No. 44. report of Lieut. Col. Willis Blanch, Fifty-seventh Indiana Infantry.
headquarters Fifty-Seventh Indiana Infantry, Near Atlanta, Ga., September 15, 1864.Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this regiment in the recent campaign of May, June, July, August, and September, 1864: On its return from veteran furlough in Indiana the regiment joined the brigade at Catoosa Springs, Ga., on the 4th day of May, in command of Lieutenant-Colonel Lennard, from whence on May 7 it moved with the brigade to Tunnel Hill, which place was then in possession of the enemy, but was evacuated upon the approach of Federal troops. On May 9 we were moved with the other regiments of the brigade to the top of Rocky Face Ridge, a most rough and difficult ascension, lying to the north and west of Dalton, where at the time slight skirmishing was going on with the enemy. Near nightfall of the 9th this brigade was formed in line on the east side of the ridge, this regiment occupying a position in the front line, and with this arrangement an advance upon the enemy was ordered by Brigadier-General Wagner. Skirmishers were thrown out and the advance was made as ordered. The enemy's position was of quite an elevation above the ground over which we were compelled to pass, being at the top of the ridge, and he was strongly fortified. When  we moved forward he opened a brisk fire, which, with the difficulty of ascending the rocky side of the ridge, greatly increased as we advanced. From a combination of these oppositions the regiment was compelled to halt, and soon after doing so an order was received from General Wagner to remain in same position and await orders. Subsequently we were ordered to a retired situation at the top of the ridge, which was occupied during the night. On May 12 this regiment was assigned a position to the east of the ridge in a valley, where works were erected and where during the day our skirmishers were lightly engaged with the enemy's cavalry. Early on the morning of the 13th we were ordered to march, and taking the road to the east of Rocky Face moved through the formidable works of the rebels and also passed through Dalton, the enemy having evacuated that place, and their position near it, during the night immediately preceding. Continuing our march southward the rebels were met on the 14th at Resaca, where they were found to be in a fortified position. While the lines were being formed the enemy used his artillery very freely, and at about 3 p. m. of that day Lieutenant-Colonel Lennard was struck with a fragment of shell, which inflicted so severe a wound that he died from its effects at about 9 p. m. of the same day. Immediately after Colonel Lennard was wounded I assumed command of the regiment and have retained it since. During the 15th the regiment was engaged most of the day. On the morning of the 16th it was discovered that during the night previous the enemy had withdrawn from his position and taken up his line of retreat southward. Pursuit was made and we came up with the rebels at Adairsville, where the regiment, though not actively engaged, was for some time exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery. On the 19th the regiment was engaged in pursuit of the enemy from Adairsville, and passed through Kingston oil the same day, near which a respite of three days was had. On the 23d we moved southward from Kingston, and on the 25th found the enemy again confronting us near Dallas at New Hope Church. On the 27th, after our lines had been formed and works erected, I was placed on picket with my regiment, and had been posted but a short time when General Wagner ordered me to advance my line and develop the strength and position of the enemy and to establish a skirmish line to the advance of that now occupied. The advance was made as ordered. The ground over which I had to advance was in plain view of the line of main works of the enemy and also of their rifle-pits, in consequence of which my men were very much exposed and I suffered heavily. The enemy were driven from their skirmish line, and my line was established 300 yards to the front of the one occupied when the advance commenced. This line was held by me during the whole day under a heavy and destructive fire from the enemy at close range. I was relieved at night-fall. We remained here occupying works within quite easy range of the enemy's infantry arms until the 5th of June, on the night previous to which the enemy evacuated their position. Followed the rebels from here with occasional skirmishing until the 11th, when they were met in force near Pine Mountain. On the 14th, the enemy's left flank being turned, my regiment took part in pursuit of him to a position where his line rested on Pine Mountain. During the night of that day he evacuated again. The 15th was occupied assuming another line after coming up with the enemy, during which some skirmishing was done. On the morning of the  17th the rebels were found to have evacuated, and they were followed immediately and found to have given back in the direction of Kenesaw Mountain. On the following morning my regiment was placed on picket at, 2.30 a. m., and at 8 a. m. I was ordered by Colonel Bartleson, One hundredth Illinois Volunteers, to advance the line, he being in command of the picket force from the brigade, and to drive the enemy from his rifle-pits, which were located 300 yards to our front, and just at the skirt of a light wood, between which and our line was an open field. In the midst of a terrific rain-storm, after having the men prepare their arms as well as possible, I ordered my regiment forward and moved it on a double-quick until the rifle-pits of the enemy were occupied. This being the extent of my orders, I halted and formed a line. To the front of this, about 300 yards, was a short line of heavy earth-work occupied by the picket reserve of the enemy, from which they had most perfect range of our position, while they were entirely protected from the least danger from our fire. Seeing this I at once determined to push forward and drive the enemy from the work, although a very difficult passage was between my line and them, all the small timber being cmt down as an obstruction, and there being a creek that from the excessive amount of water that had fallen was quite difficult to cross. At the order to advance the line moved in a very enthusiastic manner, and the works were wrested from the enemy. This gave me a position of security, and from which I commanded a view of the main line of works of the enemy. About 12 m. my regiment was relieved from the front line, and remained in reserve until nearly night-fall, when we were returned to the front. In this engagement Lieutenant Beitzell, of Company C, one of the most efficient officers of the command, fell. On the morning of the 19th the enemy was gone from our front and we again engaged in pursuit. They were overtaken near Kenesaw Mountain, where our lines were formed on the 21st, and where works were erected. On the 23d my regiment was placed on picket at early dawn, and I was ordered by Colonel Bartleson, officer of the day, at 3 p. m., to advance the line. About one-half of my regiment was in reserve. I conveyed the order to the officer of the skirmish line, giving them the proper time to move, when the advancement was made in a very satisfactory manner. As soon as the front line had left the pits I took the reserve to them, and at what I thought a proper time pushed it forward, and the whole regiment then engaged in a charge on the rifle-pits of the enemy, taking them, meeting, however, with a determined resistance and losing quite heavily in doing so. The enemy discovering us in possession of his pits threw a heavy force on our left, and there being no advance of the line at that point beyond that of my regiment, they forced me to retire that flank, no support coming up in time to render it possible to hold our position there. Just before retiring Colonel Bartleson was shot dead from his horse at the extreme front of the line. Also at this juncture Capt. J. S. Stidham, of my regiment, was killed while giving evidence of heroism rarely exhibited. At about 4 p. m., my left having retired, I withdrew the entire line to the rifle-pits occupied when the advance commenced, and soon after received an order from General Wagner to remain in them. On the 27th my regiment, with the others of the brigade, was moved to the right about one-half mile, and I was informed by General Wagner that an assault was to be made upon the enemy's works, and was ordered by  him to deploy my entire regiment as skirmishers and at a signal advance the line, when I would be followed by the assaulting columns. The deployment was made, the signal given, and we moved, drawing as we did so a very heavy fire from both the main line of works and rifle-pits of the enemy. In a short time after becoming engaged I was overtaken by the assaulting columns, and during the remainder of the battle my regiment operated with and as a part of this, the deployment, however, remaining complete. I remained on skirmish line after the assault had been abandoned until nearly night-fall, when I rejoined the brigade at its situation of the morning by order of Colonel Opdycke, division officer of the day. The position remained unchanged until July 3, on the night of which the enemy again evacuated his position, giving the Federal troops possession of Marietta. On July 5 I took part in pursuit of the rebels to within one mile of the Chattahoochee River, near which place we were put regularly in camp. July 9, my regiment with the other troops of the division moved to Roswell, fourteen miles above the railroad bridge over Chattahoochee, where we crossed to south side of same. On July 12, being relieved by the troops of General Dodge's command, moved back to the camp from which the march had been made on the 9th. Crossed to south side of the river on the 13th and joined the corps, which had crossed during the day previous, and erected works. On July 18 the advance toward Atlanta was begun, in which my regiment participated, moving on the Buck Head road. The day following we were moved forward to Peach Tree Creek, where on the south bank the enemy was occupying his works in strong force. On July 20 my regiment with the others of the division crossed the creek and occupied light works constructed by a brigade of the Third Division that had secured a lodgment on the evening of the 19th on the south side of the creek. My regiment was here placed as reserve to the skirmish line. During the fore part of the day the lines were advanced and the enemy driven back, giving us possession of the ground nearly a half a mile in front of the morning's location. The enemy not making his appearance sufficiently to develop his position, I was ordered by Brigadier-General Newton to deploy the whole of my regiment as skirmishers and, facing my line to the east and starting at the Buck Head and Atlanta road, to reconnoiter the ground between that road and Pea Vine Creek. The deployment completed I advanced the line until the designated point was reached, but with a small party continued the reconnaissance still farther, but found no enemy. My line, after the brigade had moved into position and began the construction of works facing the south, was about 600 yards disconnected from that of the brigade. At about 3.30 p. m. while the lines remained in this position a desperate assault was made upon them by the enemy coming in massed columns, coming from the south. This assault struck my right flank squarely, and in consequence I was forced to change my line to the rear on its left. By so doing I occupied the crest of a slight elevation of ground from which a deliberate fire was given the still advancing foe by the whole line. Having but a thin skirmish line, and being advanced upon by a massed column of the enemy, with my right flank entirely unprotected, I retired my line a second time to a line of rifle-pits formerly used by the enemy, probably twenty yards, where I formed and where the regiment delivered a second fire. At this place I remained until on the right I was thoroughly flanked, when I gave the order to fall  back again. This retirement brought me to Peach Tree, and owing to a bend in the creek it was absolutely impossible for a part of the regiment to escape capture unless they waded it. For this cause the regiment was here divided, a part going to the north side of the creek, where during the engagement it rendered valuable service in aiding to repel two advances of the enemy from the east, while the other part remained south side of the creek where it defended a point against the advances of the enemy. On the 22d, the enemy having evacuated our front, pursuit was instituted to within two miles of Atlanta, where it was ascertained that the enemy was occupying the defenses of the city, from which they shelled us freely during the day. Fortifications were erected here, and we remained in the same position, with no engagements or exercises excepting frequent demonstrations on the picket-line and continual strengthening of our lines of fortifications, until the night of August 25, when a movement of the army was made to the south and west of Atlanta, in which my regiment took a part. August 30, we crossed the Montgomery railroad at a point seven miles from East Point and marched in the direction of Rough and Ready. On September 1 this regiment assisted in the destruction of the Macon railroad from New Station to a point within one mile of Jonesborough, where we were taken with the other troops of the brigade off the road and formed in line to its east at about 5 p. m. I was here ordered by General Wagner to deploy one-half of my regiment as skirmishers, holding the remaining half in reserve, and advance, resting my right with the left of the First Division and my left with the right of the First Brigade. In this condition I advanced the line and soon found the enemy occupying his rifle-pits, which were occupied by us and he driven to a second and similar line of picket works constructed of rails. This gave the line possession of a small and thin wood on one side of an open field on the opposite of which was the enemy's second line. Their second line of pits was taken by a similar advance to the first. By this time darkness had set in and General Wagner ordered me to remain where I then was. The enemy gave us no further evidence of being near, though we remained on picket during the whole night, and in the morning he was found to have evacuated his works along the whole line of the army. Pursuit was instituted immediately, and the enemy was followed to within two miles of Lovejoy's, where he was found to be occupying his works. My regiment was ordered in the second line as a demonstration was made on the rebel position. On the evening of the same day I was assigned a position in line within easy range of the enemy's rifle-pits, from which he annoyed us very much in our camp. Information was communicated to us on the 2d that Atlanta had been evacuated on the night of the 1st and had been occupied by the troops of General Slocum's command. We remained in this position until the night of the 5th, when a movement was commenced in the direction of Atlanta. On the 8th September we marched into Atlanta from the southward. During the entire campaign the officers and men of the regiment without exception have conducted themselves with distinguished gallantry, and to them I am under obligations for whatever of success has attended us. When it joined the brigade at Catoosa Springs on May 4 there were in the regiment 30 commissioned officers and 311 men. Of that number we have to deplore the loss of 3 commissioned officers killed and 13 wounded, and 23 enlisted men killed and  104 wounded, making a total loss of 146, nearly half the number with which we commenced the campaign. This number does not include many who have been struck and slightly injured, but not disabled from duty. Fifty prisoners and one stand of colors were captured by the regiment. In the fall of Lieutenant-Colonel Lennard, we most deeply mourn the loss of as heroic an officer as has ever drawn sword in defense of his country, and one whom all acknowledge a most estimable gentleman. In his the fates of war terminated a career which had it been extended must have continued successful, as it was pleasant to all under his command. Very respectfully submitted.
Willis Blanch, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Lieutenant Cox, Aide-de-Camp, Second Brig., Second Div., 4th Army Corps.