AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND REMINISCENCES, Wiley M. Crook
THE CIVIL WAR
THE CIVIL WAR.
Early in the spring of 1861, after the Southern States had formed a government and chosen a president, a call for volunteers was made and in answer to that call two companies of infantry were made up in Henderson county, Tennessee. Grif Ross was elected captain of the first company, which was put into the Thirteenth Tennessee infantry regiment. Dick Barham was elected captain of the second company and formed into the Twenty-seventh Tennessee regiment of infantry. Both regiments were mobilized at Columbus, Ky., and were in the battle of Bellmont, on the Mississippi river. Then followed the battles of Fort Donaldson and Bowling Green, and the retreat of the Confederate forces out of Kentucky. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was in chief command of the Confederate army in this department and withdrew his forces from Bowling Green, marching to Nashville, Tenn. General Buell of the Federal army followed him. If Buell and Grant had united their armies, the story of Fort Donaldson would have been repeated at Tennessee's State capital, but Johnston continued his retreat to Corinth, Miss., an important Junction of the Mobile and Ohio railroad, and the railroad from Memphis to Chattanooga. While General Johnston was collecting supplies, reinforcements and organizing a formidable army at Corinth in February, 1862, the Federals overran all of West Tennessee.
This movement of our army left my country at the mercy of an invading army of the North.
At this time I was in school at Muffin, Henderson county Tennessee, 40 miles north of Corinth. A company of cavalry was being raised by Captain Henderson at Muffin. Patriotic speeches were made, urging our people to volunteer in the defense of our Southland. I was at that time in my 17th year, and loved my country's cause, and decided to enlist in this company of cavalry, but before doing so I went home on Friday evening to consult my mother about this important step. When I had told her of my wishes to join this cavalry company, she said if I was going to the war she wanted me to go to Corinth and join Cousin Jerry Crook's company. This was the first company made up in Henderson county, of which Griff Ross was the first captain, but had resigned on account of his age and disabilities. W. J. Crook, a cousin of my father, and a favorite of the entire Crook family, as well as all whose fortune it was to know him, had been elected captain. So I readily acquiesced in my mother's suggestion and in March, 1862, went to Corinth, Mississippi, and enlisted in Company I, Thirteenth Tennessee infantry regiment. Col. A. J. Vaughn commanded this regiment, and Brig.Gen. Preston Smith commanded our brigade of the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth, Twelfth, Thirteenth and Twenty-ninth Tennessee regiments. Maj. Gen. B. F. Cheatham commanded a division of four Tennessee brigades, of which Preston Smith brigade was one.
By the last of March, 1862, General Grant had mobilized an army of 50,000 Federals at Pittsburg Landing, on the west side of the Tennessee river, and General Buell was approaching with 45,000 soldiers to form a junction with Grant and crush General Johnston, who had only an army of 40,000 Confederates at Corinth, 23 miles from Pittsburg. Gen. Lew Wallace, with his division, was placed by Grant at Crump 's Landing, five miles down the river.
General Johnston was anxious to give battle to Grant before Buell could reach Pittsburg.
On April 3, 1862, orders were given by Johnston to march toward Shiloh church. After we were in line, Captain Crook stepped out in front of our company and detailed three men to stay in camp and care for some convalescent soldiers, stating that he would appoint me first as I had been in the army only a few days, beside being so young a boy and inexperienced as a soldier, so I was not in the great battle of Shiloh—a battle in which the loss on. both sides is placed at 40,000 men. General Johnston intended to attack Grant on the morning of April 5, but the heavy rains prevented him doing so. But in the early morning of the 6th, Johnston moved on the Federal forces, and that Sunday the fighting was a continuous roar of cannon and clash of musketry. The Federals were repulsed; Shiloh church, the key to the field, was taken by the Confederates, forcing the Federals' right and center back towards Pittsburg, but Grant's left wing was harder to drive back.
General Johnston rode down the line and told Gen. John C. Breckenridge to charge with his division and drive the enemy from his position. As General Johnston led this charge, he was wounded in the leg and died from loss of blood before medical attention could be given.
In this charge General Prentis and his division were captured, together with 17 pieces of artillery, and drove three gunboats down the Tennessee river to Pittsburg Landing, disabling another whose crew anchored on the other side of the river. General Beauregard was notified of the death of General Johnston and, being several miles up the river on our right wing and not knowing in full the situation, ordered a halt of our army. General Grant and his army were completely routed and demoralized; he was forced to take protection under the fire of their gunboats for the night. Before morning General Buell with 45,000 fresh troops reinforced Grant and renewed the battle. After eight hours of fighting, Monday General Beauregard retreated to Corinth. The Federal loss was placed at 29,000 killed and wounded and 15,00() captured.
The loss of the Confederates was about 10,700. All soldiers in our army who, like myself, were not in this battle, were mustered together and marched to Shiloh church as a rear guard, to hold back the enemy's advance until our dead were buried and wounded carried to Corinth.
Jap Stigall, myself and, I believe, George Crow and some one else of our company, were in this rear guard—an awful experience for a boy like myself, so recently from home and unaccustomed to the horrors of war. It was appalling to see the dead and wounded all over Shiloh's bloody field.
The Federal army moved out from Pittsburg against us and picket fighting continued several days. At Farmington, considerable numbers of both armies were engaged with heavy casualties.
Southern valor never rose to greater heights than at Shiloh. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston there gave his life for the South and on that field now sleep ten thousand Confederate soldiers. In the midst of victory the great Sidney Johnston fell and the Confederacy staggered under the loss of his leadership. The battlefield of Shiloh lies on the west bank of the Tennessee river at Pittsburg Landing, near the State line of Tennessee and Mississippi and north of Corinth.
The battle was on an undulating tableland, triangular in shape and some four miles in length. Lick Creek on the north and Owl Creek on the south, the Tennessee river was on the east running due north, the highways leading from the river to the towns of Purdy and Hamburg crossed the ground on which the fighting took place. At the time of the battle the land was densely wooded, with an occasional cleared field. The carnage was so heavy that the water of a small lake was crimson with blood, and near where General Johnston fell the dead were piled so deep that the Confederates designated the place as the "Hornet's nest." The old log meeting house, whose walls were spattered with blood, was made a field hospital. From Shiloh church the battle took its name.
SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 8, 1917.
By the side of the Tennessee river, in memory let us go,
Again to Shiloh battlefield, with all its tale of woe.
The dead and dying strew the earth, their groans we seem to hear;
Lo over by the bloody pond, his lifeblood ebbing fast,
Even now our Albert Sidney Johnston breaths his last.
Oh, people of the South, bestir yourselves arid mark the spot,
For an that battle our bravest fell; let us forget it not.
Shiloh, sacred soil, with blood of heroes stained,
Here our men in gray the heights of fame attained,
In letters of gold, on a column of white,
Let the world ever know they died for the right.
On the tablets of memory their names we engrave,
Heroes of Dixie, immortal and brave.
In memory of the battle of Shiloh, April 6th and 7th, 1862, fifty-five years ago.
W. M. CROOK.
In May we evacuated Corinth, retreating to Tupelo, Mississippi, losing a few of our company, among them, John Griswell. We remained at Tupelo, recruited and disciplined our army. I recall two of our company we lost by death while at Tupelo—Jas. Hendrix and Jack Smith, who died from sickness. I also remember some incidents of camp duty while our army was stationed here. One was provost guard, and Capt. Jerry Crook was officer of the day, whose duty it was to make a circuit of the guard line at night. I was on my station and became very tired walking my post and sat down to rest and fell asleep. Captain Crook came along and found me thus violating military discipline. As was usual for him in his great heart he only gave me a mild rebuke for negligence on duty and said, "Wiley, you must never again do this way." One day I was put on fatigue duty to clean p Gen. Leonidus Polk's headquarters. The general instructed us to break down and remove a brush arbor built on his premises, and in doing this work I noticed a pair of slippers in one of the forks of the arbor and put them in my shirt bosom, an act for which I afterwards felt considerable remorse, caused partly because General Polk was a Methodist bishop, as well as my lieutenant general.
But afterwards I was put on guard duty on a road leading out of Tupelo to Memphis. My duty was to allow no one to pass out or in unless he had a proper passport. An Irish soldier came up whose papers were correctly signed by officers for a leave of absence from the army. His feet were blistered so he could not wear shoes, but he had a good pair of my size. I told this good Irishman of my slippers and made a swap which kept me from be-barefooted later. In July, we left Tupelo and went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, transported by railroad on sand in box cars. On our way many boys, both black and white, with baskets of peaches were at the stations.
Before I could get in the door of the car to hold out my hat for peaches, the train was moving and one of the boys snatched my hat and I went into Chattanooga without a hat, but more knowledge.
On arriving in Chattanooga, Captain Crook gave me money to buy a hat. R. H. Barham, who after the war, married my sister Susan, went with me to purchase the hat.
I will stop here to tell that at our reunion in Chattanooga, in 1912, Charley Barham, a son of R. H. Barham, was with me and helped me to select a hat to conform to my uniform as a Confederate veteran. I told Charley of his father helping me fifty years ago.
In August, 1862, General Bragg mobilized about 35,000 men at Chattanooga. While Bragg was doing this, General Buell of the Federal army collected his forces at Murfreesboro, thus protecting Nashville from General Bragg's capture. The Confederate army, was not sent to encounter the Federals at Nashville, but a counter movement was made by Bragg into the great State of Kentucky, August 28th.
Gen. Preston Smith's brigade of General Cheatham's division of Bragg's army was sent from Chattanooga to form a junction with Gen. Kirby Smith, at Richmond, Ky., August 29th and 30th. We won a decisive victory over the Federal General Mason. The battle of Richond, Ky., was my first one, and this is where Frank Altom was killed. Our guns were of the old musket type and, after I had shot my gun six times and was putting in the seventh cartridge, I could not ram the ball down, so I ran forward to a dead poplar tree and undertook to punch it down and stuck my ramrod so fast in the tree, I could not pull it out. This occurred in a cornfieldand in my efforts to get the ball down my gun, I got behind the other soldiers, so I ran at top speed out of the cornfield into a bluegrass meadow and began to see wounded Yankees, so I went to one and got his new Springfield rifle and ammunition, leaving my musket and ammunition. I then went forward and soon was with my company. It was a hot day to do all this. I was very exhausted. Captain Crook stirred some ground coffee in a cup of water and had me drink it as soon as I up. We captured the entire army of General Mason and went from Richmond to form a junction with General Bragg at Perryville. General Bragg with main crossed the Cumberland above Nashville, moving toward Louisville, capturing Munfordsville with several thousand prisoners. Buell gave up all thought of Chattanooga and hurried back to Louisville, recruited his forces to 58,000, and turned to confront Bragg. On October 8th the, two armies met in battle at Perryville. The Confederate loss was 3,400 men and the Federal loss 4,200. General Bragg withdrew and retreated to Chattanooga. General Buell marched his army to Nashville, when he was relieved and General Rosecrans placed in command. General Rosecrans remained inactive, while General Bragg moved his army to Murfreesboro. December 26, 1862, General Rosecrans moved on Bragg and on the 31st of December the great battle on Stone river, three miles from Murfreesboro, was fought, and was apparently a drawn battle. The casualties were a Union loss of 15,000 and a Confederate loss of 10,000. General Bragg withdrew to Shelbyville and went into winter quarters. My personal experience in the foregoing battle was haying a Minie ball shot through the top of my hat and and slight flesh wound in calf of left leg, a scar I have since carried. Jerry Hendrix was wounded on this fateful field and taken prisoner and died in a northern prison. While Bragg's army was in Shelbyville, an army of 70,000 remained in Nashville and General Grant was moving on Vicksburg. General Rosecrans in June, 1863, by a flank movement forced Bragg back to Chattanooga, without a battle. General Burnside moved with a strong force from Kentucky into East Tennessee at Knoxville, and was in position to co-operate with Rosecrans. General Longstreet had been sent from Virginia and General Buckner from Kentucky to reinforce our army, so General Bragg offered battle at Chickamauga on. September 18, 1863, and both armies lay on the field that night and the battle was renewed on the 20th. Thus, one of the greatest engagements of the Civil war, resulted in a Confederate loss of 19,500 and a Federal loss of 22,500. The Federal army retreated to Chattanooga and appeared to be completely routed and demoralized. General Brags followed and fortified on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. Lincoln was alarmed. General Hooker, with 16,000 men, was sent from Virginia, and General Sherman with 35,000 from Vicksburg, and General Thomas was given command of this force and General Grant chief command of the west, and Grant ordered to Chattanooga. While all this concentration of the North's forces, the South 's army was depleted by sending General Longstreet with his army corps to Knoxville.
On November 24, 1863, Gen. Sherman crossed the Tennessee river in the early dawn and attacked our thin lines, forcing our army back on part of our position. This was the battle of Lookout Mountain. In order to cover his position, General Bragg was compelled to deploy his men to a mere skirmish line and on the 25th of November, a general charge was made by the Federals, driving our army from Chattanooga Valley up the rugged heights of Missionary Ridge General Cheathem, with his Tennessee division (to which I belonged), was stationed in :the valley east of Chattanooga. and in front of General Bragg's headquarters, south of Tunnel Hill. We retreated to the top of the ridge and held the army back until the sun was setting, when we were forced to retire. This Federal victory raised the siege of Chattanooga and forced the Confederate army out of Tennessee. General Grant's army consisted of about 72,000 men and General Bragg's 35,000. The Federal loss, 753 killed, 722 wounded and 349 missing. The Confederate loss, about 361 killed, 2,180 wounded and 4,149 missing.
The assault of the Federal army was impetuous, but Sherman's attack on the Confederate right met with a repulse by General Cleburne. About 4 p. m. Bragg's center was broken and his entire line fell back in disastrous defeat. In this battle of Missionary Ridge, on its heights just north of General Bragg's headquarters, at the close of this terrible conflict, I was wounded in my left arm and made my way to Chickamauga station, here my wound was dressed and I was instructed to get on the train and go to Atlanta to the hospital. My wound being slight I was given a thirty days' furlough.
As it may be of interest to my posterity and such of my friends as may read these personal notes, I will relate some of my trials and difficulties just here, with which I had to contend.. Before reaching Atlanta, I fell in company with three soldiers of the 154th Tennessee regiment, who, like myself, were slightly wounded. We went together to the hospital late in the evening of November 26th, and were assigned to the same ward. The surgeon could not give us attention that night. My comrades of the 154th were from Memphis, and we counseled together to try to obtain a furlough next morning when the doctor came around. But when he dressed our wounds he said he wanted us to serve as nurses, as many seriously wounded were arriving. I pleaded with the doctor to give us a furlough, as we preferred to return to our command when able to handle our arms and help hold back the invaders of our country. So the doctor recommended us for a 30 days' furlough if we had any people out of danger of Federal raids we could go to see. Although I had been taught to never tell an untruth, yet as we had no people with whom to spend our leave of absence, only in Tennessee or North Mississippi, then occupied by the Yankees, I digressed from the truth, stating that we had an uncle in Selma, Ala. Our furloughs were accordingly given. We all four traveled together without difficulty or hindrance to Selma. My three comrades wanted to go to Memphis and I was anxious to go to see my Grandfather Crook, Uncle John Crook, Aunts Emily Tap, Elmina Hopper, Sallie Conner and Uncle Willis Crook's family, all of whom lived in Tippah county, Mississippi. So we boys got on the train and beat our way to Ukolona, Mississippi. Then we walked together north of Pontotoc to where the road to Memphis turned to the left and my road to the right. Here we rested and the three comrades bade me good by. They were going into Memphis, I was determined to go within the Yankee lines to see my kinfolks. I walked alone all the way, reaching Ripley at sundown and slipped around the town into the Ruckersville road by dark and succeeded in getting to Uncle John Crook's about midnight. My relatives were glad to have me with them, but were scared all the time, fearing the Yankees would capture me. My aunts and girl cousins fitted me up with new, warm clothing and at the expiration of my furlough Uncle John went with me back to the army, then at Dalton, Ga. My three comrades never did get back, nor I never heard of them; perhaps they were captured in the effort to reach their homes, which was the fate of many Confederate soldiers whose homes were within the lines of the enemy, as was Tennessee in the last three years of the war.
On November 27, 1863, a desperate fight between Hooker's corps of General Grant's army, and General C1eburne's division of Confederates, occurred at Ringgo1d, Ga. Besides a fire of musketry and artillery, the Confederates rolled huge stones down the mountain sides among the advancing assailants, causing great confusion and dismay. General Hooker was repulsed with considerable loss and the Federal pursuit of General Bragg's army was checked by the vigorous resistance of the lionhearted Cleburne and his heroic division.
Considering the disastrous defeat of the Confederate army at Missionary Ridge, two days before, this battle at Ringgold Gap was one of the gamest fights of the entire war. General Pat Cleburne, the proud production of Arkansas, was one of the most adroit and pluckiest commanders among our Confederate Generals. May the members of our Wiley Crook camp of Sons of Confederate Veterans in Lincoln county keep fresh the memory the Arkansas' patriot and hero and catch the inspiration he gave his soldiers.
After the battles around Chattanooga, the last of which was at Ringgold, Ga., both armies were exhausted and went into winter quarters, the Confederates at Dalton and the Federals at Chattanooga. On December 1, 1863, a muster roll of our company was made, which is now in my possession and from which I will give a copy as then written in this pay roll. These are the men that then belonged to our company, many more had belonged, but had been killed or disabled.
Muster Roll of Company I, of the 13th Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers, December 31, 1863.
W. J. Crook, captain; J. R. Purdy, 1st lieutenant; N. D. Collins, 2d lieutenant; J. R. Edwards, 3d lientenant; C. W. Priddy, O. Sergt.; Arch Joyner, 2d sergt.; R. D. Snow, 3s sergt.; D. M. McCollam, 4th sergt.; J. N. Stegall 5th sergt.; W. W. Houston, 1st corp.; L. D. Horton, 2d corp.; W. M. Crook, 3d corp.; R. H. Barham, 4th corp.; Anderson, A. A., Brooks, W. J., Crook, E. H., Diffie, Clark, Faucette, M. W., Fringer, W. H., Farrow, P. B., Farnsworth, W. T., Glenn, P. L., Hart, Thomas, Hart, James, Hubbard, J. L., Ivy, J. H., Joyner, J. F., Mitchell, Tom, Ozier, G. B., Ozier, J. W., Parish, J. A., Pyles, J. A., Rhodes, J. W., Rice, F. T., Stewart, W. F., Starnes, J. D., Stone, W. C., Stone, I. A., Vandyke, A. W., Winfrey, B. C.
I believe I have stated before that Capt. W. J. Crook was a cousin of my father. E. H. Crook was a brother of Captain Crook, and B. P. Farrow married their sister. The two Stones are brothers, the two Harts are brothers, and the Hart and Stone boys are cousins, the two Oziers are also brothers, the two Joyners are cousins. I may also state here that those Stone boys are brothers of Col. John Marshall Stone of Iuka, Miss., who was colonel of the First Mississippi regiment of infantry. Colonel Stone was governor of Mississippi after the war. May I also state that R. H. Barham married my elder sister after the war, and that .J .N. Stegall and Jno. W. Ozier were my most intimate friends and companions.
During the time we were in winter quarters at Dalton, an event occurred which justly gives to Tennessee a new right to be called the Volunteer State. The time for which our troops had enlisted would soon expire. The question was, what shall be done to prevent a depletion of our army?
On the 14th of January, 1864, the 154th Tennessee regiment of Vaughan's brigade, started a movement for re-enlistment for the war by unanimously passing resolutions declaring their willingness to tender their services to the country during the war, and was the first regiment to receive the thanks of our Congress for doing so.
On January 15, 1864, the 13th Tennessee regiment, also of Vaughan's brigade, together with Strohl's brigade, passed resolutions to the same effect as those of the 154th, tendering our services as long as the exigencies of our country needed them.
General Bates' brigade followed the example of Vaughan's and Strohl's brigades. But it was left to the 6th and 7th Tennessee regiments of Maney's brigade to be the first to actually re-enlist. All of the foregoing brigades were soldiers of Cheatham's division of Tennnesseans.
This act of patriotism, so timely begun by the 154th regiment, and so happily executed by the 6th and 7th, at once aroused a spirit of valor which ever characterized the brigades of Cheatham's division. Certainly, no of the war confers higher honor on the Confederate soldier than was here obtained by those brave Tennessee troops. There should be erected in the Capitol grounds in Nashville a monument dedicated to Tennessee valor, and inscribed on it a copy of the resolution passed for re-enlistment by those Tennessee commands in regular order.
General Bragg was relieved, and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston placed in command.
The hope of the South's cause in the west was the defense of Atlanta, which explains the action of re-enlistment of our army.
On February 29, 1864, General Grant was promoted lieutenant General and made commander-in-chief of the Federal army. The forces in Chattanooga under Sherman were 99,000 strong. With this well fed army, Sherman moved against Johnston at Dalton.
General Johnston knew how to utilize the strong defensive positions which abounded in hilly, broken country, but Sherman, with his superior numbers, could move around the Confederate army and force Johnston to retreat. This strategy continued until at Adairsville, May 17, 1864, a battle, occurred, and on the 18th another at Rome, Ga. Pickett's Mill, May 27, a battle June 4, a battle at New Hope church, June 20, at Brushy Mountain at Culp's Farm June 27 to July 3, 1864, at Kennesaw Mountain, where we were fortified, General Sherman gave battle in which his loss was 50,000 in wounded and captured. General Johnston lost only about 8,000 men in this battle. It was here that Gen. Leonidus Polk fell and I saw him when he was struck with a cannon ball. James Crook, a cousin of mine, who was a member of the 27th regiment of Tennessee infantry, was killed in this battle. Capt. R. M. Burton of the 51st Tennessee, an uncle of James, attended to burying James in the Confederate cemetery at Marietta, Ga. Sherman made another flank movement, compelling Johnston's retreat to the south bank of the Chattahoochee river. Sherman reached the north bank July 9th; the two armies at this place were only six miles apart. Although for two months no great battle had occurred, yet almost continuous skirmishing with the result of a loss of 21,800 for Sherman, and Johnston's loss of 10,500. I was in this entire campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, sometimes spoken of as the 100 days' battle.
My personal experiences were many times hazardous and sometimes funny. I will relate two of them. .Just before the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the two armies were entrenched near each other and it came my time to go on videt duty in front of our breastworks, and near the enemy's picket posts. We had to change our sentinels under cover of the darkness of night and they must stay there 24 hours. We had dug holes about four feet deep, making an embankment next to the enemy, on top of which we placed a pole or log under which the sentinel could watch the movements of the Yankees. When we came to the pit for me to get into, the soldier I was to relieve was cold in death. We lifted the corpse out and I took the post at which he was killed. The men that were relieved came back by my post and carried our dead comrade back to the rear. Here in this pit I was to stay until the next night, a solemn duty, but one from which I would not think of shirking. In the stillness of that lonely night I heard a moving or rattle of leaves of the trees in my front. Since the other soldier was killed, expected it was a Yankee slipping up to shoot me. I thought that I had to shoot him or he would get me. The suspense was of such long duration I would at times get nervous and tremble in my shoes, then I would think must surely prepare to shoot him when he advanced with in my view. So it went for quite a while, when a hog grunted near by and in my front. I was greatly relieved to find that my expected Yankee was a hog slowly moving along in the fallen leaves. That was the most horrible 24 hours I have ever spent.
I will now tell of another time in my duty as a picket sentinel. This time the two armies were not fortified but in close proximity and I was on the videt line in a dense forest; could not see very far in my front and, being an expert in climbing trees, I decided to see what I could learn of the enemy's position from a tall tree top near my post. I pulled off my haversack, cartridge box and shoes and placed them with my gun at the base of the big tree, a sapling nearby reached to the first limbs of the big tree. So up the small tree I climbed into the big tree and on to the top of this stately oak I went. Standing in the tree I could see 1,000 Yankees, which somewhat frightened me, and I immediately came to the ground in haste, knowing the Federals were not far in my front in great numbers. Many other incidents of a personal nature experienced by me in this wonderful campaign could be told, but I must refrain from taking up space in these reminiscences to tell events of a personal character.
July 17, 1864, General Johnston was relieved of the command of this depleted army that had combatted Sherman s in one hundred days of continuous fighting and marching. Gen. J. B. Hood was placed in command, and Sherman, with his superior numbers, crossed his army over the Chattahoochee river the same day and moved against Hood. On July 20th, the great battle of Peach Tree Creek was fought. I recall that Bob and Cape Stone of our company, and brothers of Gov. John Marshall Stone of Mississippi, were killed. Marcus Pridy of the 27th Tennessee was also killed in this battle. July 22d, General Hood gave battle on the enemy in their breastworks, and the loss in our company was again heavy. I recall that Green B. Ozier and Daniel M. McCullum were killed on this fateful field, and perhaps others of our company. Clint McCullum of the 51st Tennessee, a brother of Dan, was also killed. Fifty-three years have passed since those mighty battles and I can not remember all of our killed on those fields of carnage, but I do recall those mentioned. On July 28th, Sherman began his siege of Atlanta.
On August 31st and September 1st, a spirited battle was fought at Jonesboro on the railroad between Atlanta and Macon, and September 2d General Hood retired to Lovejoy and was followed by Sherman. Considerable fighting occurred up to and including September 6th by Sherman deploying his army west and south, cutting off Hood's communications by railroad. These movements of Sherman's army required a month's time—all of which consummated the fall of Atlanta. In the disastrous battles around Atlanta, General Hood lost 15,841 men, while Sherman lost 9,719. General Hood did not allow his army to be surrounded, but evacuated Atlanta, on the 2d day of September, 1864, moving north 45 miles to Allatoona and Acworth. October 4th and 5th attacked the Federals, but they firmly held the places. General Hood continued his march westward to Decatur, Ala., on the Tennessee river, and on to Florence, crossing the Tennessee river at Florence October 20th.
While General Hood was making these movements, General Sherman began his famous march from Atlanta to the sea. General Hood remained in southern Tennessee to collect supplies until November 21, 1964, thereby losing valuable time, as a new Federal army was mobilizing to confront him in this notable campaign into Tennessee. When General Hood marched his army to Columbia, Tenn., on Duck river, arriving there on the evening of November 29th, he found General Scofield on opposite side of the river with a large army. General Hood made no attack but began at once to detour Stewart's and Cheatham's corps around the Federals, leaving Gen. Stephen D. Lee's corps facing Scofield. Generals Stewart and Cheatham arrived at the Columbia and Nashville Pike near Spring Hill several hours before day, and went into bivouac on each side of the pike. The meantime Scofield made a hasty and disorderly retreat from Columbia, closely pursued by General Lee. About 4 o'clock Scofield passed his army along this pike between the Confederates' encampment at double quick. It is said that General Hood issued orders for Stewart and Cheatham to hold the pike at this place, but for some reason his orders were not delivered to the two generals. I was at this place and know that our Confederate troops were very much exhausted from loss of sleep and long forced marching, and at the time we did not know that it was the Federal army passing so near us. I know, too, that not one gun was fired to give notice. It is a mystery this day as to who was responsible for this, the great-blunder of the Civil war, and I suppose will remain so until the secrets of all hearts are revealed in the great final judgment. The next day, November 30, 1864, General Scofield strongly entrenched his army in front Franklin. Early in the morning of November 30th, General Hood renewed his march, determined by a supreme effort, to overtake and rout Scofield or capture his army. About 4 p.m. the Confederate army reached the summit of a range of hills south of Franklin. The town is situated in a bend of the Big Harpeth river and the line of defense of General Scofield was a half circle, the center of which was the Columbia pike, with both flanks resting on the river. From the base of this range of hills lay a level valley reaching to the south bank of the picturesque Harpeth river. In this open plain the Federals had two lines of breastworks, the first a temporary line, but the second, a line of formidable defense. General Hood formed in line of battle on top of the range of hills. General Bates, commanding the Tennessee division, was placed on the left of Columbia pike, and General Cleburne's division formed on the right of the pike. The 13th Tennessee regiment (to which I belonged) was placed just left of the pike, being the right wing of Bates' division. The whole ground between our line and the Federals could plainly be seen from our position. We could see the enemy's lines of defense and the open plain between us and knew we were to attack by a charge on them in their works. As General Hood sent his couriers right and left with orders to advance, our. regimental band cheered us with the soul-stirring strains of Dixie as we moved forward with banners sweetly kissing the breezes of heaven, and our rebel yell rending the air as though it echoed in the portals of Paradise.
The courageous Confederates moved as steadily and resistlessly as a tidal wave, sweeping before them the enemy from their first line of works, and we charged on their last line, resulting in the greatest human slaughter of our Civil war, considering numbers engaged. I remember the encounter of a hand-to-hand conflict where their works crossed the pike, and I now recall that a comrade near me was shot down by a Yankee at close range, while I was reloading my gun, and that another comrade near us with gun already loaded, drew aim on that Yankee and the Yankee threw down his gun, raised his hands in surrender as our captain deterred our soldiers from shooting him. The Federal center gave way at this point, and we rushed through the gap in a half circle to near the Carter house. At this moment a fresh brigade of Federals charged in and compelled us to fall back to the opposite bank of their entrenchment. With the Federals in the ditch and the Confederates behind the embankment, the battle raged until long after darkness of the night. Peter Glenn of our company was killed and John Parish was wounded. Their patriotic blood with many others of our brave soldiers crimsoned the soil of that historic ground. The battle of Franklin was one of the most desperate and sanguinary struggles of the entire Civil war. Generals Cleburne, Granbury, Adams, Gist, Strohl and Carter were killed on the field and five other Confederate generals were wounded.
It is estimated that Schofield had 28,000 men engaged and Hood 22,000. The Federal loss was 2,300 and Confederate loss 6,200.
I believe General Stephen D. Lee's corps did not arrive in time to engage in the battle. General Schofield withdrew before daylight, leaving his dead and wounded on the field. After burying the dead of both armies, we advanced upon Nashville.
I will now give some of my personal experiences in the great battle of Franklin. After we had formed in battle, on the range of hills overlooking that Tennessee town, and on which General Hood was direct-forward movement of his army, I placed a small Testament in my left breast pocket and a little hymn book in my right breast pocket with the hope that those precious little books given me by my mother, when I left her sweet presence to volunteer in defense of our country, would shield me to some extent from the enemy's bullets.I felt more keenly than at any other battle that I would never survive the impending danger into which I was entering, and in a silent prayer left it all to my After we had gotten in range of the fire of the all those thoughts and fears left me, and the love my country'cause inspired me to dare to do my duty along with my comrades. In the midst of this battle, I noticed the banner of one of the regiments of the enemy fall to the ground a few paces in my front. Another Confederate soldier rushed forward and seized the flag, but was immediately shot down. I sprang forward and succeeded in getting this flag of the 57th Indiana regiment and carried it off the field at about sunset of this awful day. The next morning Captain Crook had me carry this flag to Gen. B. F. Cheatham.
General Hood halted his army within a short distance of the city limits of Nashville, and we made a line of breastworks extending from the Nolinsville pike across the Franklin and Granny White pikes to the hills south and southwest of the city, with our cavalry on either flank, extending to the river. General Schofield, having been reinforced by Gen. George H. Thomas, occupied heights immediately surrounding the city. Both armies were detained from active movements on account of extremely cold weather.
On the morning of December 15, 1864, the Federals simultaneously attacked both flanks of the Confederate army in great force, but on our left flank where I was with General Cheatham's Tennessee division, we held our lines unbroken, hurling back overwhelming numbers through the day. Night ended the battle and we withdrew about a mile and made a new line of works. Early in the morning of the 16th, General Thomas began an attack on the entire Confederate line with several lines of battle deep, with their negro troops in front of their white Federal soldiers. It was said that these negroes were intoxicated by Federal authority to increase their courage to charge our defense. The teeth and eyes shining in the black faces of these negroes were a good mark to shoot at from behind our breastworks. In the evening great numbers massed in front of General Bates' position and broke his line, causing our entire line to give way and retire in disorder, retreating to Franklin.
I wish to state that our line of defense on General Bates' division was somewhat in a half circle, and that the brigade of my regiment was not driven out of our works but was forced out by Day's brigade giving way on the end of this horseshoe circle, and Vaughan's brigade was endangered by the Yankees' attempt to get be-hind us. We were ordered to retreat from out of this trap. This was the most disorderly retreat I experienced my service in the Confederate army.
I will again stop to tell some of my personal experiences. A big snow had fallen some days before this battle and the weather had moderated so the snow was melting rapidly, making the ground very wet and muddy. Our regiment was compelled to make this retreat through of corn stalks. In the field there was a good deal or crab grass. The land was a stiff clay soil and the mud with the grass worked up in a mortar around our feet in such weight as to retard our progress. At this time I was just 20 years old and of a slender stature and not physically strong, so the mud caused me to get behind, but after a while we reached a place where Capt. W. J. Crook thought we ought to make a stand. Our company was color company of the regiment, so Captain. Crook took our flag and waved it aloft, telling us to shoot at pursuing Yankees. When I caught up, the captain said, "Wiley, we must hold them back awhile," so I stopped to help. When we resumed our retreat I again could not keep up. The Yankees had come closer and the bullets were striking the corn stalks around me so thick that I gave up hope of getting out of them. I noticed a big gully before me and decided to jump into it, if I could get to it, but when I reached the gully, it was full of snow water and a strong current. I jumped clear and trotted on as fast as I could. Soon after, Bill Stewart, of my company, observed me and intercepted me and carried my gun until we were out of range enemy's musketry. Bill then handed me my gun and he went on looking for any of our men who needed help. He was a member of our infirmary corps, a fine and true soldier.
I reached the Franklin pike at nightfall so exhausted I sat down beside the pike and fell asleep. Our rear guard came along and woke me. I walked on but would have to rest often, so the guards kept me awake all the night. Just as the sun was rising I caught my company at Franklin, where they were resting from the, fatigue of two days' battle and loss of two nights' sleep. I can not give an accurate estimate of the loss in the battle of Nashville. It was said the Federals numbered 55,000, to count the negroes. I believe they numbered 100,000. General Hood's army numbered about 23,000. Our loss was about 5,000 and the Federal loss 3,000. Our army retreated across the Tennessee river and to Tupelo and Corinth, Mississippi.
General Cheatham's corps was ordered to Corinth, Miss., the west Tennesseeans were given a 30 days' furlough as that country was clear of Federals at that time and we had not seen our people since the battle of Shiloh. I was glad to again be at home with my mother and others family. I was thinly clad in my much-worn uniform.Mother and sisters went to work and made me a comfortable suit of clothing, and Father Hurt suggested .that I go to R. L. Hendrix for a pair of boots that were too small for Mr. Hendrix. I went but found that Mr. Hendrix was not at home, and that he had sold the boots, but I had the pleasure of meeting his two young daughters, Tabitha and Ellen. While there I was attracted by the appearance of Miss Ellen, the younger girl. She was then 14 years old and I was past 20 years. Notwithstanding her youth, she looked good to me and I was elated to have met her. I had a pleasant, quiet time and with my kin people. The time came for me to return to the army. I bade farewell to my people, went back to the army, which had been ordered to North Carolina in an effort to form a junction with General Lee's in Virginia.
General Hood had been relieved of the command of his army, and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston again placed in command. Nath Collins, Jap Stegall, Jno. Ozier, Elliott Crook and myself went together. When we got to Mobile, we met Capt. William Timberlick, who suggested that as we were m advance of others of. our company, that we stop over and see the city, which we did, putting up at the old Battle House. We stayed three days at a hotel fare of $30.00 each, but Capt. Timberlick paid entire sum of $450.00. We crossed the Mobile Bay in a boat and got a train to Montgomery, Ala., and on to Columbus, Ga. When we reached the country that was burned by Sherman on his march from Atlanta to the sea we had to walk through a country almost depopulated, lone chimneys only stood to mark the burned homes. Before we could cross this uninhabited section, our provisions gave out. I noticed across a level plain a fine looking home. We decided to go to it, and ask for something to eat. When near the house it was proposed that I go up and see if we could get food, so I went and an old man answered my call. I politely bared my head and proceeded to explain our situation and the events leading up to the wants we desired of him. This good man observed my comrades and told me to bid them come. He invited us into his home for the night. Before retiring, he came to our room and asked us in to his family altar. He read some scripture and we, with his family, knelt in prayer, led by this man, whom Sherman spared from the incendiary torch of his vandals as they marched through this fertile plain of Georgia. This great, good man was Bishop James O. Andrew. In his prayer he beseeched God that the young soldiers be safely guided to their army "not only that Lord, but preserve their lives through the war and then lead them to their homes, and may these young men live long, useful lives to the country, church, and humanity."
All five of us boys returned to our homes after the termination of the war. We all lived to be old men. Jap Stigall now lives in Little Rock, Ark.; John Ozier lives in Amarillo, Texas, and I, the youngest of the five, am at Star City. Elliott Crook died some years ago at Lexington, Tenn., and I am told Nath Collins died in Texas. Fifteen years after the war, while in company with a Methodist preacher in Texas, I told him the story of a night spent in the home of Bishop Andrew of Georgia in January, 1865. This preacher friend proceeded to tell me of the history of Bishop Andrew that was not mentioned to us boys while in his home, and since I decided to write these reminiscences, Brother Bartlett, our Methodist pastor, kindly loaned me his history of Methodism, from which I learn much of Bishop James O. Andrew.
In 1844, the conference of bishops in session, sought to deal with southern bishops who owned slaves and refused to free them. Bishop Andrew having lost his wife by death, married a widow who inherited slaves from her first husband. Bishop Andrew could not free his wife's slaves, yet because he married a woman who owned slaves, this conference of bishops asked Bishop Andrew to resign, which caused a split in the Methodist church, one now of the north and one of the south.
We five boys started out next morning from Bishop Andrew's home to Augusta, Ga., and over into South Carolina. We met our army in retreat from its last battle of Bentonville, N.C. We learned that our surrender was inevitable, and I asked Major Crook to give me a letter of request to General Cheathem for the flag of the 57th Indiana regiment captured at Franklin. The request was granted and the flag was in my possession when we surrendered on April 26, 1865, at Greensboro.
Company I, 13th Tennessee infantry regiment, had nine present at the surrender: Capt. J. R. Purdy, Lieut.
N. D. Collins, Sergt. J. N. Stigall, Sergt. R. D. Snow, Corp. W. M. Crook, John W. Ozier, Elliott H. Crook, Arch Joyner and Joe Joyner. We walked from Greensboro to Greenville, Tenn., there entrained to Nashville and on to Johnsonville on the Tennessee river, and from there we walked to our homes. We thought we had fought as well as we could, that we must accept the situation and proceed to build up our devastated country.
A deep sorrow arose from our hearts as we bade adieu to our comrades, who, with us, served our country in that mighty struggle. For four years we had waged a war against an invading foe. American history tells no braver story than of the valor of Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chickamauga, now our national parks, to which posterity will make reverential pilgrimage. Mankind will read in succeeding centuries with admiration and wonder the record of southern heroism and sacrifice.
As I close this write-up of my recollections of the Civil war, I am cognizant of the impossibility of describing events of such magnitude as a battle or a campaign, that will coincide with the recollections of all my comrades; we could not see or know all that transpired. I have tried to tell in a plain way what I observed, and experienced in the tragic time of our Civil war.
My dear comrades, we are now environed by old age, but we are animated with a mind that ruminates and dwells on events of our past life.
Places of our reunions and dates of same:
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