. The men were now falling at every step, yet their brave comrades pressed steadily forward, ready to meet death rather than defeat; in a few minutes the left (as the line came up obliquely) reached and passed over the enemy's works, forcing him to surrender and pass to our rear. In front of the right wing he continued to work his artillery with terrible effect, until, either killed or borne down at the point of the bayonet, he fired his last piece, doublecharged with grape, when my two right companies, A and D, were less than ten paces from it, and two-thirds of the regiment inside his works; but at last, being overpowered, he yielded a stubborn resistance. The victory was complete. We carried his entire line of works from where the left first struck it to the crest of a ridge, where his line made another angle, a distance greater than the front of the regiment, capturing I battery of 4 guns and several hundred prisoners, including 1 brigadier-general and a number of field and Tine officers. The loss in the regiment was very heavy, 13 killed on the field and 69 wounded; 3 died on the following morning. Of the officers Capt. R. M. Black, Company D, and First Lieut. D. W. Long, Company G, were both killed, gallantly leading their companies in the charge. Maj. George Green received a severe wound in the left arm. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of both officers and men in this engagement. To particularize would be invidious where all did so well. The second line, the Thirty-fourth Illinois and One hundred and twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, now coming up, held the position against a fierce endeavor by the enemy to retake the guns. The regiment was now formed in the rear, and during the night the wounded were carried back and the dead collected and buried on the field where they fell. On the following morning, September 2, we marched into Jonesborough, and soon after received the news of the evacuation of Atlanta by the enemy and the glorious termination of the campaign.

In conclusion, I commend to an honorable mention the officers and men of the regiment. The battles, sieges, marches, and privations they have endured, through heat and through storm, entitles them to the just gratitude and honor of their country.

I am, captain, with much respect, your obedient servant,

M. R. Vernon, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment. Capt. J. S. Wilson
, Asst. Adjt. Gen., 2d Brig., 2d Div., 14th Army Corps.

1 Nominal list omitted. See brigade table, p. 683.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September 1st (2)
May 2nd (2)
12th (2)
9th (2)
8th (2)
5th (2)
3rd (2)
September 5th, 1864 AD (1)
September 2nd, 1864 AD (1)
September 2nd (1)
August 11th (1)
August 4th (1)
27th (1)
25th (1)
23rd (1)
18th (1)
14th (1)
13th (1)
11th (1)
7th (1)
4th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: