History of the 1st Tennessee
Part VII: Retreat to Tennessee
Bragg considered making another fight after Perryville, but, as his character he would show repeatedly in the future, he got nervous and convinced himself there was no point in occupying Kentucky and ordered a retreat to Tennessee. They moved south through the Cumberland Gap and then east towards Knoxville. From there the army went by rail to Tullahoma and then marching north to Murfreesboro, a small town 25 miles southeast of Nashville. They reached the town in November.
There were many hardships on the retreat back. “Having on a part of the way nothing to eat, but parched corn and raw bacon,” recalls Corporal Pollard. Upon reaching Tennessee again, Privates Levi Jackson Bailey and his brother John both ran into some friends or family in the 5th North Carolina Cavalry. Both Bailey’s originated from North Carolina and had moved to Nashville as children. They requested a transfer that was approved and joined Cavalry.
During the same month on November 29, Captain Atkeison was loaded onto the steamship Mary Crane at Cairo, IL bound for Vicksburg, MS. Having been captured at a hospital in Harrodsburg on October 10, he was now on his way to exchange having been released from the hospital. Six days later the majority of the enlisted men captured at or around Perryville were loaded on to the steamboat The City of Madison and at the same location, reaching Vicksburg in mid December and reuniting with Captain Atkeison. They remained near the city for a week or so and were officially declared exchanged.
Though the Federals were their enemy, they did treat all the wounded with care. Not releasing anyone until they had recovered enough to be moved. The only enemy the Confederates had were the elements which managed to haunt one soldier for the rest of his life. While recovering from his wounds at Perryville, Private John Page Holt contracted an eye infection. This infection deteriorated his eyesight gradually. When he died in 1901, the same infection had caused him to completely go blind.
There were at least two men from Company D who were left at Perryville after the rest were exchanged. 2nd Sergeant Winstead, with his left leg amputated was no threat to the Federals so they paroled him and sent him home. 4th Sergeant James Richard Hughes, who had been hit by a piece of grapeshot in the thigh, was left to recuperate a few weeks more till he could again walk with some ease. He was exchanged in late December. The men captured and exchanged from the Kentucky Campaign never made it back to the Army of Tennessee until January, consequently they would miss the Battle of Stones River.
The Battle of Perryville depleted the company of all but three of its Officers and NCOs. 1st Lieutenant Woldridge and 2nd Corporal Womble rejoined the company sometime after Perryville. 4th Corporal William Pollard, who led them off the field, was still with the company. One way or another the company was informed that Corporals Thompson and Campbell had died from their wounds and to top that off 5th Sergeant Hughes was killed during the battle. Elections were held to fill the three vacancies. Corporal Womble was promoted to 5th Sergeant, Private Hogan Moody was promoted to 1st Corporal and Private Jacob “Jake” Baugh was promoted to 3rd Corporal. This still left the company very short of rank structure, but until the return of the prisoners the Company would have to do with what they had.
Part VII: Consolidation and Conscription
New conscripts and recruits were being brought in. John Smith Cotton, James C. Harrison, John H. Hill (Who had two brothers already fighting in Company D), Henry R. King, and James W. Wells were brought in on conscription. Henry King left his wife and five children behind when he came into the military. Another recruit, Daniel Shelburn Crafton transferred from the 55th Tennessee Infantry Company C to the Williamson Grays.
In December 1862, the 1st Tennessee’s numbers as a whole were very low. Many of those still the on roster where prisoners in Kentucky. The 27th Tennessee was in the same situation. Their numbers were lower then the 1st Tennessee. The two regiments were consolidated the same month. On paper they were the same unit on the field the two regiments would fight as separate units. Companies A, B, C of the Rock City Guards were consolidated into as single company, as were companies E, F, & G. Companies D, H, I, K, and L were all large enough to avoid consolidation. The 27th Tennessee was consolidated into three companies. The Williamson Grays on the muster rolls of the 1/27th Tennessee, was redesignated Company F. For more information on the consolidation click here.
Part VIII: Battle of Murfreesboro
December 26, 1862 found the 1st Tennessee on the outpost at Stewart’s Creek in LaVergne, TN. This was the furthest outpost from Murfreesboro. Firing opened up early in the morning. General Maney moved the entire brigade forward to support the cavalry that had been requesting help. At that point the firing volume increased and General Maney officially informed General Bragg that the Federal Army was indeed on the move south towards Murfreesboro. From there Maney’s brigade was in support of the cavalry as rearguard.
On next day the 1st Tennessee continued fighting south of LaVergne in Smyrna. They continued their resistance against the Federal advance. They reached Murfreesboro on December 28 and were moved to the left flank of the army along the Franklin Road. They saw no action on the 29th. Both armies spent the day getting into position. December 30 they were moved towards Triune to support Robinson’s Battery, after the Federals attempted to push the Confederate Flank there. They saw no action, by the time they arrived the threat had passed. They moved back to their original position later that day.
The big show began on the last day of 1862. Lieutenant Woldridge was the company commander. The only NCOs present were one sergeant and three corporals. Maney’s Brigade formed in the reserve line of Polk’s corps, and the attack got underway early in the morning. Cheatham’s Division advanced around 7 o’clock in the morning. It was not until after 8 o’clock that Maney’s Brigade was moved 1,000 yards to the front to support Manigault’s brigade. Here the Brigade came under artillery fire.
1st, 27th, and 4th Tennessee were wheeled slightly right to attack the battery head on. Maney ordered the 6th and 9th Tennessee to the left to a skirt of woods to protect the flank of the other two regiments in case of an attack. Manigault’s Brigade also shifted position to the right. The Federal battery sensed danger and limbered up and fled to the rear. Turner’s Battery unlimbered quickly and managed to get a few rounds off at the retreating Federals.
The regiment again pushed forward coming near a brick-kiln just off of the Wilkinson Pike. As they neared the building shells began to shriek from a group of trees about 200 yards up ahead across the road. Colonel Feild believed them to be Confederates since they were in an area that should have already been cleared out. He sent one of his orderlies out to the artillerymen to inform them they were firing on their own men, but about fifty yards from the artillery their infantry support fired killing the man. The skirmishers in front of the regiment began to yell back that they were in deed Yankees but none of the officers believed them and another rider was sent out to investigate. The rider met with gunfire as he approached the other line but was not hit. He reared his horse and rode back to the 1st Tennessee reporting they were indeed Federals. The regiment then poured fire into the battery and its support.During this exchange a shell crashed nearby Private William Mortimer Moss. The shell, though not wounding him severely, gave him a concussion and mild shock. In the excitement Private John Watson was somehow disabled by a horse. Colonel Feild stated in his report that all of the regiment’s causalities came from this little area. The area where the Federals were located later became known as the “Slaughter Pen”. Corporal William Pollard would later state, “In four years experience I never saw as many dead and wounded men as were on a little plat of ground of about 3 acres near the enemy’s battery.” The Confederates managed to put such fire down on the Federals they withdrew after a short time. In less then half an hour the 1st Tennessee suffered eighty-three causalities. Company D suffering nine wounded, a few severely.
The Confederates moved forward quickly over the Wilkinson Pike and into the rocky, wooded landscape that the Federals had just moments before occupied. Here the Federal line simply disintegrated and fell back towards the Nashville Pike. Maney’s brigade pushed on after them in pursuit. As they were about to move out into the field that lay before them and the Nashville Pike, scouts reported the Federals had set up a strong defensive line along the embankment of the road supported by several batteries. Maney’s brigade halted at the edge of the tree line just out of harms reach. They would spend the next three days in this position.
January 1, 1863, most of the Confederates believed they would witness the Federal army retreating down the roads from which they came. They were mistaken. Up until January 3 the Federals held their ground and the 1st Tennessee occupied their time dodging the occasional shell from artillery near the Nashville Pike. On January 2, Bragg tried to strike the Federal left flank and failed with heavy causalities. The 1st Tennessee did not participate in that attack. January 3, Bragg issued orders for the army to withdraw south to Shelbyville. Maney’s Brigade was again put on rear guard. Just as the Battle of Perryville had gone, the 1st Tennessee and the rest of the Confederate army had pushed the Federals back, and for the most part beat them, only to be forced to retreat later. So, south they went reaching Shelbyville a few days later. They would receive a five month break upon reaching Shelbyville.
Murfreesboro Casualties (9):
|4th Corporal William Pollard||Wounded slightly in the head|
|Pvt. Alden C. Beech||Wounded Slightly|
|Pvt. William F. Bingham||Wounded slightly in the arm|
|Pvt. William M. Doyle||Wounded slightly in the knee|
|Pvt. James Edmondson||Wounded slightly in the hand|
|Pvt. Edward H. Hill||
Wounded slightly in the hand
|Pvt. William M. Moss||Concussion slight wounds|
|Pvt. Solomon “Berry” Vincent||Wounded severely head|
|Pvt. John Watson||Disabled by a horse|
Part IX: Shelbyville
During January 1863, the Perryville casualties trickled in from their exchange camps around Vicksburg, MS. Two of them were immediately reassigned to new positions. Private John Thomas Brown qualified for Coleman’s Scouts and was reassigned. Later during November 1863 Brown is sent out with another former 1st Tennessee soldier named Sam Davis. Davis went to Pulaski and Brown went to Franklin. Both would be captured. Davis was hung the same month, Brown was imprisoned by the Federals until February 1865. 4th Sergeant James R. Hughes, who was exchanged after the rest of the casualties, was assigned to conscription duty. His leg still having not healed completely from Perryville.
Other Perryville casualties saw their military careers end when they returned to the Confederate lines. Lieutenant Thomas Carl’s leg wound from Perryville left him in bad shape and he resigned his commission in March 1863. In August, the Federals went to his home in Leiper’s Fork and arrested him. He was later released on bond. Another Perryville casualty, Private David James Taylor, was given a medical discharge in July for his severe wounds.
Three of the company veterans chose to buy a substitute to end their enlistments. Captain Atkeison’s younger brother Andrew, purchased a substitute because he was needed at home according to family sources. Private Young Scruggs bought his way out of the army as well. Michael O’Neil replaced Young Scruggs and John Crayton replaced Andrew Atkeison. Both of these men demonstrate a form of fraud in the Civil War era. O’Neil took his money and deserted two weeks later, Crayton deserted the day he enlisted. Private Innis Brown bought a soldier from Sumner County named William M. Mitchell, who turned out to be the only substitute who stayed with the company.
The next blow to the company came with a surge in desertions. Between March and September of 1863, ten men deserted the company. This number includes the two substitutes. Of the ten only Private Robert Phipps returned to the unit. Private John Merrill, deserted the company only to enlist in the cavalry. The rest never joined another unit. Isaac Brown, one of the deserters, went to Louisville. This was either to seek safety from the Federal garrison in Franklin or the Franklin citizens who may not have appreciated him abandoning his comrades. Isaac’s mother lived in Downtown Franklin off of what is now Church St. When she died in 1879, records show Isaac’s widow was living in New York City. According to a family source he most likely never returned to Franklin.
Although it seems everyone decided to leave in the spring of 1863, many more were coming to take their place. On May 1, 1863 Private James D. Henderson was traded for a Alexander Beard of the 2nd Kentucky Mounted Infantry. Alexander was related to George and Jacob already in the company. Earlier in February, Lieutenant Woldridge’s son, Thomas, transferred from the 2nd Kentucky Mounted Infantry as well to fight alongside his father. One other enlistment that would prove interesting for this time, was a conscript named Henry C. Paine. Paine enlisted on June 2 and just a few weeks later he was caught counterfeiting money and sent to prison in Atlanta.
Shelbyville, though small, had a relatively large pro-union population in the area. Army officials received several reports of civilians encouraging Confederate soldiers to desert their post. Frank Carl was selected for a special assignment as a detail to put down some of the Union sentiment and keep the citizens of the area in their place.
After much down time Rosencrans moved his army out of Murfreesboro and headed south. June 27, 1863 his advance guard found the 1st Tennessee at Shelbyville. Part of the regiment, which included all of Company D, was detailed to guard the train depot. At 3:00 p.m. a Federal Cavalry came racing down the main road leading into town and made a run for the town square. A Confederate artillery unit stationed in the square opened fire on them, but only managed to get a few rounds off before the Federals were on top of them. A section of the battery was captured.
The Federals then turned and headed for the Rail Depot. Marcus Toney of Company B recalls a soldier of the regiment, whose name he does not mention, stating that he would whip the whole Yankee army himself. “Two weeks later,” states Toney, “he was a prisoner at Fort Delaware.” Private James H. Otey of Company D is the only known captured soldier taken at Shelbyville. Two weeks later he was a prisoner at Fort Delaware. It is not certain that he is the soldier that Toney refers to in his story, but this is good evidence to suggest it was.
As pickets fired and delayed the Federals the 1st Tennessee was ordered to torch the depot. In the depot were packages and supplies of all sorts. William Pollard recalls, “The boys then at once began to break open boxes stored in the depot, and loaded themselves with clothing, and abundance of good things, that had been sent to various ones from their homes.” The men burned the depot and fled town. They took position in an orchard the next morning outside of Tullahoma. The Federals never attacked and the regiment dug in and held the town for a short time afterwards. Rosencrans eventually flanked the town and the Army of Tennessee continued its retreat south towards Chattanooga in July.
In July 1863 the 1st Tennessee was camped in the small town of Chattanooga, TN. Most of their time was used digging trenches around the city in preparation of the inevitable Federal assault.
It was here at Chattanooga that George Nichols recounts an incident within his mess. Private George Nichols’ mess consisted of himself, Private James McEwen, Sgt. Henry Walker, Cpl. Hogan Moody, Private Green Moody, and Private John Watson. Green Moody was the forager for the mess and one morning before daylight showed up in camp carrying a sack of bacon. He told Nichols and Hogan Moody (Green’s brother) that he also had a sack of flour, but could not carry both. So, off George and Hogan went to retrieve the sack of flour. On their way back a tent caught their attention. They apparently snuck over to the tent and lifted it from right over the men sleeping under it. Upon reaching camp they set the tent up for themselves, but found out later the men to whom the tent belonged had small pox. They never returned the tent and luckily for them they never caught the disease.
That morning everyone in the Nichols mess was assigned to help in the construction of breastworks to the rear of Chattanooga, except for John Watson. Green Moody warned Watson to watch the bacon and make sure Blackhawk Nichols (George’s older brother) did not try to steal it. Blackhawk and his mess seeing the others leave decided to play a trick on Watson and invited him over to eat a meal with them, which Watson accepted. Watson sat down and ate. Afterwards, getting sleepy he went off and fell sleep Blackhawk dug a hole under Watson’s bed and buried the bacon.
When George Nichols and his companions returned they found Watson asleep and the bacon missing and as can be imagined everyone got very heated. They snapped Watson out of his sleep and Green demanded, “Where is our bacon? Did I not tell you to keep your eye on it? If you left the tent Blackhawk would get it?” Watson obviously did not have an answer. Then Green exclaimed, “So now we are going to whip you to the glory of God!” Nichols and Hogan held Watson down against a log and Green proceeded to whip him. At this time that a member of General Polk’s staff rode by and believed the actions to be a mutiny. He rode to Colonel Feild's tent and informed him there was a mutiny in progress in his camp. The Colonel looked over and seeing it was not as it seemed apparently exclaimed, “I reckon the boys are whipping Watson,” and let them finish.
The 1st Tennessee’s stay in Chattanooga lasted roughly two months. The dense countryside offered little to forage off and the stay was a miserable one. During the first weeks of September Rosecrans again moved on Bragg’s army. His advance caught Bragg off guard and the Federals were almost on top of the city before Bragg realized what was going on. The Confederates immediately evacuated the town and retreated south towards Chickamauga Station and LaFayette, GA. On September 8, 1863 the town of Chattanooga was in Federal hands without a fight.
Part XI: Battle of Chickamauga
In the span from September 18-September 22, 1863, the men of Company D would distinguish themselves as a Company more then any other time during the war. With the chaos that reigned during the Chickamauga campaign, the Williamson Grays fought harder here then most of their counterparts in the 1st Tennessee. They would play a vital role in every event during the campaign which they participated.
The 1st Tennessee saw little action in the roughly two weeks following the evacuation of Chattanooga. Bragg was still trying to get a hold of the situation and the Federals were slowly trickling their way south of Chattanooga in pursuit. On September 18, 1863 the 1st Tennessee was stationed near Lee and Gordon’s Mill. Captain Atkeison states in his account book that the company was engaged on this day. It is documented in other sources that skirmishing occurred near the site as well. Both sides were still feeling each other out and apparently the 1st Tennessee took part. The regiment stayed the night of the 18th near the Mill. The next day would find them much busier.
The morning of the 19th, Cheatham’s Division was ordered north over Chickamauga Creek to support Forrest’s Cavalry that had captured two bridges. The Division crossed Dalton’s Ford and continued north. For a short time, Maney’s brigade was held in reserve on the Alexander’s Bridge Road while other brigades of Cheatham’s Division pushed forward. At roughly 2:00 p.m. they were ordered forward, with the 1st Tennessee holding the right flank of the brigade. They reached the intersection with the Brotherton Road and cut through the dense forest to the top of a small ridge held by Jackson’s brigade. Jackson withdrew his brigade without providing Maney with much information. Colonel Feild sensing the 1st Tennessee was exposed and likely to be flanked sent companies D & I out to do reconnaissance of the right flank. He put Captain Atkeison in charge of the expedition. They moved across the road to the forest on the other side. They had not gone far into the woods before they ran into an entire brigade of Federal Infantry which they immediately engaged. Two companies were hardly enough to do much damage, and were driven back.
Sketch of the Fighting on September 19 where both sides collided in the thick undergrowth
After running back over the road, Colonel Feild pulled the right wing of the line in to form an “L” shape and protect his flank. Soon up and down Maney’s entire line, rifles roared in response to the Federal advance. George Nichols recalls everyone piling as many men as they could behind every tree in the woods. At one point Nichols looked over and saw Lieutenant Woldridge standing in the open and begged him to come take cover behind the tree with him. Woldridge refused, saying there were many hiding behind trees now and not doing any good. The Lieutenant carried a Colt Six Cylinder Rifle. Nichols recalls him raising his gun and emptying every round and all but one found a target. Woldridge, out of ammo for the Colt, threw the gun down and picked up a musket. He continued to fire for the rest of the battle standing in the open. He was never hit.
Though Lieutenant Woldridge was fortunately not hit, others were not as lucky and casualties began to accumulate. Captain Atkeison was wounded again in the left arm (he was shot in the left arm at Perryville as well). Corporal Francis Womble and Private James Baber were both struck by spent bullets. Private Green Moody was wounded in the head. Company D suffered its first combat fatalities in almost a year when Privates Lee Shute and Garrett Bradford were killed hiding behind the same tree.
Unknown to Maney, he was fighting almost an entire division on his own. Soon the Federals overlapped his lines. The 6th and 9th Tennessee’s line collapsed and the brigade’s left flank folded. General Forrest, being in the area, saw what was happening and rode up to Colonel Feild himself and informed him his line was about to be surrounded. Colonel Feild wanted to hold, but accepting the situation ordered a retreat. It was every man for himself. Private William Moss, who was sharing the same tree with the now deceased Shute and Bradford, recalls he and Private John Watson did not realize the regiment was retreating. As soon as the two did, they turned around and ran as hard as they could for the rear. Moss remembers Watson ran faster then him. Moss still made it to safety as he recalls, “With the loss of only one shoe.”
Upon reaching the Brotherton Road, the regiment continued to retreat in different directions. Most kept retreating through the woods. Here a Franklin citizen and former Harpeth Academy student of Company C, James Campbell, stood on top of a stump furiously waving the regiment’s flag trying to rally them. His efforts were cut short when a Federal bullet struck him in the head, killing him instantly. A marker has been placed on the Chickamauga Battlefield Property in the spot where he fell.
While most of the regiment did retreat through the woods, the majority of Company D made their way down the Alexander’s Bridge Road to a spot between the intersection and the Winfrey House. At this location was Huggins’ Battery. Captain Huggins stopped as many 1st Tennessee soldiers as he could and told them if they would stay and help fight he would do the best he could to repel the advance. Corporal Hogan Moody proclaimed, “I will stay till every tree is shot away.” The company provided rifle support for the battery and a few actually helped fire the cannons. It soon became apparent as the Federals drew closer the four artillery pieces and the handful of Infantry was not going to stop the advance. George Nichols recalls he, Hogan Moody, and Lt. Woldridge grabbing one of the pieces and withdrawing it by hand down the road past the Winfrey House. A federal regiment broke ranks and began to chase after the artillery crew. At which point, Huggins abandoned two of the guns, drew a third one away with his horses, and the fourth was being dragged away by the Williamson Grays who were being chased by Federals who wanted another battlefield prize. The Federals never caught them. The brigade began to reassemble at a wooden knoll about three hundred yards from the ridge they had just retreated from. The battle on September 19 was over for them. The Federals reached the Winfrey House in front of the Confederate lines and halted.
That night at the Alexander House, Quartermaster Sergeant William Cunningham occupied the night digging holes to bury bodies. He laid Private Campbell, the color bearer, to rest near the house. Cleburne launched a night attack that pushed the Federals far enough back that the 1st Tennessee was able to recover their dead and wounded. The next morning, September 20, they found the two artillery pieces from Huggins’ battery still in the location where they had been captured. Apparently, during Cleburne’s attack the Federals did not have time to pull them off the field.
When morning broke September 20 broke, Maney’s brigade was moved slightly to the west of the wooden knoll they had occupied the day before. Because of the heavy action they had seen the day before, Cheatham’s Division was held in reserve for the majority of the day. Sometime that morning, with most of the color guard taken out of the fight, volunteers were called upon to fill the ranks of the color company. Private George Nichols of Company D stepped forward and the colors were placed in his hands to carry into battle with the regiment.
Most of the day would be uneventful. Other then the occasional courier the regiment would see little excitement. At one point an officer from Longstreet’s corps showed up begging them to come forward to his unit’s assistance. The soldiers taunted him and asked, “Why aren’t you there helping them?” Embarrassed, the officer went away.
Just after 4 p.m. a courier rode up ordering Maney’s brigade north on the Alexander’s Bridge Road. The brigade formed up across from the Federal works around Kelly Field. By this time on the Chickamauga battlefield the majority of the Federal army had abandoned the fight. Only General Thomas opposed the Confederates. However, by 5:00 p.m. even this line was in the process of crumbling. Just after five o’clock Maney ordered his brigade forward, with Private Nichols out front carrying the flag. According to Colonel Feild the Federals only stopped to fire sparodic shots and abandoned their works as the regiment approached. The regiment hardly lost a man. In Company D only Private William M. Crutcher was struck during the assault. When the order to charge was given, Sam Watkins of Company H recalls the regiment’s colors were planted on the works and the Federals ran.
With this assault, what remained of the Federal line retreated back towards Chattanooga. For the first time in the Army of Tennessee’s history they were in complete control of the battlefield. Instead of taking advantage of his first victory, Bragg rests his army for the night and does not attempt to pursue the Federals until a full two days later on September 22.
Chickamauga Casualties (7):
|September 19:||September 20:|
|Captain Oscar Atkeison||Wounded slightly left arm||Private William M. Crutcher||Wounded Severely in thigh|
|5th Sgt. Francis M. Womble||Wounded by spent ball thigh|
|Private James Baber||Wounded by spent ball in nose|
|Private Garrett Bradford||Killed by wound to chest|
|Private J. Green Moody||Wounded slightly by spent ball to head|
|Private Lee Shute||Killed by wound to bowels|
On September 22, 1863, the Confederate army was set in motion north towards Chattanooga. Maney’s Brigade moved forward all the way to Missionary Ridge. On the hill lay members of Wilder’s Lighting Brigade. These Federal soldiers carried repeating rifles and were acting rear guard for the Army of the Cumberland. After a short delay Maney ordered the brigade forward. In the 1st Tennessee Colonel Feild threw companies D & K out front as skirmishers for the regiment. Private George Nichols, who apparently turned the flag over to the possession of another man in the regiment, recalls Company D’s advance in a tribute to his friend Corporal Hogan Moody:
“Cheatham’s Division was the right and Maney’s Brigade moved on the Shallow Ford Road to Missionary Ridge and at the foot of the Ridge was halted for a few minutes. In the meantime, General Cheatham rode up and ordered General Maney to take the ridge. The First Tennessee was formed in the line of battle and Company D and Company K was thrown out as skirmishers. Capt. Atkeison commanded Company D and Capt. Flourney commanded Company K. The regiment advanced as the skirmish line advanced. Col. Feilds was with the skirmish line and there was one yankee we took particular notice of. He was on a gray horse behind a tree. He had shot two of our company, John and Teat Holt. He then turned to run Col. Feilds and Hogan Moody and the writer of these lines were ahead of him and Col. Feilds ordered us to shoot him. We both fired but do not know whether we hit him or not for we had no time to look after wounded or dead Yankees. Col. Feilds then ordered the regiment to advance and we drove General Wilder’s Brigade off the ridge.”
Of the two Holt brothers, Herbert “Teat” Holt would be taken out of the war for good. The wound he received through his thigh would also cause him to walk with a cane for the rest of his life. His brother John’s wound proved to be more slight and he returned to the company well before the major battle of Missionary Ridge.
Missionary Ridge Casualties (2):
|September 22, 1863:|
|Private Lewis H. Holt||Wounded severely in thigh|
|Private John Page Holt||Wounded slightly right side|
Part XII: Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge
On September 23, 1863 the Federals occupy Chattanooga and the Confederates occupy Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge overlooking the city. Both sides dig in. The 1st Tennessee watches the Federals improve works they built only a few short months ago. The War Department in Washington sensing a great disaster about to come down on the Army of the Cumberland sends a telegraph to General Grant in Mississippi to move quickly to Rosecrans’ aid. The Confederate Army, during the time before Grants arrival, actually outnumber the Federals, which is one of the only instances in the Western theater.
Grant’s men arrive in force and the Federals again have numerical superiority. Hooker’s Corps are also transferred from the Army of the Potomac and the enemy numbers continue to grow. The 1st Tennessee will spend a short time overlooking the city. In October, Bragg dispatches them to Sweetwater, TN halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga on the east side of the Tennessee River. The regiment builds trenches and performs garrison duty in the area. If Burnside’s army occupying Knoxville attempts to reinforce Chattanooga the garrison around Sweetwater will give Bragg early warning.
During their stay in Sweetwater, President Davis visits the Confederate Army in Chattanooga to workout the conflicts of the commanding officers constant clashes with General Bragg. Davis sides with Bragg and all units are reassigned to different commanders. Maney’s brigade is taken from General Cheatham and placed in Walker’s Division of Hardee’s Corps. Bragg eventually sends Longstreet’s Corps north to take Knoxville. On their route they relieve the 1st Tennessee at Sweetwater and the regiment makes it way back to Chattanooga. Upon their return they are sent to the west side of Chattanooga to Lookout Mountain. The 1st Tennessee has a relatively quiet stay on Lookout Mountain until November 24.
Early on that day Hooker’s Corps moves forward from Brown’s Ferry towards the crest of Lookout Mountain. The day is foggy and the Confederates near the top cannot see the advancing Federals. Halfway up the mountain the Federals clash with Confederate pickets who flee when their enemy comes walking out of the fog almost on top of them. This gives warning to the Confederates above and the battle finally opens. Confederate artillery has trouble depressing their guns to hit the Federals and the Confederate infantry have trouble resisting the Federals who appear suddenly in large numbers. The 1st Tennessee does not appear to have been near the area where the Federals struck the line. If they saw any action it was very limited. That afternoon the Federals reach the crest of the mountain and the Stars and Stripes are raised on the location which raises cheers along all of the Federal lines around Chattanooga. The fighting continues into the night. Soldiers on both sides recall looking at the mountain where the fighting resembles fireflies moving about.
The 1st Tennessee withdraws with the rest of the Confederate army, abandoning the mountain during the night. Upon reaching Missionary Ridge they are detached from Walker’s Division and sent to Tunnel Hill on the ridge’s northern edge to support General Cleburne’s Division setting up a defense. Across from them on Billy Goat Hill is Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee. Here the 1st Tennessee will see heavy combat.
Cleburne's Defense of Tunnel Hill on Missionary Ridge
On November 25 at 11:00 a.m. Sherman’s men move forward against Cleburne. Maney’s brigade is held in reserve in anticipation of any breaks in the line. The Federal advance takes heavy causalities but slowly makes its way up the slope. Around 3:00 p.m. the Confederates manning the works run out of ammunition. Two regiments request permission to advance on the Federals and Cleburne approves. Another officer reports to Colonel Feild that his men are out of ammunition and begs for help. The 1st Tennessee moves forward and ends up supporting the counterattack.
Cleburne is watching his two regiments go in when he is surprised to see the 1st Tennessee running down the hill in their support. Corporal William Pollard recalls, “We at once charged, but the enemy held their ground. We lay within about 40 feet from their line and fought about 30 minutes and charged again, and when within about 10 ft. of their line the writer fell shot through the right lung.” Pollard was struck through the lung as the charge was reignited.
In this close combat many Company D boys are struck down with horrible wounds made worse by the close quarters combat. John P. Holt, who had been wounded severely at Perryville and the retaking of Missionary Ridge, was finally taken out of the war permanently when a round tore through his arm. He will be declared unfit for duty in May 1864 and serve in the invalid corps. Private Elijah L. Baugh will be struck in the arm disabling the use of it for the rest of his life. Sergeant James R. Hughes is struck in the cheek. Having recently recovered from his thigh wound at Perryville, this second wound will take him out of the war as well. He will work as a nurse and eventually be captured as such on Sherman’s March the following year.
Lieutenant Woldridge, believed to be leading the company after Captain Atkeison’s wound at Chickamauga, has a close call that nearly takes him out of the war. Private George Nichols recalls, “He was shot across the nose…and came very near shooting his eyes out, but still he would not leave the field and his son wanted to take him off, but he told him to go back to his duty, he would take care of himself, that every musket was needed.”
The attack is successful. The Federals are driven back to Billy Goat Hill. Artillery eventually stops the regiment and the Confederates return to Tunnel Hill. Company D numbered around 30-40 men at the beginning of the battle. They lost 13 men in the charge down the ridge. 7 of the 13 will never return to the Company. Private John M. Tatum was killed. Private William T. “Buck” Bailey is ironically recorded in Captain Atkeison’s account book as receiving a slight wound to the head. He will die from his wound in February 1864 in Covington, GA.
The success of Cleburne’s stand on Tunnel Hill is short lived. The Federals under Thomas crush the center of the Confederate line south of Tunnel Hill. Panic sweeps the southern army and Cleburne’s command becomes the only unit not disorganized by the attack. They become the rearguard. Corporal Pollard, who has just been wounded, troubles get worse. As he recalls:
“The infirmary corps rushed in and carried me down the ridge out of danger. The enemy broke our line on the left, and were rushing into our rear.
I was left all alone, but two of our soldiers strangers to me raised me up, putting their arms around me and my arms around each of them walking to the field and not being able to walk they carried me dragging my feet or about 100 yards to the field hospital. An ambulance was in a few feet of me; I called to one of my company took him by the hand and told him I would never let him go till I was put in the ambulance. The surgeon brought me a glass of whiskey, had me put in the ambulance and I was carried to Dalton, I was put in a box car, carried to Atlanta. Somewhere on the way at some station ex.-Gov. Neill Brown of Tenn., came to the car and gave me apple brandy; I drank a full glass suffering greatly. In about one hour as I thought Gov. Brown offered more and I said I will take it, it will help me to die easy. I went to sleep, and I shall always believe this brandy with God’s help saved my life.
Somewhere in the rear of Missionary Ridge lay Bragg’s ordnance storage. On assigned duty at this facility is Private Henry Humbard of Company D. The Federals overrun the grounds and Private Humbard with it. He is listed has part of the captured property in the ordnance loss report.
Missionary Ridge Casualties (12):
|November 25, 1863:|
|1st Lieutenant Loving Woldridge||Wounded Nose|
|2nd Lieutenant Joseph C. Brown||Wounded Severely Wounded Arm & Shoulder|
|4th Sergeant James R. Hughes||Wounded Severely Mouth|
|3rd Corporal Jacob Baugh||Wounded Slightly Arm|
|4th Corporal William M. Pollard||Wounded Severely through Lung|
|Private William T. Bailey||Mortally Wounded Head|
|Private Elijah L. Baugh||Wounded Severely Arm and Leg|
|Private William Ezell||Wounded Slightly Neck|
|Private John H. Hill||Wounded by Spent Ball in Head|
|Private John P. Holt||Wounded Severely Arm|
|Private Henry H. Humbard||Captured with Ordnance Stores|
|Private Robert N. Richardson||Wounded Severely Arm and Shoulder|
|Private John M. Tatum||Killed|
|Private Henry Waggoner||Severely Arm|
The day following the fall of Missionary Ridge found the 1st Tennessee headed in the direction of Graysville, GA. The weather had been bad lately and the roads muddy. To make matters worse the entire Army of Tennessee used the road before Maney’s and Gist’s brigades set foot on them. This caused the rear wagons and artillery pieces to become mired in the mud. A unit of cavalry had been assigned to the rear guard and had been successful most of the day in aiding the infantry in keeping the Federals at bay.
Around evening, with the 1st Tennessee in the back of the rear elements, came to a point stated by most sources two miles north of Graysville. This area was in a ‘C’ shape due to the river and two bridges blocked both sides of this land. The cavalry which had done so well in assisting the infantry apparently gave way and the Federals closed in on the rear of Maney’s column which was the 1st Tennessee. The regiment had apparently been laying around waiting for the wagons and artillery to clear the second bridge when General Maney spotted the Federals. The regiment formed up and moved forward at the double quick. They spot the Federals moving into an open field and clash with them.
The attack catches the Federals temporarily off guard but soon the rest of the Federal division comes upon them. General Maney has time to order “Retreat” before a bullet strikes him and he is carried to the rear. Several others are struck down as well. As they fall back word reaches them the Federals have captured the second bridge and the Confederates are trapped. Gists brigade holds for a moment but gives way running for the river. A section of battery is lost. Maney’s brigade joins them soon after. According to most sources the 1st and 27th Tennessee are the only unit resisting the attack. They manage to form some resemblance of organization till Gist’s men can cross the river. They cross with their clothes on. When Maney’s men arrive to cross they disrobe before entering the water which bothers Gist’s men who are in a hurry to leave. Keep in mind it is the end of November and the water is freezing and the men do not want to spend the night shaking. Maney’s command safely crosses and the retreat continues till 3 a.m.
Somewhere in the chaos of the fight Company D loses another four more men. Private Tilman Haynes, Private Henry King, Private Alexander Beard, and Private George Tall Pine Beard are captured. The four are sent to Rock Island Prison Camp in Illinois. Two will spend the rest of the war there. The other two will choose a course that will haunt them the rest of their life.
Graysville Casualties (4):
|November 26, 1863:|
|Private Alexander Beard||Captured|
|Private George Tall Pine Beard||Captured|
|Private Tilman Haynes||Captured|
|Private Henry R. King||Captured|
On November 27 the regiment reaches Ringgold, GA where Cleburne has set up a defense and the responsibility of rear guard changes hands. The regiment will make its way to Dalton, GA and set up winter quarters. The regiment sees no further action for the remainder of 1863.
Part XIII: Dalton, GA
Just before the battle of Chickamauga, Company D would have had around 50 men available for duty. During the battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge I, Missionary Ridge II, and Graysville the company took 27 battle casualties though two of these are inflicted on one person. On December 13, 1863 another incident will cause the company to suffer even more. As stated by Private George Nichols:
“Several of the Williamson Grays after serving for nearly three years in the First Tennessee Regiment concluded to join Forrest’s Cavalry and on the 19th of Dec. 1863 took French leave and joined Gen. Forrest at Oxford, Miss. Jan. 1st, 1864, the Soldiers who left the First Regiment joined Capt. Robt. Damron’s Company 19th Tennessee Regiment Cavalry, General Bell’s Brigade, General Buford’s Division, and the first fight the regiment got into was at West Point, Miss., Feb. 1864.”
Private George Nichols, Private Blackhawk Nichols, Private William Ezell, Private Amos White, and Corporal William Hogan Moody all left the Company for the 19th Tennessee Cavalry. All would serve in the Cavalry until the end of the war. Private William M. Doyle is listed by Captain Atkeison as leaving the company the same day. There is no record to show he joined the cavalry. However, he returned at some point before the end of the war.
Ironically, Nichols and Moody were never wounded while serving in the infantry. However, both men would be severely wounded serving in Forrest’s Cavalry. Moody was wounded at Fort Pillow, Harrisburg, and Athens. Nichols would receive a wound that would scar him for the rest of his life at Tishomingo Creek, MS. As part of the advance guard of his cavalry unit, Nichols rode out a head of the rest of his unit. They rode right into an ambush. Nichols is struck four times, one round takes out his right eye. As he lays there wounded, Hogan Moody rides forward to his friend. Their company captain orders them to fall back but Moody replies, “Throw him up before me, I will take him out or die.” Moody succeeds and Nichols will survive his wounds. Nichols would later state in the obituary of Moody, “The writer owes his life to this brave man had it not been for him I would not have been here to pen these lines.”
Five will surrender with Forrest’s Cavalry in Gainesville, AL on May 9, 1865. Blawkhawk Nichols deserts the Cavalry in 1864. On March 1, 1864 an officer in the 14th Michigan gave Nichols a pass to move onto Franklin, TN unharrassed. Apparently, Nichols has taken the oath of allegiance.
The last of the dishonorable deserters would leave the company here. Private William F. Bingham deserted the company shortly after the six went to the cavalry. Private Berry Vincent left as well. Both men were wounded at the Battle of Stones River a year previous. Whether or not either man left due to their wounds is unknown.
After this wave of desertions Company D would see no more with the exception of three more Cavalry transfers and a conscript that apparently left shortly after arriving toward the end of the war. For the most part all that was left in the Company were the die-hards that stuck it out as best they could.
Several of the Williamson Grays wounded at Missionary Ridge were recovering from their wounds at various cities across Georgia. Some for the best, some for the worst. Corporal William Pollard recounts his hospital experience:
“I was put in a hospital under a Mrs. Ortery who was very kind and attentive to me for about 6 weeks, when I left on furlough for Amelia courthouse Va. Where I remained until April 1864, and returned to Dalton Ga., reaching there just a few days before the beginning of the Dalton Campaign.”
Lieutenant Woldridge, Corporal Baugh, Corporal Pollard, Private Richardson, and Private Hill would all make their way back to the company. 4th Corporal Pollard found out upon his return he had been promoted to 1st Corporal to replace Hogan Moody. Unfortunately, all other Missionary Ridge casualties would never return. Corporal Buck Bailey dies February 27, 1864 in a hospital in Covington, GA. His body is buried in the City Cemetery and still lies there today. He is one of two Williamson Grays killed as a result of battle whose grave location is known.
In early February 1864, General William T. Sherman moves his army out of Vicksburg, MS to Meridian, MS. On February 14 he captures the town. All that stands between him marching into Alabama is General Polk’s small army. Polk begs for help from Jefferson Davis which orders General Johnston, now commanding the Army of Tennessee after Bragg’s resignation, to send Hardee’s Corps to Polk’s aid. Cheatham’s Division is ordered to leave first and on February 18 the soldiers of the 1st Tennessee board trains for Mississippi. They make it half way through Alabama before they receive word that Sherman has turned his army back towards Jackson and is no longer a threat. The 1st Tennessee makes its way back to Georgia.
Part XIII: Atlanta Campaign Opens
Early in 1864 federal generals Grant and Sherman devise a plan to strike out for Atlanta and Richmond simultaneously so neither Confederate army can send reinforcements to the other one. On May 5 Sherman moves his army out of their winter quarters around Chattanooga and heads south past the battlefields of Chickamauga and Ringgold Gap. Shortly after leaving Chattanooga General Joe Johnston learns of Sherman’s movements and readies his army for the defense of Dalton and awaits Sherman’s arrival.
The 1st Tennessee is in position near the northern edge of Rocky Face Ridge facing east close to Buzzard Roost’s Gap. The Federals first appear in their view on May 7. However, a few days will pass before the Federals threaten their position. A Federal brigade manages to ease its way near the crest of Rocky Face Ridge and is attempting to move south along the crest and capture Buzzard Roost’s Gap from the north. Their problem becomes Cheatham’s Division is between them and their objective. The Federals send word back for artillery to blast the area and soften it for attack.
As the artillery unlimbers to their front, the 1st Tennessee watches as three Confederate sharpshooters rush in to position, and begin picking off Federal artilleryman as they begin firing on the Confederates. The artillery fire is highly ineffective and causes little damage, while the sniper fire of the three Confederates begins to bring stretcher bearers to the Federal position. Soon the Federal batteries are seen falling back to the rear and they harass the 1st Tennessee no more.
On May 11, Johnston learns of Federal troops in the vicinity of Resaca south of Dalton. He moves Cleburne’s Division off of Rocky Face Ridge to protect the southern flank and Cheatham’s Division is moved into their former position near Dug Gap further south on the mountain. They spend only one day there when Johnston learns most of the Federals are massing near Resaca. On May 12 the Army of Tennessee evacuates Dalton and moves to their new defensive position. On the retreat south Maney’s brigade is attached to the rear guard. They arrive in Resaca May 13 with only one incident on the retreat where a unit of Federal cavalry ran on their position and the 1st Tennessee formed squares to repulse them.
Cheatham’s Division and the 1st Tennessee are placed in line just north of Resaca facing west. Besides artillery fire, their front is relatively quiet. The Federals make no attempt to attack their works at anytime during the battle.
Confederates fight off Federal advance at Resaca
On the morning of May 15 the men of Company D spending their time with the rest of the regiment hunkered down in the bottom of their trenches dodging artillery shells streaking overhead. As the day progresses the shelling stops and Maney’s brigade is temporarily reassigned to Stewart’s Division holding the Confederate right flank. Johnston has decided to have Stewart attack the Federal left which he believes is battered down from fighting the previous day. Stewart decides to leave Maney in the reserve line and his first wave goes forward at 4 p.m. Shortly after sending his men in Stewart receives word to call off the attack. Its too late but in the end it does not matter as his first line is quickly repulsed and falls back towards the rear. The 1st Tennessee is never ordered forward and that night Maney’s brigade is sent back to their old positions. They will later learn that Johnston has ordered a retreat southwards.
On May 16 the Army of Tennessee retreats south over the Oostanula River to Calhoun. Johnston considers making a stand here but the terrain is not to his favor and decides to continue further south to Adairsville. Here on May 17 Johnston again decides against making a stand with the whole army and moves south even more to Cartersville. He leaves Cleburne and Cheatham’s Divisions to act as rear guard and support Wheeler’s Cavalry.
Part XIV: Adairsville
The Saxton (Octagon) House the 1st Tennessee defended on May 17
On the morning of May 17 the head of the Federal column leaves the small town of Calhoun heading south. Not a mile outside of town Confederate cavalry fires on them. The Federals charge forward capturing a few of them and chasing the rest down the road and around a sharp turn. As they round the turn a shell explodes on the road. The cavalry continually checks the Federals through the morning causing them deploy and force the Confederate cavalry from their positions before advancing further.
Down the road roughly two miles north of Adairsville, Cheatham’s Division is lounging in the trees next to the road. Their orders are not to wander far and keep their equipment with them. Around 2 p.m. the men of the 1st Tennessee watch as their cavalry begins running down the road towards Adairsville. The firing from the north grows louder as it approaches them. At 2:30 they are ordered to their feet and sent forward to a small ridge at the double quick. Standing on the hill is what remains of the cavalry resistance. Just to the east of the road stands an Octagon shaped house with several outbuildings. As the Confederates near the ridge they turn into more of a mob then an organized army trying their best to reach the ridge first.
As the regiment rushes into the house they fear that the house, known as the Saxon House to the citizens of Adairsville, is made of weak material. No sooner had they run into the house, they started running back out. Colonel Feild grabbed his rifle and blocked the door ordering everyone back inside. Captain Fluorney of Company K runs to the house from one of the outbuildings and pleads with Feild that he cannot hold his position but the Colonel is adamant, “Our orders are to hold.”
The Federals are tearing down the fence around the garden in front of the house when the 1st Tennessee begins filling the rooms. Their first shots bring several Federals down and the rest retreat back down the hill. Soon the Federals return fire and their rounds ricochet off the walls of the house. The regiment breathes a sigh of relief upon the realization the house is made of concrete and able to withstand the blows of all types of ammunition with the exception of Parrott artillery shells, which will not come into play till later in the battle.
The Federals initially have trouble making head way against the Confederate line. Most of their advance line has no choice but to spread out and try to avoid the fire the Confederates pour down on them. In a compliment to the shooting skills of the 1st Tennessee, their rifle fire is mistaken for sharpshooters.
Late in the afternoon more Federals arrive from the railroad tracks on the Confederate left flank as well as artillery support. The Parrott rifled cannons arrive and the Federals are finally able to pierce some of the octagon walls. One shell kills and wounds eight men from Company I. With increased support the Federals start making more of a push to take the house and ridge. At the same time the 1st Tennessee begins to run out of ammunition and volunteers are called for. A handful are picked and they make a run out of the house for the rear. On their return a few are shot down as they bring ammunition into the house.
As dusk approaches a Federal manages to burn the barn containing the men of Company K who are forced to evacuate. Not long after this incident the 44th Illinois and 24th Wisconsin Infantry made a heavy push on the house. According to Sam Watkins the Federals surrounded the house and attempted to storm it after their demands they surrender were refused. They were repulsed and retreated back down the ridge. According to most sources, firing ceased around 7 p.m. that night. The 1st Tennessee suffered around thirty causalities, two of which were members of Company D. Private James Knox Polk McEwen was severely wounded in the hand and his injuries took him out of the war. Private James Green Moody was also wounded but would return to the company. At midnight the 154th Tennessee relieves the 1st Tennessee in the Octagon House. Cleburne’s Division takes over rearguard from Cheatham. The regiment moves south to Cartersville.
Adairsville Casualties (2):
|May 17, 1864:|
|Private James Knox Polk McEwen||Wounded Severely Hand|
|Private James Green Moody||Wounded|
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