Battles for Atlanta

More From the 76th Ohio

Near Atlanta on Battlefield - July 29th, 1864

To the Editors of the True American:

I fear that I shall pile more of my letters on your table than you will feel disposed to crowd in your columns, but events crowd, making every day’s history full of interest to your readers, and I only regret that there is not a more gifted pen than mine telling this story of these days that are deciding our Nation’s destiny.
IndentThursday, July 26th. Received a mail to-day, and many of us enjoyed ourselves reading letters and papers from home. Marched to the right at 4 P. M., and occupied the rifle pits we made on the 21st. inst., one and a half miles from Atlanta. Having got the railroad destroyed east of the city, we are now leaving our works along it and two or three corps move to the right.
IndentWednesday, July 27th. The rebs occupy the works we left, and this morning, before we had got our breakfast, they made a little “razoo” (as the boys say) on us, causing us to get into our rifle pits double quick, but they soon withdrew. We continued our march to the right, crossing the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad near night, and halted about two and a half miles west of it about 10 o’clock P. M., where we bivouacked for the night. We must have marched eight or ten miles, and the last part of the march being after dark, through fields and on byroads, and passing through wagon trains that blocked the roads, rendered it very slow, tedious and fatiguing. Col. Woods furnished me to-day with some official statistics of the battle of the 22nd. Our total loss in killed, wounded and missing is only 3,521, and the real loss that we know is 3220 killed, 2,400 of whom we buried and 800 were turned over to the rebels to bury under a flag of truce. Besides this, there are so many in some places along the lines that are still unburied as to render it almost impossible for the pickets to endure the stench caused by the rapid decay of their bodies. Taking much less than the usual proportion of wounded and missing to the killed, their loss must be between 15,000 and 20,000. A great many of the rebels were undoubtedly drunk when they charged on our rifle pits, and were made to make their repeated charges upon us in the heat of their drunken phrenzy. A rebel artillery officer rode up to our lines and was taken prisoner when he was so drunk that he could not sit upright on his horse. Upon being asked where he was going, he replied with drunken stammering tongue, that he was “looking for a place to plant his battery.” We passed our Division Hospital and heard that Lt. Arnold was doing well, and that all our wounded were getting along finely.
IndentThursday, July 28th. Before daylight this morning, we moved half a mile to the front, and formed in line of battle and sent out a strong line of skirmishers, taking out coffee and hard tack in the meantime. The rebel lines run nearly parallel with the Atlanta and Macon Railroad, on the west side of it, and beyond our right, turns westward where they intended checking the extending of our right. To foil them in this, was the day’s work before us. About nine A. M. our line of battle commenced moving forward towards the rebel left, through dense woods and tangled underbrush. We advance over half a mile through the woods, driving their skirmishers before us, until we reached a large uncultivated field, where we halted a short time until our skirmishers could advance and ascertain whether the rebels were in the edge of the woods on the other side. The skirmishers having advanced across the field in line of battle was advanced also to the top of a ridge beyond the field, where the line halted and immediately went to work putting up such defensive works as could be made with rails and logs, there bing but few picks and spades that had come up yet, with which to throw up earthworks. Almost twelve o’clock M. the rebels made a furious charge on our lines about a quarter of a mile to our right, the terrific roar of musketry grows louder and heavier, and comes along the line towards us. Half an hour later they charge in our front, but are repulsed and fall back. Twice more they repeated the attempt to beak our lines at the position held by the Seventy Sixth, signally failing each time, such a sheet of leaden hail greeted their advance. The position of the 76th was in the angle of our line, and there was no fighting left of us. The 15th A. C. alone was engaged and the battle lasted about five and a half hours, four hours of which the heavy roar of musketry was unceasing, and in some places along our lines the rebels charged five or six times, but never succeeded in forcing it back at any point, while our right was considerably advanced when the fighting ceased. I have been out this evening to see the rebel dead in front of our lines. It is the most horrible sight I ever witnessed. There are about 60 dead rebels in front of our regiment, and all along the lines the carnage is most terrible. A rebel lieutenant who came in our lines last night that he heard Gen. Stephen D. Lee (who was in command of the rebel army corps in our front) say that the rebel loss was 10,000. Our generals estimate it to be at least ten thousand. Our loss is noting in comparison with theirs. The loss of the 76th is only seven wounded as follows:

William Erwine, Co. B wounded slightly, head
Henry Miller, Co. E, wounded severely, hand
Corp. George Brannon, F, wounded, severely head
Corp. Jack Moore, F, wounded slightly, hand
Corp. Edwin Kerns, F, wounded slightly, breast
Corp. Marquis Matthews, H, wounded slightly, arm
Sergt. John Walker, I, wounded slightly, leg

IndentThe coolness and courage of Gen. Woods and the able manner in which he handled his division in the advance and in the battle, won the unbounded admiration of his command, and inspired the men with the greatest confidence in the invincibility of the Division. Gen. Logan feels proud of his 15th Army Corps, and the officers and men that compose it feel as proud of him. A shout went up as he passed each regiment along the lines this evening that was convincing proof of his popularity.
IndentFriday, July 29th. The rebels were quiet last night, but we are strengthening our works to day, as Hood is said to be determined to mass his force on us here and drive us out, or destroy his army in the attempt. Gov. Stone of Iowa is here today visiting the troops of that State, several regiments of which belong to Gen. Woods’ division. He met with a very enthusiastic reception. Gov. Stone was formerly a citizen of Coshocton, Ohio and is a self made man. Among the incidents of the battle yesterday, was Gen. Sherman’s narrow escape. He was riding along the lines, and when just in the rear of the 76th a shell burst near him, killed a horse rode by one of his orderlies, who was following behind him. I could relate many interesting incidents of the battle , but enough for this time.


From: Newark True American August 19, 1864 Newark, Ohio

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