HISTORY OF THE 84TH REGI-
MENT ILL. VOLS.
BY L. A. SIMMONS.
In a few moments, there were two almost simultaneous shots, the blow struck and instantaneously returned, [?] toward our right, upon which Gen. Bragg, now seemed to be directing his assailing forces. He had thrown a battery into position in front of Van Cleve’s division and opened the fight [?] a sharp attack on Beatty’s brigade which returned shot for shot, for some time, and firmly withstood the force sent in this direction; until the rebel battery limbered up and moved away and the attacking force slowly withdrew. While this was going on Gen Palmer had sent a Brigade of his division, (Col. Grose’s) forward to reconnoiter. This brigade advanced a considerable distance without [?]rious opposition, and probably might have marched into the midst of the rebel army to surrender as prisoners of war had not skirmishers detected a heavy force of the enemy already [?] their flank and hurrying forward to strike them in the rear. By falling hastily back to the main line, they escaped being cut off from the Division and almost at the moment they returned, the battle opened heavily all along the line, in front of Gen. Thomas’ corps. The attack upon the right Gen. Rosecrans had shrewdly construed as a feint, and was not in the least misled or deceived by it. All was in readiness when the tremendous blow come upon the left and center.
The rebels charged furiously upon one of Gen. Brannans brigades and forced it back, but were in turn forced to retire by the well directed fire of another brigade of the same division. This was about ten o’clock, and within half an hour all four of Gen. Thomas’ divisions were hotly pressed; the enemy coming upon them in heavy force formed in several successive lines of battle. Our double lines were able to check this mighty torrent and force it to recoil, but for a few moments; a second line took the place of the front one, shattered and broken by our death dealing musketry; and still onward it came like the surges of ocean waves, slowly yet surely forcing back the noble divisions that opposed it Gen. Thomas, always cool and collected, and each of his division Generals were putting forth every exertion to maintain an unbroken front and preserve the lines which were constantly being disarranged by the fierce and furious charges of the enemy. At one time the rebels had cut Reynold’s division completely in two, and taken possession of the road in his rear, but before they could concentrate a strong force upon it, a vigorous charge was made by the overpowered but undaunted division, and they were forced to relinquish the important position. Every inch of ground was now contested and though the whole corps fought with a valor that amounted to desperation, it was gradually forced back by the overpowering strength of the enemy. The right, Gen. Crittendens corps, not being engaged, Gen Plamers division was speedily moved toward the left, to reinforce the wavering lines of Reynolds and Baird’s divisions; but had scarcely got into position or under fire, when the enemy, finding so determined and stubborn a resistance made by Gen. Thomas, seemed to relax his efforts in that quarter, and threw a heavy force directly upon Van Cleve’s division. But here the attack was met with a volley from Gen. Sam Beatty’s brigade, followed up by a brilliant bayonet charge, which drove the enemy back some distance through the think woods in which the whole battle was fought. Gen Thomas’ corps reinforced by Palmer’s division now pressed forward recovering the ground which they had lost and scattering the rebels at every charge, and retaking some pieces of artillery which had been lost at the opening of the engagement. The dense woods between contending armies effectually concealed the movements that were taking place, and owing to the concealment afforded by the thick timber and almost impenetrable undergrowth, but very little artillery, with which we were well supplied could be brought into effective use, or be made to bear with precision, directly upon the massed columns of the enemy; hence for hours there was a constant rattle and clatter of musketry, with only here and there the sudden crack of a rifled field piece, or heavy boom of a Napoleon. Our line was gradually contracted and strengthened, yet at every point was met by a superior force of the enemy. A little after noon, Gen. Thomas’ center was again so severely pressed that he demanded reinforcements, and though the position at Gordons’ Mills was of immense importance, it became necessary to withdraw from Gen .Wood from it, to sustain the line further to the left, which was in imminent danger of being broken. About this time Gen. McCook arrived with two divisions of his corps, and though they had been marching since early dawn, as well as a good part of the night before. Gen. Davis commanding one was ordered instantly to the relief of Gen. Thomas, and Gen. Sheridan commanding the other took the position at Gordon’s Mills, lately occupied by Gen. Wood. Within an hour, two of these brigades as well as Negley’s whole division was sent to the left to reinforce Gen. Thomas, and more than once it was remarked “Thomas is using the whole army, to hold his position,” which was literally true; for division after division had been sent him, until our whole front was only that held in the morning by Brannan, Baird, Johnson and Reynold’s Divisions, and still there were none too many to hold in check the immense force that was being dashed upon him. Only Gen. Lytle’s Brigade was left at Gordon’s Mills to protect our right flank, in case the enemy undertook to cross a force there and strike our rear. Every man in the army was doing duty, and every regiment brigade and division was placed where it could accomplish the most.
From two o’clock until the sun went down a [?] of fire, as seen through the smoke of the battle field, this terrible conflict raged with most relentless fury. At times our forces would be driven back by the desperate charges and overwhelming numbers which opposed them; then they would rally, and with a yell, charge and scatter the rebels, and drive them far back into the dense forest. Thus the tide of battle ebbed and flowed, and the ceaseless rattle and crack and clatter of death dealing musketry, and the rapid boom of a hundred cannon, told that the work of destruction was going relentlessly on; that death was holding high carnival in the dense and gloomy forest upon the banks of Dead Mans river. Between sunrise and dark the din of battle gradually died away, as if both parties were feeling spent and exhausted, and willing to postpone the momentous struggle until the morrow.
Just as night fell, a terrific fire opened along the center, but was maintained only a few minutes, when all became quiet, while the gloom of night settled down upon the terribly bloody field.
Most nobly had our army fought overwhelming numbers. The enemy had been met and matched at every point. It had entered the lists against a giant player, and had made this day’s battle a draw game. Could it hope for success on the morrow?
Our whole army, except Gen. Granger’s Reserve Corps and one division of McCook’s Corps, had been engaged. We had, in fact, only one corps of fresh troops to assist in carrying the day; for McCooks other division was still far to the right, and could not reach is until late the next evening. Had the enemy thrown his whole force into action, or was he holding a strong force in reserve to crush and annihilate us when our strength was exhausted? There had been prisoners taken during the day from Longstreet’s and Buckner’s commands, and from this we well knew that nearly half of the entire confederate army was pitted against us. The men were still cheerful and determined and fully confident of success, when the blue and gold of the morning should be the signal for the renewal of the terribly sanguinary conflict. Were the Generals commanding as confident of success? did they dare to hope they could even make it a draw at the close of another day?
At night the enemy had one particular advantage. Not a drop of rain had fallen for more than a month, and all the small streams flowing down from Missionary Ridge were dry; we were forced back from the river except at Gordon’s Mills, and the right of our army had to go two miles for water, and the left still further; while the dull and sluggish Chickamauga flowed directly by the position of the rebels. Back at some distance in the rear of our small fires were kindled, and there small details from each company were preparing coffee and frying meat for their wearied comrades. The ambulances were slowly wending their way toward the field hospital, heavily loaded with the wounded, struck and torn and mangled in every conceivable way; or returning on a brisk trot to the battlefield for another load. The night grew cold and chilly as it advanced, and thousands with their equipments all on, with their muskets by their sides, wrapped in a single blanket were shivering the dreary hours away; and since they were not allowed fires, were wishing the return of light, though they well knew it would bring a repetition of the scenes they had just passed through. Hundreds and probably thousands, during that bitter cold and frosty night, lay between the lines of the opposing armies, suffering from wounds, torn and lacerated in every possible manner, by Minnie, shot and shell, and where no friendly hand could administer to their wants or relieve their distress – groaned tediously away that, to them, almost interminable night.
Ere daylight was visible in the east there was great activity in our decimated army. It was changing position slightly to the rear and considerably to the left, so as fully to cover the gap through Missionary Ridge to Rossville. The wagon trains on all the roads in the rear of our lines were moving northward, so as to be directly in the rear of the army in its new position, and upon the roads leading directly to Chattanooga. Morning broke, cold, dim and frosty, and a dense fog or vapor obscured the blaze of the thousand fires that were kindled to prepare a morning meal. The constant rattle of the heavy army wagons upon the dry roads, the monotonous rumble of artillery carriages, and the suppressed words of command, were heard in all directions, showing that active preparations for the day’s hard work were already going on. Soon the sun was shining brightly upon the frost covered earth, and the new line of battle was formed, much more contracted than on the previous morning and the divisions arranged in quite different order. – Saturday’s battle had torn divisions and brigades to pieces, but during the night the divisions had regathered their estray and shattered, yet undaunted and confident regiments, and now all were marshaled and ready to withstand the shock and bid defiance to the foe. Gen. Thomas still held the left of the line, his corps strengthened by Palmer’s division from Crittenden’s corps and Johnson divisions from McCook’s Corps. On the right of these were Wood’s, Davis’ and Sheridan’s divisions, the latter holding the extreme right. Gen. Lytle with a single brigade was still at Gordon’s Mills, and by the rearrangement dangerously isolated from the main body of the army. It will be noticed that the left of the line was made very strong at the expense of the right, and that nearly three-fourths of the whole were concentrated in front of the gap through which the road passed to Rossville and Chattanooga. The wisdom of the arrangement is manifest; we could even endure to have it shattered and torn to pieces, but should this calamity befall the left, defeat and destruction awaited us; yea, if we were cut off from our base, the whole army must be irreparably ruined, if not totally lost. An hour or more after sunrise, the field hospitals, which had been established near Crawfish Springs, were hastily broken up and moved far to the northward, and all wounded men who could walk were sent off on the roads toward Chattanooga. Others were placed in ambulances and wagons and moved with the hospitals, and hundreds were left in hospital tents in care of surgeons and nurses, who could not possibly be moved until the battle was ended. The necessity of this hasty removal of the hospitals was soon apparent; we could not spare even Lytle’s brigade from today’s fight, and the moment he moved from the position at Gordon’s Mills, the hospitals would be completely uncovered and exposed to the enemy. Another hour glided by, and still the battle had not re commenced. The men weary of standing in line at the front, were reclining upon the ground, where they could regain their places in an instant; and the rear lines had stacked arms, and in like manner were resting and awaiting the renewal of the conflict. The sun was slowly burning away the fog and sending a delicious warmth upon the limbs of thousands who had shivered through the night. Occasionally the sharp crack of a musket upon the skirmish line betokened vigilance upon the extreme front, while so many were seeking much needed repose and rest. It was now about nine o’clock, and except a straggling irregular fire along the skirmish line, there was very little to indicate the immediate presence of the enemy. – Both armies were apparently ready, and each waiting for the other to make the first charge or demonstration. – Palmer’s Division was now in the front line, nearly in the center of Thomas’ Corps, and had already thrown up a slight palisade of logs and rails, quite a protection from the “deadly Minnie,” when the irregular fire on the skirmish line suddenly increased, and the report of a hundred muskets startled the men reclining behind their hasty breastwork. The soldiers sprang to their places in an instant – no word of command was required – and resting their guns on their piles of logs and rails, they calmly waited for the enemy to come in sight. Old soldiers and true, they now needed no instructions as to their duty. Their ranks had been sadly thinned the day before, but they were undismayed and full of spirit, hope and courage. In a few minutes the battle opened along our whole line. Shot and shell came tearing through the woods, and our batteries returned the fire whenever the enemy came in view, and whatever there was a possibility of its being effective. During the next hour the thunder of batte gradually deepened. The terrific clatter of musketry was growing so furious, that the constant boom of artillery sounded only like a thunderous throb, but partially breaking the monotony of an incessant din and roar; while volumes of thick vapor and smoke arose above the tops of the trees of that vast forest, indicating to the observer upon the heights of Missionary Ridge the positions occupied by the contending armies. Soon a swarm of stragglers were seen hastening to the rear. – Some, however, were wounded, some were sick and were bringing back the horses belonging to mounted officers, and alas! some were only feigning wounds or sickness; anything that would give an excuse when the battle became furious, and pride was no longer a fair substitute for real courage. This happens in every battle; there ever will be hundreds of skulks and stragglers. Yet at the battle of Chickamauga, it was remarked by scores of veteran officers that they had never seen an army stand so unflinchingly and lose so little of its strength by straggling or scattering promiscuously to the rear. All seemed anxious to do their whole duty – all seemed resolved to purchase victory at any cost.
[To be Continued.]
→ Many of the leading Republicans throughout the State are just now amusing themselves by hearty endeavors to cover up the principal plank in their political fauth, and are now pretending that negro suffrage is no principle in their text book. Too many of their prominent leaders, however, have already got their fingers in it, and ordinary washing will fail to cleanse them of the smell. Wherever they have a ghost of a chance, they trot the negro suffrage question into the political arena, until they find out, as in this county, that they have the “wrong sow by the ear,” when they ‘lower sail,’ and try catching a more favorable breeze. A few Republicans, who have shown the nerve an backbone to sail under true colors, have already snubbed and twitted upon the subject, by leaders of their own party, and and admonished to “lay low,” as the thing won’t work. But they find there is too large a fire to admit of smothering the smoke, and it is useless for them, at this late day, to talk about hoodwinking any one into the belief that they are opposed to negro suffrage. They must think the human family are indeed credulous. Can they be so blind as not to have already learned that their big and little Tribune’s are clamoring for negro suffrage? Do they not know that all the recently held Republican conventions and meetings have expressed themselves clearly upon this subject, and advocated not only the “justice,” but what is more to them, the expediency of such a measure. The question was recently publicly sprung in this county, and brought forth many bitter anathemas from those of the Republican party whose stomachs were hardly strong enough for the dose. A few of the thimble ringers becoming alarmed, ad fearing demoralization, went to work drilling their forces, but could stand no engagement until they had armed a portion of their troopers, with anti-negro suffrage, – a weapon for which they, as a party, have a supreme contempt.
Seriously speaking, there are, we are charitable enough to believe, many well meaning Republicans who are honestly opposed to such a corrupt political heresy, and who cannot consistently harmonize with an element which basis its political faith upon such a black cloud of policy and expediency.
The breach has already been made in the East, and the more rabid of the Republicans have sloughed off from the President, and his reconstruction policy. Conservative Republicans everywhere, being tired of negro for breakfast, negro for dinner, and negro for supper, have finally concluded to change their diet, and conform more strictly to the laws of health. They have seen enough to satisfy their skepticism on the subject, and the labored attempts to cover up negro suffrage, is only another humbug got up to deceive and mislead malcontents. The game is too far gone. Negro wool is two short to tie the party firmly together, and demoralization has already commenced in earnest. Pick up the pieces, gentlemen!
For the Macomb Eagle.
Mr. Editor: – With your permission I would be pleased to submit a few reasons to the voters of the county of McDonough, through the columns of your paper, why they should vote the Democratic ticket at the ensuing election.
And the first proposition I wish to discuss is what position does the Republican party occupy on the question of negro suffrage, and what position does the Democratic party occupy on the same question, and which party is right on this question.
The war being over and the question of Slavery practically dead, and dead forever on this continent, a new question has arisen which overshadows all former and other political questions, in fact it is the controlling political question for the American people to settle. It is and will be discussed on every stump in America, in every county paper, in every legislature of all the States, and in the Halls of Congress, and even the privelege of the rebel States to return to the Federal Union will depend upon the settlement of this question. If one party succeeds the States lately in rebellion will be for a long time prohibited from returning to the Union; but, if the other succeeds, they will all soon return, and the Federal Union will be fully restored.
In the discussion of this grave question, there should be a fairness exhibited equal to the importance of the case, and no trifling reason should influence a voter to vote against his better judgement. He should first enquire for the right, and having found it, pursue it manfully.
Then, stripped of all surplusage, the naked question comes and addresses itself to the mind, heart and conscience of every voter, “Is the negro the equal of the white man?” In answer to this question I will frankly admit that if the negro is the equal of the white man, then it is not only wrong, but an act of injustice to deny to him the right of suffrage, and all other political rights which belong to and are exercised by the white man; but if, on the contrary, the negro is not the equal of the white man, then he should be granted such rights, and such rights only as are consistent with the good of the society in which the negro may live and the best interest of the negro himself. The history of the negro has presented the fact that he has not been the man of genius, of enterprise, or of improvement, but, on the contrary, has been indolent, shiftless, and without energy, without knowledge, without great mental culture. If this be not so, then I hope some one better acquainted with negro character than I am, will show my error. I ask that some one may point to a negro of full blood, who has been a great statesman, great general, the inventor of a useful machine, or a great man. Then if I am correct on this point, what is the cause? Is it the negro himself? or is it Slavery? If the reply is Slavery, then I say that millions of them are not slaves and never were, and many of them have had good opportunities for the full development of those qualities that distinguish the white from the black man. Our revolutionary fathers when they made the Constitution adopted it and passed laws under the same for the naturalization of men – they said that the white man and the white man only could be naturalized, and made an American citizen. Neither the Negro nor the Indian could by the laws of Congress, become an American citizen, thereby clearly indicating that this government was made for “white men and to be administered by white men.”
The Republican party insists that the negro shall be a voter, the Democratic party that he shall not be a voter.
Look Here. – The persons who carried off the Eagle Office Paste Cup, are politely requested to return the same without delay.