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 consolidated) 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 A.A.A.Genl   Hd Qrs 3rd Brgd 4th Div 15th A.C. Before Atlanta Ga Aug 4th/64   Oliver 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.