The First Regiment Tennessee Volunteers enlisted at the first sound of the call to arms. I wish to leave on record a lasting memento of their gallant conduct, noble endurance under the most trying circumstances, and of the bravery that always impelled them to cheerfully and willingly do their full share of duty, however arduous, in times that tried men's souls. My brave comrades!
During the latter part of April, 1861, three companies, known as the Rock City Guards were organised in the city of Nashville, and on the 2d day of May the following companies were mustered into the service of the State, and known as the First Regiment Tennessee Volunteers:
Co. A, Rock City Guards, of Nashville, Captain T. F. Sevier;
Co. B, Rock City Guards, of Nashville, Captain J. B. Craighead;
Co. C, Rock City Guards, of Nashville, Captain R. C. Foster, 4th;
Co. D, Williamson Grays, of Williamson county, Captain James P. Hanna;
Co. E, Tennessee Riflemen, of Nashville, Captain George Harsch;
Co. F, Railroad Boys, of Nashville, Captain John L. Butler;
Co. G. Brown Guards, of Maury county, Captain Geo. W. Campbell;
Co. H, Maury Grays, of Maury county, Captain A. M. Looney;
Co. I, Rutherford Rifles, of Rutherford county, Captain Wm. Ledbetter;
Co. K, Martin Guards, of Giles county, Captain Hume R Field.
At the election of field officers, Captain George Maney was elected Colonel; Captain T. F. Sevier, Lieutenant-colonel; Captain A. M. Looney, Major. Lieutenant R. B. Snowdon, of Co. C, was appointed Adjutant; Dr. Wm. Nichol, Surgeon; and Dr. J. R. Buist, Assistant Surgeon. Lieutenant Jos. Vaulx was elected Captain of Co. A in place of Captain Sevier, and Lieutenant R. W. Johnson Captain of Co. H in place of Captain Looney.
Thus organised, and fully armed and equipped, the regiment went into camp at Alisonia, in Franklin county, seventy-six miles from Nashville, on the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad and called it Camp Harris in honour of Gov. Isham G. Harris. After remaining there a short time we were removed to Camp Cheatham, in Robertson county, six miles from Springfield, on the Edgefield and Kentucky railroad. At this camp the regiment received thorough instruction in Hardee's tactics. Here notwithstanding the strict schooling which they underwent, the boys all seemed happy and contented. But this happiness and the novelty of camp-of-instruction life were not destined to last Tennessee having in June, 1861, decided by an overwhelming majority to unite with the Southern Confederacy. On the 10th of July orders were received to repair to Virginia. The next day tents were struck, the cars boarded, and the journey to Virginia commenced. Reaching Nashville that afternoon, the regiment was elegantly entertained by the ladies in the grounds of the Nashville Female Academy, and that night started for the seat of war, all in high glee and full of life.
The first encampment was at Johnson City, Washington county, where we remained one week. Leaving there on the 21st of July, we went to Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Staunton, and then, after another week's encampment at the latter place we were again aboard the cars and westward bound, stopping at Millboro, where we left the cars and took up the line of march to join the Army of the North-west under Gen. Robert E. Lee. On to Warm Springs, and then to Huntersville, Pocahontas county, Va. Here a week's stay, and then Big Spring and Valley Mountain, where we were joined by the Seventh Tennessee, under Col. Robert Hatton, and the Fourteenth, under Col. W. A. Forbes, forming Anderson's brigade of Loring's division of the Army of the North-west. While at Valley Mountain Capt. Craighead, of Co. B, forwarded his resignation, and Lieut. John Patterson was elected Captain in his stead. Capt. Johnson, of Co. H, resigned, and Lieut. Henry Webster was elected Captain of this company.
The encampment at Valley Mountain was a most delightful one, the men enjoying themselves in various ways, until one afternoon a courier arrived at Col. Maney's quarters with orders for the regiment to report to Gen. Loring. While Col. Maney was reading the order, a sudden volley of small arms resounded through the mountains, and some one, thinking the Federal troops had attacked Gen. Lee's position, ordered the long-roll beat. This startled the camp, and in an instant every man was at his gun; cartridge-boxes were adjusted, guns seized, and the regiment was soon in line. Many were in their shirt-sleeves; no blankets were taken. With nothing save the clothing that was on their bodies at the time, the regiment marched up to Gen. Lee's head-quarters and reported for duty.
It was almost dark when we reached the top of the mountain, and we found there was no attack, only a regiment that had been on picket duty were shooting off their guns in order to clean them, and we had to go to Mingo Flats, some eight miles distant, on picket duty. Without rations, without blankets, and many without coats, we took up a night march, and reached our destination at about twelve o'clock. We stopped in a big meadow-the grass waist-high and wet with a heavy dew. We built pens of rails, and rested as best we could until near daylight, when we moved to a better position, where we remained on duty for two days, and then returned to camp.
The trip to Mingo Flats gave the First Tennessee a little foretaste of what was to come afterward. Gen. Lee, a few days after, determined on a movement against the enemy, who was holding a fortified position at Cheat Pass, on the road from Monterey to Beverly. This was indeed a very severe and arduous trip. Rain poured down in torrents, rough, craggy mountains were crossed, and through a dense wilderness that looked in places as though no human being had ever penetrated it, the march was made, the hardship endured, in endeavouring to carry out the orders of the commanding General. One afternoon, while resting quietly, the regiment, which had been marching on the left in front that day, was fired into by a body of Federals in ambush, and one man of Co. H was killed and two wounded. Four companies of the left wing, under Capt. Field, charged the bushes and drove the enemy out. Before the firing took place, two men who were sent out as pickets were captured. Col. Rust, in command of the Confederate forces co-operating on the east side of Cheat Pass, failing to gain his desired position on account of high water, Gen. Lee returned to Valley Mountain, where, in a short time he received information that Gen. Rosecrans was changing his base of operations, and was on his way to Kanawha Valley for the purpose of trying to capture Gen. Floyd. Gen. Lee at once broke up camp at Valley Mountain and moved to the aid of Gen. Floyd, who had taken position on Big Sewell Mountain, some twenty-five miles west of Lewisburg. The third day out it commenced raining, and continued all day and all night, thoroughly drenching the men now scattered for miles, who found shelter for the night as best they could.
The rain continued the next day, and the command halted near Frankfort, Greenbrier county, and that night the citizens extended a warm welcome to the soldiers. Many a wet and hungry soldier found comfortable lodging and a good supper. This hospitality of the citizens of Frankfort has ever been remembered by the soldiers of the First Tennessee, and spoken of with feelings of pride and gratefulness.
When Rosecrans came within striking distance of Gen. Floyd, he found Gen. Lee with a large force in his front, on Big Sewell Mountain. Here each remained for some time closely watching for an opportunity to gain an advantage, when, considering prudence the better part of valour, Rosecrans, just as Gen. Lee was getting ready to attack him, quietly slipped away under the cover of darkness, leaving the Southern troops with no enemy in their front to contend with.
After an encampment of about ten days, at the eastern base of Big Sewell Mountain, Anderson's brigade returned to a point near Huntersville, and, remaining a short time near Greenbrier bridge, the First Regiment then moved a few miles east of Huntersville and commenced the construction of winter-quarters. We had now been in North-west Virginia since the 1st of August, and the latter part of November was upon us. Many from exposure had become sick and unfit for duty, and were discharged, and others furloughed. The consequence was a material reduction in the number of the regiment. The time at winter quarters was spent in a pleasant way. Camp-life in the mountains affords many amusing incidents. The time was passed in the partial construction of cabins, and making pipes of laurel-root, until the 8th of December, when orders were received to repair to Winchester, Va.
Leaving winter-quarters, Anderson's brigade, after a long march down through the Valley of Virginia, reached Winchester on the 26th of December, and remained in camp until the first of January, 1862, when Gen. Stonewall Jackson started on his campaign to Bath, Va., Hancock, Md., and Romney, Va. The morning of the 1st of January broke clear, and the day was as delightful as any ever witnessed in that portion of the country at that season of the year - so pleasant, indeed, that many of the men put their knapsacks in the wagons and started on the march as though it were mid-summer. But all this was soon changed; night brought with it a lowering sky and a keen, cold, piercing wind; and as the hours moved slowly on the cold grew more intense. Early next morning the march was resumed, and a cold, chilly day and night passed without blankets and without rations. Bath was reached on the 3d, the enemy forced to retreat, and a few captured rations were distributed to the troops. The hardships of this campaign, in the midst of a bitter Virginia winter, were endured by the members of the First Regiment almost without complaint. But this campaign was a fruitless one. Gen. Jackson followed the enemy to the banks of the Potomac, which the enemy crossed on the ice, planting their batteries on the opposite side. The cold grew more intense, the soldiers suffering severely. That night snow and sleet added intensely to the suffering, and late fires were made of fence-rails and timber of every description that could be found. The enemy continued his flight to a point where Jackson saw it was fruitless to pursue, and after remaining at Romney a short time he fell back to Winchester.
While at Winchester we received news of the fall of Fort Donelson - having previously been apprised of the disaster at Fishing Creek, Ky. - and intelligence was soon after communicated that the First Regiment was ordered to report to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, then in command of the Army of Tennessee near Nashville. The journey westward was soon commenced, Gen. Anderson taking the Seventh and Fourteenth regiments and joining the Army of Northern Virginia, under command of Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, where Col. Turney's First Tennessee Regiment was attached to his brigade. This brigade served gallantly through the entire war, having its ranks fearfully decimated, and enduring all the hardships through which the Army of Northern Virginia passed. Gen. Anderson, however, soon resigned, - and Col. Robert Hatton, of the Seventh Tennessee, succeeded him in command of the brigade, holding that position until he yielded up his life in the battle of Seven Pines. Tennessee lost a noble and gallant son when Robert Hatton fell, and he should ever be remembered by Tennesseans as one of their first brave martyrs of the Southern cause.
But to return to the First Tennessee. Leaving Winchester, Va., on the 17th of February, 1862, en route for the West-the left wing, consisting of companies F, G, H, I, and K, was sent forward, and the right wing, A, B, C, D, and E, was detained at Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Bridgeport, Ala., for want of transportation - finally reached Corinth, Miss., on Monday morning, April 7, too late to participate in the battle of Shiloh; the left wing, however, reached Corinth in time to engage in the fight on the second day of the battle.
On the return of the army from Shiloh the regiment was reunited. Nothing of interest transpired, and the usual monotony of camp-life was passed through until the latter part of April, when a reorganisation of the regiment took place. Col. Maney having been promoted to be Brigadier-general, Capt. Hume R. Field, of Co. K, was elected Colonel; Capt. John Patterson, of Co. B, Lieutenant-colonel; and Lieut. John L. House, of Co. D, Major; Lieut. W. D. Kelly was elected Captain of Co. A; B. P. Steele, Captain of Co. B; Lieut. John F. Wheless, Captain of Co. C; Lieut. Oscar Adkinson, Captain of Co. D; Geo. Leascher, Captain of Co. E; Capt. Butler retained Captain of Co. F; Lieut. Irvine, Captain of Co. G; Henry Webster, Captain of Co. H (he obtained a furlough shortly afterward, and was captured and died in prison, and Lieut. Jo. P. Lee became Captain of this company); Capt. Wm. Ledbetter was retained Captain of Co. I; Lieut. W. C. Flournoy was elected Captain of Co. K; and Lieut. McKinney, Co. H, appointed Adjutant. Three companies from Nashville, known as Hawkins's Battalion, consolidated into one company under command of Capt. J. W. Fulcher, were attached to the regiment and constituted Co. L.
[After Shiloh..] the First Regiment was placed in Maney's brigade, and this brigade in Cheatham's division, and as thus constituted Cheatham's division numbered eight thousand men.
Gen. Beauregard having assumed command of the Army of Tennessee upon the death of Albert Sidney Johnston, now resigned, and the command was given to Gen. Bragg. But, passing by the events that transpired at Corinth, the retreat to and stay at Tupelo, Miss., we will give a short review of the ever-memorable Kentucky campaign.
Leaving Tupelo on July 11, 1862, by way of Mobile, Ala., Montgomery, Ala., Atlanta, Ga., and Chattanooga, Tenn., the march into Kentucky was commenced on the 19th of August; crossing the mountains by way of Pikeville to Sparta, and then to Gainesboro, Tenn., into Kentucky through Tompkinsville, Glasgow, Munfordsville, Bardstown, Springfield, and Perryville, to Harrodsburg, which place was reached on the 6th of October. And a rest was taken until the evening of the 7th, when the command returned to Perryville and participated in the battle of the 8th. Here the regiment did heroic service, bearing the brunt of the battle on the extreme right of the army, together with the rest of Maney's brigade, consisting of the Sixth, Ninth, and Twenty-seventh Tennessee regiments, and the Forty-first Georgia, losing more than one-half its men in killed and wounded entering the fight with three hundred and fifty men, and coming out with ninety-five guns. Here it aided in driving the enemy from a strong position, capturing four twelve-pound Napoleon guns, killing or wounding every man engaged in handling them.
At the opening of the fight Gen. Maney's horse was wounded, and he requested Col. Field to take charge of that portion of the brigade which became engaged in advance of the First. Col. Field went forward, riding in front of the Sixth Tennessee, exposing himself not only to the fire of the enemy, but also to that of his own men, and soon the First Tennessee moved forward, pressing and driving back the front line of the enemy, and on to the second and then the third, when the regiment, now greatly decimated, gave way before superior numbers. Col. Field being dismounted, now came to the front of his regiment, as coolly as if on dress-parade, and with the surviving officers, re-formed the regiment, and facing his men, called upon them to follow him, which was done in gallant style, driving the enemy before them and capturing the guns - displaying a heroism that under a Napoleon would have won him promotion and crowned his regiment with lasting honours. Fifty of the regiment were killed - men in whose veins flowed the best blood of the Volunteer State; men who had descended from the heroes of the Revolutionary War and the pioneers and Indian - fighters of the early days of Tennessee.
But we cannot dwell. What is true of Perryville is alike true of all the battles in which the First Tennessee engaged. Bragg abandoned the battle-field of Perryville that night, and commenced retreating out of Kentucky, reaching Knoxville, Tenn., about the 20th of October; thence to Chattanooga, Tullahoma, Shelbyville, and Murfreesboro, the latter place being reached in November, Bragg having delayed long enough to allow the enemy time to return to Nashville.
After reaching Murfreesboro, and doing picket duty between that place and La Vergne, the regiment returned to camp on the 28th of December. A consolidation with the Twenty-seventh Tennessee took place about the middle of December, that regiment being formed into three companies, and companies A, B, and C, of the Rock City Guards, were consolidated into one company, under command of Captain W. D. Kelly; companies E and F, under command of Captain Ben Smith; and companies G and H, under Captain Jo. P. Lee; Colonel H. R. Field being retained in command. The Federal army was now advancing from Nashville toward Murfreesboro, and on the 28th Gen. Bragg threw his army into line of battle, awaiting the advance of the enemy. At daylight on the morning of the 31st of December the fight opened on the extreme left, and by 9 o'clock the enemy had been driven some distance, when Cheatham's division became hotly engaged. Here the First and Twenty-seventh sustained the well-earned reputation so nobly won at Shiloh. and Perryville. They participated in that portion of the battle on the Wilkinson pike, and assisted in driving the enemy from that point - doing splendid execution - to the Nashville and Murfreesboro pike where, late in the evening, the Federal commander collected all his artillery and soldiers that were saved from the fearful slaughter of a fight extending a distance of nearly four miles. In this desperate struggle - every inch of the ground being stubbornly contested by the enemy - the First and Twenty-seventh suffered heavily in killed and wounded; but not as heavily as at Perryville, or as the Twenty-seventh did at Shiloh.
Night closed the battle of the 31st, and the Army of Tennessee remained in its advanced position on the field during the next day. On January 2,1863, Gen. Breckenridge's division was sent forward unsupported on the right, where it was engaged for several hours, losing very many in killed and wounded, when it retired unsuccessful, thus ending the desperate encounter on the field of Murfreesboro. On the night of the 3d Gen. Bragg retreated to Shelbyville, Wartrace, and Beech Grove, where he remained inactive until the 1st of July, when the enemy, now being largely reinforced advanced, and Bragg retreated across the mountains to Chattanooga. At this point he displayed an uncalled for inactivity until about the middle of September, when a forward move on the part of Gen. Rosecrans caused him to make active preparations to meet the Federal troops in deadly conflict again. Being reinforced by Gen. Longstreet's corps, from the Army of Northern Virginia, the Southern forces were soon prepared to give Old Rosy a warm reception.
Falling back to Lafayette, Ga., as soon as the enemy had crossed Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, an advance was made on the evening of the 18th of September. On the morning of the 19th the enemy was met, and all day battle raged, and by night the enemy had been driven from several strong positions, which were occupied by our troops. At about 11 o'clock A.M. On the 20th, the Confederate troops again moved on the enemy, and after a long and well fought struggle, succeeded in almost routing their entire army, Gen. Thomas alone, in a strong and partially fortified position – to which he had been forced to retreat just before night – withstanding the onslaught.
In all this two days' fighting the First and Twenty-seventh won new laurels, and fully sustained the well-earned reputation the Tennessee volunteers have borne from the earliest days of the Volunteer State. Hotly engaged in the first day's fighting, they carried their flag wherever sent. The second day added new lustre to these battle-scarred veterans, and when night closed the contest their claim to a share of the glorious victory was equal to any on that warmly contested field. And more - they were among the first troops on Missionary Ridge on the third day, assisting to drive the rear of the Federal army into Chattanooga.
The Army of Tennessee soon assumed a masterly inactivity - that is, an inactivity which tended to demoralise and undiscipline troops who were inured to hardship, and who by their gallantry and good behaviour had won the praise of their officers and high encomiums from the people of the South.
The various divisions were changed while the army lay on the west side of Missionary Ridge. Maney's brigade was placed in Walker's division, and sent up into East Tennessee in October, where it remained a few weeks and then returned; and Gen. Longstreet's corps was sent in the direction of Knoxville. Returning to Missionary Ridge, the First and Twenty-seventh were sent up on Lookout Mountain to do picket duty, and at the end of ten days were relieved and returned to the valley.
Gen. Longstreet now at or near Knoxville, and Cleburne on the eve of departure, the enemy, strongly reinforced in Chattanooga by forty thousand men under Gen. Sherman, and Gen. Grant in command, advanced to attack the Confederate army on the 23d of November. For three days they were held in check, but on the evening of the 25th of November - Lookout Mountain having been abandoned the day previous - a portion of the Confederate line gave way before an almost overwhelming force of the enemy and the retreat commenced, night coming on before the Confederate troops reached Chickamauga River. On this unfortunate field the First and Twenty-seventh bore a distinguished part, and they gallantly assisted in covering the disastrous retreat, which came so near annihilating the Army of Tennessee. On the second day they were relieved by Gen. Cleburne.
Reaching Dalton, Ga., on the 27th of November, Gen. Bragg resigned, leaving the army in a bad condition. Many of the troops were captured, thousands straggled southward, but the demoralisation did not last long. Gen. Hardee - "Old Reliable " - assumed temporary command, and in a measure restored the morals of the army, when Gen. Joseph E. Johnston arrived and soon brought every one to perfect order and discipline. Gen. Cheatham was given command of his old division, and the Tennesseans in this part of the army were again happy and contented. Here the First and Twenty-seventh spent the winter in cabins built of pine logs; fun and frolic were soon engaged in, and the time passed merrily away until some time in February, 1864, when Cheatham's division was ordered to Mississippi to reinforce Gen. Polk. After a journey to Demopolis, Ala., we received orders to return to Dalton, which we did after an absence of about eight or ten days.
The spring of 1864 opened auspiciously, and preparations were made on both sides for the resumption of active hostilities. The Confederate troops soon gave evidence of their faith and confidence in Gen. Johnston's ability to command an army, and none more readily and willingly than the First and Twenty-seventh. In fact, they had confidence in all their officers, and this was shown by the willingness and alacrity with which they entered upon the campaign. And well did they bear their part, doing their full share in the arduous struggle. It may here be stated that while at Dalton the Army of Tennessee was soon placed in good condition, well disciplined, and the men were better clothed and fed and in better spirits than they had been since the battle of Shiloh; stragglers returned, many who had been sent to the hospitals, sick or wounded, reported back for duty; and though Johnston's army, on the 1st of May, 1864, only numbered forty-two thousand eight hundred men of all arms, yet it withstood a force of ninety-eight thousand men, with two hundred and fifty-four field pieces, until reinforced at Resaca, Ga., on the 14th of May, by Gen. Leonidas Polk, with nineteen thousand men.
During all this campaign the First and Twenty-seventh were ever ready for duty, and the scenes of conflict, skirmishing, picketing, building breast-works, and day and night marches of this eventful period will ever be remembered by the soldiers that composed Cheatham's division.
After leaving Rocky Face Ridge, in front of Dalton, on the 13th of May, Gen. Johnston occupied a position in front of Resaca, which he held against Sherman's entire army. Here, on the 16th, Maney's brigade was attached to Stewart's division and sent on the extreme right of the army, reaching the railroad, where it lay awaiting orders. While resting, word came down the line from an unknown source to "fall back." Every thing on the left of the First and Twenty-seventh started, leaving the regiment unsupported more than a mile from the rest of the army. Col. Field soon carried his men back, when Gen. Maney came up and said that he told Gen. Stewart that his men had acted cowardly, and that he had "one thousand two hundred men of the tribe of Benjamin that never flickered, and that they were Tennesseans." But finding that the enemy did not intend to give battle, but was flanking him, Gen. Johnston fell back to a position a short distance north of Adairsville, where, on the 17th, Cheatham's division engaged Gen. Hooker's corps. In this engagement the First and Twenty-seventh occupied an octagon house and surroundings. The loss in this engagement was very heavy, night putting an end to the contest. Gen. Johnston was again forced to retire to a point south of Kingston, for Sherman was moving for another attempt to cut off Johnston's communication with Atlanta.
Our army fell back to Cassville. It now became evident that a desperate struggle would ensue. The enemy, apparently abandoning his flanking movements, and having been moving in two columns, one down the railroad and the other by the old military road, from Cleveland, Tenn., to Cartersville, Ga., here formed a junction, and on the 19th of May was approaching in full force. The Army of Tennessee was drawn up in line of battle, with Gen. Hardee's corps near the railroad and Gens. Polk and Hood's near Cassville, in the order named, from left to right. The Federals were approaching cautiously, and the Confederates were ready; but Gen. Hood, from some unknown cause, made a change of front, and did not occupy the exact position intended by the commanding General, who, after having issued a battle order, upon learning of Hood's erratic movement, which disconcerted his plans, ordered his army to fall back "by the right of division to the rear." This being accomplished, the enemy ceased pursuit, and again commenced his flanking operations.
Crossing the Etowah River on the 20th, the Army of Tennessee rested two days, and then moved south-west to meet Sherman's flank movement, he having on the evening of the 19th withdrawn from Gen. Johnston's front, and crossed the Etowah on the Rome and Powder Spring road. But Johnston was aware of this, and when the advance of Sherman's army appeared in the vicinity of New Hope Church, on the afternoon of the 25th of May, they found Gen. Johnston's forces in their front. The second day at New Hope Church Maney's brigade, now composed of the First and Twenty-seventh, Sixth and Ninth, Fourth and Fiftieth, and Nineteenth Tennessee regiments, was sent with Gen. Bate's division to engage the enemy near Dallas, Ga. After assisting in driving the enemy back, the brigade returned that night to Cheatham's division - and here let me remark that through the dim vista of years we still remember the "lightning-bugs" - and did picket duty in front of New Hope Church until the afternoon of the 4th of June.
Leaving New Hope Church late in the afternoon, night soon set in, dark and rainy. After marching a few miles a detail of two hundred men was called for, and going forward was ordered to build a rail bridge. Arms stacked, fence-rails were shouldered and carried to the point where needed. The bridge being built, the command fell into line, and for twelve miles or more the men trudged through the rain along the road, with the mud shoe-mouth deep, through the woods, scattering headlong, pell-mell, every man for himself it seemed but on the army went, a scattered, helter-skelter, uncontrolled mass. When day broke such a sight as the First and Twenty-seventh, at least, presented! We looked at each other in astonishment. Muddy from head to foot, wet to the skin, guns half full of mud in many instances, hungry - but with all this not demoralised, yet terribly "scattered." In a short time every thing was righted, and the whole army ready for any thing that might occur. This movement was made because of Sherman's attempt again to flank Gen. Johnston; but Johnston reached the position first, and thus again thwarted his wily foe.
Drawn up in line of battle, some mile and a half in the rear of Gen. Bate's division, which occupied a position on Pine Mountain, the First and Twenty-seventh soon had a good line of breast-works built; and it was while at this place that Gen. Leonidas Polk was killed. But our position was soon changed, moving near to Kennesaw Mountain - changing every few days, until finally, on the 19th of June, Gen. Johnston occupied his Kennesaw line, and the First and Twenty-seventh held the fort in the famous "Dead Angle," which is about three miles south of Kennesaw Mountain, and about four miles west from Marietta, Ga. At this point, Sherman, on the morning of the 27th of June, after a heavy fusillade of artillery and small arms along his entire front, started the Army of the Cumberland against Hardee's corps, and the Army of the Tennessee against Gen. Loring, who occupied the line across Kennesaw Mountain. A picked division, in seven lines, was sent to attempt to break Gen. Johnston's line at the Angle. In the Angle were one hundred and eighty men of the First and Twenty-seventh, a large number being on picket duty, and a great many that morning being allowed to go to the wagon-train to wash their clothing. At about 8:30 A.M. the artillery and picket firing ceased, the pickets were seen running in, and the cry was raised, "Up men, they are coming!" It proved to be Gen. Jeff. C. Davis's division, formed in columns by regiments, two of his brigades being commanded by Gens. McCook and Harker. The first line advanced steadily, with guns loaded, but uncapped, and when within twenty or thirty feet of our works, the officer leading them turned his back to us, and was heard to exclaim "Come on, men! we'll take – ." The rest of the sentence was cut short by a volley from the works, the gallant young officer yielding up his life, together with more than half the men he was leading. Three successive lines were thus repulsed, and as the fourth line advanced, a four-gun battery on our left opened in earnest, which, with the firing from the works, held them in check and saved the day. Gen. Johnston, in his "Narrative," speaks of this attack, and says:
"But the most powerful attack fell upon Cheatham's division and the left of Cleburne's. The lines of the two armies were much nearer each other there, therefore the action was begun at shorter range. The Federal troops were in greater force and deeper order, too, and pressed forward with the resolution always displayed by American soldiers when properly led. An attempt to turn the left was promptly met and defeated by Cheatham's reserve, Vaughn's brigade."
As Vaughn's brigade was not in reserve, but on the main line, just to the right of Maney's brigade, and actively engaged, Gen. Johnston is in error about the reserve. But he continues:
"After maintaining the contest for near three-quarters of an hour, until more of their troops lay dead and wounded than the number of British that fell in Gen. Jackson's celebrated battle of New Orleans - the foremost of their dead lying against our works - they retired unsuccessful, because they had encountered entrenched infantry unsurpassed by Napoleon's Old Guard, or that which followed Wellington into France out of Spain."
It is worthy of remark that our gun-barrels became so hot that we could scarcely hold them, and the rays of the sun poured down oppressively.
As said before, Gen. Vaughn's brigade occupied that portion of the line immediately on the right of Gen. Maney's. Next to the First and Twenty-seventh were the Eleventh and Twenty-ninth Tennessee regiments, bearing an equal share of the heavy onslaught. But it was at the Angle that the enemy seemed determined to try to break the Confederate line; and as we were taken at a very great disadvantage - the Rock City Guards having no head-logs - we can claim a greater share of the honour in the repulse of a force outnumbering us twenty or thirty to one.
The Federals received a severe chastisement, three hundred and eighty-five men lying dead in front of the First and Twenty-seventh, and four hundred and fifteen in front of Vaughn's brigade, besides an unknown number of men wounded. Gens. McCook and Harker were among the slain in our immediate front. Each of their lines, three of the seven, coming up the hill, was broken under the fire from our line, and as the fourth line appeared, the battery opened a galling fire into their ranks, throwing them into utter confusion and dismay. Defeated, they retired under the cover of the hill, and kept up an incessant firing as long as we remained at that point. Under the hill, and to the west of our line, they commenced mining, with the intention of blowing us up on the 4th of July. The loss of the First and Twenty-seventh was twenty-seven men, killed and wounded.
But we have already dwelt too long on the battle, and must now refer briefly to what transpired after this memorable occasion. From here, on the 2d of July, Gen. Johnston fell back six miles south of Marietta, thence across the Chattahooche. The regiment engaged in the battles of the 20th and 22d of July, nobly sustaining itself. Its loss in the battle of the 22d was very great, and many who were wounded on that occasion were disabled, and never returned to the army.
As on other occasions, so in the battle of Jonesboro, on the 19th and 20th of August, the First and Twenty-seventh bore a distinguished part. But the removal of Gen. Johnston from the command of the Army of Tennessee produced a depressing effect upon all the Tennessee troops, and Gen. Hood, who had been assigned to the command of the army, determined, after the battle of Jonesboro, to begin an aggressive movement.
Recrossing the Chattahooche, the army moved in a north-westerly direction, and on the 5th of October Gen. French's division engaged the enemy at Allatoona, Ga. This attack proving unsuccessful, Hood continued his march until he reached Dalton on the 13th of October, when he engaged the enemy with only partial success. Moving thence across Alabama, he reached Decatur, and soon began his movement into Middle Tennessee. During all this almost unparalleled marching, though greatly reduced in numbers from killed, wounded, and sick, the First and Twenty-seventh were always at their post ready for duty. And so they came back into Middle Tennessee, many passing by their homes; they came on until the army was in sight of Nashville, taking part in the engagements at Spring Hill and Franklin, and finally in the battle of Nashville on the 15th and 16th of December, and then retreated with the army out of Tennessee.
The defeat at Nashville on that cold December day, and the retreat that followed, will never be effaced from the memory of the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee. Scattered, cold, the piercing north-west wind chilling them through and through; wet, hungry, ragged, and ill a great many instances barefooted; retreating over the frozen ground before a well-organised and well-disciplined army, the remnant of the Army of Tennessee found its way across the swollen Tennessee; and the First and Twenty-seventh regiments, after halting at West Point, Miss., a short while, after a long and tedious journey through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, rejoined the Army of Tennessee at Bentonville, in the latter State, where Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had again assumed command. Participating in the battle of Bentonville, the First and Twenty-seventh Tennessee fell back with the army to Greensboro, N.C., where Gen. Johnston, on April 26, 1865, surrendered the army, and the Southern Confederacy collapsed.
Leaving High Point, N.C., on the 3d of May, we arrived at GreenevilIe, Tenn., on the 17th; leaving there on the 19th, we reached home on the 21st, having seen four years of arduous service. The remnant of the Twenty-seventh Tennessee went home from Nashville about the 25th.
It is worthy of remark that Gen. Cheatham's division, in April, 1862, when organised at Corinth, Miss., numbered eight thousand men, and lost in killed, wounded, and missing, thirteen thousand five hundred. There were additions of other regiments, and recruits from time to time; so there were no doubt on its rolls as many as fifteen thousand men during the war. The Rock City Guards started with three hundred and thirty-four men rank and file, and there were just twenty-seven men of the three companies present at the surrender. There were on the rolls of the First Tennessee eleven hundred and sixty-seven, and one hundred and twenty-five at the surrender.