Oliver, John M. – August 4, 1864

Michigan Civil War Collection

Click here for this soldier’s biography:

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 Brigd 4th Div 15th A.C.
Before Atlanta Ga Aug 4th 1864
Capt Geo I. Wilkinson
A.A.A.G. 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 Div. 15th A.C. in this campaign commencing May 6th 1864 and
ending August 4th When this Brigade was discontinued. In the midst of the
work necessarily devolving upon us all the report cannot be made as full
or as perfect as it right to be.
I assumed command of the Brigade May 6th 1864 then in the field
near Rossville Ga and marched by Crawfish Springs & Villaninow 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 Brigade of this Division.
The 53d Ohio Vol Infty was here transferred to the 2d Div 15th A.C.
by order of Maj Genl John A. Logan. On the 12th moved forward
one mile, made temporary fortifications on the left of Snake
Creek Valley, advanced skirmishers, but as enemy found, On the 13th
marched to near Resaca and formed the reserve of our Division,
formation, line of battle, in majors May 14th remained in reserve
all day. At 10 P.M, the 15th Mich and 99th Ind were sent
to the right by your order, May 15th At 2 A.M. was ordered to the
front, at 4 A.M. ordered to return to our old position. At 9 A.M.
was relieved by Genl Bairds Division 14th A.C. and marched and formed
in reserve on the Resaca road, where we learned that the Rebels had
evacuated their works at that place. Marched May 16th from near
Resaca and crossed the Oostanaula River on the road to Rome.
On the 17th marched by way of Adairsville to near Kingston where we arrived
on the 19th. On the 20th 21st & 22d remained in camp, on the 23d marched by
Van Wert, to Dallas, where we arrived on the 26th. Advanced South of Dallas
about one mile and formed line of battle. The 48th Ills were deployed as skimish-
ers, 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 com-
mand was excellent. Our line was steadily held. No confusion of any kind took
place. The fight was severe, the aggregate loss of the Brigade in killed, wounded
and missing was 55. We remained in this position, with occasional skirmishers
with the enemy, until the morning of June 1st when our lives were very skilfully
withdrawn and we marched to the left, relieved a Brigade of Genl Geary Comdg
of the 20th A.C. near New Hope Church. remained here until 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 eight of the Division on a ridge to the sight 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 Brigade of
this Division in one of the most gallant charges made during the 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 the 2nd Division of the Corps, who assisted by the 2nd Brigd.
of this Division, were ordered to assault Little Kenesaw Mountain. The advance
of the skirmishers of this Division under Lt Col Berkey 99th Ind Infty was
very fine. He reports the conduct of the detachment of this Brigade the 15th
Michigan, was excellent and that Lts Brown, Hubbel and Edwards deserve
particular mention for their conduct. The assault was unsuccessful.
Remained in our works until the 3rd 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 Mareitta. We left Marietta in on the 4th and marched on the Powder
spring and Landtown Road arriving in front of enemys works near Nickajack
Creek.* The enemy evacuated their works and crossed the Chattahoochie 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 skirmisher
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 were we remained until the 17th when we marched by Cross Key
to Decatur. Arrving within one mile of the latter place on the 19th. On the 20th
marched on Atlanta Road formed line of battle south of Georgia Rail Road,
threw up works, and skirmished with the enemy. On the 21st the 28th Ills was
ordered forward to make a diversion in form of Genl. Greashaw’s Division 17th A.C.
who attempted to carry the enemy’s line but were unsuccessful. The rest of my
completed their works during the day. On the 22nd about 9AM moved forward
to the works held by the enemy the day before. The 70th Ohio, on the left, 15th Mich
on the right 48th Ills and 99th Ind in reserve. Works at once reversed skir-
mishers advanced about one mile and reported the enemy moving
through town, or to our left. About noon attention was drawn to fireing
in our rear. By the direction of the General I at once made dispo-
-sitions to meet anything coming from such an unexpected direction
Ordered the 99th Ind Infty 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 fireing in the rear increased. there was no
*On the 5th formed on left of the 17th A.C. We
fortified a ridge in full view of the enemy’s works
and advanced our skirmishers to Nickajack Creek
doubt of a serious attack. The enemy began to show 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 making same change
to the rear, on last company, both Regiments there went forward with a
cheer which drove the enemy to the woods again. During this time the
70th Ohio and 15th Mich. held their old positions. The troops on the left begin-
-ing to give way from this rear attack, the 15th Mich was ordered out on
double quick, came across the open field, through the stragglers in fine
order, forming in 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
Second, 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 of colors (5d Confederate and 17 and 18th Texas) The pickets in
our front, west reporting the enemy advancing the 99th Ind & 48 Ills
were again thrown quickly across the field to the position held in the
morning by the 15th Mich, and 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 massed on the crest in the rear. After this was done, I ordered the
99th Ind to fall back and occupy the works left iin the morning.
And Col Greathouse to take his. The 70th Ohio across the Ravine who
had seriously enjured the enemy by a flank fire were now ordered
back, after coming about 40 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 cheer of the 70th Ohio
was the most encouraging thing they had heard during
the whole five hours fight. As soon as the lines were formed in 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. Peaise seems to be unneccessary out of place
and 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 Corps at a very early hour, feeling that a battle was imminient
I ordered a detail who brought up 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 Div. as it swung round into line prolonging that of the 17th
Corps. During this movement our flankers and skirmishers exchanged
occasional shots with the Videtts of the enemy. shortly before 12 O’clk
the Brigade was halted in line, at an angle of rather more than 90 degrees
with that of the 1st Div. An interval of about one hundred yards
intervening in the following order commencing in the left. 70th Ohio
99th Ind. 15th Mich. 48th Ills. This line was in a dense wood, with
a gentle ascent in front to a ridge the crest of which was distant
from one to two hundred yards, where the wood terminated in open
field. The men immediately commenced throwing together such poles
and chunks as could be found so as to form a very slight defense.
While a very heavy line of skirmishers was established on the ridge.
As it became evident that the enemy was bring 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 was 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 line. When the skirmishers
reported the enemy advancing in column. The order to advance the line
to the crest was given but could not fully be executed before our skir-
-mishers. overpowered by numbers were compelled to fall back to the
main line in this advance we took about 40 prisoners who were
more interprising, and came further 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 by the dense undergrowth advanced
within 40 or 50 paces of our lines. 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. The lines were
cut down, disordered 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 dis-
-compose 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 line 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 cessation of the battle, new and largely
augmented columns of the enemy came pouring in 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 General of the Division having
been notified that danger was to be apprehended from the gap
existing on our left the 103rd Ills Infty (2nd Brigd) was sent to fill it and
very shortly after the 46th Ohio of the same Brigade was sent to the same point
and overlapped some what the left of the 70th Ohio Infty and there was Regiment
by their alacrity and gallantry very materially assisted in driving back
the attack in 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 on the right being placed in the prolongation of the
Brigade line, in a situations not favorable was retired about 20
paces to the crest of a small point of ridge in the prolongation of the
lines of the 1st Brigade and there erected some slight defenses. 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’s and
Nelson’s Rifles running out of ammunition. A new supply being impossible
the Commanding General of the Division seeing that their position
was no better calculated for defense and not so well protected as
their first position on the crest, now occupied by the 90th Ills
Infty (1st Brigade) ordered them to return 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 heavist
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 unnecessary to speak of their great services. How severe the engage-
-ment of the 28th was for 5 or 6 hours. its heaviest blows falling upon
this Brigade. How fully, gallantly, and nobly, the whole line did
their duty is so well known to the Commanding General that
eulogy by me is unnecessary. The commanding officers of Regiments
have made some espicial mentions to which I ask attention. Their
praises of officers, killed, and 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 July 31st 1st 2nd &3rd
of August. On this day Aug 3rd Major Wm Brown of the 70th Ohio was
placed in command of a detachment of 300 men from each Brigade
and ordered to take the enemys skirmish pits he gallantly had
them forward. After receiving his death wound, his last words were
“boys take the works” “tell the General I died at my post doing my
duty” He died a model of a Christian Soldier. The boys took the
pits, and 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.
Capt 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
formerly A.A.I.Genl relieved before Kenesaw, since then acting Major
of his Regiment 99th Ind behaved with distinguished gallantry. He
was wounded and taken prisoner, during the battle of the 22nd.
To Capt Campbell, and Capt Considine. I tender my warmest
thanks for their steady, thoughtful and valuable services during
the time they have been with me. Their services are fully appreciated
by the Genl. Commdg Division, who has had them acting under his
own immediate supervision. Lt Brown was useful on the 28th to say that
he was gallant would be superfluous. He has my sincere thanks for his services
My orderly Seth Crossman Co “D” 15th Mich severely wounded in the
battle of the 22nd was of great use to us. He was brave, intelligent, and devoted
he is deserving of honorable mention for the manner in which he con-
ducted 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 find a report of Casualties since May 6th 1864
occuring in the 4 Regiments remaining after the assignments
of the 53rd Ohio to the 2nd Div 15th A.C. Also the number of prisoners
captured 392. Colors taken 3. Number of arms 1200. These
items should all be credited to the several Regiments, but owing
to misunderstanding in the Provost Marshal’s office the accounts
of Regiments were not kept seperate.
Very Respectfully Your Obt Servt
Col Comdg Brig’d