Page images
PDF
EPUB

cannon balls striking the ground and bounding through the ranks. We could see the men fall, but with that strange feeling that you have of things seen in a dream. We were not near enough to take any active share in that part of the battle; we had gone through the worst of our special conflict and risk, and this seemed like a pantomime, as it were, the roar of the batteries around us making those things at a distance seem to be enacted in silence. I wondered at the time that I did not feel a more humane and active interest in it; but it was a strange thing to see men tumbling down in that way, the carnage of battle going on so far away that we could only see the dim outlines. But it was not long before I had the pleasure of meeting our friend, General Howard, riding from the left, informing me that the 4th Corps was in close support, and inquiring after our own position. The battle had continued long enough, for although I have only taken a few minutes to describe this part of it it had taken an hour or two, probably, for the advance. By the road we had come it was utterly impossible that there should be any direct communication by wagon with the rear. Our 'artillery had not been able to follow us, or our ammunition wagons, and our line which had carried that portion of the rebel works was out of ammunition. General Howard ordered a portion of Wood's division, as I remember, to relieve those who were in the works, and our men took a position a little more in the rear. The brigade which was to relieve the right brigade of mine was commanded by that young hero, Harker, who afterwards fell at Kenesaw. He rode up and asked some questions in regard to the situation. I was at the moment standing on the ground.

General Manson, of Indiana, was near me, who commanded the brigade that was in the works, and Colonel Opdycke, who was second in rank in Harker's brigade, was with Harker. We stood, I remember very clearly, my own hand resting on Harker's saddle pommel, Manson standing near me, Opdycke just in front, when a shell from the right seemed to explode right in our midst. Harker was slightly wounded, Manson was knocked down senseless by the concussion of the explosion, from which he never entirely recovered; Opdycke was wounded at the same time, I think, however, by a rifle ball, and I was the only one of the group entirely unhurt.

Manson afterwards, (as showing another curious effect of the experiences of that time), was carried to the hospital, and there it

66

66

was said, that as he partially recovered his senses, the first thing he said was “ Well, General Cox is gone.” “ No," said somebody, , " he is not gone." Why,” he said, as I fell, I saw him go right up into the air.” Such was his illusion; the shock and the fall making it look to him as though others had been blown upwards.

So much for such comparatively trifling, personal incidents. I find it interesting to me simply because it helps to make a picture of the events on that day. Our real work was, of course, of another sort.

During the day, the Army of the Tennessee was, as I was saying, pressing in on the rebels on the right. They held this high rocky prominence, and made, of course, a stout fight to maintain it. We gained advantages here and there, but the whole day was spent in that kind of bitter warfare that occurred in a broken and woody country in which no decisive results could be reached, because the country itself was what European military men call “impracticable; ” a country in which armies cannot get together, and in which the maneuvers are confined to skirmishing on a great scale, skirmishes in which hundreds and thousands of men fall, and yet you see only a rattling irregular fight, with only the commander him. self, able by means of reports coming to him, to tell what is being done, and how far his men really control that which to the onlooker seems to be so mixed and unformed, as such a battle is.

The next day Hooker's command was pressed around to the north, the Army of the Cumberland, more concentrated in that direction, and the Army of the Tennessee pushed forward more to the right. They captured the hills which look down upon Resaca. They had the position which commanded the railroad bridge to the town, and Sherman was hoping still further to surround Johnston and force him to retreat eastward, and so put him in circumstances which would make him lose the principal material of his army.

After another day spent in the same sort of continual struggle, pressing onward, without having that range of battle which occurs upon a free and open field, the result was that the rebel army succeeded in getting across the river by pontoons and bridges and retreated.

Such, in short, was Resaca; not a battle in which two armies could maneuver on a field such as we imagine when we think of the European battle-fields, but where, over those rocky heights and through those thickly wooded valleys, we were fighting onward, scarcely able to see anything that was being done; it being an exceptional opportunity, such as I spoke of, when we were able to see a little of what was going on in some other part of the field. It resulted in the winning of a position. Johnston had lost control of all northern Georgia, Rome was at our mercy, as shown in the march of the next few days, and on we went to the next river, where there was a chance of our enemy making a stand. This was one of those movements so celebrated as Sherman's “flank movements,” coming around and hitting the enemy at the weak place, and avoiding a sacrifice of lives by hazardous attacks where it could be avoided. Constantly gaining ground, moving onward to those points which the enemy never could afford to lose, which they must fight for, and compelling them to come out of their works, and in a single week or two sacrifice thousands of men,such was the work which secured the great results of the campaign

I have already occupied your attention too long, but before I close I want to say that Resaca is to my mind important in another respect. It was the time when the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Ohio were welded together for the first time. You had been at Mission Ridge, you had been in that glorious conflict where, above the clouds of Lookout, the battle was won. There had also been the Army of the Cumberland, but we of the Ohio had not yet met you. That triple organization, under Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield, was there made one.

It was there that Sherman's army, as it was known to history, and always will remain known, had its baptism of fire. [Applause.] It was there that we learned, all of us, to become comrades in a new and better sense.

Again, it seems to me that it was an important beginning of great things. I believe earnestly and sincerely that the last word of history has not yet been written with regard to the civil war. I believe that the world does not yet appreciate how great was the part of Sherman's army in the conclusion of that contest. [Applause.] It has been rather the fashion to speak of other fields as though they were more bitterly contested; as though our forces on other fields were more ably led. I believe that will all be changed. I believe that when the final summing up is made by those impartial historians who have yet to tell the whole story, it will be seen that the subduing of the great rebellion had its principal feature in that wonderful movement embracing the whole continent, in which

from the Allegheny mountains to the Mississippi river one great front was presented by those elements of a great army which were finally thus united into one. When we think what it was, of the thousands of miles stretch that the army covered, sweeping down the Mississippi to Vicksburg and the Gulf on the one hand, cutting the Confederacy in two, whirling then to the left again, moving across Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, until the wings were united in the vicinity of Chattanooga, coming into complete unity of organization; pushing southward to Atlanta, the great key to their connections of every sort by which the material support of the army could be carried on in the South; swinging eastward to the sea and northward through the Carolinas until we were within sixty or eighty miles of Richmond; that this should be thought a subordinate, a secondary part in that great struggle, I confess, as I study the history of that time, seems to me more and more absurd. [Applause. ]

It is, therefore, that I say with confidence, I believe that the future will more and more reveal the enormous importance of what was then and there being done; and that all of us who had a part, however humble, in that organization, then made strong as triple steel, that triple brotherhood of those three armies, the Tennessee, the Cumberland and the Ohio, as Sherman's grand army sweeping southward, will always have occasion to be more and more proud of it. [Applause.]

Music.-Song, “Brave Boys in Blue." By Messrs. W. Dansinger and A. R. James. Chorus by Lincoln Glee Club.

THIRD TOAST._Dallas."

“The enemy made a bold attack at Dallas and were repulsed with terrible

loss."

Response by Major A. M. VAN DYKE.

MR. PRESIDENT, COMPANIONS AND COMRADES OF THE ARMY

OF TENNESSEE, AND OUR GUESTS OF OTHER ASSOCIATIONS OF LOYAL SOLDIERS, AND LADIES WHOSE GRACIOUS PRESENCE ADORNS THIS OCCASION:

I am complimented by the committee having the matter in charge with an invitation to speak to you in response to the memories and feelings which the word Dallas" revives in the

minds and hearts of those who took part in that battle, or are familiar with its details from having read the written record of what is generally and aptly styled the "Hundred Days of Battle," and known in history as the “Atlanta campaign."

The battle of Dallas was but an incident, an episode, one of the nundred or more of that campaign. We stand as it were upon the side of a great temporal attitude, and looking backward over the valley which time has spread between to-day and those other days, contemplating the grandeur of its conception of that campaign, its heroic prosecution and its glorious success, the magnificence of the whole retrospect is such that the mind and attention can hardly descend to the grasp of its cietails.

In the spring of 1864, the Army of the Tennessee, with its companion Army of the Cumberland, began its southward movement from Chattanooga, having for its objective point the “Gate City of the South," intending, when once within these portals, to occupy all the principal apartments in the establishment.

The mighty glaciers of the Alps ever move onward and downward, no earthly power can stop or turn them back. Now they force themselves through narrow defiles; now they extend and fill the widening valleys; they turn aside to avoid insuperable mountain barriers, and make for themselves a way where none was before; firm, cold, resistless they move forward to a certain end.

Thus, on a May morning the grand armies composing the military division of the Mississippi, began their southward movement. The Army of Tennessee, forming the right wing, as resistless in movement as the glacier, forced its way through the rocky defile of Snake Creek Gap, struck the opposing rebel army at Resaca, and drove it on before; following on, it turned aside from Altoona Pass, and late in the month found itself near Dallas, Georgia.

On the 26th, the 15th Corps, having the right of the army, moved forward from Pumpkin Vine creek toward Dallas, the march being enlivened by spirited skirmishing, and during the day passed through the town, taking position two miles beyond on the Powder Springs road. The necessity for stopping here manifested itself in a considerable body of rebels very strongly posted. This corps, which was the part of the army principally engaged, was placed in position in line of battle, with Harrow's division on the right and crossing the Villa Rica road; M. L. Smith, in the

« EelmineJätka »