previous next

[428] sound of Crufts's and Baird's cannon, and after a by no means pleasant ride of a couple of hours, amongst rocks and hills, and valleys and ravines, scowled at by the natives from whom we could learn not a word concerning the whereabouts of our troops, and in imminent danger of being picked up by some straggling squad of rebel cavalry, we at length had the unspeakable satisfaction of getting upon General Baird's trail; and riding on a mile or two further, found that, almost unknown to ourselves, we had turned the formidable barrier of Rocky Face, which now appeared upon our right.

Every step we took, the sounds of conflict became more and more distinct, until at last we caught sight of our troops stretched across the valley, the advance line skirmishing briskly with the enemy. The order of battle I have named, was still preserved. Of Baird's division, Van Derveer's brigade was on the left, Turchin's upon the right.

It was one o'clock when we arrived upon this part of the field, and scarcely had we reached our lines, when it became evident that a severe struggle was just on the point of taking place.

In truth, the position the rebels held in this valley, was almost as strong as that upon the road from Tunnel Hill. The valley was wider than the gorge, but the natural fortifications were of a similar nature, and only required to be held by a somewhat stronger force. The passage into Dalton along this valley, would evidently be accomplished only by copious effusion of blood.

A hill near the centre of the valley seemed to form the key to the position. To the right of this was another, the possession of which would enable us to operate with great advantage against the other. Just as I rode up, General Palmer announced his intention of attempting to carry this latter point.

The task of taking the hill was assigned to General Turchin, than whom a better, braver man can scarcely be found in our army. He had only a portion of his brigade with him, but he had such regiments as the Eleventh, Eighty-ninth, Ninety-second Ohio, and the Eighty-second Indiana, and with these he was sure to win, if success, under the circumstances, were possible, for these regiments scarce ever fail, and when they do, it is with undiminished honor.

A heavy strip of timber runs along the lower portion of the east slope of Rocky Face. Through this Turchin and his men steadily advanced, the General in the front ranks, drawing repeatedly upon his own person the fire of the rebel skirmishers. Forming his line of battle along the slope of the mountain, just opposite to and facing the hill which he was to carry, he gave the order to advance. Immediately the whole valley resounded with a terrible roar of musketry, and the enemy's cannon, replied to by our own Fourth regular battery, added to the awful din. The rebels were swept away from the foot of the hill. Half-way up they endeavored to make a stand, but our boys, charging forward with loud shouts, drove them across the summit.

The victory seemed gained, and the brigade rushed to the top of the hill to secure what it had won. But the enemy had rallied half-way down, supported by a fresh force outnumbering Turchin's two to one. No sooner had our boys reached the summit than a withering storm of bullets swept up the hill. Bravely they replied for a time, making many a rebel bite the dust. But the galling fire could not long be borne. It would be madness to charge down the hill into the midst of twice or thrice their numbers. Hence, they withdrew slowly and reluctantly to their former position along the slope of Rocky Face. The rebels did not attempt to follow, but contented themselves with repossessing the hill.

This was the bloodiest, as it might be called the closing, conflict of this interesting campaign. A brisk cannonade and a fierce and determined skirmishing were kept up until nightfall; but no advance was made upon either side. All the remainder of the afternoon the two armies stood confronting each other, so close together that the skirmishers of either could fire entirely over the rear-lines of the other. A number of incidents, at once singular and interesting, fell under my own observation, but I shall only mention this one.

General Palmer was standing near our skirmishers, when a bullet, fired by one of the opposing rebels, passed through both the skirts of his coat and both legs of his pants, without even grazing the skin! Probably there is not a similar case on record.

When night came on, a spectacle met our eyes, at once brilliant, beautiful, and sublime. During the course of the conflict, the leaves, rendered inflammable by several weeks' dry weather, had taken fire; and now long lines of the devouring element could be seen everywhere running up and down the mountains, twisting and writhing and hissing like monstrous serpents of living fire. The fine twigs and cones, of which vast quantities lay upon the ground, added to the hugeness of the conflagration; in some places the progress of our withdrawing troops was seriously impeded by the smoke and heat; and at ten P. M., it really seemed, to a spectator gazing from Tunnel Hill, as if the whole State of Georgia was on fire, and tier eternal mountains were melting beneath the flames.

It was after night when the troops began to retire; and ere they closed their eyes in slumber that night, they were on the west side of the Tunnel Hill range.

About three in the afternoon, General Davis, who with Morgan's and McCook's brigades, supported by General Johnson's command, was holding the mouth of the gorge on the Tunnel Hill road, began to advance slowly and feel the enemy. The latter manifested the utmost sensitiveness, and raking the gorge with his cannon, inflicted upon General Morgan considerable loss. After night, this force retired to Tunnel Hill, which we continue to hold.

Thus ended this highly important expedition. It has again, if that were needed, demonstrated

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 Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
J. B. Turchin (3)
S. Baird (3)
John M. Palmer (2)
John Morgan (2)
Daniel McCook (1)
R. W. Johnson (1)
Derveer (1)
E. M. Davis (1)
Crufts (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: