KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


STATE HISTORY, PART 9

[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]

EIGHTH REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, PART 2.

The division moved toward Chattanooga on the 2d of September; on the 4th, arrived at the foot of the Lookout Range; on the 9th, ascended and marched across it thirteen miles to Lafourche Gap, but finding this passage obstructed, marched south and descended into the valley through Standifer's Gap, near the town of Alpine, Ga., where the remainder of the corps arrived on the 11th. In the meantime, Crittenden, with a part of his corps, had moved directly to Chattanooga and established himself on the height of Lookout Mountain, and Thomas had pushed forward across Mission Ridge into the valley of the Chickamauga Creek, known as McLemore's Cove.

Bragg, finding himself in danger, had fallen back to La Fayette, and was there concentrating a powerful army, and Crittenden, leaving one brigade to garrison Chattanooga, had advanced in pursuit of Bragg as far as Ringgold, Ga. When it became apparent that Bragg, instead of retreating, was gathering his strength to strike a heavy blow, the various scattered portions of our army made haste to concentrate at the Chickamauga. Crittenden made a rapid flank march, reaching the Chickamauga at Gordon's Mill, and McCook made haste to connect with Thomas at the same place. Accordingly, leaving his position at Alpine, he moved back to the top of the ridge, across it, and descended into Will's Valley through Muston's Gap; again ascended on the 16th, and on the 17th moved down Into McLemore's Cove through Stevens' Gap. The enemy was now near, and the skirmishers on both sides were busy. Through the next day, the men were momentarily expecting an attack, but did not reach the battlefield until the 19th, when the brigade of Col. Heg was immediately formed in line; the Eighth Kansas, Fifteenth Wisconsin and Thirty-fifth Illinois in front, and Fifth Illinois in rear. Gen. Carlin's brigade, also of Davis' division, formed some distance in the rear of Col. Heg's. The latter was advanced through the woods a few hundred yards, when it was met by a steady fire from the opposing line, in the face of which it moved forward, and formed along the brow of a small hill, with the Twenty-fifth Illinois also in the front line. This position was held against successive charges until over a third of the brigade were killed or wounded; of the Eighth alone, five Captains, three Lieutenants and 150 men. The situation growing more and more desperate, the position being exposed on both the right and left, Col. Heg gave the order to retire. The men fell back about fifty yards, loading and firing as they did so. They then re-formed, and in turn charged the rebels, gaining a position nearly as advanced as the first, which was held until the division was ordered to fall back to a point where, with the aid of the artillery, it held the enemy back, until late in the afternoon it was relieved by Col. Bradley's brigade. After a brief rest, the division was again brought up to support Bradley's force, where it remained until the arrival of fresh troops about dusk allowed it to withdraw. The two brigades had lost, in killed and wounded, over forty per cent of all engaged. Col. Heg was mortally wounded about the middle of the afternoon, the command of the brigade devolving upon Col. Martin, of the Eighth Kansas. When the division withdrew from the field at night, two-thirds of its field officers, and more than half its line officers, were either killed or wounded. It had been opposed to no raw troops. Its position, far to the right, toward Gordon's Mill, somewhat isolated from the main body, and holding the road which ran directly up the west bank of the Chickamauga Creek, had been assailed by Hood, who held the rebel left in the morning. Finding that his batteries made no impression, he threw against it, in the afternoon, two of his divisions, his own, under command of Gen. Law, and that of Gen. Bushrod Johnson. The brigades that held their ground so long and bravely against such troops as those, well earned the thanks which Gen. Rosecrans gratefully awarded them.

Early on the morning of the 17th, the division was moved to the left, and at noon again to the extreme right, forming, with Gen. Wood's division on its left, and Gen. Sheridan's in its rear, the latter at the time moving to the support of Thomas at the left. Gen. Rosecrans' order to Gen. Wood to close up to the division on his left being unfortunately understood as an order to support it, he undertook to do so by withdrawing his troops, and attempting to gain the required position. The gap thus formed must be filled, and three of Gen. Davis brigades were ordered to close up, Col. Martin's brigade on Carlin's left. It had scarcely reached its position, when Hood's charging columns poured over the ascent in front, but were met so firmly that their front line broke, and fell back to the rear. Their second line was also partially broken; but to the left of the division Longstreet's forces had rushed into the fatal gap, and succeeded in cutting off five brigades from the rest of the army. The division was forced to fall back, with that of Sheridan, to Rossville, when the remnants of the two commands having been re-formed, it was decided to move to the support of Gen. Thomas, who was hard pressed on the left. Before reaching him, an order was received to fall back again to Rossville, and on reaching that place at midnight, nearly all the army were found concentrated there.

On the 22d of September, the army reached Chattanooga and was at once set to work throwing up fortifications. The lines formed a half-circle, Gen. Davis' division being on the extreme heft, fronting south, toward Lookout Mountain. Col. Martin's brigade was detailed for picket duty along Chattanooga Creek. After being relieved from this, the men returned to the line and labored at the fortifications until midnight; from which time until morning, half could sleep, while the rest kept watch and guard. For about two weeks, the weary army scarcely rested night or day. Cooped up in that little hollow, with an eager and vengeful enemy looking down from the mountains on every side, communication from any adequate source of supply completely cut off, provisions nearly exhausted, cold winds and drenching autumn rains chilling them to the marrow, still they worked bravely and cheerfully on, never losing faith in the final triumph of the good cause.

Early in October, the fortifications around the town were far enough advanced to allow a partial rest to the troops, and a re-organization of the army. The three corps were consolidated into two - the Fourth and Fourteenth - under command of Gens. Granger and Thomas. respectively. Col. Martin's brigade, consolidated with Gen. Willich's, was designated the First Brigade, Third Division (Brig. Gen. Wood), Fourth Army Corps, and stationed on the extreme left of the line, resting against Fort Wood, and fronting Orchard Knob and Mission Ridge.

On the 20th, Gen. Rosecrans was superseded in command of Army of the Cumberland by Gen. Thomas, and on the 23d, Gen. Grant arrived at Chattanooga and assumed command of the department. Gen. Sherman's army reached Chattanooga on the 21st of November, and on the 23d the first aggressive movement of our army was initiated by Wood's and Sheridan's divisions. The point of attack was Orchard knob, a low, fortified hill, about three-fourths of a mile beyond the intrenchments. About 2 o'clock the two divisions formed in front of the breastworks; the Eighth Kansas advanced as a skirmish line, and dashing across the open field that separated it from the prize, drove back the pickets to their intrenchments. With a cheer and a rush and a volley, the rebels were driven from and beyond them to their second line of breastworks. The divisions came up, the position was secured and one step gained toward raising the siege of Chattanooga. That night the position was strengthened by strong breastworks, and a larger force thrown forward to its support. In the morning, Gens. Grant and Thomas established headquarters there, with a signal station, by means of which they could communicate with their subordinate officers.

The Eighth, with the brigade to which it was attached, remained in its position on Orchard Knob, while Sherman laid his pontoons, crossed the Tennessee, and floating silently past the rebel pickets fought his way to Mission Ridge; while Hooker climbed the rocks and ledges of Lookout Mountain, and until Gen. Thomas had improved and strengthened his position.

At 2 o'clock, November 25, Gen. Thomas received the order from Gen. Grant to advance and attack. Gen. Wood's division was directly in front of Orchard Knob, the First Brigade occupying the center of the division. In front of the lines was, first, a broken country covered with dense woods, then an abrupt rise of ground edged by earthworks, behind which the enemy had located his camp. From the plateau beyond this, Mission Ridge rose, nearly parallel with our lines, rugged, broken and steep, to a height of nearly five hundred feet, its summit bristling with rebel batteries and strengthened by a line of intrenchments.

The line moved forward through the woods, gained the open field, gave one long, loud cheer, set their teeth, and looking straight ahead, without firing a shot, swept forward right into the enemy's rifle pits at the base of the ridge, driving some of the rebels before them to its summit, and sending others to the rear. Hardly stopping to re-form, or for an order, they slowly and grimly charged up the steep and rocky ascent, never halting or wavering on the steady advance, until the summit was gained, the last rebel resistance overcome, and Chattanooga had avenged Chickamauga.

Gen. Willich's brigade climbed the ridge between Hazen's to the right, and Beatty's to the left, and, on gaining the summit, the flags of the Eighth Kansas and the forward regiments of Hazen's brigade were the first planted on the enemy's works.

On gaining the summit, the brigade was once more formed to repel the resistance on the left of the line, which was soon overcome, and the enemy, abandoning his whole position, was in full retreat, pursued by our exultant, triumphant forces. The following is from Col. Martin's official report of the part taken by the Eighth Kansas in this engagement:

Shortly after noon on the 25th, we were ordered to advance on the enemy's position at the foot of Minion Ridge, and moved out of our works, forming in the second line of battle. We then advanced steadily in line through the woods, and across the open field, in front of the enemy's intrenchments at the foot of the hill, subjected during the whole time to a heavy artillery fire from the enemy's batteries, and as soon as we reached the open field, to a destructive musketry fire. Reaching the first line of works, we halted to rest our men for a few moments, and then advanced through a terrible storm of artillery and musketry to the foot of the hill and up it as rapidly as possible. The crest of the ridge at the point where we moved up was formed like a horseshoe, we advancing in the interior, while the enemy's batteries and infantry on the right and left, as well as in the center, poured upon us a most terrific fire. But the men never faltered or wavered, although from the nature of the ground, regiments were mingled one with another, and company organizations could not possibly be preserved. Each man struggled to be first on top, and officers and men of the regiment, without a single exception, exhibited the highest courage, and the most devoted gallantry in this fearful charge. The enemy held their ground until we were less than a dozen yards from their breastworks, when they broke in wild confusion, and fled in panic down the hill on the opposite side. A portion of our men pursued them for nearly a mile, capturing and hauling back several pieces of artillery and caissons, which the enemy were trying to run off.

We occupied the summit of Mission Ridge until the night of the 26th, when we were ordered to return to camp at this place (Chattanooga).

Our loss was one commissioned officer wounded, and three enlisted men killed and thirty-one wounded. The regiment went into the battle with an aggregate effective force of 217 men and officers.

Where all behaved with such conspicuous courage, it is difficult to make distinctions, but I cannot forbear mentioning my Adjutant, Lieut. Sol. R. Washer. Wounded at Chickamauga and not yet recovered from the effects of his wound, and suffering from a severe sprain of the ankle which prevented his walking, he mounted his horse and rode through the whole battle, always foremost in danger. Maj. Ed. F. Schneider, also left a sick bed to go to the battle-field The line officers present, Capt. James M. Graham, Company C; Capt. John Conover, Company F; Capt. Robert Flickinger, Company G; Capt. Samuel Laighton, Company A; Lieut. Marion Brooks, commanding Company I; Lieut. William S . Babcock, commanding Company K; Lieut. William S. Newbery, commanding Company L; all behaved with marked gallantry and courage. Sergt. William Melchert, commanding Company B, and Sergt. Thomas Adamson, commanding Company D, should also be mentioned for conspicuous gallantry and courage.

The Eighth remained in camp at Chattanooga until with Gen. Granger's corps it moved to the relief of Burnside at Knoxville, which city was reached after a hard march, on the 7th of December. Sherman's corps arriving at about the same time, Longstreet was compelled to raise the siege and decamp.

The winter of 1863, was spent in East Tennessee, the camp being at the junction of the Holston and French Broad Rivers. . The regiment was employed in scouting and foraging expeditions, and in the construction of a bridge over the Holston. On the 4th of January, 1864, four-fifths of all the members of the Eighth, then present in camp, re-enlisted as veteran volunteers. On the 9th, Gen. Willich assumed command of the Third Division, the command of the First Brigade devolving upon Col. Martin, and that of the regiment upon Maj. James M. Graham.

When the army fell back from Dandridge to Knoxville, Col. Martin's and Gen. Hazen's brigades, as rear guard, covered the retreat, as far as Strawberry Plains. Soon after it reached Knoxville, the regiment received the supplies of clothing and camp equipage it so much needed, and received an order to proceed to Chattanooga, to be mustered in as veterans and thence return to Kansas on furlough. At Kingston, the Eighth embarked on the steamer 'Lookout,' reached the Chattanooga the following day, and, on the 8th of February, 205 men of the regiment were mustered in as veteran volunteers.

Leaving on the 14th, passing through Nashville and St. Louis, pleasantly entertained in each, the regiment reached Atchison, Kan., on the 25th, and Fort Leavenworth the next day. At both these places the people 'delighted to do them honor.' The cities put on their gala day attire; banners waved, bells rang, cannon boomed, banquets were spread and speeches made, to testify to the returned veterans that at home their labors and sacrifices were remembered and appreciated.

Early in April, their furlough having expired, the men re-assembled at Fort Leavenworth, and, on the 12th, the regiment, was ordered to report at Chattanooga. On reaching Nashville, under orders from Maj. Gen. Sherman, it was detailed as escort to a pontoon train, taking it with much difficulty over the steep and slippery ascent and descent of the Cumberland Mountains. The foot of the mountains was reached on the 14th of May, and Chattanooga on the 21st, where a delay of about two weeks was necessary, in order to repair the train. After leaving Chattanooga the train was taken to the top of Altoona Mountain, when the regiment was ordered to return to Etowah, the bridge at that place being threatened. After throwing up breastworks, and making several scouts into the surrounding country, the Eighth left Etowah and rejoined its brigade in front of Kenesaw Mountain. It was employed on picket duty a few days, when the army moved southward. At Peach Tree Creek, the First Brigade, with that of Gen. Beatty, was ordered to support the skirmishers in their endeavor to cross the creek in the face of the enemy's fire. In the engagement, two men of the Eighth were wounded, and three others while pursuing the rebels toward Atlanta the following day. Atlanta was reached on the 21st of July. The regiment was advanced to within five hundred yards of the enemy's breastworks; a breastwork was quickly constructed, and this position was occupied for thirty-three days - until the order was given for the movement on Atlanta, which culminated on the night of the 1st of September, when Hood withdrew from the city, escaping with what little he could take, after blowing up his magazines, and burning his stores, machine shops, and cars. At the termination of the siege, the brigade went into camp about four miles from the city, where it remained until October. It left camp with Col. Martin as brigade commander, and Maj. John Conover, regimental commander.

The army moved north on the 2d of October, to meet Hood, who had crossed the Chattahoochee and was moving rapidly north and west. The brigade reached Kenesaw Mountain just in time to see the smoke of the conflict at Allatoona, and the rebels destroying the railroad in its rear.

Passing over the mountains toward the northwest, Kingston, Rome, and Resaca were passed, the enemy moving toward Tennessee, destroying the railroad as he went and capturing our garrisons at Tilton and Dalton.

On the 15th, the gap through Rocky Face Ridge was surprised and forced by the Fourth and Fourteenth Corps, the artillery and wagons of the Fourth being sent back to Resaca, under escort of Col. Martin's brigade, which rejoined the corps, after a march of twenty miles, at Villanow. On the 30th, the regiment marched once more into Chattanooga, from whence it moved by rail to Athens, Ala., and again marched north to Pulaski, Tenn., where it went into camp and was employed on the fortifications of the town.

Col. Martin was mustered out at Pulaski, on the 17th of November, his term of service having expired. The following day he said goodbye to the brigade and regiment and left for the North, Lieut. Col. Conover taking command of the regiment. The army marched toward Nashville on the 23d, reaching Columbus about an hour in advance of Hood's forces, which were hurrying toward the same point, on a parallel road. On the 27th, the army crossed the Duck River, occupying the northern bank until the 29th. Hood crossed the river, six miles above the city, on the night of the 28th, and sent a body of cavalrymen to attack our trains at Spring Hill. This movement was thwarted by Gen. Stanley, who arrived just in time to save the trains and hold the road to Nashville. During the night the army resumed its forward movement, Wood's division covering the rear, Hood's forces were encamped only a mile from Spring Hill, and their bivouac fires lighted the road along which our army was silently moving to Franklin. The next day Hood threw his whole force against the hastily-thrown-up defenses before Franklin, shouting to his men, 'Break those lines, and there is nothing more to withstand you this side the Ohio River;' and they were broken and nothing but the almost superhuman courage and skill of Gen. Opdycke checked the mad advance, turned the assault into a repulse, and saved the army.

December 1, Gen. Schofield's army reached Nashville, and joined the forces of Gen. Thomas. At night, the troops were assigned their positions, that of the Eighth Kansas being on the grounds known as the Acklin place, the Second Regiment to the left of the Hillsboro pike, where strong defenses were at once erected. Hood established his lines south of the city on the 4th of December, but the ensuing week was so intensely cold that neither army could do aught but wait, and watch the enemy. December 14, orders were given for a general advance. The next morning the brigade moved into line with the Eighth Kansas on the right, Fifty-first Indiana in the center and Fifteenth Ohio on the left; the two remaining regiments in reserve. The brigade, in conjunction with the Second, was ordered to make an assault on Montgomery Hill, a strong position about three hundred yards distant from our advanced lines. In relation to the charge, Col. Straight, brigade commander, says in his report: 'Our advance was sharply contested, at first, but the impetuosity of the men seemed almost uncontrollable, and soon all firing ceased on our side, and the only unsettled question for the time seemed to be who, among our officers and men, should reach the works first, which, I believe, was settled in favor of the Kansas boys.' The Eighth pressing on a few hundred yards, with very small loss to itself, captured about forty prisoners. Temporary works were constructed on the hill, and another charge, on the second line of the enemy, was made in the afternoon. Here, again, the regiment was in the advance, and again the first to enter the works. Ninety prisoners and a battery were captured, and the rebels were pursued about half a mile. The Eighth lost one killed and nine wounded. An advance on the main works of the enemy, situated on a range of hills south of Nashville, was ordered the next morning. The brigade arrived on the ground about noon. At 3 in the afternoon, Col. Post's brigade, supported by Col. Straight's, was ordered to charge Overton Hill, which was strongly fortified by high breastworks, and a thick abatis. The column, seven lines deep, two regiments front, led by Col. Post, Eighth Kansas on the right of the fourth line, advanced to the attack. As it charged over the abatis, up the hill, it was received with a concentrated fire of grape, canister and musketry. Col. Post was severely wounded and the first line broken; the second, third, and fourth advanced, and in turn were driven back with severe loss. The command was re-formed in the rear, and advanced again on the right, when the enemy gave way, and fled through the pass toward Brentwood.

The Eighth host in the assault on Overton Hill two commissioned officers, wounded, ten enlisted men killed, and twenty-eight, wounded, out of a force of 140 engaged.

After Hood's army crossed the Tennessee, the Northern army went into camp near Huntsville, Ala., remaining there until February, 1885, when it moved north to Nashville, thence back again to Huntsville; thence to Knoxville, Bull's Gap, Greenville, where it rejoiced over the surrender of Richmond, and mourned over the untimely death of Lincoln; then back again to Nashville and into camp.

On the 18th of June, the Fourth Corps, Army of the Cumberland, was ordered to Texas. The Eighth obeyed this order while feeling its injustice, as the war was virtually over, and the other corps of that department had been disbanded. The brigade left Nashville- on the 15th, and disembarked from the steamer on which they arrived at Indianola, on Metagorda Bay, on the 9th of July. From Indianola it marched that night to Green Lake, twenty-three miles distant, over a poisonous malarious route, men dropping exhausted and fainting on the road, from thirst and fatigue. The brigade moved to San Antonio in August, the Eighth being assigned to provost duty, with Col. Conover as Provost Marshal. This position was occupied until the 29th of November, when the regiment was mustered out of service, with orders to report to Leavenworth for final discharge.

The regiment arrived at Atchison, January 5, 1866, received a most enthusiastic welcome, and the following day was formally discharged at Leavenworth, having served four years, four months and eleven days.

The Eighth was one of the earliest regiments in the field, and its term of service did not close until after the echo of the last rebel gun had died away. If he was not an incapable General, who observed that he chose to win battles with his soldiers' legs, rather than their muskets, the history of the 10,750 miles, over which the Eighth had to tramp, tramp, tramp, through sultry days of summer, and stormy nights of winter, would demonstrate that it was made of the material that can 'do and endure,' even if all other record of its faithful service was lost and forgotten.

FATAL CASUALTIES.

Company A - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., September 19, 1863, Corp. Justin W. Wilson and Jacob Rose, both of Leavenworth. Died of wounds received at Chickamauga, Jacob Ridder and John Jerrow, both of Leavenworth.

Company B - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Charles Weyel and John Schneider, both of Leavenworth. Died of wounds received at Chickamauga, Ga., Lieut. Zacharias Burkhardt, Leavenworth; Sergt. William Haak, Weston, Mo.

Company C - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Corp. Samuel W Dougan, Atchison County; Oliver Barrett, Daniel Murphy and James M. Williamson; at Mission Ridge, Tenn., November 25, 1863. Adam Kentzler, Atchison; at Nashville, Tenn., December 16, 1864, William Haney, Atchison, and William H. Mize, at Atlanta, Ga., July 28, 1864, Stokely R. Gibbons, Atchison County. Died of wounds, Gill M. Judah, of wound received Mission Ridge; Frank M. Martin, Atchison, of wounds received at Chickamauga.

Company D - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Capt. John L. Graham, Albany; Sergt. Robert M. Hale, Sabetha; Sergt. Thomas L. Randall; Corp. James Sherman, Creek; William G. Clampett, Turkey Creek, George Howland; James K. Burns, Holton; at Mission Ridge, Tenn., John Thompson; at Atlanta, Ga., Sergt. Charles F. Lyman, Lafayette. Died of wounds: William Miller, Sabetha, of wounds received at Chickamauga; Daniel Cox, Vermillion, of wounds received at Atlanta; Hugh S. Sawyer, Guittard, of wounds received at Nashville, Tenn.

Company E - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Sergt. Richard M. Kendall, Wilmington; Corp. William L. Kendall, Indianola; Lucas P. Cawkins, Wilmington; Woodward Hindman and Thomas Stamp, both of Indianola. Died of wounds received at Chickamauga, John Sailor, Wilmington, and David Harden, Council Grove.

Company F - Killed at Nashville, Tenn., December 16, 1864. Corp. Simeon Shafer Monticello; at Atlanta, Ga., August 3 1864, William M. Deever, Mount Florence.

Company G - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Corp. Benjamin Sprouse, Doniphan County; Knud Knudson and Enoch R. Perry, Sumner; at Nashville, Tenn., Thomas L. Wood, Leavenworth. Died of wounds: William Miller, of wounds received at Nashville; Henry Dreselmier, of wounds received at Chickamauga.

Company H - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Capt. Edgar P. Trego, Preemption, Ill.; Corp. Charles Morgan, Leavenworth; Thomas H. Gilliland, Nebraska City; George W. Veazey, Leavenworth. Died of wounds: James G. Ashenhurst, Preemption, Ill., of wounds received at Lovejoy, Ga.; William McCardy, Geneseo, Ill., of wounds received at Chickamauga; John M. Lappens, Quincy, Ill., of wounds received at Chickamauga.

Company I - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Corp. Robert E. Adams, Spring Hill, Ill.; Corp. Charles O. Robohl, White Cloud; Fred Kiser, St. Louis; John A. Robinson and Andrew J. Williams, both of Moline. Ill. and Patrick Powers, Nashville, Tenn.; at Mission Ridge, Tenn., Humphrey Spurlock, Spring Hill, Ill.; Walter Bangs, Moline, Ill.; at Atlanta, Ga., Peter Cadell; at Nashville, Tenn., Sergt. John W. Long, Geneseo, Ill.; Rollin Brewer, St. Louis, Mo.; James English, Louisiana, Mo., and Seth E. Langdon, Spring Hill, Ill.

Company K - Killed at Chickamauga, Ga., Sergt. Philip McDonald and Edmund Ford, both of New Haven, Mo.; John McMullen, California, Mo.; Fred Neiderbroker, New Haven, Mo.; Jonathan Teasley, Camden, Mo.

[TOC] [part 10] [part 8] [Cutler's History]