Opening of the Atlanta Campaign
Chapter 47 (April 13, 1864 - May 8, 1864)
The General ordered the cavalry on the flat near the shore to get out their horses and go for the Rebel on muleback. “I want you all to go” he said, “but that little man and horse at the end of the flat.” The General thought the horse would not be able to keep up with the boys. We saw a twinkle in the eyes of the troop as they rode out but did not understand what it meant. The order for the little man, and thin and poor looking horse did not suit the old man. So someone told the General that he was not pleased because he was not allowed to go along. The General said: “If you want to go all right.” This pleased the little man. He hurried to his horse gave him a slap of the hand and said “gittup John”.
Well, you should have seen that horse. A moment before he was hanging his head with apparently no life in him but as soon as his master touched him his head and tail were up in the air. The old man jumped on his back and the horse with one leap was out of the flat and soon caught up and a few more seconds and he was in the lead of the whole cavalry troop. We on the boat waved our caps and cheered for the old man and his horse. He jumped ditches, went over fences and passed everything that was out as cavalry. However they failed to find the Rebel. When they returned to the flat the old man and his lean horse, John, received congratulations from General Geary and everybody else on the boat. If ever anyone was pleased it was the little dried up man and even John the horse seemed to enjoy the fun.
We again moved up the river and finally reached Bridgeport and our camp well pleased with the little outing. The only casualties were two men wounded, one shot thru the neck and another thru the shoulder, the same ball which barely missed the writer making both wounds. Several shots were fired by bushwhackers from the mountains as we were going down the river.
Everything was now getting ready in camp for the opening of our Spring campaign. Sherman’s army, which was forming a junction with us, was still arriving from Mississippi. On Monday May 2, a detail was made the writer being one of the chosen ones, to go down to Larkin’s Landing with the steamboat and take up the two pontoon bridges over which Sherman’s army crossed the Tennessee River to Bridgeport. Colonel Pardee, of the 147th, was in command of this detail, numbering about 150 men. We tied up over night at the landing after a trip of 30 miles. On the morning of the 24, Tuesday, we got the pontoons in shape and started up the river, but when we reached Bridgeport the entire army had left camp and was on the march to the front. The same day this detail started down the river the army broke camp and marched towards Chattanooga.
Tuesday, May 2, Opening of the Atlanta Campaign
When our boat arrived at Bridgeport we anchored in the river, while Colonel Pardee went to the railroad telegraph once for orders. General Sherman telegraphed him to come on at once and join his command, then in the vicinity of Chattanooga, 24 miles away. We disembarked at once and started for the front. It being late in the day, we only marched a few miles, when night overtook us and we encamped in the corner of a large field. Sherman’s troops going to the front marched on the public road, while our detail had to march on the railroad. This was one of our hardest marches, to catch up to our regiment.
We had scarcely anything to eat, for both Confederate and our armies had passed over this road and the country was cleaned up of everything edible. We joined the regiment late in the day on Thursday, the 5th. The boys were all glad to see us and cheered us heartily, when we reached them. We too were happy and glad to get back to the regiment.
Friday, May 6, we struck tents, marched in the direction of Lafayette, traveled 15 miles. Saturday, May 7, broke camp, passed Taylor’s Ridge and Gordon’s Mills, traveled about 15 miles and encamped. Here we were placed on picket, a public road to our left and an apple orchard directly in our front.
Shortly after the Rebel cavalry made a charge down the road and our pickets allowed them to come up close before firing and, I think, they got something they were not expecting, for they at once about-faced and galloped off.
A little later we heard a noise directly in our front in the orchard, which created a little excitement along the picket line. We advanced cautiously thru the orchard, when we discovered a horse without a rider and closing in our lines we found it to be an old blind horse out grazing. We were all glad it was not the cavalry, which we imagined it was.
Sunday, May 8, broke camp, marched five miles to Rocky-faced Ridge. Here the Rebels made a stand and while the balance of our division made a charge up the hill our regiment was ordered to support Knapp’s Battery. The charge was gallantly made, but, owing to advantage of position and superior number of troops, the men were repulsed and driven down the hill with considerable loss. Night coming on, we encamped in the valley and erected a line of breastworks.