No. 152. reports of Col. Durbin Ward, Seventeenth Ohio Infantry.
Hdqrs. Seventeenth Regt. Ohio Vet. Vol. Infty., Atlanta, Ga., August 17, 1864.Sir: In obedience to your verbal order to me of the 15th instant, I have the honor to report the military operations of my command since it left Ringgold, Ga., up to the 6th instant. On the 7th day of May last I was ordered to move, and did move, from camp into the active campaign, in which we are still engaged, leaving behind me, under orders, most of the regimental baggage. On that day we reached the neighborhood of Tunnel Town, and on the next moved in front of Buzzard Roost, where it was found the enemy was strongly posted. Skirmishing continued all day actively and for several days afterward. On the 12th we moved off to the right, passing through Snake Gap and gaining the rear of Dalton. Orn the 13th we groped slowly and cautiously, mostly through dense woods, the skirmishing still continuing all day and most of the night. During the morning of the 14th we skirmished our way to the front of the enemy's breast-works on Camp Creek, in the neighborhood of Resaca, on the Dalton and Atlanta Railroad. At about 1 o'clock on  this day an assault was made on the enemy's works along much of the line. I was ordered by General Turchin, then in command of the brigade, to allow Hascall's brigade, in Judah's division, of the Twenty-third Corps, already formed in two lines of battle in our rear, to move over us to the assault, and I was ordered to take command of my own and the Twenty-fourth Illinois Regiment, and sustain the charge as though supporting our own division. Hascall had one deployed line and one in column. My line was deployed and the Twenty-fourth Illinois was in column to my rear. It was from half to three-quarters of a mile to the enemy's works. We had to move through dense woods and underbrush and up quite a steep hill till we reached the brow of the hill skirting Camp Creek. We had heavy skirmish lines thrown out, and as we advanced the enemy's skirmishers were driven into their works. Judah's division moved impetuously to the charge, and we had to follow at rapid pace. Our advance was assailed by artillery fire, which, however, did us little harm until we reached the brow of the hill. By the time the men reached that they were exhausted by fatigue. The brush was almost impassable. On starting up the hill I had been ordered to close my line into column. I perceived on reaching the top that Judah's division did not halt under cover of the hill to rest the men and organize the attack, but were pressing over into the open ground near the creek, and right under the guns of the enemy. Understanding my orders required me to follow, I moved on at supporting distance, having first deployed my front line. On emerging. into the open field I found we were under a murderous fire of artillery and infantry at from 300 to 400 yards distance. Judah's lines were giving way to the left, and most of them retiring from the attack. Putting my men into double-quick we moved to the creek, were we were sheltered to some extent by a fringe of underbrush and trees, as well as the depression of the ground. Here I perceived that we were almost entirely unsupported, for we had become, by the retirement of Judah, the front. Some of his men had taken refuge in the low ground on my left, and some of our own brigade were in on my right. I found it impossible to advance, and retained my position in the ravine for an hour and ten minutes. I sent back to advise the brigade commander of my position, but the woods were so dense that for a long time he could not be found. In the mean time, through an aide, General Judah had sent word he meant to renew the assault. At last General Turchin was found, and he ordered me to withdraw into the woods behind the crest of the hill. This we did as cautiously as possible and in tolerably good order. Our position had been within about 200 yards of the enemy's works, but it was impossible to advance farther unless sustained by a whole line of attack. My regiment lost in killed and wounded 32, as will be hereafter stated in detail. Though afterward, under straggling fire, we were not again seriously involved during the engagement. On the 16th, the enemy having abandoned his works and crossed the Oostenaula, we joined in the pursuit, marching by the way of Calhoun and Adairsville to Kingston, where we arrived May 19, but passing through we took position several miles to the left, near Cartersville, where we remained till the 23d. The enemy disputed our advance all the way. On the morning of the 23d our march was renewed, and we crossed Etowah River and continued to advance toward Burnt Hickory till the 26th, when we were, with the rest of the brigade, sent back to Kingston to guard a wagon train. We continued upon this duty till  the 7th of June, when we reached Acworth and were relieved. On the morning of the 10th we joined the march to the front and advanced toward Marietta. We continued to advance as the enemy was pushed back by our column, my regiment being only in occasional skirmishing, until the 18th, in the neighborhood of Kenesaw Mountain. On that day, under a drenching rain, we groped through the woods and advanced, in connection with the rest of the line, upon --the enemy's works. Having reached the edge of a field some 300 or 400 yards distant, we halted, poured a deadly fire upon the enemy, compelling the infantry to keep behind their breast-works and almost silencing the artillery, while we, under the point-blank range of their guns, dug rifle-pits in the open field. The fight lasted all day, but my regiment lost only 11 men in killed and wounded; but so effectual was the assault of our army that during the night the enemy abandoned his works and moved nearer the mountain. Our lines followed, and from this time till the evacuation of Kenesaw, though constantly involved in heavy skirmishing, there is no need to detail the monotonous operations of my regiment. On the 3d of July the enemy evacuated Kenesaw and fell back to the Chattahoochee, to which place our army immediately followed. Heavy skirmishing, but no regular combat, took place; one corps after another crossed the river, my regiment crossing with its brigade on the 17th of July. We skirmished slowly and steadily toward Atlanta, being always under fire, but not involved (except slightly on the 20th) in any of the heavy engagements around the city. The most notable of our combats occurred on the 5th of August, when we were ordered to support the skirmish line while we threw forward our intrenchments nearer the enemy's works. We were subjected to the heaviest shelling we have endured during the campaign, though, fortunately, our caution in throwing up the works saved us very heavy loss. This report is, perhaps, already too much in detail. I refer with great pride to the general bravery, coolness, good conduct, and skill of my officers and men. Though one of the most laborious, aswell as brilliant, campaigns of the war, they have for more than 100 days dared and endured all the dangers and hardships, glories, and privations of the sternest war, with disciplined obedience, and, at the same time, enthusiastic courage. To all, officers and men, I gratefully acknowledge the devotion and kindness shown me personally, painfully suffering as I have been from my old wound. Deeply as I regret the fall of my comrades in arms to the humblest, I cannot refrain from making special mention of First Lieut. Lyman W. Barnes. He was a brave soldier who had risen from the ranks. In the dark hour of Chickamauga I saw him in the thickest of the fight till I fell, and after that he stood by the colors till the last moment. He was a brave and efficient officer, and he died as a gallant soldier dies.
Durbin Ward, Colonel, Commanding. Capt. W. B. Curtis, Asst. Adjt. Gen., 1st Brig., 3d Div., 14th Army Corps.
Appendix.The effective force of the regiment when it left Ringgold was 544; it is now 413; loss, 131. Of these 66 have been killed or wounded in action, and 65 have left the ranks from death, sickness, details, and other causes.1
Hdqrs. Seventeenth Regt. Ohio Vet. Vol. Infty., Atlanta, Ga., September 9, 1864.Sir: In obedience to verbal orders from brigade headquarters of yesterday, I have the honor to report the operations of my command since my report of the 6th of August last. On the 8th of August last I was ordered to the left of the position I then occupied into some field-works which had been previously constructed. We were in very close proximity to the enemy, and my adjutant was shot dead in my tent. On the 11th we were moved still farther to the right than we had yet been, and there remained within 150 yards of the enemy's line until the 27th day of August. On that day my regiment moved in common with the corps to the right, taking part in the general movement upon Jonesborough. We continued to move, as ordered, cautiously to the right till the 31st of August, when we attained close proximity to the enemy. On that day my regiment supported the Ninety-second Ohio, and skirmishing forward in advance of the general line, the two regiments moved across the headwaters of Flint River and took possession of the Atlanta and Jonesborough road before noon, near Seaborn Smith's house. Subsequently the rest of the division came up. We executed this movement with little opposition. In the afternoon Captain Grosvenor, assistant inspector-general of the brigade, asked me for a detail of 100 men and 3 officers to make a scout toward the Atlanta and Macon Railroad. This detail was furnished, Captains Noles and Inskeep accompanying it, and Adjt. Augustus Ward as a mere volunteer. This daring party pushed three miles beyond the general line, and during the afternoon driving off a small body of cavalry, were the first to seize and hold the railroad till re-enforcements could be sent. On the next morning, September 1 instant, my regiment moved with the rest of the corps upon Jonesborough, and were in reserve supporting Este's brigade in the brilliant charge of that day. We were advanced to within a little over 200 yards of the enemy's works, but they being carried in our immediate front by the impetuous charge of Este, we did not become actively engaged. We were constantly under fire from musketry and artillery, but being somewhat sheltered by the ground, we had no casualties except that First Lieut. Edward M. Champlin and 1 private were wounded. As I have ever had to report, my men bore themselves gallantly, and without claiming credit for anything brilliant, I can proudly say they did, as they always do, their duty. I cannot omit the honorable mention of the lamented Adjt. J. M. Ruffner, who met his untimely fate on the 9th of August. He was the soul of true manhood and amongst the “bravest of the brave.” To all my subordinates in command I am under many obligations for efficient aid in the arduous campaign through which we have just passed.2 Respectfully submitted.
Durbin Ward, Colonel, Commanding. Capt. W. B. Curtis
, Asst. Adjt. Gen., 1st Brig., 3d Div., 14th Army Corps.
, Asst. Adjt. Gen., 1st Brig., 3d Div., 14th Army Corps.