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Chapter 18:

In November, 1863, Grant, victorious at Vicksburg, appeared at Chattanooga, where the Federal army was beleaguered by Bragg on Missionary ridge and Lookout mountain. Grant's prompt decision was that Bragg must be driven from the position he had chosen. For that work he selected well his lieutenants, Sherman, Thomas and Hooker, and they did it successfully. Bragg, always fighting valiantly, but ever face to face with a stronger enemy, never once possessing men enough, assailing or assailed, to mass against a compact foe, saw himself worsted at every point. He found it necessary to retreat to Ringgold, which he did on November 26, 1863. Here he was soon after relieved from command by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and called to Richmond to serve as President Davis' chief of staff.

Johnston assumed command of the army of Tennessee on December 18, 1863. He found at Dalton an army of about 36,000 effective infantry and artillery, with 5,000 cavalry. In his front was soon massed a Federal army of about 10,000 and Sherman put in command. The odds were altogether in favor of the Federals. Beginning early in May the Federal army slowly forced the Confederates back step by step, by a series of flanking movements, to Atlanta. In his army at Dalton, Johnston counted among his effective fighters the Louisiana brigade, in A. P. Stewart's division. The brigade was commanded [190] by R. L. Gibson, promoted to brigadier-general; the First regiment regulars by Maj. S. S. Batchelor; the Thirteenth by Lieut.-Col. Francis L. Campbell; the Sixteenth and Twenty-fifth by Col. Joseph C. Lewis; the Nineteenth by Col. R. W. Turner, Lieut.-Col. Hyder A. Kennedy; the Twentieth by Maj. Samuel L. Bishop; the Fourth battalion by Lieut.-Col. J. McEnery, Maj. Duncan Buie; the Fourteenth battalion by Major Austin. (Return of April 30th.) The Louisiana cavalry was represented by Guy Dreux‘ company at headquarters, the artillery by Vaught's company with Hardee's corps and Capt. Charles E. Fenner's with Hood's.

When Polk's army of Mississippi joined that of Tennessee at Resaca it brought a brigade under command of Col. Thomas M. Scott, of the Twelfth regiment (that regiment led by Lieut.-Col. Noel L. Nelson), in Loring's division; the Fourth Louisiana, Col. S. E. Hunter, and Thirtieth, Lieut.-Col. Thomas Shields, in Quarles' brigade, Walthall's division; the Pointe Coupee artillery, Capt. Alcide Bouanchaud, and Capt. Greenleaf's escort company. Later in the campaign the Fourth and Thirtieth were transferred to Gibson's brigade, and Nutt's company was added to Granbury's brigade.

In the meager reports available of the Georgia campaign we catch glimpses of the heroic service of the Louisianians. General Gibson in his report of June 1st, describing previous operations, told of tenacious holding of his line, assisted by Fenner's battery, in Mill Creek gap, till ordered to the south. At Resaca the brigade made two charges, and on the retreat from there they were assigned to the rear guard. Hardly were they in line when attacked, and then Gibson, taking command of his own and Stovall's brigades, threw forward a heavy line of skirmishers. His men stood calm and steadfast till long after midnight, when the army was across the river. After various maneuvers the army found itself on the line of New Hope church, facing westward. On the evening of [191] May 25th, A. P. Stewart sent Austin's battalion and Lewis' Sixteenth regiment forward as skirmishers near the church, the enemy showing activity. Soon the remainder of the brigade was ordered forward to develop the enemy. They drove in the skirmishers and found the enemy in line of battle. Gibson was called back and put in reserve. Then immediately followed that determined assault by Hooker's corps, and no less determined repulse. By June 1st, the brigade had lost out of 889 enlisted men, 34 killed, 150 wounded and 19 missing; out of 85 officers, 4 killed and 13 wounded.

Said General Gibson: ‘Capt. E. J. Blasco, Thirteenth, was killed in the charge at Resaca. He was a modest, skillful and brave young man, who had served with me from the beginning of the war and to whom I had become greatly attached. Capt. M. G. Pearson, Nineteenth, Lieut. J. T. Craddock, Sixteenth, and Lieut. F. Hammond, Fourth battalion, excellent officers, fell at their posts. Lieut.-Col. J. McEnery, commanding Fourth battalion, was severely wounded in the charge at Resaca; Maj. S. L. Bishop, commanding Twentieth regiment, lost his right arm in front of New Hope church, and Maj. W. B. Scott, Nineteenth, lost his leg and has since died of the wound. Maj. W. B. Scott laid aside his ministerial robes for the sword, and while he served the brigade as a parson he gave up his life defending his native land. Capt. J. W. Stringfellow, First infantry, and Adjt. O. O. Cobb, Sixteenth, were also severely wounded. These officers and those of the wounded whose names I have mentioned were among the very best officers of the brigade.’ He especially commended Major Austin, who had been frequently distinguished on the skirmish line, and honorably mentioned his staff officers: Capt. H. H. Bein, adjutant-general; Capt. A. L. Stuart, inspectorgeneral; Maj. J. H. Henshaw, quartermaster; Maj. W. V. Crouch, commissary; Capt. G. Norton, successor to Bein; Lieut. H. P. Kernochan, an efficient aide in the [192] frequent intrenching; Aide J. M. Gibson, and Lieut. L. Ware, volunteer aide, severely wounded at New Hope church.

Fenner's artillery was complimented by General Stewart, with the battalion of three batteries in which it served, for effectiveness at New Hope church. Colonel Campbell reported at this time that he had 58 men bearing arms in the Thirteenth. Major Austin reported that, reinforced by two companies, he had suffered a loss of 26 killed out of a total of 85 effective in the stubborn fight he made against Hooker's advance at New Hope. He mentioned with honor the names of Sergt.-Maj. Augustus O'Duhigg, dangerously wounded in most gallant action; Captain Lowd and Lieutenant Greany; and Lieut. A. T. Martin, alone in command of Company B; Sergt. James Delany and Privates John Hagan, Richard Kiely and J. B. Mc-Graw, for great gallantry at New Hope church. The gallant Austin, capable of commanding a regiment, had 60 men at Dalton, and had lost 23. Colonel Lewis mentioned in addition to names already given, AssistantSur-geon Bass as greatly distinguished, and Sergeant-Major Bradford, wounded. Capt. Robert L. Keen was now in command of the Twentieth.

Scott's brigade reached Resaca May 10th, when Mc-Pherson's corps was four miles distant, intent on cutting off the retreat of Johnston from Dalton. On the 13th, McPherson advancing, Scott was thrown forward to Bald Knob to meet him, where he held the enemy in check three hours, until called off. Subsequently they manned the breastworks, Bouanchaud's battery in action from a hill in the rear. When Sherman was crowding the retreat later, Scott's brigade with a section of the Pointe Couple battery assisted General Wheeler in checking the enemy. On the New Hope line they engaged in heavy skirmishing for a week. From May 10th to June 1st the brigade loss was 341, a due share of which was borne by the Louisianians. [193]

Of the Louisiana regiments then with Quarles we snatch a glimpse through the smoke of battle in the report of the gallant Cleburne of the fight of May 27th, near New Hope church: ‘Quarles' brigade was conducted to the rear of Lowry, and formed as a second line. The Fourth Louisiana, Colonel Hunter, finding itself opposite an interval between the two regiments of Lowry's line, advanced with great spirit into the field, halted and delivered a very effective fire upon the enemy in front After some minutes Quarles withdrew his regiment and formed it behind the field, where they continued their fire across it.’ In the same battle the Thirtieth relieved the Thirty-ninth Georgia at the front.

Next followed the fighting at Kenesaw mountain,1 the attempt to hold the Chattahoochee, the retreat across it, the relief of General Johnston by Gen. John B. Hood, and the fierce battles of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, and Ezra Church, July 20th to 28th.

During these operations Gibson's brigade was in the division commanded by General Clayton, Stewart having corps command until S. D. Lee arrived, July 27th. Gibson's brigade took part in the attack from the intrenchments on the 22d; and on the 28th, according to General Gibson's report, was led by Colonel Von Zinken against the enemy strongly posted, where the men fought gallantly and lost heavily. Lieut.-Col. Thomas Shields and Maj. Charles J Bell, of the Thirtieth, fell at the head of the regiment, the former with the colors in his hands within a few feet of the enemy's breastworks. Lieut. W. B. Chippendale, of the same gallant regiment, was killed and Captain Becnel mortally wounded. Lieut. W. J. Clark, Nineteenth, and Lieut. W. G. Jeter, Fourth, and Capt. W. H. Sparks, First, were killed, and Lieutenant [194] Gladden mortally wounded. The brigade took position, intrenching on the west of the city, and was engaged in continual skirmishing during the remainder of the siege. An attack was made upon them August 5th, and General Lee reported that ‘the skirmishers of Gibson's brigade permitted half of their number to be killed, wounded or captured before the others would leave their position.’

Finally Sherman secretly withdrew from his lines and was at Jonesboro, essential to the railroad communication of Atlanta, before Hood was fully persuaded of his intentions. Gibson's brigade, sent to Jonesboro with Lee, put his men in line of battle August 31st, and was ordered to the attack upon the enemy who had had time to intrench. ‘My line,’ said Gibson, ‘moved forward with great enthusiasm and went beyond the fence into the thicket in which the enemy's rife-pits were, when a few men, halting at the fence and lodging in the skirmish pits, began to fire, and soon the whole line fired, halted and finally gave way. A few of the men got up to the works of the enemy and some inside of them, when they found the enemy being reinforced while their own commands were retiring, and they had consequently to abandon the posts they had won. I never saw a more gallant charge or one that so fully promised success. The officers and men all behaved with great intrepidity in charging through an open field under a very heavy and well-directed fire.’ With noble spirit the men reformed, and advanced again to the hopeless slaughter. In fifteen minutes, in the second charge, half the command that was left fell killed or wounded. Conspicuous was Col. J. C. Lewis, who fell mortally wounded at the head of his regiment, within a few paces of the enemy. Others who fell within arm's reach of the trenches were Capt. S. Aycock, Capt. R. P. Oliver, Lieut. T. J. Scott and Lieut. Morgan Edwards. The Fourth, under Colonel Hunter, made a gallant assault, striking the most important part of the line, but they had not the strength alone to break it. [195]

The Twelfth Louisiana, at the battle of the 20th of July, lost II killed, 57 wounded, and 4 missing, out of 318 engaged. Capt. J. A. Bivin and Lieut. M. S. McLeroy were killed in front of the line. Maj. H. V. McCain was wounded. Lieut.-Col. T. C. Standifer and Sergt.-Maj. H. Brunner were honorably mentioned.

After the evacuation of Atlanta Hood designed a campaign to lure Sherman from Atlanta, cut his communications and force a battle further north. On September 25th President Davis arrived at headquarters, and on the next day, after a serenade by the Twentieth Louisiana band, he addressed the soldiers. Three days later the army began its movement northward. In the most serious engagement which followed, that at Allatoona, the Pointe Coupee artillery took part. Slocomb's battery, under Chalaron, did effective work at Dalton.

Hood, closely pursued by Sherman, fell back into Alabama, and Sherman returned to Atlanta, burned the city, and set out for Savannah. [196]

1 During the operations near Kenesaw, the armies of Mississippi and of Tennessee suffered a heavy blow in the death of Lieut.-Gen Leonidas Polk. The united armies, though facing desperate perils, took time to mourn the bishop of Louisiana. He had ever been a pillar of strength to his people. Gentle in peace and undaunted in the field, he is remembered as the militant bishop of the Confederacy.

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