Battle of New Hope Church
Chapter 49 (May 14, 1864 – May 25, 1864)
After this charge, U. P. Hafley, Asa B. Churchhill, the writer, and others of Company G, whom I cannot recall at this late date, were sent along the skirmish line. We were placed in an open field, where the scorching rays of a southern sun beat down upon us. We were compelled to lie upon our backs, load our guns, turn around and fire. Then the same was repeated over and over again, until the last round of our sixty was placed in our guns. Churchhill, who was only about five steps to my left, was shot thru the breast and instantly killed, but the body could not be removed until evening. He was shot early in the afternoon. The Rebel skirmishers and a battery of artillery kept up a continual fire all day. Many of our division were killed and wounded this day on the skirmish line. Jerry Hathaway was among the wounded of Company G. He was a good soldier. He had been sent to the Jeffersonville, Indiana, hospital, where he lingered until June 27, when he died. He was buried in the National Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana. His grave is 587 of Section B. He was recruited from the Isle of Que.
Asa B. Churchhill was originally from McKean county. He joined us at Harrisburg, September 21, 1862. He was a stranger to all of us. His remains now rest in Marietta and Atlanta National Cemetery, in Marietta, Ga. Section A, grave 615. Churchhill was a good Christian soldier. On the evening of the 14th he and the writer went to a spring for water, and coming away he said to me while eating his hard tack: “I expect to be killed tomorrow and I want to die with a full stomach.” He seemed to have a premonition that his life was soon to come to an end. In the evening, when the body was removed from the field for burial, a Bible was taken from his knapsack, and it was sent to his family at home, and we, not knowing how many stamps would be required, pasted them over almost all the cover, leaving just enough room for the address.
On the night of the fifteenth, the Rebels retreated. We followed them the next morning. We halted for our dinner near the Rebel field hospital. Here we witnessed some horrible sights: piles of legs and arms near the amputating tables, the ground covered with blood. In looking at those who had been carried to the hospital, one who had been shot in the forehead attracted the attention of Captain Glace, of Company C, and also that of the writer, about the same time. We stooped down beside him and found that he was still alive, with blood all over his face and covered with flies. We washed his face with the water from our canteens, and this revived him so much that in the course of half an hour, when a fly would light on his wound, he would raise his hand and drive it away. Our time was limited, so we had to leave the poor unfortunate there, as soon the order to move was given. We had to leave him there to die alone and away from friends and home.
Monday, May 16, Rebels in full retreat. We marched 12 miles, crossing the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers.
Tuesday, May 17, broke camp, marched eight miles.
Wednesday, May 18, struck tents and traveled thru Fitzcraft and encamped, having marched 20 miles.
Thursday, May 19. Broke camp, marched 10 miles and encamped at dusk.
Friday, May 20. We came up with the enemy at Cassville, Ga., where they made a stand, and we engaged in skirmishing all along the line. Late in the day we moved forward in line of battle toward their works, which were located beyond a strip of woods. The 17th Regiment with flying colors, marched forward as if on review, with as perfect a line as it was possible for a regiment to form, and, when we reached the ground beyond the woods we found the enemy retreating.
On May 21 and 22 we remained near Cassville. Here supplies were issued, and the sick were sent to the rear, U. P. Hafley being the only one from Company G.
On Monday, May 23, broke camp, crossed Etowah River and encamped, marched 13 miles. Tuesday, 24th, traveled 12 miles and encamped.
BATTLE OF NEW HOPE CHURCH
Wednesday, May 25, 1864
Left camp in good time this morning, marched about nine miles when we struck the enemy near Pumpkinvine Creek. The bridge spanning the creek, having been fired by Rebel cavalry, was burning when we crossed over it. The White Star Division, General Geary’s, being in the advance of our regiment in the lead of the division, General Hooker with his staff and bodyguard had gone ahead of us, when they were fired into by an ambuscade of Rebels. Hooker at once deployed his men, while our column following was halted in the road, loaded our guns, right faced and hurried to the front.
There we found General Hooker dismounted and directing us where to go. The Fifth Ohio regiment, following us and forming line of battle on our right, had scarcely gotten into position when a volley was fired into them, killing and wounding 105 men, including Colonel Patrick, their commander.
General Hooker placed himself just in rear of Company G and drawing his sword, or cheese knife, as the boys used to call it, said: “This line can’t break unless it goes thru me first.” Ed Fisher said, “That’s so, old Fighting Joe.”