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 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. Sir 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