Andersonville


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Still another distinction that was always noticeable between the two
armies was in the bodily bearing of the men. The Army of the Potomac was
drilled more rigidly than the Western men, and had comparatively few long
marches. Its members had something of the stiffness and precision of
English and German soldiery, while the Western boys had the long,
"reachy" stride, and easy swing that made forty miles a day a rather
commonplace march for an infantry regiment.

This was why we knew the new prisoners to be Sherman's boys as soon as
they came inside, and we started for them to hear the news. Inviting
them over to our lean-to, we told them our anxiety for the story of the
decisive blow that gave us the Central Gate of the Confederacy, and asked
them to give it to us.

CHAPTER, LVI.

WHAT CAUSED THE FALL OF ATLANTA--A DISSERTATION UPON AN IMPORTANT
PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM--THE BATTLE OF JONESBORO--WHY IT WAS FOUGHT--
HOW SHERMAN DECEIVED HOOD--A DESPERATE BAYONET CHARGE, AND THE ONLY
SUCCESSFUL ONE IN THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN--A GALLANT COLONEL AND HOW HE
DIED--THE HEROISM OF SOME ENLISTED MEN--GOING CALMLY INTO CERTAIN DEATH.

An intelligent, quick-eyed, sunburned boy, without an ounce of surplus
flesh on face or limbs, which had been reduced to gray-hound condition by
the labors and anxieties of the months of battling between Chattanooga
and Atlanta, seemed to be the accepted talker of the crowd, since all the
rest looked at him, as if expecting him to answer for them. He did so:

"You want to know about how we got Atlanta at last, do you? Well, if you
don't know, I should think you would want to. If I didn't, I'd want
somebody to tell me all about it just as soon as he could get to me, for
it was one of the neatest little bits of work that 'old Billy' and his
boys ever did, and it got away with Hood so bad that he hardly knew what
hurt him.

"Well, first, I'll tell you that we belong to the old Fourteenth Ohio
Volunteers, which, if you know anything about the Army of the Cumberland,
you'll remember has just about as good a record as any that trains around
old Pap Thomas--and he don't 'low no slouches of any kind near him,
either--you can bet $500 to a cent on that, and offer to give back the
cent if you win. Ours is Jim Steedman's old regiment--you've all heard
of old Chickamauga Jim, who slashed his division of 7,000 fresh men into
the Rebel flank on the second day at Chickamauga, in a way that made
Longstreet wish he'd staid on the Rappahannock, and never tried to get up
any little sociable with the Westerners. If I do say it myself, I
believe we've got as good a crowd of square, stand-up, trust'em-every-
minute-in-your-life boys, as ever thawed hard-tack and sowbelly. We got
all the grunters and weak sisters fanned out the first year, and since
then we've been on a business basis, all the time. We're in a mighty
good brigade, too. Most of the regiments have been with us since we
formed the first brigade Pap Thomas ever commanded, and waded with him
through the mud of Kentucky, from Wild Cat to Mill Springs, where he gave
Zollicoffer just a little the awfulest thrashing that a Rebel General
ever got. That, you know, was in January, 1862, and was the first
victory gained by the Western Army, and our people felt so rejoiced over
it that--"

"Yes, yes; we've read all about that," we broke in, "and we'd like to
hear it again, some other time; but tell us now about Atlanta."

"All right. Let's see: where was I? O, yes, talking about our brigade.
It is the Third Brigade, of the Third Division, of the Fourteenth Corps,
and is made up of the Fourteenth Ohio, Thirty-eighth Ohio, Tenth
Kentucky, and Seventy-fourth Indiana. Our old Colonel--George P. Este--
commands it. We never liked him very well in camp, but I tell you he's a
whole team in a fight, and he'd do so well there that all would take to
him again, and he'd be real popular for a while."

"Now, isn't that strange," broke in Andrews, who was given to fits of
speculation of psychological phenomena: "None of us yearn to die, but the
surest way to gain the affection of the boys is to show zeal in leading
them into scrapes where the chances of getting shot are the best.
Courage in action, like charity, covers a multitude of sins. I have
known it to make the most unpopular man in the battalion, the most
popular inside of half an hour. Now, M.(addressing himself to me,) you
remember Lieutenant H., of our battalion. You know he was a very fancy
young fellow; wore as snipish' clothes as the tailor could make, had gold
lace on his jacket wherever the regulations would allow it, decorated his
shoulders with the stunningest pair of shoulder knots I ever saw, and so
on. Well, he did not stay with us long after we went to the front. He
went back on a detail for a court martial, and staid a good while. When
he rejoined us, he was not in good odor, at all, and the boys weren't at
all careful in saying unpleasant things when he could hear them, A little
while after he came back we made that reconnaissance up on the Virginia
Road. We stirred up the Johnnies with our skirmish line, and while the
firing was going on in front we sat on our horses in line, waiting for
the order to move forward and engage. You know how solemn such moments
are. I looked down the line and saw Lieutenant H.
at the right of Company--, in command of it. I had not seen him since he
came back, and I sung out:

"'Hello, Lieutenant, how do you feel?'

"The reply came back, promptly, and with boyish cheerfulness:

"'Bully, by ----; I'm going to lead seventy men of Company into action
today!'

"How his boys did cheer him. When the bugle sounded--'forward, trot,'
his
company sailed in as if they meant it, and swept the Johnnies off in
short meter. You never heard anybody say anything against Lieutenant
after that."

"You know how it was with Captain G., of our regiment," said one of the
Fourteenth to another. "He was promoted from Orderly Sergeant to a
Second Lieutenant, and assigned to Company D. All the members of Company
D went to headquarters in a body, and protested against his being put in
their company, and he was not. Well, he behaved so well at Chickamauga
that the boys saw that they had done him a great injustice, and all those
that still lived went again to headquarters, and asked to take all back
that they had said, and to have him put into the company."

"Well, that was doing the manly thing, sure; but go on about Atlanta."

"I was telling about our brigade," resumed the narrator. "Of course, we
think our regiment's the best by long odds in the army--every fellow
thinks that of his regiment--but next to it come the other regiments of
our brigade. There's not a cent of discount on any of them.

"Sherman had stretched out his right away to the south and west of
Atlanta. About the middle of August our corps, commanded by Jefferson C.
Davis, was lying in works at Utoy Creek, a couple of miles from Atlanta.
We could see the tall steeples and the high buildings of the City quite
plainly. Things had gone on dull and quiet like for about ten days.
This was longer by a good deal than we had been at rest since we left
Resaca in the Spring. We knew that something was brewing, and that it
must come to a head soon.

"I belong to Company C. Our little mess--now reduced to three by the
loss of two of our best soldiers and cooks, Disbrow and Sulier, killed
behind head-logs in front of Atlanta, by sharpshooters--had one fellow
that we called 'Observer,' because he had such a faculty of picking up
news in his prowling around headquarters. He brought us in so much of
this, and it was generally so reliable that we frequently made up his
absence from duty by taking his place. He was never away from a fight,
though. On the night of the 25th of August, 'Observer' came in with the
news that something was in the wind. Sherman was getting awful restless,
and we had found out that this always meant lots of trouble to our
friends on the other side.

"Sure enough, orders came to get ready to move, and the next night we all
moved to the right and rear, out of sight of the Johnnies. Our well
built works were left in charge of Garrard's Cavalry, who concealed their
horses in the rear, and came up and took our places. The whole army
except the Twentieth Corps moved quietly off, and did it so nicely that
we were gone some time before the enemy suspected it. Then the Twentieth
Corps pulled out towards the North, and fell back to the Chattahoochie,
making quite a shove of retreat. The Rebels snapped up the bait
greedily. They thought the siege was being raised, and they poured over
their works to hurry the Twentieth boys off. The Twentieth fellows let
them know that there was lots of sting in them yet, and the Johnnies were
not long in discovering that it would have been money in their pockets if
they had let that 'moon-and-star' (that's the Twentieth's badge, you
know) crowd alone.

"But the Rebs thought the rest of us were gone for good and that Atlanta
was saved. Naturally they felt mighty happy over it; and resolved to
have a big celebration--a ball, a meeting of jubilee, etc. Extra trains
were run in, with girls and women from the surrounding country, and they
just had a high old time.

"In the meantime we were going through so many different kinds of tactics
that it looked as if Sherman was really crazy this time, sure. Finally
we made a grand left wheel, and then went forward a long way in line of
battle. It puzzled us a good deal, but we knew that Sherman couldn't get
us into any scrape that Pap Thomas couldn't get us out of, and so it was
all right.

"Along on the evening of the 31st our right wing seemed to have run
against a hornet's nest, and we could hear the musketry and cannon speak
out real spiteful, but nothing came down our way. We had struck the
railroad leading south from Atlanta to Macon, and began tearing it up.
The jollity at Atlanta was stopped right in the middle by the appalling
news that the Yankees hadn't retreated worth a cent, but had broken out
in a new and much worse spot than ever. Then there was no end of trouble
all around, and Hood started part of his army back after us.

"Part of Hardee's and Pat Cleburne's command went into position in front
of us. We left them alone till Stanley could come up on our left, and
swing around, so as to cut off their retreat, when we would bag every one
of them. But Stanley was as slow as he always was, and did not come up
until it was too late, and the game was gone.

"The sun was just going down on the evening of the 1st of September, when
we began to see we were in for it, sure. The Fourteenth Corps wheeled
into position near the railroad, and the sound of musketry and artillery
became very loud and clear on our front and left. We turned a little and
marched straight toward the racket, becoming more excited every minute.
We saw the Carlin's brigade of regulars, who were some distance ahead of
us, pile knapsacks, form in line, fix bayonets, and dash off with
arousing cheer.

"The Rebel fire beat upon them like a Summer rain-storm, the ground shook
with the noise, and just as we reached the edge of the cotton field, we
saw the remnant of the brigade come flying back out of the awful,
blasting shower of bullets. The whole slope was covered with dead and
wounded."

"Yes," interrupts one of the Fourteenth; "and they made that charge
right gamely, too, I can tell you. They were good soldiers, and well
led. When we went over the works, I remember seeing the body of a little
Major of one of the regiments lying right on the top. If he hadn't been
killed he'd been inside in a half-a-dozen steps more. There's no mistake
about it; those regulars will fight."

"When we saw this," resumed the narrator, "it set our fellows fairly
wild; they became just crying mad; I never saw them so before. The order
came to strip for the charge, and our knapsacks were piled in half a
minute. A Lieutenant of our company, who was then on the staff of Gen.
Baird, our division commander, rode slowly down the line and gave us our
instructions to load our guns, fix bayonets, and hold fire until we were
on top of the Rebel works. Then Colonel Este sang out clear and steady
as a bugle signal:

"'Brigade, forward! Guide center! MARCH!!'

"and we started. Heavens, how they did let into us, as we came up into
range. They had ten pieces of artillery, and more men behind the
breastworks than we had in line, and the fire they poured on us was
simply withering. We walked across the hundreds of dead and dying of the
regular brigade, and at every step our own men fell down among them.
General Baud's horse was shot down, and the General thrown far over his
head, but he jumped up and ran alongside of us. Major Wilson, our
regimental commander, fell mortally wounded; Lieutenant Kirk was killed,
and also Captain Stopfard, Adjutant General of the brigade. Lieutenants
Cobb and Mitchell dropped with wounds that proved fatal in a few days.
Captain Ugan lost an arm, one-third of the enlisted men fell, but we went
straight ahead, the grape and the musketry becoming worse every step,
until we gained the edge of the hill, where we were checked a minute by
the brush, which the Rebels had fixed up in the shape of abattis. Just
then a terrible fire from a new direction, our left, swept down the whole
length of our line. The Colonel of the Seventeenth New York--as gallant
a man as ever lived saw the new trouble, took his regiment in on the run,
and relieved us of this, but he was himself mortally wounded. If our
boys were half-crazy before, they were frantic now, and as we got out of
the entanglement of the brush, we raised a fearful yell and ran at the
works. We climbed the sides, fired right down into the defenders, and
then began with the bayonet and sword. For a few minutes it was simply
awful. On both sides men acted like infuriated devils. They dashed each
other's brains out with clubbed muskets; bayonets were driven into men's
bodies up to the muzzle of the gun; officers ran their swords through
their opponents, and revolvers, after being emptied into the faces of the
Rebels, were thrown with desperate force into the ranks. In our regiment
was a stout German butcher named Frank Fleck. He became so excited that
he threw down his sword, and rushed among the Rebels with his bare fists,
knocking down a swath of them. He yelled to the first Rebel he met

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