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United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 21st - MS 562: Transcripts
|January-March 1890 ||April 1890||May 1890||June 1890|
St. Louis, Mo., Apr. 2, 1890.
Col. Arnold McMahon.
Dear Sir; --
I am in receipt of your plat and memorandum - showing positions on Sunday, Sept. 20/63 - of 21st Ohio & c for which I am very grateful - and it will be of great service at the coming meeting in May at Chickamauga.
I notice that you show two guns of Bat. G. 1st Ohio on the ridge with you from 12 to near sunset, or rather, in the position your regiment held during that time. Capt. Marshall, in his report - page 397, says he fired but once that day, so it must have been there. Can you tell at about what hour he withdrew, and whether any rebels followed him? Judge J.S. Robinson, Storm Lake. Iowa, of Iowa supreme court, says he saw, just before your capture, and about due north of you, two guns being hauled off by prolonges, and firing as they went - our infantry going with them and followed closely by rebels who were firing upon them. Immediately after this - as soon as he could walk there, he passed along the 22nd Mich. and 89 Ohio, and was at the extreme west of our lines when your regiment came up, and was wounded among your men just before your surrender. He belonged to the 115th Ill. I have been hunting for over a year for those two guns, and for our and the rebel infantry which he saw; but have, as yet, found no trace. Can you throw any light upon the matter?
I mail you a rough copy, in three parts, of the War Dept. Maps. Will you please mark on it, as near as you can, your locations and movements on each day that your regiment was on the field and return it to me? as I wish to use it thus, in locating all your positions on the field. If I succeed, I shall make such witness marks, that the positions can readily be found at any time thereafter.
By obtaining maps so marked by the different commands, the solution of the battle can be more readily arrived at.
Most respectfully yours,
G. E. Dolton
St. Louis, Mo., Apr. 4, 1890
Col. Arnold McMahon,
My Dear Sir; -
Your further memorandum of 20th Sept., '63 is received, and the joy with which I perused its contents, you cannot comprehend, unless you have been pleased as I have - taken a position, and then hunted, apparently in vain, for proof to sustain it - and at last, find it.
When I visited the Ridge last September, I had pointed out to me, stakes showing where my battery had been Sept. 20/63, at the point of my Profile Map - marked "stake showing Mitchell's Right". I assured then that was wrong - that my battery had not been on any such ground, nor was Mitchell. They pointed to some pine trees with shell holes in them as proof that some battery had been there, and I was asked to prove what one was if not Bat. M. 1st Ill. I told them I could not say. Again when I was there with Gens. Fullerton and Boynton, I was confronted with the same proofs, and asked to account for them, if I could. I still insisted - "not my guns" - I told them we could not elevate our guns enough to do it - that the ones that did it, must have been farther to the rear - down the ridge.
I have searched all the records, since, for some inkling that might lead to the solution. I could not believe that the 18 Ohio Bat. could have got in there. (Yesterday, I got possession of a letter written at the time, which tells what the 18 Ohio did. It was written by a man in command of a Co. of the 115th Ill.)
Now, your letter makes it all clear, and explains fully just what I had assured them must have been the case. It elates me, naturally, to know that I was right, and that I have the proof of it - not only your statement; but the trees confirm you, and not only that; but they prove that I was correct in locating your regiment on the Ridge.
Since I have begun this work, I have received very many such proofs of my correctness as to every incident, time and place, noted by me at the time - and all have come as unexpectedly as your statement of the appearance there of Capt. Marshall and his two guns.
Very many who have furnished the evidence spoken of, promise to be with us on May 21st, and, if health permits, I shall make the notes and natural witnesses - trees & c, so complete that it will be utterly impossible for any one to disprove them.
Anxiously awaiting further information,
Most respectfully -
G. E. Dolton
Reply to yours of the 7th
St. Louis, Mo. Apr. 8, 1890.
Col. Arnold McMahon,
Dear Sir; -
Your esteemed favor of 7th enclosing your Libby Prison Pass-book - Copy of letter from Judge J.S. Robinson and your article from Natl. Tribune, are received, and I return the same herewith, as requested. I register them, as the Pass-book is too valuable as a war relic to risk it in the ordinary mails, I think. If I had such a book as that, I would not part with it for the wealth of a Vanderbilt.
I assure you that I am grateful for your kindness in the great assistance you are giving me in this work. I shall make special endeavors to locate the positions of your regiment and its line of march.
The Peach Orchard to which you allude, I understand to refer to the Peach Orchard on Snodgrass Ridge a few rods west of the house - The Peach Orchard usually mentioned was well down toward the Dyer place, I believe.
I am also in receipt of the copy of the War Map which I sent you, and note your comments. That is just the way it is with me. I know the lay of the land quite well all through there - out past the Widow Glenn's and over to Chickamauaga Creek, and especially the shape and nature of Snodgrass Ridge, and when I attempt to locate anything on the maps, I am lost. I know that it is supposed that it is a copy of the work done by one of the best U.S. Engineers; but I cannot help that. For instance, according to the map, there should be quite a hill at the McDonald house; but on the ground, I do not know where to find it. Then the map shows what I suppose to mean, the N & S Ridge back in the woods from Cloud house south; but to the east of that, there is a parallel ridge extending well to the Mullis house and east of the ridge shown - being separated by a deep ravine - the two being about 500 ft. apart. Gen. Fullerton thought the Reserve infantry must have gone to the front through that ravine, to shield them from the rebel guns; but I showed him where they passed still to the east of that ridge, and through a slight swale.
As to the ridges or hillocks around the Snodgrass house, I know of nothing there that could be twisted to look as it appears on the war maps - & c & c all over.
I have had a great deal of correspondence with Judge Robinson during the past two years - I am inclined to think that the Judge is a little mistaken in some of his recollections, and unknowingly, has allowed some things which he has read and others which he has been told, to work themselves so vividly into his mind that he thinks he actually witnessed them. For instance, in his letter to you he says "After my brigade had been withdrawn, returned to the battlefield to find a wounded comrade. It must have nearly sunset as I passed along the ridge from east to west, going through the ranks & c" Now, his brigade was not withdrawn until quite dusk. I do not think there were five men in my rear when I crossed over to the high ridge to the north, and by the time I got on to that ridge, it was so dark that I could not well distinguish some infantry which I saw lying on the ground about 300 feet to my left. From the bulk of the evidence I have, the charge made on my two guns as described by John Weeks (who belonged to Judge Robinson's regiment), in the printed extract enclosed, occurred just before your capture and was the cause of it, as indicated by rebel Official Reports. Then Judge Robinson says in a letter to me of Aug. 11. 1888 - "A short time before sunset, I was returning from a hospital to the front," and about where young Snodgrass now lives he met an officer of his regiment and asked where his regiment was - who pointed to the westward and said "In there". Now, if Whitaker's brigade had already left the field, why was the Judge going back to the front, and asking where to find his regiment? Then he saw a furious hand to hand fight, and two guns being hauled off by prolonges.
I am steadily gathering up evidence along your part of the Ridge, extending to the extreme left of that part of the army - where the 18 Ohio Bat. was placed by Gen. Thomas - and I think it will be easier to establish each regiment that was to the left of you than it will be those to your right.
I shall be very thankful for all you can send me bearing on the matter and will carefully handle and promptly return all you may wish returned.
G. E. Dolton
St. Louis, Mo., Apr. 14, 1890.
Col. A. McMahan,
Dear Sir; -
I am in receipt of the map of Snodgrass Ridge marked showing positions of your regt. and also your memoranda showing 3rd & 4th positions of the same, for which I am very grateful.
A few days since, I rec'd 21 pp. foolscap giving an account of how the locations were determined from which the War Maps were made up. They confirm what I had supposed from what various ones who composed the Commission-of-location have told and written me; and therefore, I think it will be found that nearly all locations are as correct(?) as were Whitaker's and Mitchell's before I discovered that they had reversed them.
It would seem to me that the proper way would have been to call some such meeting as that of May 21st and have quite a few from each command - Union and Confed - present and thus learn where and when they were and which troops confronted each other - and then apply the Official Reports, so far as they could be made to apply.
Many speak of LeFavour being in command of the demi-brigade. When was he placed in such command and by whom? As yet, I have not found any allusion to such in any report; while Gen. Whitaker says; - (page 862) ---" forming my command into lines, the 96 Ill. on the right, the 115 Ill. in the center, the 22 Mich. on the left of the first line: the 40 Ohio on the right, the 84 Ind. in the center, and 89 Ohio on the left of the second line". If Col. LeFavour was subsequently or previously given the command of the 22 Mich. and 89 Ohio, I will be grateful for the proof, as I want much to see it."
There are two incidents which are now appearing, which, I think will yet be proven to have been the cause of the Officer's Mistake in locating Mitchell's left (was it not called his right?) where the 22 Mich. was. The first, was the evidence of artillery there - and the second - the presence, just at dusk, of a goodly portion of the 96 Ill. on the extreme right. (But they were so commingled with the 121 Ohio, as one staff officer tells me, that they were made practically, one regiment.) Some of the 96 men were asked to what regiment they belonged, and they said - "96th Ill." from that he inferred that he was on Whitaker's right. We asked them who was beyond them - and they said - "No one but rebs". This being talked of, he would conclude that Whitaker's left was next to Mitchell's right. You have accounted for the marks in the trees, as having been made by Capt. Marshall's Battery.
If I can find the two large trees to which you allude, they will certainly be good witnesses to prove about the locations of 22d Mich. and 89 Ohio at that time, also the 35 Ohio.
According to the burden of testimony so far, the 115th Ill. made its first charge, and held its position for some little time, and was then forced to fall back, and did so to the left --- rear - a portion of it passing through the 89 Ohio, which at once advanced and occupied the ground of the 115th. I judge this was nearly an hour after the charge. You say the 89 met some of our artillery moving to the rear. Where do you learn that? What artillery was it? That is very important. If you can help me in this point, I will be very grateful.
Now, after you had gone to the right of the 89th Ohio, at this time when you answered the rebel demand for surrender by firing on them. Judge J.S. Robinson, Storm Lake, Iowa, says - after passing the 22d Mich. and 89 Ohio - going to the west to find his regt. "I continued in the direction these regiments were facing for a short distance and came to our advanced line composed, apparently, of fragments of different organizations. This was formed across the ridge, facing west, and in its front, was a depression looking from my point of view, like quite a wide valley, with the larger and deeper point, on the north side". (He then goes on to say that this was just east of where the 115th had fought, according to his own recollection, and what a serg't. of the 115th told him, whom he found in the line.) "A rebel ran in and gave himself up. Others were scattered over the sloping ground west of us. We thought they also wanted to surrender, and called to them to come in. They shouted to us in return - their number increasing. Soon we made out that they demanded our surrender. At about that time, I first noticed a rebel line of battle, across the ridge from 150 to 200 yards, west of us, - the colors on the crest. The left extending nearly to the foot of the north slope. We opened fire on both sides. My position was on the right of the line. XXX About the second round, I rec'd a severe wound and dragged myself a short distance eastward soon after. The 21st Ohio charged over me from the east, in fine form, but soon after, went back in disorder, with line broken". XXX (He was helped and dragged himself, perhaps 300 ft. northward on to the north slope of the ridge) "While lying there, a rebel line of battle approached from the west or north-west, below and within a few feet of me and halted. It was then twilight, and I could not distinguish uniforms."
Capt. J.B. Hall of Co. F, 17 Ky. says- XXX - "Toward the close of the afternoon, they felt for our right flank, and my command was moved to the right of the 21st (Ohio) XXX Seeing some disposition of the enemy to get in the space between our right and Stanley's (Steedman's) troops, I proceeded in a south-westerly direction, down a spur of the ridge. Some other troops, also moved down on the western slope of this spur. After advancing about 100 yds. Through the brush, we captured one of the advancing force, and then saw a line in our front. We thought they also wished to surrender, and called to them to come in. They seemed to be of the same impression, and called to us to surrender. Both parties, seemed then to realize the true condition, and a furious volley was fired from both lines. It was near dark, at least, in the forest and smoke, but I could see the enemy retreat down the hill. I also saw some of them fall. While some of them got behind trees, further down the slope, and fired on us. We slowly retraced our steps - firing in the direction we last saw the enemy. When we reached the crest again, the firing ceased, and that was the last firing, I heard on that part of the line, and I think it had ceased everywhere, until later, when some firing took place on Thomas' line".
Now, does he allude to the same incident which Judge Robinson mentions? If not, where was it? The accounts agree very minutely; but the Captain does not mention the part taken by your regiment.
After your tilt with the enemy, about how long do you think it was before Trigg was in your rear? This is quite important, as concerns other movements.
You will notice on page 464. Confed. Reports that B.R. Johnson accounts for Trigg's appearance there.
That small portion of the ridge is quite interesting - Taking in from the left of the 35th Ohio to the point where the 115th Ill. supported (?) two guns of my battery, at the last charge of the enemy there, which resulted in your capture. There are quite a few questions in there yet unsettled, but I shall keep hammering away, and hope to get all the incidents dove-tailed together in their proper order.
G. E. Dolton
Reply to yours of 16 & 18
St. Louis, Apr. 19, 1890
Col. Arnold McMahan,
Dear Sir: -
I am deeply grateful to you for your great kindness on sending me the copy of Col. Carlton's statement. It is quite important on many points. I am at a loss to know what battery it was which moved so hurriedly to the rear. Could it have been Capt. Marshall's? Genl. Whitaker's Battery - (18 Ohio) did not go in there at all, as it was placed on Col. Harker's left. Col. Carlton has written me quite at length on the subject of his position & c but there are quite a few new points in this.
I assure you I deeply regret your illness, and hope it may not prove as bad as you fear.
I shall do all in my power to render a good report of the work I may do at Chickamauga - or rather I shall try to do work that no one need feel ashamed of.
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