On the Road to Marrietta
Chapter 51 (June 2, 1864 – June 15, 1864)
A few moments before, as the time set for the assault was drawing near, there was a gloomy foreboding that before the setting of the sun many of us would have answered our last roll call. Men turned deathly pale, for they realized just what was before them. We believe that a man who realizes the danger to be encountered and turns pale and even becomes nervous is the man who will be as true as steel when he is called upon to do and dare for his country. But the countermanding of Hooker’s order by General Sherman made us all feel much better and we all felt like tipping our caps to our grand old commander.
On Thursday, June 2, we left our works and moved about three miles to the left of our line of battle and in supporting distance of the 23rd army corps, which, with General Schoffield commanding, was engaged with the foe at this time. June 3, 4, and 5, we remained within supporting distance to the 23rd Corps.
On Monday, June 6 we broke camp, the Rebels retreating, marched about five miles on the road leading to Marietta. A heavy rain set in a few days before we reached this camp and for seven days we remained here for the purpose of supplying the army with camp equipment, clothing, etc.
Thunderstorms and rain was the rule and not the exception of each day. We are sure we never saw anything to even equal much less surpass the thunder and lightning we beheld while in this camp. When the rainy season was over a general order was issued to clean up, and more especially to put our guns in good condition for future use.
Colonel Pardee never allowed any shooting in or around camp. Ed Fisher, who, by the way, never fired a gun before he went to the army, asked the writer in a sort of confidential way that if he would pull the ball out of his gun and then fire it off, whether it would crack. The writer said: “Why of course not.” So Ed, forthwith drew the ball, put on a cap and pulled the trigger. Imagine his surprise when the report and the echo of that shot rang out there in the woods. It seemed to him like the firing of a cannon. The Colonel, who unfortunately was not far away, ordered the writer to buck and gag Fisher, which was done according to orders. While the writer was carrying out these orders, Fisher said, “I have a notion to blow on you, for all this was your fault.” I told him if he did I would haul him up tight. He sort of feared I might tighten him up, and said nothing more about it, except that he remarked that he would never believe anything I told him.
In this camp, our Lieutenant Colonel Craig had a narrow escape from being killed. He rode out along the line of the brigade and passed the Fifth Ohio regiment, where the men were felling a good sized tree, and just as he was passing under it, they noticed the tree swinging, when the boys called to the Colonel to get out of the way. He looked and saw the tree falling right toward him, and for some reason, which he could never explain, he was unable to move his horse from the spot. The Colonel saw his danger, jumped from the horse and ran away, the topmost branches of the tree switching over his back, while the trunk fell squarely on the saddle where he had been sitting, killing the horse instantly.
We remained in this camp until June 14, Tuesday. Nothing unusual took place here except as I said before, cleaning camp, our shooting irons, and to see that our powder was dry. The army, now numbering 100,000 men, was well furnished with the necessary supplies and ready to go forward. Some of the other corps had moved forward and the fighting had already begun.
We broke camp and moved in the direction of the enemy, where we could see in the distance Pine, Lost and Kennesaw Mountains, which were occupied and strongly fortified by the Rebels. Firing and cannonading began in the morning, and kept up all day. Corporal George W. VonNeida and Lewis Millhoff had been out on the side of Pine Mountain and found in an old abandoned hut a lot of castor oil beans. These were distributed among the boys of the company, who ate them and it is as to the effect of these beans, except to state we had in Company G a lot of very sick (and that is a very mild statement) boys for a day or two.
Wednesday, June 15, a heavy skirmish detail was drawn from out of our regiment. Solly App, D. W. Gross and the writer and perhaps others, whom I cannot recall at this late date, were detailed from Company G. We were out from early morning until some little time after dinner, when Colonel Craig, who was officer-of-the-day, sent out another line, and we were relieved with orders to remain in rear of the advance line about 300 feet and rest. I asked him in particular as to our duties and he said: “If the line advances, keep about this distance in the rear, and, should they be driven in, you fall in with them, so as to strengthen the line until reinforcements can be sent.”