|Seige At Chattanooga and Triumphant Assault on Missionary Ridge|
Lt Colonel William H Young's Report as found in the Official Record
HDQRS. TWENTY-SIXTH REGIMENT OHIO VOL. INFANTRY,
Chattanooga, Tenn., November 27, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor herewith to report the part taken by my command, the Twenty-sixth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, in the movements of the 23d, 24th, 25th, and 26th instant in this vicinity.
About 2 p.m. on the 23d, in obedience to orders from the brigadier-general commanding, my regiment was moved to the front and formed in the center of the rear line in line of battle a few yards in the rear of the picket line and immediately in front of Fort Palmer. An hour later, while the brigade was advancing and driving in the enemy's pickets, I took command, in obedience to orders formerly received from General Wagner, of the rear line, consisting of the Fifteenth Indiana on the right, Twenty-sixth Ohio in the center, and Fifty-seventh Indiana on the left, which line was advanced in line of battle and halted with brigade near the enemy's picket line, where it lay until night. During this movement the Twenty-sixth Ohio was under the immediate command of Maj. W. H. Squires.
During the night my regiment was advanced to the front line, moved with the brigade to the left about 400 yards and assigned the front center, having the Fortieth Indiana on its right and Fifty-eighth Indiana on its left. In this position rifle-pits were constructed during the night.
On the 24th, we lay in line of battle in our rifle-pits without change of position or interruption, except by an occasional harmless shell from the enemy's batteries in our front.
About 3 p.m. of the 25th, on orders from Colonel Wood, commanding the front line, to advance my regiment with the rest of the brigade, I moved to the front across an open field in view of the enemy, some 500 yards, where we lay down half an hour, receiving, but without casualty, a severe fire of shell. I here received and gave to my officers orders to "advance slowly and steadily in line until ordered to halt, as it was intended, if possible, to take all before us to the top of Missionary Ridge."
The movement to the front began as directed (about 3.45 o'clock), but the line had advanced but a few hundred yards when the troops on my either flank without orders, so far as I understood, quickened their pace to a double-quick. After endeavoring for some time to preserve the prescribed pace, finding my men were falling to the rear and chafing under the restraint, I quickened their step, regained my place in the line, and double-quicked under a terrific fire of shot and shell for 800 to 900 yards to the enemy's line of rifle-pits at the base of the mountain which, being found empty, were immediately cleared and the charge enthusiastically continued up the mountain slope, the crest at this point being 600 to 800 yards distant. About half this latter distance was made most gallantly and without serious casualty, but the distance the men had double-quicked, some 1,200 to 1,500 yards, and the increasing angle of the acclivity had completely exhausted them. We were now, too, receiving a very hot fire of musketry from the enemy's rifle-pits on the crest in front as well as an enfilading fire of shell and solid shot from the right and left, the position of the line we were assailing being much retired and our line of march bisecting the arc of a circle whose limbs were lined with rebel batteries throwing upon us a concentrated fire.
I thereupon ordered my men to move slowly, advancing firing as skirmishers, availing themselves of every shelter available, avoiding undue exposure, but to keep up a forward movement. The latter I found extremely difficult by reason of the great exhaustion of of-ricers and men, both behaving with the utmost gallantry, but in a number of cases falling at my feet completely outdone. We were, however, steadily approaching a point much sheltered by the configuration of the ground and already occupied by a few men in advance, when I received an order to fall back to the rifle-pit at the base of the ridge. The order was promptly repeated but reluctantly obeyed, for we felt that with a little rest and strengthened by the second line the ridge could be carried. Up to this time but 2 officers and a few men of my command had been struck, and though so entirely for the moment exhausted, their enthusiasm was still high and their confidence unabated.
We fell back rapidly under a galling fire, and, losing several men, took refuge behind the before-mentioned rifle-pits and for a number of minutes, perhaps fifteen, lay under a most terrific cannonade sustaining but little if any loss. Two of my lieutenants and a number of my men, perhaps one-fifth, failing to comprehend the order to fall back, remained on the hillside and rejoined their command when the second charge was made.
After remaining nearly a quarter of an hour under cover, the line was again ordered forward, advanced rapidly and gallantly across the gentle but exposed slope (300 yards) with which the acclivity begins, and then seeking shelter, began again the more toilsome ascent in the face of a bitter fire. For more than 200 yards we had slowly and laboriously worked our way up the mountain side, suffering- serious loss, and beginning to feel most sensibly the exhaustion that was breaking down both officers and men, when, perceiving the line fearfully weakened by the causes just mentioned, and by the necessity of extending it to cover an arc of which our original line had been the chord, I galloped back to urge up the rear line to support us in the final struggle at the enemy's works. They, however, were on the way ere I reached them, and soon joined us, filling up the gaps in the front line, and giving fresh encouragement to the few heroic spirits who were already closing upon the rifle-pits with which the mountain crest was fringed, and from which a steady fire was still pouring down upon us.
My color sergeant was already severely wounded, the senior corporal had been killed, another had fallen down exhausted, a fourth and the last seemed scarcely able to climb farther, when, feeling the moment had come for the crowning and final effort, I took the colors and led the advance of my command the remaining 150 yards into the enemy's works as he threw down his arms and took to flight. On advancing some yards farther, I found the enemy was already in rapid retreat beyond the ridge, pushing forward his wagons and endeavoring to carry off his cannon. Halting a moment to permit the men with me to regain their breath and those in the rear to come up, we then pushed immediately forward to gain a knob beyond, from which I hoped to be able to stampede and capture a wagon train still in sight.
After advancing about 300 yards, passing and leaving a guard with two brass guns, being without support, I again halted to rally around my colors a few more men, when I was joined by the Fifteenth Indiana and at the same time received orders through an orderly to retire. I sent back by the orderly the information that a large wagon train was near at hand, and asked permission to attempt its capture. Ere an answer was received General Wagner joined me and directed me to take the Fifteenth Indiana, Major White commanding, and my own regiment, and move off to the left and take possession of a battery about 300 yards distant, which the enemy were endeavoring to carry off through a ravine on my left. Placing the Twenty-sixth Ohio under command of Major Squires, and throwing out skirmishers from the Fifteenth Indiana, the command was moved rapidly to the left oblique in order to capture the party in charge of the guns. They were, however, already cutting loose the horses, and succeeded in getting away, leaving all the guns (four brass pieces and two Parrotts) and several caissons and limbers, and 3 horses still harnessed. Never having captured cannon before, and hence not appreciating the importance of claiming the guns as trophies, besides feeling they were entirely safe in my rear, and thinking I might need all my command in front, I left no guard with them, but immediately pushed forward upon the [retreating enemy] some hundreds of yards to the front. I was now about three-quarters of a mile from the ridge. The troops on my left, who had previously advanced several hundred yards, had all been withdrawn.
There was a gap of one-third of a mile between my right and the left of our brigade, and deeming it prudent to advance no farther without support, especially as it was already dark, I was about to retire, when there was opened up a brisk fire of musketry and artillery from a hill or ridge about three-fourths of a mile to my right oblique. After waiting a few minutes until I discovered a stout resistance was being made, and the issue possibly doubtful, directing my original line of skirmishers to protect my left flank I changed front to the right oblique, directing Major Squires to throw out two companies of skirmishers to cover the new front; and sending notice around by the rear of my intention, I took up a line of march for a knob, from which I expected to turn the enemy's position by attacking his left flank. The exceeding and unexpected roughness of our route, comprising steep acclivity, dense thicket, and thickly tangled swamps, made the undertaking one of no little difficulty. It was, however, finally accomplished and the height was gained, and so successfully that 1 lieutenant and 8 men, comprising the enemy's right, were captured and their line immediately broken, with the capture of two brass guns. The Federal troops here engaged proving to be our own brigade, I again assumed command of my own regiment, which, however, saw no further special service, but remained with the brigade until it returned to camp on the evening of the 26th.
At every step of our advance from the time we reached the enemy's rifle-pits, prisoners were picked up by the men under my command, but, as we were constantly in the extreme front, they were at every opportunity passed immediately to the rear and handed over, without credit asked or given, to whoever would relieve us of their care. There were reported to me 45 thus disposed of; many others were passed, as we advanced, and no notice taken of them, as they seemed making fair time for our rear, and I had good reason to believe they would be carefully looked after and kindly cared for by officers and men who were giving their attention to that part of the work.
Of the conduct of my command perhaps nothing need be said; it was mostly witnessed by the general commanding the brigade. We were in no sense repulsed, not even checked beyond what a prudent caution demanded under the shifting condition of the conflict.
I can only account for being ordered back after getting nearly or quite half way from the base to the summit of Missionary Ridge on the 25th by supposing the ardor of the command had already carried it beyond instructions.
Too much cannot be said in commendation of the personal gallantry of my officers. Maj. W. H. Squires, who at several times was left in command of the regiment, and Adjt. James A. Spence, both unhorsed in the very beginning of the action, most gallantly, heroically acquitted themselves, lending me most material assistance from first to last. Assistant Surgeon Rush acquitted himself with commendable zeal and fidelity of his duties as field surgeon.
It is but simple justice to deserving merit to record here as worthy of particular mention the following names of line officers of my regiment, who, with the exception of Second Lieutenant Johnson, remained with their companies until the fighting was over, though several were painfully, but not seriously hurt; Captains Peatman, Company F; Frazier, Company D; Adair, Company I; Baldwin, Company G (wounded in the face); First Lieutenants Hume, commanding Company K; Franklin, commanding Company B (wounded in the leg); Foster, Company A (wounded in the leg); Renick, Company F; Timberlake, Company D; Second Lieutenants Guy, Company K; Johnson, Company E; Ogan, Company F; Hill, commanding Company A; Goodhue, commanding Company C (wounded in the leg), and Platt, Company G.
Your attention is respectfully invited to the following statement of casualties in this regiment: Commissioned officers wounded, 5; enlisted men killed, 2; enlisted men wounded, 29; 1 of them has since died.
During the brief period that I was in command of the rear line of three regiments on the afternoon of 23d nothing occurred worthy of mention. The regiments were all ably handled by their respective commanders.
While temporarily in command of the Fifteenth Indiana on the evening of the 25th, I could not fail to notice the very gallant bearing of that regiment, and particularly the spirit and ability displayed by Major White and Captain Hegler.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. YOUNG,
Capt. H. C. TINNEY,
|Major General Philip Sheridan's Report|
|Missionary Ridge Location Photos|