Official Report 89th IL Inf: May 3, to Sep 9, 1864
Official Report of the Eighty-ninth Illinois Infantry
For the period May 3 to September 9, 1864
Report Number 56
Report of Lieutenant Colonel William D. Williams, Eighty-ninth Illinois Infantry.
Headquarters Eighty-ninth Illinois Infantry Volunteers
Near Atlanta, Georgia, September 13, 1864
Sir: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to report the operations of the Eighty-ninth Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers from May 3 to September 9 1864, embracing a period of more than four months, on a line of operations of more than 160 miles in length directly in the heart of the enemy's country.
In obedience to orders from superior authority, the Eighty-ninth Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, under the command of Col. Charles T. Hotchkiss, marched from McDonald's Station, on the East Tennessee railroad, in company with brigade, division, and corps, on Tuesday, May 3, 1864, at 12 m. Arrived at Catoosa Springs and encamped for the night. Marched again on May 7, and arrived at Tunnel Hill May 8: encamped for the night. May 9, moved forward to near Rocky Face Ridge, and took position in support of the Thirty-second Indiana Infantry; same day the Eighty-ninth relieved the Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry as skirmishers, and drove the enemy's skirmishers up the hill called Rocky Face Ridge. In this affair the Eighty-ninth Illinois lost 2 killed and 15 wounded. (For names, rank, and character of wounds, see schedule marked A, accompanying this report.) May 10, were relieved as skirmishers, and took position in reserve. May 10 , again deployed as skirmishers in front of Rocky Face Ridge; no casualties. May 12, marched to the left of Rocky Face Ridge, took position and built breast-works. May 13, took up line of march in pursuit of the enemy (he having abandoned his entrenchment during the night of the 12th), passing Dalton. May 14, took up position near Oostenaula River and build breast-works. May 15, enemy again abandoned their works and we took up line of march, following him southward. May 16, continued the march. May 17, still following the enemy. May 18, took up position in front of the enemy; during the night of the 18th the [enemy] abandoned his entrenchment. May 19, took line of march, passing through Kingston; overtook the enemy near Cassville entrenched; took up position, and built breast-works. May 20, 21, 22, remained in our works, the enemy in the mean time retreating southward; while remaining in our works near Cassville replenished our stores of rations, reduced baggage, and prepared to follow the enemy across the Etowah River to his stronghold at Atlanta. May 23, took up line of march southward, crossed the Etowah River. May 24, still going southward in pursuit. May 25, still in pursuit. May 26, deployed regiment as skirmishers; encountered the enemy's skirmishers. Casualties, 1 man wounded, since dead (see schedule, marked A). May 27, were relived as skirmishers and immediately ordered to move to the left to form part of a column of attack on the enemy's works. We moved about five miles to the left to a place known as Pickett's Mill; were formed in a column of attack--the Eighty-ninth forming part of the first or front line, the Fifteenth Wisconsin and Thirty-second Indiana, on our left; nothing on our right. Moved to the attack of the enemy's works at 5 p.m.; commenced the charge in fine order and good spirits; was met with a destructive fire from the enemy of musketry and artillery; advanced to within about twenty-five yards of the enemy's works up a steep hill; here the fire was so murderous that the column paused, wavered, and sought such shelter as they could find. After sustaining the terrific fire for about an hour were recalled, but did not withdraw until after dark, then withdrew beyond range, re-formed, and after sending out details to pick up the wounded, retired a short distance to the rear. Our casualties were large, and attest the terrible character of the assault, Killed, 16; wounded 71; missing, 67; among them 4 commissioned officers, Capt. L. F. Dimick, Company F; Capt. S. C. Comstock, Company I; Lieutenant Arenshield, Company F, and Lieutenant Wood, Company B. (For names, rank, and wounds, see schedule, marked A.) After retiring to the rear about 600 yards, built breast-works, worked all night at them, and remained in them May 28 and 29, the enemy occasionally feeling our lines and eliciting spirited replies, which sent them speedily back to their works. May 30, advanced the line 500 yards to the front and right; built breast-works and remained in them May 31, June 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. During the night of the 5th the enemy abandoned his works on our front. June 6, took up line of march in pursuit via Acworth. June 7, 8, 9, remained in camp waiting orders. June 10, marched forward three miles. June 11, took, position in line of battle in front of Pine Mountain. June 12, 13, remained in position. June 14, advanced in line of battle and found the enemy's works on Pine Mountain abandoned. June 15 and 16, remained within enemy's works on Pine Mountain. June 17, advanced, deployed as skirmishers, about two miles, encountered the enemy's skirmishers and steadily drove them back to their rifle-pits on the south side of a large open field, then charged across the field and drove the enemy from their rifle-pits, and occupied them with the Eighty-ninth's skirmishers. Casualties, killed, none; wounded, 7; 2 since dead. (See schedule, marked A.) This skirmish was a gallant and spirited affair, and particularly honorable to the dash and spirit of the Eighty-ninth Illinois. It was then called Bald Mountain. The Eighty-ninth feel entitled to claim they were the first to cross the open field and drive the enemy from their admirably selected and well-constructed rifle-pits. This under the eye of the division commander. June 18, advanced about 600 yards and built breast-works. During the night of the 18th the enemy abandoned their works, and we advanced and occupied them. June 20, advanced, deployed as skirmishers. June 21, advanced as support of Forty-ninth and Fifteenth Ohio, deployed as skirmishers. These gallant regiments drove the enemy from a position known as Bald Knob. The Eighty-ninth relieved the Forty-ninth Ohio, which had taken an advanced position in the wood to right of the knob. The enemy contested this advanced position with obstinacy, and our casualties were 2 killed and 14 wounded. (See schedule, marked A.) Here fell Lieut. William Harkness, Company H, an energetic and brave officer, a sincere Christian, and urbane gentleman. June 22 to July 2, occupying alternately the first and second lines of breast-works with the Fifteenth Ohio. During this time, from June 22 to July 2, eleven days, our casualties were 5 killed, 13 wounded. (See schedule, marked A, for names, rank, etc.) July 2, at midnight moved to the extreme left of the army to a point opposite Little Kenesaw. During the night of the 2d the enemy abandoned his entrenchment on our front, as well as all along the line of the Kenesaw, and at daylight, July 3, we beheld with delight the Stars and Stripes floating proudly and defiantly on the summit of Kenesaw Mountain. July 3, pursued the enemy southward, passing through Marietta, and encamping three miles south, at or near Station Neal Dow. July 4, remained in camp. During the night of the 4th the enemy retreated. July 5, advanced to the bank of the Chattahoochee River, and encamped at Pace's Ferry. Remained in [camp] July 6, 7, 8, and 9. July 10, took up line of march to the left of the army, as a support to the Twenty-third Corps, crossing the river. July 11, crossed the Chattahoochee River on pontoons at Edwards Ferry. July 12, remained in camp on south bank of the river. July 13, moved to the right about one mile and build breast-works and skirmished with the enemy. Casualties, 1 man taken prisoner. (See schedule, marked A.) July 13, 15, 16, remained in our works. July 17, advanced to the right, to cover the crossing of the Fourteenth Corps at Pace's Ferry; built breast-works. July 18, moved forward in pursuit of the enemy. July 19, moved up to Peach Tree Creek, found the enemy at the creek, advanced across the creek, and built breast-works under hot fire from the enemy. Skirmished all afternoon with the enemy. Casualties, 1 commissioned officer wounded, Lieutenant Street, since dead. (See schedule, marked A.) July 20, moved to the left, to relive the First Division, Fourth Army Corps. July 21, advanced about three miles and built breast-works. During the night of 22d enemy abandoned his works; advanced and occupied them. July 23, advanced and found the enemy's works abandoned; advanced to within half a mile of the northern suburbs of Atlanta; encountered the enemy's skirmishers, built breast-works, and remained in them thirty-four days, or until the night of August 25, skirmishing every day with the enemy, and, during which time, drove the enemy from their front line of rifle-pits, and occupied them with our own skirmishers. This carried our front line of rifle-pits to within 400 yards of the enemy's main line of works or forts. Our casualties from July 22 to August 25, inclusive, in front of Atlanta: Killed, 3; wounded, 21; missing, 1--supposed to be killed in one of the many advances on the enemy's works. (See schedule, marked A.) At 10 p.m. August 25 moved toward the extreme right of the army; marched all night. August 26, marched to the right and southwest, and camped near Utoy Creek. August 27, marched southward and west of Atlanta; built breast-works. 28th, marched eastward toward West Point railroad. 29th, remained in camp. August 30, marched eastward across West Point railroad toward Rough and Ready, on Macon railroad. August 31, reached Macon railroad, and built breast-works. September 1, detailed pioneers, who, with the pioneers of the brigade, under charge of Major Kidder, of the Eight-ninth, tore up and destroyed two mile of the Macon railroad; marched same day, September 1, for Jonesborough, 22 miles south of Atlanta, to participate in the expected battle at that point; reached there at 6 p.m., and went immediately into position. The enemy, having been severely handled and driven from their entrenchment by the Fourteenth Army Corps, retreated during the night of September 1. September 2, followed in pursuit, passing through Jonesborough, and overtook the enemy entranced on heights in and about Lovejoy's a station on Macon railroad, five miles south of Jonesborough. Deployed the Eight-ninth as skirmishers on left of the entire army; drove the enemy to his main works on the heights. September 3, built breast-works. September 4, remained in our works. September 5, remained in our works until 8 p.m., then marched to the rear in company with brigade, division, and corps; marched all night northward toward Atlanta. September 6, remained in camp near Jonesborough and picketed the left flank of division. September 7, marched northward. September 8, passed through Atlanta with colors flying and drums beating; went into camp about three miles eastward of Atlanta, where the Eight-ninth is encamped at the date of this report.
I take the opportunity as the commanding officer of the Eighty-ninth to express my grateful acknowledgments to the rank and file of this regiment for their uncomplaining endurance and devoted bravery during this long, laborious, and eventful campaign. They have proved themselves patriots and soldiers of the highest type. Such men go far toward redeeming the era in which we live from the charge of degeneracy.
If war is a frightful calamity it develops some of the noblest traits of manhood and humanity, and Sherman's Atlanta campaign will stand out conspicuously in the annals of our country's history for skill, bravery, endurance, obedience, and unexampled patriotism. Where merit among the rank and file is so general, just discrimination is impossible. Could the brave dead be resuscitated, their names should be pre-eminent. Nor should the wounded, languishing in distant hospitals, be forgotten. Let us hope our country will not forget them or begrudge to them the empty, but still highly prized, homage of a nation's gratitude.
Of the commissioned officers of the Eighty-ninth I can speak with pride and pleasure. Not one of them ever faltered in his duty. Ever foremost in the charge, the record of the Eighty-ninth's dead and wounded tells the story more eloquently than tongue or pen. To the already illustrious dead can be added Lieut. William Harkness, Company H, and Lieut. N. Street, Company D. To the wounded Capt. L. F. Dimick, Company F, Capt., S. C. Comstock, Company I, and Lieut. O. C. Pease, Company E. Of the living and present I owe it to truth to say that whatever of credit may be due the Eighty-ninth for good conduct in front of the enemy or elsewhere, is mainly due to the judicious advice and sound example of Maj. B. H. Kidder; Capt. J. M. Farquhar, Company B; Capt. F. M. Hobbs, Company H; Capt. W. A. Sampson, Company K; Captain Warren, Company E; Captain Dimick, Company F; Captain Howell, Company G; Captain Comstock, Company I; Captain Robinson and Captain Rigney, Company C, and Lieutenants Walker, Arenschield, Copp, Greenfield, Beecher, Wood, Pease, Tait, Miller, Swickard, Phelps, and Hale, and last, but not least, Lieut. and Adj. J. M. Grosh and Sgt. Maj. B. O'Connor.
I cannot let the occasion pass without bearing testimony to the zeal and efficiency of Surgeon H. B. Tuttle and Assist. Surgeon P. R. Thombs, both of whom freely exposed their lives to assist the wounded and assuage the pains of the dying. Surgeon Tuttle succumbed to the arduous toil and incessant devotion opposite Atlanta and is still sick in hospital. Surgeon Thombs continued to the final end and has won a name (with the Eighty-ninth) for skill and humanity second to none in the Army of the Cumberland.
I respectfully refer to the accompanying schedule, marked A, for all the particulars in reference to the names, rank, etc., of the killed, wounded, and missing.
All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servant, WM. D. Williams, Lieut. Col. 89th Illinois Infantry Volunteers, Commanding Regiment.
Lieut. W. McGrath,
A.A.A.G., First Brig., Third Div., 4th Army Corps.