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Chapter 31: battle of Pickett's Mill

That was a stubborn fight at New Hope Church on May 25, 1864. Hooker's corps, as we have seen, supported by the greater part of my corps, endeavored to break Johnston's line near its center. Sherman had hoped to seize the railroad south of Allatoona Pass, toward Marietta, and hold it; but he found the works in his front too strong. His enemies had ample time during their resting days and in the night after Hooker's bold charges to make these lines next to impregnable. It therefore became necessary to adopt some other means of gaining the end in view. Johnston's forces extended nearly parallel to ours between four and five miles, from near Dallas on his left to the vicinity of Pickett's Mill on his right.

Sherman, after this last bloody battle, returned again to his tactics of moving by the flank; the next movement contemplated was to gain ground toward our left.

Thomas and Schofield, with the majority of their troops, were engaged in completing their deployments extending from McPherson, near Dallas, toward Johnston's right, and this unfolding brought us steadily nearer to the railroad at Ackworth. The marching of all moving columns had to be in rear of our front line, which was at all times in close contact with the enemy [551] --so close, in fact, that there was a continual skirmish fire kept up.

Johnston seemed to discern the nature of this new plan of ours as soon as it was undertaken. He firmly believed that Sherman was feeling for his right. He therefore withdrew Polk, who was located at his center, and marched him parallel to those of us who took up the movement, always keeping time and pace with our march to the left. Then began and continued for a considerable time a race of breastworks and intrenchments.

The race of trenches was well on by May 27th. In accordance with the plan of our leader, one division of my corps, Wood's, and one of the Fourteenth, R. W. Johnson's, were drawn back from the fighting line, and early on the morning of the 27th started on their leftward march. These two divisions constituted a detachment, and I was sent in command.

All day we plodded along pretty far back, but within sound of the skirmish firing of the front line. The march was over rough and poor roads, when we had any roads at all. The way at times was almost impassable, for the “mud forests” closed us in on either side, and the underbrush shut off all distant objects. On we marched till 4.30 in the afternoon, when we reached the vicinity of Pickett's Mill.

Our march, necessarily somewhat circuitous, had during the day been often delayed for the purpose of reconnoitering. Wood would send his advance to skirmish up quietly toward the supposed Confederate lines, and when near enough, officers with their field glasses would make as close observations as the nature of the thickets or more open fields would permit.

At this time, nearly an hour before the final halt [552] and the direct preparation for a charge, I was standing in the edge of a wood, and with my glass following along the lines of Johnston, to see where the batteries were located and to ascertain if we had reached his limits. My aid, Captain Harry M. Stinson, stepped boldly into the opening. He had a new field glass, and here was an excellent opportunity to try it. I had warned him and the other officers of my staff against the danger of exposure, for we were not more than 700 yards from the hostile intrenchments.

Stinson had hardly raised his glass to his forehead when a bullet struck him. He fell to the ground upon his face, and as I turned toward him I saw that there was a bullet hole through the back of his coat. The missile had penetrated his lungs and made its way entirely through his body. I thought at first that my brave young friend was dead, and intense grief seized my heart, for Harry was much beloved.

After a few minutes, however, by means of some stimulant, he revived and recovered consciousness. He was taken back to camp, and soon sent to Cleveland, Tenn., where good air and good nursing brought him so near to recovery that he joined me again during this campaign at Jonesboro. “I think Harry Stinson was the most unselfish man I ever saw,” was the remark of another of my aids, Captain J. A. Sladen.

Wood's division was at last drawn out of the marching column and formed in lines of brigades facing the enemy's works, one behind the other; while R. W. Johnson's division passed beyond Wood's and came up near his left for support. This was far beyond Schofield's left. Wood touched a large clearing, turned to the southeast, and moved forward, [553] keeping in the edge of the clearing, toward what would be the natural extension of Johnston's lines.

Pushing quickly through the undergrowth, Wood rectified his formation. Coming to me about 5.30 P. M., he said:

“Are the orders still to attack?”

Fully believing, from a careful study of the whole position, that we had at last reached the end of Johnston's troops, I answered:


The order was promptly obeyed. The men sprang forward and made charges and a vigorous assault.

I found Johnston's front covered by strong intrenchments. A drawing back of the trenches like a traverse had deceived us. Johnston had forestalled us, and was on hand fully prepared. In the first desperate charge, Hazen's brigade was in front. R. W. Johnson's division was in echelon with Wood's, somewhat to its left. Scribner's brigade was in that front. The plan had been, though not carried out, that McLean's brigade of Schofield's command, which was the intended support on our right, should show itself clearly on open ground, attract the attention of the enemy to that part of the line, while Wood and Johnson moved upon what was supposed to be the extreme right of the Confederates' position.

In this conflict Wood, the division commander, during this gloomy day met with a loss similar to mine. An officer, Major J. B. Hampson, One Hundred and Sixty-fourth Ohio, aid to General Wood, to whom he was personally greatly attached, was struck in his left shoulder by a musket ball, which broke the spine and ended his life in a few hours. He was a general [554] favorite, and his death produced unfeigned sadness among his comrades.

Wood had always seemed to me masterful of himself and others who came in contact with him; he had a large experience in such battles as Stone River and Chickamauga. I was therefore unprepared to see him on this occasion exhibit stronger feeling than any of us. For a few minutes, sitting beside his dying friend, he was completely overcome. It has appeared to me at times that the horrors of the battlefield had hardened men; but these cases of exceptional affection served to confirm the expression: “The bravest are the tenderest!”

When the advance was made, our men pushed rapidly forward, driving the opposing skirmishers before them. As Hazen pressed on, the left of his brigade still seemed to overlap his enemy's right, and everything appeared to indicate that our tedious march was to conduct us to a great success. But, while Hazen and the remainder of Wood's division were gaining ground, Johnson's division, which was at Hazen's left, was going on toward Pickett's Mill. This was situated on a branch of the Pumpkin Vine Creek. Here the leading brigade received quite a severe fire against its left flank, and was compelled to face in the new direction, and so stopped the whole division from moving up abreast of Hazen. This halting and change left Wood's division completely uncovered, and, worse still, Wood was now brought between a front and flank fire. It did not take long to discover that what we had supposed was the end of the Confederate intrenched line was simply a sharp angle of it. The breastworks where Hazen's devoted men first struck them were only trending to the Confederate [555] rear. Wood's men were badly repulsed; he had in a few minutes over 800 killed.

While this attack was going on, Newton's and Stanley's divisions of my corps near New Hope Church were attempting to divert attention by a strong demonstration, but the Confederates there behind their barricades did not heed such distant demonstrations. The whole engagement, an hour long, was terrible. Our men in this assault showed phenomenal courage, and while we were not successful in our attempt to turn the enemy's left, which, as a matter of fact, we had not yet found, nevertheless considerable new space was gained, and what we held was of great importance. As soon as Wood's division had started, the enemy shelled our position. A shell after striking the ground to my left threw the fragments in different directions. One of these struck my left foot as I was walking forward. It cut through the sole of my boot and through the up-leather and badly bruised me. My foot was evidently lifted in walking-but the boot sole was very thick and somewhat protruded and so saved me from a severer wound. For the instant I believed I had lost my leg, and was glad, indeed, to find myself mistaken. There, wounded, I sat among the maimed till after midnight; meanwhile I was reorganizing broken lines and building forts and lines of obstruction.

During the war a few sad scenes impressed me more than any others. One was the field after the battle of Gettysburg. A second scene was the battlefield of Antietam. But these things, not happy to relate, were matched at Pickett's Mill. That opening in the forest, faint fires here and there revealing men wounded, armless, legless, or eyeless; some with [556] heads bound up with cotton strips, some standing and walking nervously around, some sitting with bended forms, and some prone upon the earth — who can picture itt A few men, in despair, had resorted to drink for relief. The sad sounds from those in pain were mingled with the oaths of the drunken and the more heartless.

I could not leave the place, for Colonel C. H. Howard and Captain Gilbreth, aids, and other officers were coming and going to carry out necessary measures to rectify our lines and to be ready for a counter attack of the Confederates, almost sure to be made at dawn.

So, for once, painfully hurt myself, I remained there from 8 P. M. to participate in that distress till about one o'clock the next morning. That night will always be a sort of nightmare to me. I think no perdition here or hereafter can be worse.

Is it not an argument in favor of every possible arbitration? After our tedious night's work, my fortifying in the enemy's front had rendered an attack at daylight by Johnston useless.

The character of the country gave us more openings in the forests on all approaches to Dallas than at New Hope or Pickett's Mill. Still, the greater part of the Confederate front was strung along threading a rugged forest country, with excellent positions for artillery, and rough ridges which were easily fortified and hard to take.

Hardee, at Dallas, had in his vicinity a “grand military position,” which it would do a West Pointer good to survey-well chosen, well manned by the best of troops thoroughly seasoned in war.

McPherson, opposite Hardee, had just now not more [557] than 20,000 men, for Blair's troops, marching at the time from the Far West, had not yet joined him. But Davis's division of the Fourteenth Corps (about 5,000 men) was sent back by Sherman to strengthen McPherson's command, because McPherson was so widely separated from the rest of us.

From Van Wert, McPherson had hastened on, with Dodge's corps in the lead. Dodge never said much in advance of what he proposed to do, but he was a most vigorous commander and inspired the men who served under him with his own energy. Well protected by skirmishers, he now approached the Pumpkin Vine Creek, and encountered the enemy's skirmishers and advance guards and drove them steadily back.

During May 25th, while Thomas was assailing Hood at New Hope Church, Jeff. C. Davis, prompt, systematic, and active, extended and thoroughly protected Dodge's left at Dallas. Meanwhile, John A. Logan, commanding the Fifteenth Corps, had taken on the inspiration of fighting-like a horse just ready for battle-and was veering off to the right of Dodge.

On Logan's right, clearing the way, and, like the cavalry opposite, securing all approaches and occupying as much attention as possible, was Garrard's cavalry command.

Logan was intensely active on the approach of battle. His habitual conservatism in council was changed into brightness, accompanied with energetic and persistent activity.

Dodge, as he left him, was moving along in a column, and the cavalry, assisted by Logan's artillery, were noisily driving in the enemy's light troops far off to the right beyond the crossroads at Dallas.

Logan's and Dodge's advance, substantially two [558] heavy skirmish lines acting conjointly, with some artillery protected by cavalry, drove everything before them for about two miles.

While the battle of Pickett's Mill was fiercely going on, both Logan and Bate kept up between them artillery firing and skirmishing. In the afternoon of that day a stronger demonstration was made by the Confederate General Bate. This demonstration was promptly checked by Dodge crossing Pumpkin Vine Creek, and pushing forward until he had cleared his entire front up to Hardee's works. From that time on there was no peace between those opposing lines, for skirmishers and artillery were busy and noisy all the time on both sides.

In his general movement to the left, Sherman had ordered McPherson to relieve Davis and send him back to Thomas, and McPherson was preparing to do so and to close his army in to the left, when he sent the following dispatch to Sherman:

We have forced the enemy back to his breastworks throughout nearly the whole extent of his lines, and find him occupying a strong position, extending apparently from the North Marietta or New Hope Church road to across the Villa Rica road; our lines are up within close musket range in many places, and the enemy appears to be massing on our right.

It will thus be seen that McPherson was loyally preparing to carry out his instructions, and was, indeed, ready to do so with his usual skill and promptness, when Hardee's dispositions warned him of his danger in uncovering his flank and of making the movement in the face of an active and energetic enemy. Hardee was pressing his lines constantly, probably in anticipation of just such a movement. [559]

The battle began at 3.30 P. M. The attacking column of the Confederates had been able to form out of sight in the woods for the most part; those in front of Oosterhaus's division (of Logan) gathered under shelter of a deep ravine, and then rushed en masse to within fifty yards of his line, where they were mowed down by the hundred.

The Sixteenth Corps (Dodge's) had also a considerable part in this battle. Walker's Confederate division had found its way at first, with the design of a demonstration only, quite up to the well-prepared barricades of Dodge.

This assault, though most desperate and determined, was promptly and gallantly met and repulsed.

The other Confederate division (Cheatham's) opposite Davis simply strengthened its skirmish line and pushed it forward briskly and persistently in front of Davis's gallant men, resulting, of course, in some losses on both sides. These vigorous efforts of Walker and Cheatham had the effect, as Hardee intended, namely, to keep Dodge and Davis in place and prevent them from reinforcing Logan.

Within an hour and a half the attack upon the whole right had proven a costly failure to the enemy, and his lines had been hurriedly withdrawn to the earthworks from whence they had sallied forth. Hardee in this combat left many of his wounded and slain to us to care for.

It will be noticed that my battle of May 27th at Pickett's Mill was a determined assault of one division supported by another against Johnston's right flank, and that the battle of Dallas, whether by General Johnston's orders or not, was a correspondingly heavy assault of Bate's and part of Walker's divisions, supported [560] by the rest of Walker's and the whole of Cheatham's, against Sherman's right flank. There was a decided repulse in each case. The scales were thus evenly balanced.

After the failure of Hardee on the afternoon of May 28th, he withdrew within his own intrenchments, and, besides the skirmish firing which was almost incessant during those days, no other regular attack for some time was made.

On the 30th, shortly before midnight, Hardee made a moderate demonstration against our lines, possibly in the belief that we were evacuating, but finding the men in their places and on the alert, he desisted.

Thus matters remained until June 1st, when Sherman's characteristic movement from right to left began again in good earnest, and McPherson left the Dallas line and marched over beyond us all to relieve and support the troops which were lying between New Hope Church and Pickett's Mill. The last three battles-New Hope, Pickett's Mill, and Dallas-were at best but a wearisome waste of life and strength, blows given and taken in the dark without visible result.

Steadily the movement of the Union army toward the left, for the purpose of reaching the railroad, had been continued, and, at last, on June 1, 1864, the diligent McPherson fully relieved Hooker's corps and my own remaining divisions, and spread his men so as to guard all that part of the line lately occupied by Hooker, Schofield, and myself. In this he was still assisted by Jeff. C. Davis's division. Thomas and Schofield were then free for the leftward operation.

Schofield with his three divisions of the Twentythird Corps promptly marched away eastward; Hooker [561] followed and supported him as far as the “Burnt Hickory Church,” at the point where the Allatoona wagon road crosses that from Burnt Hickory to Marietta.

Schofield now promptly deployed his line and pushed southward toward Marietta, his left en route touching the Marietta wagon road. Every foot of his way was contested by skirmishing Confederates, but now, slowly and steadily, without general battle, the enemy was forced back to a partially new intrenched position, south of Allatoona Creek, back as far as the forks of the Dallas-Ackworth road. Here, charging across the creek in a terrific thunderstorm, Schofield's men forced their way close up to the Confederate works. They were as near to them as 250 yards, tenaciously holding the ground gained and actively intrenching. Meanwhile, Stoneman, beyond Schofield, with his cavalry had already seized the village of Allatoona, near the pass, getting there June 1st, where, taking a strong position, the work of repairing the railroad northward and southward began, and progressed with little or no opposition.

At the time Schofield and Hooker were steadily advancing, Thomas was also moving the rest of us to the left from the vicinity of Pickett's Mill, Thomas being on the lead himself with Baird's division. Thomas's army in this effort gained ground eastward about three miles.

Sherman's forces were then in position by June 3d to catch in flank the Confederate line of intrenchments, which still were manned, and extended from Pickett's Mill first due east and then almost north.

When on that date Johnston learned of the extension of Schofield's and Hooker's commands, he saw that his old position, that of New Hope, was no longer [562] tenable. Now, leaving New Hope, he began to move back with remarkable quickness to the new line partially prepared by his engineers. This line, about ten miles long, ran, in general, from southwest to northeast, and was doubtless intended only for a temporary resort.

At last, McPherson, still going toward the east, reached and followed the Ackworth Railroad, and then moved out and went beyond us all near to Bush Mountain.

Thomas, after another leftward effort, was next in place to McPherson, near to and advancing upon Pine Top, while Schofield remained nearer the angle at Gilgal Church. Our line, like that of the Confederates', was about ten miles long, and conformed to all the irregularities of Johnston's intrenchments. The Georgia mud was deep, the water stood in pools, and it was hard to get fires to cook our food and dry spots sufficiently large upon which to spread a tent fly or soldier's blanket.

A young man from Boston who joined me, Mr. Frank Gilman, and who became my private secretary, though well and strong when he arrived, and full of patriotic fervor, with an earnest desire to remain, could not bear the wear and tear of our mud bivouac here near Big Shanty. He lost his appetite and little by little his flesh; then, being attacked by chills and fever, was obliged to seek the hospital, and, finally, to save his life, he returned to his home. But the most of the soldiers were now veterans, and so inured to hardships that the mud and water seemed hardly to affect them at all; they thought the soft places around the camp fires preferable for beds to the rough rocks which they had had a few days before. [563]

On June 14th, Sherman, after reconnoitering the lines of the enemy as well as he could in rough ground and forest, with a view to finding a weak place through which to force a column, came to my temporary station near Pine Top. He noticed that several of us had been for some time watching in plain sight some Confederate intrenchments and a group of Confederate gentlemen about 600 yards from our position, and some evidently observing us with their good-sized field glasses. Sherman said to me: “How saucy they are l” He told me to make them keep behind cover, and one of my batteries was immediately ordered to fire three volleys on the group. This would have been done by me, except that Thomas had instructed me to use artillery ammunition only when absolutely necessary.

It would appear from the Confederate accounts that Johnston had ridden from Marietta with Hardee and Polk till he reached Pine Mountain (Pine Top). Quite a number of persons had gathered around them as they were surveying us and our lines. Johnston first noticed the men of my batteries preparing to fire, and cautioned his companions and the soldiers near him to scatter. They for the most part did so, and he himself hurried under cover. But Polk, who was quite stout and very dignified, walked slowly, probably because he did not wish the men to see him showing too much anxiety on account of the peril. While leisurely walking, he was struck in the breast by a fragment of an exploded shell, and was instantly killed.

We were apprised of Polk's death by our vigilant and skillful signal officers, who, having gained the key to the Confederate signals, could just read their messages to each other: “Why don't you send me an ambulance [564] for General Polk's body” was the one from Pine Top. In this way the story that Sherman himself had fired the gun that killed Polk, which was circulated for a time with much persistency, was explained.

Nobody on the Union side knew who constituted the group. The distance was too great to distinguish whether the irregular company, at which the volleys were fired, was composed of officers or soldiers.

What Sherman and I noticed and remarked upon more than any gathering of men, were the little tents which were pitched in plain sight on our side of the hill-crest. It seemed to us unusually defiant. After our cannon firing the hostile tents disappeared.

On June 15th, Thomas, of whose command my corps and Hooker's formed a part, was near Pine Top. Hooker's men had carried some Confederate works after a struggle, accompanied by rifle firing and cannonading. These works, some of them detached, connected Johnston's principal line from Lost Mountain with Pine Top.

Schofield, about the same time, drove a line of skirmishers away from a small bare hill near Allatoona Creek, placed his artillery upon it, and thence worked a cross fire into the enemy's intrenchments, driving Johnston's men, thus newly exposed in flank, back to near Gilgal Church. We were all along so close to our enemy that the constant skirmish fire of the New Hope line was here repeated. In the meantime, Johnston, continuing his inimitable defensive and delaying tactics, had prepared another new line along Mud Creek. This line followed the east bank of this creek, and was extended so much as to cross the direct wagon road between New Hope and [565] Marietta. It was the same line that ran from Lost Mountain.

Here Hardee, who had now retired to the new works, on the night of the 16th posted his batteries. The position covered the open ground toward us on the other side of the creek for a mile, and through this open ground the road coursed along, running between some steep hills that shaped the valley. There stood near by one bare hill, almost as high as the bluff where the Confederate batteries were posted, apparently unoccupied or weakly held. This was the position of Hardee on the morning of June 17th. It was formed by a dropping back of Hardee's men after being relieved from their place held the previous day. They had fallen back some three miles to cross “Muddy Run.” Our observation of what was going on was so close that no time was lost in following up Hardee's backward movement. Thomas and Schofield, now in the right wing of our army, early in the morning of the 17th went straight forward, skirmishing with Jackson's cavalry and driving it before them, until they reached the Marietta Crossroads. Cox (of Schofield's), with his division, was feeling forward for the new right flank of Hardee.

Soon the valley of Mud Creek was reached, and the Confederate batteries on the bluff were exposed to full view. Schofield's men made a rapid rush across the open ground to the shelter of the “bare hill” above referred to; there they lay for a time under its protection. They were well formed in two lineswhile Cockerell's battery and another from Hooker's for over an hour were storming the batteries of the enemy and gradually advancing their guns.

Here it was that Cockerell took advantage of the [566] bare hilltop as a natural breastwork. Unlimbering out of sight, he opened his fire, with only the muzzles of the guns exposed. His keen perception of this advantage saved his men, while the other battery, exposing itself fully on the crest, lost heavily.

The guns opposite Cockerell were silenced; then the deployment of our infantry was continued. My own corps (the Fourth) as well as the Twentieth (Hooker's) were occupied during this forward swing. Having left their Pine Top lines early in the morning of the 17th, they marched at first substantially abreast. Hooker, having the right, sped over the abandoned intrenchments of the enemy, and turning gradually toward the southeast, so as to face Hardee's refused lines, was coming upon the Confederates, who were already in place, as we have seen, behind Mud Creek, and strongly posted. I did the same on Hooker's left flank.

Palmer's corps (the Fourteenth) came up also on my left as soon as there was room. Thus Thomas with the Third Corps worked forward with his left touching the Ackworth Railroad, and soon made all proper connections with McPherson, who was advancing on the other side of the same railway.

Part of my corps (General C. G. Harker's brigade), at this time under the cover of a heavy artillery fire instituted by the division commander, charged a portion of Hardee's salient angle with great vigor, effected a lodgment in part of it, where the roads gave him some protection, and then carried and held several rods of these works, capturing the defenders.

This was one of the few cases in which intrenchments, strongly constructed and well manned were during the war, carried by direct front assaults. [567]

I first remarked the neatness of Harker's brigade, even during our rough field duty. At inspections and musters his men had on white gloves, and excelled the lauded Eastern troops in the completeness and good order of their equipments. The unusual pains taken by him and his brigade to appear clean and properly attired and well equipped did not, as we observed, detract from its energy and success in action.

In the afternoon Ed. McCook's cavalry followed up this success by getting around the left flank of Hardee, and pursued his cavalry down along the Dallas-Marietta wagon road and across Mud Creek. McCook in his venturesome sallies succeeded in getting within five or six miles of Marietta. He captured two hospitals with five commissioned officers and thirty-five men, also several attendants and nurses.

While securing these partial successes I saw, near my right, the most remarkable feat performed by any troops during the campaign. Baird's division (Palmer's corps), in a comparatively open field, put forth a heavy skirmish line, which continued such a rapid fire of rifles as to keep down a corresponding welldefended Confederate line of men, while the picks and shovels behind Baird's skirmishers fairly flew, till a good set of works was made but 300 or 400 yards distant from the enemy's and parallel to it.

After the action at Mud Creek, above described, with the forcing back of Hardee's flank, the situation was dangerous for Johnston. He, however, had fortified, with his usual foresight, another new defensive position nearer to Marietta, and work was going on in that quarter while the battle of the 17th was raging. Colonel Prestman, Johnston's military chief of engineers, had traced the proposed intrenchments, which [568] were destined for the last stand of the Confederates before the abandonment of Marietta; it was their last strong defense north of the Chattahoochee.

Meanwhile, early on June 18th our batteries were put under cover on the hills in front of Hardee's salient angle. This angle was in front of Palmer's and my corps, so that our guns, which we had located the preceding day, could play with an enfilading fire upon the Confederate works. After some cannonading, seeing the evident intention of a further movement to the rear, I thrust Newton's and Wood's divisions into action early in the day; charging with great vigor, they captured the works in their front, taking about 100 prisoners.

Confederate efforts by countercharges and battery firing were made to delay our advance, but all attempts were frustrated and the enemy each time repulsed. The brigade of the enterprising Harker already held the intrenchments which he had captured, and seeing the great advantage of securing them, I hurried in the whole of Newton's division.

The situation then was such that Johnston could no longer delay his retrograde movement.

Just before Johnston left Muddy Creek, Sherman declared: “His” (Johnston's) “left was his weak point so long as he acted on the ‘ defensive’ ; whereas, had he designed to contract the extent of his line for the purpose of getting in a reserve force with which to strike ‘ offensively’ from his right, he would have done a wise act, and!” (Sherman) “was compelled to presume that such was his object.”

On the afternoon of the 20th, Kirby's brigade of Stanley's division was holding “Bald Knob,” a prominent knoll in our front. The Confederates, using artillery [569] and plenty of riflemen, suddenly, just about sundown, made a spring for that knoll. Kirby's men were taken by surprise and were driven back with loss. The enemy quickly fortified the position and thus had a break in Sherman's line, where the enemy the next morning could follow up this advantage and begin an offensive movement for which we were not prepared. I was much annoyed, and as soon as Thomas and Sherman heard of the break they were. also worried. I telegraphed Thomas that I would recover that “Bald Knob” on the morrow without fail. I ordered General Wood on the right of the Knob to have his left brigade (Nodine's) ready under arms before sunrise, and Stanley to have Kirby's brigade there in front and to the left of the Knob also under arms and prepared to make an assault. One of Wood's artillery officers spent the night in putting in place four cannon and covering them by a strong field work, just in the edge of heavy timber near his left and well to the front, whence he could shell the enemy now intrenched on the Knob. Very early, with a couple of staff officers, my faithful orderly, McDonald, and private secretary, J. A. Sladen, Thirty-third Massachusetts (afterwards my aid-de-camp), I rode to the four-gun battery; leaving my comrades I took a stand on the improvised fort where I could see and direct every move. A Confederate battery shelled us fearfully and we replied with vigor. My situation was so perilous that my officers entreated me to leave it and get a safer place. But in this particular action I would not, for I wanted to be with my men in the action when it came on. When Kirby's skirmishers were well out, and Nodine's also, and our battery very active filling the air over the Knob with bursting [570] shells, I saw an officer standing behind Nodine's line not far from me. I mistook him for Colonel Nodine; I called him to me, and as soon as he was near enough to hear my voice amid the roar and rattle of the conflict, I said: “Colonel, can't you now rush your men forward and seize that Bald Knob”

He answered: “Yes, sir, I can.” I then said: “Go ahead!”

He sounded the advance and all the men of the Fifteenth Ohio Infantry sprang forward, and, at a run, within fifteen minutes had crowned the knoll. It was Colonel Frank Askew, and he had done with 200 men what I had intended Nodine to do with his entire brigade. Leaving orders for Nodine and Kirby to hurry up their brigades, I mounted and, followed by McDonald and Sladen, galloped to the front and stayed there with the gallant Fifteenth Ohio men till the reinforcements with shovels and picks had joined them. The suddenness of our charge and the quickness of our riflemen cleared the “Bald Knob” and restored the continuity of Sherman's front.

The concentration of Johnston's forces compelled us at this time to be on the lookout for just such offensive movements.

Before, however, bringing our troops forward into immediate contact with the Kenesaw barricades and abatis, it is necessary to give an account of an affair which cost many lives; only a drawn battle was fought, but it was fraught with consequences which seriously affected the remainder of the campaign. The affair is usually denominated “Kolb's” or “Culp's Farm,” and took place June 22, 1864.

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