Mission Ridge, Wednesday, Nov. 25.
Called up before three
in the morning to feed. Suffered very much from cold during the night.
The blankets stiff with frost over us. Witnessed an almost total eclipse
of the moon and again lay down, but no sleep.
6 A. M. McCook's Brigade of Davis's Division formed in line of battle facing to the left and supporting our artillery, should it be necessary. 1st Section (rifles) reported to be well fortified on the ridge.
9 A. M. Not much fighting as yet, the pickets advancing and skirmishing. A reb battery shells directly over and in rear. One shell twelve-pounder time-fuse dropped ahead of our team and was dug up by the boys. A mule team came up and issued one day's rations of hard-tack.
11 A. M. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades went in on double quick followed by the 11th Corps with crescents flying, a fine looking body of men, but are looked on rather suspiciously by our sturdy veterans. They went in and advanced towards the rebels' works on Tunnel Hill, and musketry rattled very severe.
From that time [till] late in the evening a terrible struggle followed, wounded men coming back thick and fast. Our position was such that we could not witness the field and we were not permitted to leave the teams an instant. Our loss is very heavy, especially in officers. The struggle on our side was for the occupation of Tunnel Hill and our line advanced up the steep side of the bluff time after time, but were obliged to fall back, the rebels being reinforced all the time, and could pick them off wit1t ease, the lay of the land being such that they succeeded in flanking the 11th Corps, and they fell back in disorder. But they were received by the 2nd and 3rd Brigade of our Division, and moon compelled to retire.
More desperate fighting, it is said by those who witnessed they had never seen. Our line being for hours under the enemy they rolled stones upon us, wounding many. Three companies of the 5th Iowa were taken prisoners, having used up all their ammunition and would not run. Artillery could not be brought to much use, and my feelings as I staid under that hill, listening to the noise and rattle of the fight, mingled with suppressed cheers of charging parties, and the groans of the wounded as they passed in the long trains of ambulances, or the lighter wounded hobbling back a-foot with bleeding and mangled limbs, I cannot describe in words. General Matthies was wounded in the head while leading his Brigade on to the charge, I saw him ride to the rear covered with blood. Colonel Putnam of the 93rd Illinois was killed instantly while waving the colors in front of his men, a noble and much loved officer. The 90th Illinois and 73rd Pennsylvania were literally cut to pieces, and their officers all killed or wounded.
The day closed, and the dark mantle of night was spread over the gory fields. We have gained nothing in the shape of ground all day, but their slaughter must be terrible. Thomas and Hooker were at them all day and it is reported gained great advantage. We had to fight the main body of the army. Lookout was taken yesterday, 2500 prisoners and three pieces of artillery. To-morrow if they stand, will be a final and awful test of strength. Sherman, cool and deliberate, is ready for them. Got corn to feed on the battle-field.
Mission Ridge, Thursday, Nov. 26.
After we retired last
night with horses unharnessed, a courier came in hot haste with the report
"The enemy is coming down upon us in double columns We were ready to give
them a warm reception on short notice, but they did not come, and again
we laid down, but left the harness on. They will not catch us napping.
It was a chilly, cold night and we suffered much from cold bed. But little
rest during the night, and at 3 A. M. we were called up to feed, which
was more of a relief than otherwise. But no man grumbled or complained
as we thought of our wounded who lay on the field all night with no cove-ring,
and weak from the loss of blood. Their groans could be heard by our men
all night, and the friends in rebellion would not permit them to carry
relief to them or bring them in. The enemy occupied the contested ground.
One, who had a brother lying on the field, started with the determination
of relieving him or die in the attempt. - True to his determination he
was shot dead by the inhuman wretches who would not listen to his plea.
Their punishment will be great.
A dense fog settled as the morning approached, so that it was impossible to discern objects two rods distant. Troops commenced pouring down the hill early. The 1st Section joined us. At first we thought it was maneuvering for the day's battle, but the truth was soon known. The wounded pelican of the South had flown during the night, and all their boasts and threats of the re-occupation of East Tennessee has ended in a retreat. We were to go on the chase. The 11th Corps swung around on their rear and flanked their line of retreat, while the 15th Corps reached back to the Tennessee River, and crossed Chickamauga Creek on the pontoon. Halted on the bank two hours to give the advance time to cross. Grazed our horses. 10 A. M. we crossed the bridge in rear of the 1st Brigade. The infantry moved more still and quiet than usual. Thus they come but miss their comrades that fell in yesterday's engagement. Our Division lost * * * killed and wounded. A marked change is to be seen in its ranks. Marched lively the rest of the day through the Chickamauga Valley. The troops were entirely out of rations. the infantry many of them having had nothing to eat but parched corn on which they fought for two days and entrenched by night with pick and spade. Halted at 5. P. M. an hour for supper. Shelled con) was got in plenty for horses from Secesh camp, but the boys many of them supped corn and coffee. Artillery firing could be heard in the distance which told us that we were upon their rear.
Moved on till 9 P. M. through Chickamauga Station, where, large piles of corn were in a blaze. Twelve thousand bushels of corn are said to be burned here, and a large quantity of cornmeal left of which we were lucky enough to get a good supply. The road for miles was white with meal, spilled as they ran. Caisson bodies left and several blown up. Took twenty-one howitzer shells from one of them into our chests. Came into camp in an open field in rear of the 11th Corps. Made our beds in the leaves and slept sweet till morning light.
Graysville, Ga., Friday, Nov. 27.
Started at 8 A. M. Our march lay through a poor country, thinly settled, covered with small pine, swampy soil. All along the road evidence could be seen of the haste of the enemy. Wagons, limbers, wheels, harness, etc. left, but all were destroyed. Reached Graysville at 3 P. M. and came into camp on a steep hillside, a lively little R. R. station on Chickamauga Creek, good water power, cabinet works and flouring mill. The latter was kept running by soldiers of the 11th Corps. A ram-e of mountains commenced here, and our advance came upon the rear of the enemy here this morning, capturing a battery commanded by Beauregard's son. It was harnessed up and ready to move. General Thomas manned it with infantry, took it after them. A brisk fight could be heard at Ringgold, five miles distant. Prisoners and deserters came in thick and fast from every direction. They say they are tired of running and being hunted like beasts. Bragg promised victory and gain to them, instead of which they received nothing but a dastardly retreat and shame with empty bellies.
An Artillerymanís Diary
By Jenkin Lloyd Jones
Wis. History Commission
Original papers #8
Democrat Printing Co.