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[235] battle, and would never carry sword or musket more. All through the woods between Bald Knob and Mission Ridge, and over the open ground at the foot of the latter, sad sights drew tears, even from eyes unaccustomed to weeping.

At one place a father was walking beside the stretcher on which was borne the torn and mangled yet still breathing body of his son.

At the foot of a tree, a strong man was bending, heart-broken, over the lifeless form of his brother.

A fragment of a shell had driven the barrel of a musket, in a soldier's hand, with such force against his face, that the head was nearly severed in twain.

A rebel officer was lying prone on his face in one of the rifle-pits, still grasping in his hand the sword, which, I afterward learned, he had bravely flourished in the very faces of our men, as they burst with resistless valor over the rebel works. I thought as I looked at him, that, as a tribute to his courage, he should be buried as he lay, under the works he had so well defended, with his sword still in his hand.

On the ridge the corpses lay strewed around more thickly, and all along the line occupied by Wood and Baird and Sheridan, the eye could not gaze in any direction without beholding the stiff, cold forms of the dead.

The expression upon the faces of our own men who had fallen here, was most touching and remarkable, for not all the pains of dissolution had been able to drive from their features the smile of victory, or the placid look of contentment which always rests upon the countenance of him who feels his work well done. Could those near and dear to the brave men who fell at Chattanooga, have gazed upon their faces the next morning, I am sure it would have mitigated, for all time to come, their emotions of grief. For it was plain as the sun at noonday, that these men had died, not only without mental agony, but that their last earthly feeling was one of calm contentment or triumphant joy. True this was death — but it was death without its hideousness — death robbed of all its terrors — death whose grandeur made it preferable to life.

On the summit of the ridge the captured artillery was huddled together in groups, and here, in spite of all my stoicism, I saw another spectacle, of a different nature, which affected me to tears. Numbers of soldiers were standing around the pieces, peering into their huge throats with intense curiosity, passing their hands over every portion even of the carriage-wheels, patting the guns as a child pats the head of a dog, and smiling in each other's faces! As I gazed upon those men, it seemed to me as if I were carried back to another age, and saw before me the sacrifices, the strength, the spirit, and the glories of the American Revolution. God bless the soldiers whose deepest and most solemn joy springs from the overthrow of their country's enemies!

I endeavored, with all my power, to ascertain what regiment had first planted its flag upon the crest of the Ridge. It was impossible to do so, and I predict now, that it will never be known. A dozen different regiments lay claim to the honor; and each one has, no doubt, witnesses among the spectators, who honestly testify to the validity of its claim; for it was impossible for any one man to mark all parts of the line at once, and each naturally supposed that the flag he first saw on the crest, was actually the first placed there.

As I was riding out to the Ridge, a group of soldiers were standing near the road. As I passed, they remarked to each other, “There goes a correspondent,” and then called out to me: “Don't forget to speak well of the First Ohio boys!”

I will not; although their actions the day before spoke for them more loudly than can the pen of the historian. But this is what I shall say:

The First Ohio and Twenty-third Kentucky had been consolidated before the battle, under command of Colonel Langdon, of the former. Did I not know, from the causes I have mentioned, how easily one or a hundred spectators could have been deceived in the matter, I should assert, with the utmost positiveness, that the flag of these consolidated regiments was the first that floated over Mission Ridge.

But whatever difference of opinion there may be with regard to the particular regiment to which this honor should be assigned, the illustrious rivals can well afford to be generous to each other; for all agree that five minutes did not elapse from the time our first soldier stood upon the top of the ridge, until a line of Union banners was floating all along the crest.

Let all, in these honorable rivalries, imitate the noble example of the Seventy-sixth Ohio and Thirty-eighth Indiana. These regiments were over to the right on Wednesday, the former on the extreme right of Osterhaus's division, the latter on the right of Johnson's. As Osterhaus swept round upon the left flank of the enemy — Johnson at the same time attacking them in front — the lines met, and nearly five hundred rebels, inclosed between the Seventy-sixth Ohio and the Thirty-eighth Indiana, threw down their arms. Nobody could decide to which regiment they surrendered, and a contest commenced which should crown both with immortal honor; for each claimed the prisoners, not for itself, but for the other.

General Sherman's men did not make quite the same progress on the left as the other portions of our army; but let no one decide, on that account, that they did not fight as bravely. Their bold attack upon Tunnel Hill drew upon them the concentrated might of half the rebel army, and, although some of them gave way in confusion, it was simply because they were assailed by overwhelming numbers. This was particularly the case with General John E. Smith's division.

But they need not even this explanation at my hands. That the courage of the men and the ability of the officers who bore the American


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B. J. Osterhaus (2)
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T. J. Wood (1)
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