The Atlanta (Georgia) Campaign. No. 197.--Report of Lieut. Col. Edward S. Salomon, Eighty-Second Illinois Infantry
(from the Official Records of the War Between the States)
HDQRS, EIGHTY-SECOND ILLINOIS VOL. INFANTRY, Atlanta, Ga., September 15, 1864.
SIR: Of the part taken by my regiment in the campaign of Northern Georgia, I have the honor to submit the following report:
The regiment left Whiteside's, Tenn., where it had been stationed to guard the railroad, on the 3d of May, joining our brigade and marched with the brigade to Trickum Post-Office, where it arrived on the 7th of May and remained until 10th of May, when the regiment started at 1 a.m. and marched to Snake Creek Gap. The 12th of May we left Snake Creek Gap and arrived on the evening of the 13th of May near Resaca. On the 14th our regiment marched with the brigade to the rear of the center of our line of battle before Resaca. In the afternoon we received orders to march to the left. After having halted some time in the rear of the Fourth Corps, we received orders to proceed to the extreme left in double-quick. When we arrived there, the brigade was formed in line on the high bank of a little creek, an open field in our front; my regiment had the right of our brigade. Before the formation of our line was completed, the brigade on the left of the Fourth Corps and on our right gave way and fell back in considerable confusion, the rebels following them so closely that the Fifth Indiana Battery was in danger of being taken by them. At this critical moment I ordered the regiment to charge, although the brigade was not in line yet. I led the regiment in double-quick down the bank of the creek, and charged with a hurrah across the open field, and giving the enemy a full volley, drove them back. The balance of the brigade soon joined us, and after a brisk fire of fifteen minutes the enemy fell back through the woods, the battery was saved, and our brigade occupied the field for the night. The charge was made with such impetuosity that the enemy in their confusion fired too high, and therefore their fire was of no effect.
On the 15th we marched farther to the right and took up a position in the rear, but were soon ordered to the left, where our brigade gallantly repulsed several attacks. My regiment was in the second line, and I was ordered to relieve the One hundred and fiftieth New York, which was in the first line. We hurried forward under a perfect hail-storm of bullets; relieved the One hundred and fiftieth New York, and occupied the rifle-pits for the night. On the morning of the 16th we marched with the brigade in pursuit of the enemy, who had retreated during the night. On the eve of the 19th of May we came up with the enemy's cavalry at Cassville, Ga.; had a little skirmish, in which we lost 1 man killed; took a position before the town during the night and occupied Cassville on the morning of the 20th. We remained at Cassville until the 23d, and received orders to prepare for a twenty days' campaign. We left Cassville at dawn on the 23d of May and crossed the Etowah River at Euharlee.
On the 25th of May we crossed Pumpkin Vine Creek on the road to Dallas, but received orders to face about. The Second Division of our corps having butted against the enemy on another road, we were ordered to march to its support. We had to return, and crossed the creek again four miles above; passed the Third Division on the road and went into position in the woods on level ground. After the division had been formed, the signal to advance was given. Our brigade was in the first line, my regiment holding the extreme left, leaning on the road; we marched forward, keeping up a lively fire. After thirty minutes' firing we were relieved, the second and third lines marching through our line of battle. After half an hour's rest, we were again ordered forward and advanced steady under a heavy fire of infantry and artillery, the latter causing many casualties in my ranks. Up to a distance of 150 yards from the enemy we were ordered to halt here and keep the position at all hazards. We kept our ground until our ammunition was exhausted, and I then sent back for ammunition or relief. In the mean time I and my officers took the cartridge-boxes of the dead and wounded on the field, and distributed the cartridges among my men, and when the relief arrived I had two cartridges left, and had just ordered fix bayonets, seeing that the enemy, observing the slackening of our fire, advanced. We were relieved by a regiment of the Third Division. This day cost me 11 men killed and 59 wounded, out of 245 muskets which I took into the fight; officers and men of my command behaved excellently.
The 26th and 27th we remained in the third line of battle but had 2 men wounded by the enemy's sharpshooters, firing from the trees. On the 28th of May we struck camp at daybreak and marched to Kingston to bring an ammunition train to the front. We arrived at Kingston on the 29th of May, left again at dawn on the 30th with our train, and arrived in the afternoon of the 31st of May at the same place from which we had started. We camped there over night, and the next day marched with our corps toward the left of the line. We took up a position for the night, our skirmishers keeping up a lively fire all night.
On the 2d of June we continued our march to the left and took a position on the right of the Twenty-third Corps, while our pickets had a spirited engagement with the enemy. We built breast-works, but after they were completed a new line was ordered, and we had to change our front and build a new line of works. Skirmishing and some artillery fire was kept up all day. The regiment remained in this position until the 5th of June. During the whole time a continual fire was kept up by our pickets, day and night. On the 5th we marched five miles east and pitched our camp five miles from Acworth. On the 6th of June we marched in a southeasterly direction and struck the pickets of the enemy near Lost Mountain about twelve miles west of Marietta. We formed line of battle, fronting southwest, and threw out our skirmishers. At 4 p.m. we changed our front to south and moved about a mile from the position we had occupied. Our pickets kept up a brisk skirmish with the enemy and their fire continued till late in the evening. We remained here on the 7th and 8th of June. On the 9th I was ordered to march to the extreme left of our division, and on the right of the Third. We pitched our camp there, behind the breast-works, and remained in the same position until the afternoon of the 11th, when my regiment marched with the division about a mile to the left. The regiment remained in this position until the 15th of June. Struck tents at 2 p.m. and marched forward, the enemy having fallen back. A little before dark we arrived at the top of a steep hill near Pine Hill, to re-enforce the Second Division, which had a pretty severe conflict with the enemy. The regiment formed line and marched forward under the fire of the enemy, relieved a regiment of the Second Division, and threw up breast-works; we were so close to the enemy's lines that it was very difficult to work, as the rebels kept up a constant fire, wounding 1 man severely. We remained behind our works during the forenoon of the 16th, the enemy shelling our lines and their sharpshooters firing constantly over our breast-works. At 2 p.m. we were relieved and placed in reserve, but still much exposed to the enemy's artillery fire. The enemy evacuated during the night. We struck camp at 9 a.m. on the 17th of June, following the rebels closely, and were soon greeted by their shells. We took a position in sight of the enemy's batteries, which were playing on us, and built our works in an open field, on a commanding position, the batteries in our rear shelling the woods in our front. At 10 a.m. on the 19th of June we moved forward and butted against the enemy about two miles from our old position in a terrible rain-storm. Our skirmishers were immediately thrown forward and soon engaged the enemy. The ground was hotly contested, but our lines established. In this engagement the regiment lost 1 man killed and 3 men wounded, although there were only fifteen men of my regiment out on the skirmish line.
On the 20th we marched from this position south, arrived at dark at Atkinson's plantation, and encamped in line of battle. The 21st we built breastworks, and on the 22d marched forward and took a position on the crest of a hill near the Sandtown road about three and a half miles from Marietta. Our skirmishers marched forward, and a large open field being in our front, they had very hard work to get into position, as the enemy's pickets kept firing at them from their hiding-places in the edge of the woods. However, our lines were established under the cover of our artillery. The First Brigade of our division, on our right and a little advanced, was now attacked by Hood's corps. We fell in and prepared 'to give the rebels a warm reception. Battery I, First New York Artillery, which I had to support, threw shell and case-shot into the massed columns of the enemy, causing great havoc in their ranks. The enemy was gallantly repulsed by the First Brigade. The regiment did not participate in the engagement, but I lost 2 men on the skirmish line. The enemy had received a severe punishment, and did not repeat the attack although we remained there until the 3d day of July. On the morning of the 3d, discovering that the enemy had evacuated the works in our front, we struck camp and marched until we came in sight of the rebel pickets, formed our line, and camped in a dense forest, where we remained until 2 p.m. of the 4th of July, when we again broke camp and marched toward the Chattahoochee River, and arrived early in the evening of the 6th at a camp-ground a mile from the river. We erected earth-works and pitched our camp in a regular order, expecting to stay here and receive a few days' rest. The next day we received the order that the troops should make themselves comfortable, as we would stay in our present camp ten days. This news was received with much joy by every man. The men were nearly exhausted, and every soldier felt that after a short rest he could be of much more service to his country. The men, however, had stood all privations and hardships, as well as the continual skirmishing and fighting they had gone through without interruption since the 25th of May, with the greatest cheerfulness, and every man felt that Atlanta had to be ours before a long rest could be expected.
We rested here as ordered, and resumed our march toward the Gate City on the 17th of July. We struck tents at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, crossed the river near Vining's Station, and camped three miles south of the Chattahoochee River that night. The 18th of July we left late in the afternoon, marched across the fields until we struck the Buck Head road, and came into camp after dark, a mile south of Buck Head. On the afternoon of the 19th marched about four miles to Peach Tree Creek and camped. At 6 a.m. the 20th of July the troops began to move, and cross Peach Tree Creek at 7 a.m.; my regiment started at about 8 a.m., crossed the creek at 9 a.m., while the enemy had a battery in position, which shelled the woods and the bridge; although the battery had the exact range of the road their shells did not do any damage in our ranks. At 10 a.m. we arrived on the right of the Second Division, and were ordered to halt until our position would be assigned to us. It was very hot; the place where my regiment had stacked arms was without shade, and the men suffered severely from the heat. At 4 p.m. the assembly was sounded, the men fell in, and before the forward signal could be given we heard the clattering sound of heavy musketry in our front. We were hurried forward in double-quick into position. My regiment had been about thirty minutes in the second line when several men were wounded by stray shots, when I received orders to relieve the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, of the First Brigade. I marched the regiment in double-quick forward, arrived at Colonel Selfridge's regiment, and relieved him under a heavy fire, losing several men on the road. I brought the regiment into position and gave the enemy, who was only from thirty to thirty-five yards from us, a full volley, which did considerable execution. I kept up a brisk and rapid fire for over three hours, the rebels replying with great obstinacy. I had to draw fresh supplies of ammunition twice during the fight, and every man fired from 135 to 140 rounds. After dark I threw out my vedettes and ordered them to move forward cautiously. They did so and soon reported that the rebel picket-line was about 600 yards from our front. Lieutenant Bechstein and 9 men killed and 37 wounded out of my little regiment this day was a severe loss, but every man was in good spirits, and even the wounded did not heed their pains, for a great victory had been won and the men were eager to press forward and defeat the enemy again. Officers and men of my command behaved with the greatest courage and determination.
In the night we built breast-works, which we occupied the next day, and night also. On the morning of the 22d of July we resumed our march toward Atlanta, the enemy having fallen back behind his works around that city. About two miles from Atlanta our skirmishers struck the rebel pickets, and a little skirmish ensued, supported by a few pieces of artillery from both sides. At about 3 p.m. we were ordered forward, and our position assigned to us about one and a half miles from the city, in plain view of the first houses of Atlanta and of the enemy's works. We immediately commenced to build our breastworks, while the rebels shelled us from several batteries with much vigor, and while their sharpshooters tried to pick off every man they could see; they succeeded in killing 1 man and wounding another of my regiment. Although many of their shells exploded right among the men while they were working, we had our works finished before dark, and made them stronger during the night. Our pickets were thrown out and skirmishing commenced as usual. We lay behind our works until the 25th of August, the daily monotony of picket and artillery firing only interrupted by an occasional demonstration or feint on our or the enemy's side. Sharpshooters kept on doing their annoying work. While in the trenches before Atlanta, I lost 2 killed and 5 wounded. Before dawn on the 18th of August we were aroused by the enemy's shells exploding over our tents, and the regiment immediately fell in, anticipating an attack. The rebels shelled our lines with vigor for about three hours, but doing no damage to my works or troops. The next day our batteries shelled the enemy's works with greater vehemence' than they had been shelling us the previous day. During the whole time of the siege, my officers and men were in good spirits, they having become so accustomed to the bullets, shells, and solid shot that constantly whizzed and howled by their ears, that they no longer paid any attention to them.
On the 25th, at 1 a.m., I received orders to march at daybreak to the Chattahoochee railroad bridge, there to erect works for our brigade, which was to follow the next day with the other brigades of our division. I struck camp accordingly at 3 a.m., and arrived at the river at 6 o'clock, went to work, and before night had constructed strong rifle-pits, sufficient for our whole brigade. The brigade having arrived, the next morning we went into camp, our front well lined with artillery, and in such a position that the men were confident of being able to resist any attack which might be made on our lines. The men constructed their camp in a neat and comfortable manner, expecting to remain in our position for some time, when, on the 2d day of September, the gladful tidings that Atlanta was occupied by troops of our division, including two regiments of our brigade which had gone out on a reconnaissance, was received. Our lines having been weakened by sending all the troops, with the exception of the rest of our brigade and a few batteries, to Atlanta, it became necessary to locate the different regiments near the forts and batteries. I was ordered to put up my camp near the heavy battery stationed in a fort on the right of the railroad, where we remained until the 4th of September, when we marched with our brigade to Atlanta. To the great gratification of the soldiers we marched through the conquered city, with colors flying and bands playing, and occupied the works erected by our enemies, and from behind which they had sent so many deadly missiles into our ranks. Before I conclude my report, I take great pleasure in saying that both officers and men encountered all the hardships and dangers of this eventful campaign with the most unflinching energy and zeal, fully determined to spare no exertions in assisting to bring the campaign to a glorious end.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
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