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Reminiscences of the Chattanooga Campaign

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
ON a balmy autumn day—September 18th, 1863, while the Chattanooga Valley lay nestled within its rugged mountain borders, bathed in the mellow rays of the Southern sun, the First Brigade, First Division of the Reserve Corps, broke camp near Crawfish Springs, and moved out along the Ringgold road. This brigade was composed of the Fortieth Ohio, Eighty-fourth Indiana, Ninety-sixth and One Hundred-and-fifteenth Illinois Infantry. Late in the afternoon, just as the head of the column reached Chickamauga River, the sharp crack of a rebel picket gun rang out upon the air. The column halted, and almost immediately we saw a mounted officer riding rapidly toward us from the front, the ranks opening at his approach. As he reached our company (B, Fortieth O. V. I.) he spoke to our Captain who at once gave the order: “Company B, forward—double quick—march!” Upon reaching the head of the column we saw the dead body of a Union soldier, lying upon his face, his life-blood mingling with the dust of the road. We crossed the stream and deployed as skirmishers, while on our right was deployed a company of the Ninety-sixth Illinois. We moved cautiously through the thicket until we reached a fence beyond which was an open field with stumps every few minutes, from behind which the Johnnies were firing salutes in honor of our arrival. We halted awhile at the fence and returned their compliments, when we were ordered to advance. We cleared the low fence at a bound, and made a rush for the rebel line of skirmishers, who gave a parting volley and showed us their gray backs, while we gave them every encouragement to go. We were then halted and lay down while one of our batteries played over our heads, shelling the opposite woods. As it was nearly dark the firing soon ceased. I lay, for several hours, by the stump which formed my temporary fortress, occasionally hearing faint noises, as of some one moving stealthily. I kept awake! About midnight it grew still and I began to be decidedly lonesome and crept over to a stump where I had seen a comrade before it became dark—he was gone. The skirmishers had been withdrawn silently, and I had been missed in the darkness, and was out in the enemy’s country all alone. I went back for reinforcements—cautiously, however, being fully alive to the danger of being taken for a rebel, and of falling a victim to mistaken identity. I had only gone a few steps when I heard the cocking of a gun and the words “Haldt, who gooms dere.” I sung out “Fortieth Ohio,” without delay, for those Dutchmen of the Ninety-sixth Illinois had the reputation of shooting and then saying halt.