Oliver, John M. – August 4, 1864

Michigan Civil War Collection

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Regiment: 15th Michigan Infantry

Battles Mentioned: Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Georgia; Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia

Historical Figures: Absalom Baird, Daniel McCook Jr., John A. Logan, John M. Oliver, John W. Geary, Walter Q. Gresham, William Harrow

Hd Qrs 3rd Brig 4th Division 15th A.C.
Before Atlanta Ga August 4th 1864

Capt Geo J. Wilkinson
A.A.A.Genl 4th Div 15th A.C.
I have the honor to submit
the following hastily drawn report of the part taken by the 3rd
Brigade, of the 4th Division, 15th A.C. in the campaign, commencing
May 6th 1864, and ending August 3rd 1864 when this Brigade
was discontinued. In the midst of the work necessarily devolving
upon us all, this report cannot be made as full or as perfect as
it ought to be.
I assumed command of the Brigade, consisting of the 53rd
Ohio, Col. Jones. 70th Ohio, Maj Wm B. Brown, 15th Mich, Lt Col Hutchinson
99th Ind, Col Fowler and 48th Ills, Col. Greathouse, commanding.
May 6th 1864 then in the field near Rossville, Georgia and
marched via Crawfish springs and Villainow to Snake Creek
Gap, where we arrived on the 8th day of May. On the 11th marched
one mile to the front and formed Column of Division at half distance,
in reserve in rear of 1st and 2nd Brigades of this Division. The 53rd
Ohio Infty was here transferred to 2nd Division, 15th A.C. by order of
Maj Genl. John A. Logan. On the 12th moved forward about one mile,
made temporary fortifications on the left of Snake Creek Valley,
advanced skirmishers, but no enemy found. On the 13th marched
to near Rosacca and formed the reserve of our Division formation
line of battle in masses. May 14th remained in reserve all day. At 10 P.M.
the 15th Mich & 99th Ind Regiments were sent to the right by your order,
May 15th at 2 A.M. was ordered to the front. At 4 AM. ordered to return
to our old position, At 9 A.M. was relieved by Genl Baird’s Division,
14th A.C. and marched and formed in reserve on the Resacca road,
where we learned the Rebels had evacuated their works at that
place. Marched May 16th from near Resacca, and crossed the
Oostanaula River on the road to Rome. On the 17th marched
via Adairsville to near Kingston, where we arrived on the 19th On
the 20th, 21st, & 22nd remained in camp. On the 23rd marched to
Ackworth, where we arrived on the 26th advanced south of Dallas
about one mile and formed line of battle, the 48th Ills deployed as
skirmishers covering the line of the whole Division. On the 27th
threw up works and skirmished with the enemy all day. On
the 28th at 4 P.M. the enemy charged our line and were handsomely
repulsed. The behavior of the officers and men of the command
was excellent. Our line was steadily held. No confusion of any
kind took place. That fight was severe. The aggregate loss of
the Brigade in killed, wounded & missing was 55. We remained
in this position with occasional skirmishes with the enemy
until the morning of June 1st, when our lines were very skilfully
withdrawn, and we marched to the left and relieved a Brigade
of Genl Geary’s command, 20th A.C. near New Hope Church.
remained here until the 5th. The enemy having left their works
in our front during the night of the 4th. marched to
Ackworth where we remained until the 10th. Marched to Big
Shanty and formed line of battle in two lines on the right of the
Division on a ridge to the right of the Rail Road, designated
by Brig Genl Harrow. We remained in this position until
the 15th when we were ordered to the extreme left of our
line and supported the 2nd Brgd of this Division in one
of the most gallant charges made during this war. The
enemy were driven from their works with a loss of 500
in killed, wounded and prisoners, at night we retired about
one mile to the right and rear, Remained in same position
until the 19th, when we marched to the right and formed with
our Division the reserve of the 15th A.C. fronting Kenesaw Mountain
we remained in this position until the 26th when at dark we
marched 2 miles to the right and relieved Col. Daniel McCook’s
Brigade, 14th A.C. fronting Little Kenesaw Mountain. On the 27th our
skirmish line was advanced inorder to make a demonstration
in favor of the 2nd Division of this Corps, who, assisted by the
2nd Brigade of this Division, were ordered to assault Little
Kenesaw Mountain. The advance of the skirmishers of this Division
under Lt Col. Berkey, 99th Ind, was very ferice. He reports the
conduct of the detachment sent from this Brigade from the
15th Mich as excellent and that Lts Brown, Hubbel & Edwards
of that Regiment deserve particular mention for their conduct
the assault was unsuccessful. Remained in our works until the
3rd day of July. The enemy having left the mountain on the
night of the 2nd. Our skirmishers advanced to the top of the
mountain. Marched to Marietta. We left Marietta on the 4th
and marched on the Powder Springs and Sandtown Roads.
Arrived in front of enemy works near Nickajack Creek. On
the 5th form on left of 17th A.C. we fortified a ridge in full
view of enemy’s works and advanced our skirmishers to
Nickajack Creek. The enemy evacuated their works and
crossed the Chattahoochee River on the night of the 9th. On the
morning of the 10th the 70th Ohio was ordered forward to take
possession of their works. and advance their skirmishers to the
River. On the morning of the 12th marched via Marietta to
Rosswell, and crossed the Chattahoochee on the 14th and encamped
about one mile from the River, where we remained until the 17th
When we marched via Cross Keys to Decatur, arriving within
One mile of the latter place on the 19th. On the 20th marched
on the Atlanta Road, formed line of battle south of the Georgia
Rail Road, threw up works and skirmished with the enemy.
On the 21st 48th Ills was ordered forward to make a diversion
in favor of Genl Greasham’s Division, 17th A.C. who attempted to
carry the enemy’s line but were unsuccessful. The rest of my
command completed their works during the day. On the 22nd
about 9 A.M. moved forward to the works held by the enemy the
day before, the 70th Ohio on the left, the 15th Mich in the right, 48th
Ills & 99th Ind in reserve. Works at once reversed, skirmishers
advanced about one mile and reported enemy moving through
town on to our left, about noon attention was drawn to fireing
in our rear. By the direction of the Genl I at once made dis-
-positions to meet anything coming from such an unexpected
direction, ordered the 99th Ind back to their former position and
put them into line occupying the outer slope of their old Rifle
Pits, two companies were thrown out as skirmishers at once
As the firing in the rear increased there was no doubt of serious
attack. The enemy began to shore themselves in the open field
on our left and rear. The 48th Ills was brought over and
changed front forward on first company. 99th Ind Infty
making same change to the rear in last company. both
Regiments then went forward with a cheer which drove
the enemy to the woods again. During this time 70th Ohio
and 15th Mich held their old positions. The troops on the left beginning
to give way from this rear attack. The 15th Mich was ordered
out on double quick and came across the open field through
the stragglers in fine order, forming on the right of the 99th Ind.
across the Ravine. The fight was so determined at this time
that the 70th Ohio was brought over and placed in position where
they could support either this Brigade or the 2nd, which were
both fully engaged in this attack on the left and rear. The 15th
Mich charged and captured 17 officers and 165 men, 2 stands
Colors (5th Confederate & 17 & 18th Texas.) The pickets in our front
reporting the enemy advancing, the 99th Ind & 48th Ills were
again thrown quickly across the field to the position held in the
morning by the 15th Mich & 70th Ohio, respectively. On this front the
fight was bitter and intense for an hour, when the troops on the
right having actually left their Rifle pits, Col. Fowler covered our
right flank by skirmishers, Seeing that the position on our left
that morning must be held, the 15th Mich was ordered by
me to the right of the artillery, now masses on the crest in the
rear. After this was done I ordered the 99th Ind to fall back
and occupy the works held in the morning, and Col Greathouse
to take his. The 70th Ohio, across the Ravine, who had seriously
injured the enemy by a flank fire, were now ordered back
after coming about forty yards the order was given by Genl.
Harrow in person to return, and back they went with a cheer
I have heard many an officer say that that hearty cheer
of the 70th Ohio was the most encouraging thing they had heard
during the whole 5 hours fight As soon as the lines were
formed on the right we again charged in line and retook
our works, threw out skirmishers. and began to care for our wounded
Where all were so actively engaged and so fully did their
duty, praise seems to be unneccessary out of place & unfair. But I
must speak of Col. Lucien Greathouse, of the 48th Ills, who exhibited
a splendid example to the whole Army. Generous Gallant and
Chivalrous. A few such men would save a nation. There is
no one in this Division who is not filled with admiration at
his gallantry and devotion. There is no one who is not filled
with sorrow at his death. He died on the field at the head of
his Regiment, his face to the foe. We remained in our position
until the morning of the 27th, when we marched to the extreme
right of the Army, and camped for the night in Column of Regiments
on the south Side of the road leading to Vinings. On the morning
of July 28th the 3rd Brigade broke camp in rear of the 16th A.C. at
a very early hour, (feeling that a battle was iminent I ordered a
detail who brought entrenching tools for my command which
contributed greatly to our success) and moved to the right (S.W.)
and formed forward into line on left battalion, connecting with the
right of the 1st Division, and forming with it a right angle. After
a very hasty breakfast we moved by the left flank, keeping
up connection with the 1st Division as it swung into line prolonging
that of the 17th A.C. During this movement our flankers and
skirmishers exchanged occasional shots with the Videtts of the
enemy. Shortly before 12 oclk the Brigade was halted in line
at an angle of rather more than 90 degrees with that of the 1st
Division (an interval of about 100 yards interweving) in the following
order, commencing on the left. 70th Ohio 99th Ind 15th Mich. &
48th Ills this line was in a dense woods with a gentle assent
in front to a ridge the crest of which was distants from one
to two hundred yards where the woods terminated in an
open field. The men began immediately throwing together such
poles & chunks as could be formed, so as to form a very slight
defense, while a very heavy line of skirmishers was formed on
the ridge. As it became evident that the enemy was bringing
a very heavy force in front, the skirmish line was again and
again reinforced until four companies out of each Regiment
were deployed, by this means the enemy were held in check
and subjected to a most destructive fire in the open field for
at least half an hour. The entrenching tools were brought up
and distributed along the lines, when the skirmishers reported
the enemy advancing in columns. The order to advance the line
to the crest was given but could not fully be executed before our
skirmishers, overpowered by numbers, were compelled to fall
back to the main line. In this advance we took about 40 prisoners,
who were more enterprising and came faster than the rest Our
skirmishers were followed at an interval of but a few paces by
dense columns of the enemy, which, covered as they were, bu the dense
undergrowth advanced within forty or fifty paces of our line when
a terrific and destructive fire was opened upon them and was
continued steadily until their advance was checked at the
distance of from 20 to 30 paces their lines were cut down dis-
-ordered and driven back some distance, when they rallied
and again came boldly forward to the charge, but under the
murderous fire of our rifles were no more able to disorder or
discompose our lines than before. they gained a little ground
several times, only to lose it inch by inch after the most
terrible fighting on both sides. As the columns of the enemy were
driven back, our men lost not a moment in strengthening
their lines, not works, with the tools they had which proved of the
greatest advantage in resisting the succeeding shock. After a
very short interval which did not amount to a cecessation of
the battle, new & largely augmented columns of the enemy
came pouring upon us, with the same results, however, as before
Although their colors were planted within 20 paces, Their front
lines were broken up by deadly musketry. their columns staggered
halted and after vainly endeavoring to stand gave back some
distance, apparently for the purpose of rallying at this time.
The commanding Genl of the Division having been notified
that danger was to be apprehended from the gap existing
on our left, the 103rd Ills Infty (2nd Brigade) was sent to fill it
and very shortly after the 46th Ohio Infty of the same Brigd
was sent to the same point, and overlapped the left of the
70th Ohio; and these two Regiments by their alacrity and
gallantry very miterially assisted in driving back the attack
from our front, notwithstanding repeated rallying and reforming
of columns on the part of the enemy, who were finally forced back
in the greatest confusion. Before the commencement of the action
the 48th Ills Infty on the right being placed in the prolongation of
the Brigade line, in a situation not considered favorable, was re-
-tired about 20 paces to the crest of a small point of ridge in
prolongation of the line of the 1st Brigade, and there erected some
slight defences. When the line was ordered to advance, this
Regiment had reached its first position in the prolongation of
our own line and had remained and most gallantly repulsed
every effort of the enemy to dislodge them until much of the
force of the second principal assault of the enemy was expended,
when a part of the Regiment armed with Smith & Nelson rifles
running out of Ammunition, and a new supply being impossible,
and the Commanding General of the Division seeing that their
position was no better calculated for defence and not so
well protected as their first position on the crest, now occupied
by the 90th Ills Infty (1st Brigade) ordered them to retire behind
it; and the fighting on this part of the line to the close of the
engagement was gallantly done by this Regiment. The 48th Ills
sustained its grand reputation since the death of its Colonel
fully. To its officers and men the highest praise for conduct
under fire that can be given to soldiers is their due Lt Col
Berkey and his regiment 99th Ind have always steadily
done their duty. The 70th Ohio, upon whom the heavest pressure
of the fight of the 28th fell, words cannot praise. Lt Col Hutchinson
(but recently promoted) and his Regiment, the 15th Mich, have
received the encomiums of the Corps & Department Commanders
so direct, that it is unneccessary to speak of their great services.
How [ ? ] the engagement of the 28th [ ? ] for five or six hours its
heavest blows falling upon this Brigade; how fully, gallantly,
nobly the whole line did their duty, is so well known to
the General Commanding that eulogy by me is unneccessary.
The commanding officers of Regiments have made some es-
-picial mention, to which I ask attention. Their praises of
officers killed & wounded are true. (July 29th we buried the
dead of the enemy, retaining our position in line July 30th
Brigade was formed in reserve to 1st and 2nd Brigades, whose
lines were advanced. The position of the command remained
the same 31st July 1st 2nd and 3rd of August. On this day August
the 3rd Major Wm B. Brown, 70th Ohio, was placed in command
of detachments of 300 men from each Brigade and ordered to
take the enemy’s skirmish Pits. He gallantly led them
forward. After receiving his death wound his last words
were “Boys take the works” and tell the General I died at
my post doing my duty, “He died a model of a
Christian Soldier. The boys took the Pits. About 60 prisoners
were taken by this Brigade.
During this campaign I beg to remind
the General of what he has spoken of before. the ability
and gallantry of the Staff of this Brigade. Captain Henry
L. Philips, A.A.A.Genl is one well worthy of a much higher
position and command. His conduct through the whole
campaign has deserved the highest praise. Capt Human,
formally A.A.I.Genl relieved before Kenesaw, since then
acting Major of his Regiment (99th Ind.) behaved with dis-
-tinguished gallantry. He was wounded and taken prisoner
during the battle of the 22nd. To Capt Campbell and to
Captain Considine I tender my warmest thanks for their
steady, thoughtful and valuable services during the time they
have been with me. Their services I know are fully appreciated
by the General Commanding Division, who has had them
acting under hi immediate supervision. Lt Brown was
useful on the 28th. To say he was gallant would be
superfluous. He has my sincere thanks for his services.
My orderley Seth Crossman Co D” 15th Mich severely
wounded in the battle of the 22nd was of great use to
us. He was brave, intelligent, prompt and devoted.
He is deserving of honorable mention for the manner in
which he conducted himself on that trying occasion.
(Yourself and the members of the Division staff will accept
my hearty thanks for the assistance you have so cheerfully
rendered me upon all occasions upon this campaign.
Subjoined you will please find a report of casualties since
May 6th 1864, occuring in the four Regiments remaining
after the assignment of the 53rd Ohio to the 2nd Div, 15th A.C.
Also the numbers of the prisoners captured. Colors taken,
and number of arms. These items should be all credited
to the several Regiments, but owning to misunderstanding
in the Provost Marshal’s office, the accounts of Regiments
were not kept seperate.
I have the honor to be
Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant
John M. Oliver
Col. Comdg Brigd
Report of Casualties from May 6th 1864, to August 3rd 1864
inclusive, Colors captured. Small Arms and prisoners taken
by the 3rd Brigade. 4th Division, 15th A.C. as accurately as
can now be made.

Command Commissioned Officers Enlisted Men
Killed Wounded Missing Killed Wounded Missing Aggregate
70th Ohio.V.V. Infty. 3 4 10 55 10 82
48th Ills V.V.Infty. 4 9 2 25 157 11 208
15th Mich V.V.Infty. 2 10 58 4 74
99th Ind Vols Infty. 5 1 15 95 9 125
Total 7 20 3 60 365 34 489

Colors Captured by 15th Mich Vols on the 22nd
of July 17 Officers. 165 Enlisted men (5th Confederate 17th and 18th Texas
Colors Captured by 48th Ills Vols July 28th
were those of Alabama Infantry. (19th Regt.)
The whole number of prisoners taken by the
Brigade is 392.
The number of Small arms reported at different
times cannot amount to less than ten hundred.
Respectfully Yours
H. L. Philips
Hd Qrs 3rd Brgd 4th Div 15th A.C.
Before Atlanta Ga Aug 4th/64
Col John M.
Report of operations of 3rd Brigd
4th Division 15th A.C. commencing
the 6th day of May 1864 and ending
the 4th day of August 1864.