No. 51. report of Col. Emerson Opdycke, one hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio Infantry, of operations May 3-14.
headquarters 125TH Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Atlanta, Ga., September 10, 1864.Captain: I have the honor of submitting the following report of my regiment from May 3 to May 14, 1864, at which time the command fell upon Lieut. Col. D. H. Moore, I having since then been in command of a demi-brigade or a brigade: May 3, I moved with the brigade at 12 m. from Cleveland, Tenn., toward Dalton, Ga., with an aggregate of 500 officers and men, fully equipped for an active campaign. We bivouacked at 7.30 p. m. after a march of about fourteen miles. May 4, the march was resumed at 6 a. m. As we were near the enemy the march was slow. Halted at about seven miles from Tunnel Hill and commenced throwing up works, but after dusk we changed positions and occupied a ridge that led down to Catoosa Springs. May 5 was spent in throwing up defensive works along the crest of the ridge. May 6, we received orders to be ready to move at any time. 7th, marched at 5.30 a. m., and at 2 p. m. arrived at Tunnel Hill. 8th, at daylight I reported to brigade headquarters, when General Harker showed me a map of the surrounding country, gave me a guide, and desired me to effect a lodgment on Rocky Face Ridge with my regiment, and he would support me with the remainder of the brigade. This ridge runs north and south and is exceedingly abrupt, especially the western side of it. Huge bowlders lay thickly along its steep sides; which, with the severe angle of ascent, rendered our task very difficult. I saw but one practicable place of ascent on the western side, and the eastern was commanded by the enemy, who could move a heavy force readily up at almost any place. The ridge is 500 or 600 feet high, and the crest so narrow and rocky as to render it impossible for more than four men to march abreast upon it. I was informed that the enemy held the southern portion of it in force and could re-enforce their northern posts with easy facility. But as it was an important position, a foothold was very desirable. I moved to the northern point of the ridge and made a demonstration against the enemy's skirmishers, as if I intended to pass round to the eastern side and go up there; then suddenly withdrew my men and left other portions of the brigade to continue the skirmish while, under concealment of trees, I commenced to ascend obliquely the western side. We pushed up with all possible celerity, hoping to be quick enough to effect our purpose before the enemy could ascertain and meet my intentions. We met but feeble resistance until we reached the crest (which was at 8.30 a. m.) and commenced moving south, when we  met an advancing force. The skirmishers we first engaged escaped down the eastern side of the ridge, they having been cut off by the movements above indicated. The fire was severe, the rocks affording ample covering. I got a company front up and poured in several volleys and then charged and drove the enemy a third of a mile and behind a strong stone work, which was musket-proof. My left flank was greatly exposed and I had stone works thrown up to make my position as safe as possible. I then received orders from General Harker to proceed no farther until directed by him. The Fifteenth Wisconsin, Major Wilson, of General Willich's brigade, came up to my rear at 10.30 a. m., and I detained him to protect my rear left flank until he could be relieved by troops from our own brigade. At 11.30 a. m. I relieved him, the Sixty-fifth Ohio having reported to me. A signal station was soon established, which communicated with headquarters at Tunnel Hill. From this position we had a plain view of the enemy's works and batteries, and could see Dalton. The importance of it as a point of observation was apparent. I lost 5 men killed, 3 mortally wounded, 1 officer wounded, and 16 men. May 9, heavy skirmishing until 5.30 p. m., when an assault was made along the crest of the ridge by the flank, the Seventy-ninth Illinois as skirmishers, then the Sixtyfourth Ohio, followed, respectively, by the Third Kentucky and One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio. We could only move by the flank; and the rough surface made it impossible for troops to keep ranks even in that formation. The regiments in my front were soon in disorder, under severe musketry from behind complete protection. Numbers of my men were pushed off of rocks and fell six to ten feet. Lieutenant-Colonel Moore rushed ahead with about thirty brave men and got close to the enemy's works, but could not carry them. They had to remain there until darkness relieved them. Greater bravery than they exhibited could not be shown. Capt. E. P. Bates was cool and able amidst the greatest excitement and under the severest fire. Adjt. R. C. Powers behaved with conspicuous gallantry and good judgment. I lost 4 men killed and 21 wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Moore was hit three times, but seemed to be miraculously preserved. General Wagner's brigade relieved ours after dark, and my regiment bivouacked on a descending tongue that reached a few hundred yards perpendicularly from the eastern side of the ridge. May 10 and 11, no movements were made on the ridge. 12th, my regiment descended the ridge with the brigade and took up position on a smart rise, which seems to prolong the north end of Rocky Face. My right connected with the left of Colonel Sherman's brigade. The Sixty-fourth Ohio was next on my left, facing east. We threw up defensive works. No fighting in my front. Adjto R. C. Powers captured a lieutenant and ordnance sergeant of the Thirty-sixth Georgia Regiment. 13th, enemy evacuated last night, and we pursued early in the morning. Rested in Dalton; at 12 m. moved on about eight miles south of that place and bivouacked in battle order. 14th, marched at 5.30 a. m.; about 9 a. m. our brigade was placed in reserve, and fighting soon commenced. Our brigade remained in reserve less than an hour, and it was then moved to relieve a brigade of General Cox's division, of the Twenty-third Corps, then heavily engaged and nearly out of ammunition. I was the left of the front line, the Sixty-fifth Ohio on my right. We moved in line over an open field, which was exposed to a severe artillery fire. The men kept ranks almost perfectly,  and we soon reached and relieved the brigade, as directed. We had tolerable breast-works, from which General Cox had driven the enemy. The enemy's main works were about 300 yards to our front, and they partially enfiladed ours on the right. General Harker having received a severe wound from a hostile shell, Colonel Bradley assumed command and directed me to move forward to relieve what was thought to be one of General Cox's regiments, which was holding a parallel crest a few rods to the front. My line passed quickly, under a severe fire of artillery and small-arms, and occupied the crest, although there were only a few skirmishers there to relieve. I soon after received a severe flesh wound in my arm, which, from the loss of blood, obliged me to turn the command over to Lieutenant-Colonel Moore. I remained near it, and when it was relieved retired with it. Since then I have either been in command of a demi-brigade or a brigade. My losses in this engagement were 5 men killed and 51 wounded, 6 of them mortally. My whole losses, 2 officers wounded, 14 men killed, and 91 wounded, 10 of them mortally. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. Opdycke, Colonel 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Capt. E. G. Whitesides
, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.