Version 3.0 — November 30, 2007 — Rethinks 51st on September 19
Version 3.01 — May 26, 2008 — Removes repetition removes repetition; corrects typos, grammar, and other mistakes; achieves greater sequential accuracy; repairs narrative flow
Many thanks to James Ogden III, CCNMP historian, for liberal sharing of knowledge and sources

"To Be In" - Miscellaneous Notes on the 51st at Chickamauga


It seemed to be not only our turn, but right, "to be in".
—George Waterman, Fifty-First Illinois Infantry


Splendid Courage...and Inaccuracies: A Summary of Two Days at Chickamauga
"The splendid courage of the first day is eclipsed by the inaccuracies of the second."
—William Gardner, Company D, Fifty-First Illinois Infantry

Overview: The Viniard Fields
On the afternoon of September 19, 1863, the Viniard Farm was at the far left of the Confederate line and the far right of the Federal line. The Lafayette Road ran north and south through the Viniard Farm. The part of the Viniard Farm under cultivation to the west of the Lafayette Road has come to be known as the "west Viniard field", the part to the east of the road as the "east Viniard field". Roughly parallel, at its northern reaches, to the Lafayette Road and 75 yards to the west of it ran what soldiers and reports often referred to as "the ditch". The ditch angled toward the Lafayette Road and intersected it at the southern boundary of the cultivated Viniard land (west of the road). The ditch formed a minor shallow valley through the Viniard Farm, with the lowest-lying part of the valley at the southern reaches of the two fields where the Glenn-Viniard Road debouched on to the Lafayette Road. Lt. Col. William Young of the Twenty-Sixth Ohio described the west Viniard field and the ditch. From the Lafayette Road, he wrote, the field "descends with an easy slope... to a narrow ditch or gully and then rises with a slight grade to the timber in its rear (Wilder's position). The gully varies in depth from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet and in width from 3 to 6 or 8 feet, its border at intervals being slightly fringed with weeds and willows" (OR 30/1, p 669). The ground rose gradually from the ditch to the west and to the east—westward, to the woods bounding the west Viniard field. Eastward, the ground rose from the ditch to the road; and kept rising—with a very gentle incline—beyond it for 75 to 100 yards and there crested—or flattened out. The ground then dropped off to the east. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Raymond's after-action report (Fifty-First Illinois) referred to the "crest of the rising ground". Colonel Johathan Miles' after-action report (Twenty-Seventh Illinois) referred to it as "the eminence" and "the crest of the eminence". The eminence was (is) slightly off kilter vis-a-vis north-south and vis-a-vis the Lafayette Road; the crest of the rising ground angled from northeast to southwest, across the field, 25 yards further east at the north boundary of the east Viniard field. You can see all this in the period map and the contemporary aerial view immediately below.

Map, Upper Left: The Viniard Place, the Buildings, the Orchard, the Two fields, the Lafayette Road, the "Ditch". In this map snippet (fully cited below) the name "Viniard" is written across the east Viniard field. To the left of the letter "V", the Lafayette Road runs north-south through the Viniard Farm. Across the road from the letter "V" lies the Viniard farmhouse with its grove of trees to the south. The blue-green line running left of the trees marks the course of "the ditch" through the west Viniard field.
Sky View, Upper Right: Shows an aerial view of the portion of the map (upper left) bounded by the cream-colored bounding box. This enlarged aerial view (click) shows the 1863 boundaries, the ditch, the two fields, and the crest of the rising ground.
Greensward, Above: Taken from the second letter "i" in "Viniard" in the map upper left. Standing at the picture's foreground, you have almost reached the crest of the rising ground. The picture looks northeast toward the woods on the left, from which the "murderous and enfilading fire" came. From the crest of the rise the ground drops off to the east, though green grass against green grass in the photo rather obscures the descent of the ground.

Overview: The Struggle for the Viniard Fields and the Lafayette Road
The fighting on the 19th started on the Confederate right, at the northern reaches of the two armies. The fighting rolled south along the lines. The Confederate brigades attacked east to west, from Chickamauga Creek, toward the Lafayette Road. Confederate forces tried to shatter the right of the Federal line, so as to be able to attack at the same time from front and flank—or even to get in the rear of the Federal army. The Confederate left shifted further and further left, south, feeling for the terminus of the Federal right. In the early and middle afternoon, the Federal brigades (Heg's, Carlin's) attacked east across the Lafayette Road, Carlin's brigade at times as far east as the woods east of the east Viniard field. But, the momentum on the south end of the line, around the Viniard Farm, shifted from the Federal right to the Confederate left, the brigades first of Robertson and Gregg, then Trigg, then Benning committed to shooting the Federal right to pieces. Federal command responded by moving two of Wood's brigades (Harker's, Buell's) and one of Van Cleve's (Barnes') into the struggle on the right. Confederate forces pushed these brigades back, inflicting heavy casualties, taking heavy casualties, but hurting some Federal regiments so badly that they had to pull back and regroup, and thus momentum and advantage—despite repeated Federal counter-attacks—fell increasingly to the Confederates as the afternoon wore on toward evening. Chaplain John Hight of the Fifty-Eighth Indiana summed up the first essay of Buell's Brigade to secure the Lafayette Road, at its intersection with the Viniard-Alexander Road near the Viniard farmstead, and drive beyond it—not for the sake of the ground itself but for the integrity of the right wing: "The regiment pressed forward as best they could. But the line could not be maintained, on account of the house, the fence, the stable, and the endless confusion of the hour" (History of the Fifty-eighth Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry, 1894, p. 181).

More than once, in the mid- to late-afternoon, Confederates pushed through the east Viniard Field and the log-schoolhouse woods to the Lafayette Road and as far as the "ditch", which seemed to offer refuge as a staging line for advance across the rest of the west Viniard field, through the woods, and to the Federal rear. But, the tables turned. Here, west of the Lafayette Road, they were stopped by rallied remnants of various regiments, the brigade of John Wilder, armed partially with repeating Spencer rifles, which was arrayed in the woods along the western edge of the west Viniard field—and by Federal batteries. On the occasion of each Confederate advance to the ditch the Federal response was so fierce that Confederate soldiers who were fortunate enough to be alive and ambulatory abandoned the ditch, crossed back across the seventy-five yards to the woods and groves, buildings and fences of the Viniard Farm, or to the Lafayette Road, or to the woods northeast of the intersection of the Lafayette and Viniard-Alexander Roads. And so, the slaughter was mutual, with deaths and wounds plenty.

While Heg, Carlin, Buell, and Barnes' brigades were fighting for their lives around Viniard's Farm, Bradley's Brigade and Bernard Laiboldt's Brigade of Sheridan's Division were hurrying north from Crawfish Springs, just as these other brigades had earlier in the day, at quick time and double-quick time—to be thrown, brigade by brigade into the battle, so as to be and hold the Federal right. Bradley and Laiboldt's brigade were last in line to head north to staunch the flow of Confederate progress in the Viniard fields and keep Confederate forces off the right flank. In the upshot, Laiboldt's Brigade was never called into the fighting on the 19th; Bradley's was. It formed in the woods at the western edge of the west Viniard field. The men of the 51st and the other regiments moved forward, across the west Viniard field, across the ditch, up the incline that carried them across the Lafayette Road, into the east Viniard field, and to the crest of the rising ground. The brigade made common cause in the east Viniard field with rallied men of Carlin and Buell's Brigades. Batteries supported the advance from the rear. This force held in the east Viniard field and along the Lafayette Road. The Fifty-First Illinois and the rest of Bradley's Brigade overnighted there. This is some of the story of that begins to be told on this long page.

Overview: An Old Synopsis from the Chickamauga Battlefield Park

Overview: A Newspaper Summary
The article is by Joseph W. Miller, the correspondent of The Cincinnati Commercial. The facts are straight save that it was not Wood's two brigades but rather one of Wood's and one of Davis' and scattered groups of other brigades that rallied behind Bradley—and also on the flanks and even at points to the front.

September 19 — I glance at the sun, and my very heart sinks to see it still an hour and a half high. The left had already absorbed the centre, and the centre and right had already absorbed every brigade in the army, except one holding a vital point. I followed Sheridan’s swift brigade. I soon saw the right of our line, in confusion, falling back rapidly under an appalling fire. Sheridan’s 3d brigade—the 22d, 27th, 42d and 51st Illinois regiments—commanded by that true gentleman and soldier, Colonel Bradley, deployed into line, and the very instant its flanks turned to the front, it pushed into an open field at a double-quick, while behind it Wood’s two brigades rallied and gathered up their scattered groups. I heard a cheer, loud and ringing, and riding up behind the line of Colonel Bradley’s charge, I saw four noble regiments far across the field, pouring swift volleys into the flying foe, and flapping their colors in triumph. Their cheers subside, and a sharp shower of balls warned me away from the inspiriting sight. In a moment Sheridan dashed back to the rear, halted, but his eyes aglow with pride for the brilliant charge of his brigade. His practical ear had caught the warning musketry rattle of a counter charge, and he threw his second brigade into line for another charge, if the other one is compelled to give way. But it did not give way. Inspired by Sheridan and Bradley it withstands the shock and its assailants hastily retire.

[J. Cutler Andrews, The North Reports the Civil War: "Few newspapers were as widely read in the western armies as was the Commercial; it was frequently called the 'soldier's paper'", (p. 28). Albert Tilton of the Fifty-First wrote home shortly after the Battle of Chickamauga, "I sent father 2 papers with the accounts of the Cin. Commercial & Gazette Correspondents. That of the Gazette is a garbled, doleful and in many instances a false account written in Cin. after a flying trip, in retreat, from the battle field. That of the Commercial was written in Chattanooga by a former officer of the 21st Corps, a brave man, an actual Eyewitness, competent to judge in military matters & withal as you see by his style a talented writer." The onetime soldier now correspondent, Captain Joseph W. Miller, had been an Ohio soldier in an Ohio company mustered in as Company D of the Second Kentucky Infantry. Miller enlisted in June 1861; he mustered in as first lieutenant and was promoted to captain when the captain of his company was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs in January, 1862. Miller's career as a company officer ended due to a severe bout of scarlet fever. At Chickamauga Miller was attached to the staff of Brigadier General William Lytle, and he was functioning as correspondent for The Cincinnati Commercial. Miller was on the battlefield until Thomas pulled back to Chattanooga. His obituary stated, "He was said to have written the first correct story of the Battle of Chickamauga," and a comparison of the early reports of the major newspapers bears that out.]

Overview: General Thomas Wood's Summaries
General Thomas J. Wood, supporting Luther Bradley's promotion to brigadier general in late 1863, wrote to Lincoln: "During the afternoon of Saturday the 19th Sept, it was my good fortune to be supported by Col. Luther P. Bradley, 51st Ills, commanding a brigade in Sheridan's Division. I can bear testimony and do it with great pleasure to the very handsome manner in which Col. Bradley brought his command into action and to the good service it rendered. At the moment Col. Bradley's brigade came into action a very heavy and determined attack was being made, which the brigade very materially aided in repulsing."2 Wood drew the text of his recommendation from his after-action report, dated September 29, 1863, in which he wrote, "...the enemy emerged from the woods on the eastern side of the corn-field, and commenced to cross it. He was formed in two lines, and advanced firing. The appearance of his force was large. Fortunately re-enforcements were at hand. A compact brigade of Sheridan's division, not hitherto engaged, was at the moment crossing the field in the rear of the position then occupied by Buell's brigade and the portion of Carlin's. This fresh brigade advanced handsomely into action, and joining its fire to that of the other troops, most materially aided in repelling a most dangerous attack. But this was not done until considerable loss had been inflicted on us" (Official Records 30/1, p. 633).

Overview: Reports in the Official Records
Lt. Col. Raymond's After-Action Report, Fifty-First Illinois
Colonel Nathan Walworth of the Forty-Second Illinois took command of Bradley's Brigade (Third Brigade, Third Division, Twentieth Army Corps) after Bradley was wounded. Walworth's After-Action Report gives a broader context to Raymond's regimental report. Besides Raymond's report for the Fifty-First, the only other after-action report for Bradley's Brigade is that of the Twenty-Seventh written by Colonel Jonathan Miles. Miles' report for the Twenty-Seventh Illinois records the wonder of supping at 6:00 p.m. on the evening of the 20th.

The Lay of the Batttlefield Land
Click for Larger Image

Overview: H. V. Boynton's Summary Battlefield Geography
Henry Van Ness Boynton was lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-Fifth Ohio Infantry at Chickamauga. He made this summary of the geography of the battle ground:

The field of the approaching two days' battle is easily defined. The Chickamauga River bounded it on the east, and Missionary Ridge on the west, while that part of the Lafayette or State Road running north from Lee & Gordon's Mills through the centre of the field to Rossville, formed the axis and the prize of the fight. Whichever army secured that, could grasp Chattanooga. It is eight miles from Lee & Gordon's to Rossville. The country between the Chickamauga and the Lafayette Road was for the most part heavily wooded, with much underbrush. It rises gradually and rolls gently from the river back to the spurs of Missionary Ridge. West of the Lafayette Road there are a number of farms, but each of these contained considerable forest, so that only small areas of the field were visible from any point. (H. V. Boynton, "The Chickamauga Campaign," in Campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee Including the Battle of Chickamauga, 1862-1864. Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, Volume VII. Boston: The Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, 1908: 321-372, p. 344)

Federal antagonists faced, generally, east with Missionary Ridge at their backs. Confederate antagonists faced, generally, west with the Chickamauga at their backs.

Overview: Maps of Viniard Farm (and the Whole Battlefield)
The maps below are from the map collections of the Library of Congress. There are a number of others. They are all viewable online (search from the Library of Congress American Memory Military Battles and Campaigns page for Chickamauga maps). Mouse-click the little maps below to see a big map.

Map: Locating Viniard
Farm on the Battlefield

Map: East Viniard Field
Bradley's Brigade Ready

Map: Viniard Field
Up Close, Uncluttered by War

Map: Chickamauga
Aerial View

Map: Chickamauga
Aerial View - Closer

Map: Chickamauga
The Whole Thing


The Fifty-First Illinois in the Afternoon of September 19

"In marching to camp saw Seth Parks lying dead by the roadside."1

Toward Viniard Farm

The Confederate and Federal armies were collecting toward their collision in north Georgia, had been collecting toward that collision for weeks. The ether was full of their futures. William Putney wrote, "The long, dusty roads, the dreamy, hazy September days...there seemed some sad, gloomy spirit pervading the atmosphere, some impending horror which weighed down and made me feel that something terrible was going to happen, not to myself, but the whole country. Again I can hear in memory's camp the amateur fifer practicing... the calls of the bugle sound again...then they all seemed filled with sadness and melancholy" (National Tribune, September 24, 1885). Indeed. The regimental "Historical Memoranda" trace the regiment's movements from the 18th to the 19th of September: "On the 18th left McElmore's Cove & camped near the scene of yesterday's skirmish just at nightfall. But we were not allowed to stay there long for about 8 P.M. the division received orders to close up on the line of Thomas who was himself closing to the left. Marched that night till 12. On the 19th the division marched on again & manouvered without being engaged till late in the afternoon, listening to the sound of the heavy fighting on our left" (Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois).

On the 19th Sheridan's Division—the three brigades of William Lytle, Bernard Laiboldt, and Luther Bradley—and the Fifty-First Illinois marched on again to Crawfish Springs (Rosecrans' headquarters on the 18th and for a short time—until taken by Confederate cavalry on the 20th—the site of division hospitals of the Federal Twentieth, Twenty-First and Fourteenth Corps). Crawfish Springs lay about four miles to the southwest of Rosecrans' headquarters at the Widow Glenn's on the 19th. Bradley's Brigade arrived there at noon after an eight-mile march. Sheridan reported that his division came into line of battle near the Springs upon arriving there. That point was then the far right of the Federal line, but the line was shifting left, north, as fast as it could be formed. Sheridan added, "Immediately after forming my line, I was ordered to hold the ford at Gordon's Mills with my whole division, the troops on my left having moved to the left, and again isolating me."

Away the three brigades rushed to Lee and Gordon's Mills—as the Federal right was foreshortened—where the road to Lafayette crossed Chickamauga Creek. They formed line of battle and skirmished with Confederate skirmishers who were eyeing the ford there. But, Bradley and Laiboldt were once more ordered left; they moved off northward again; Lytle stayed behind to hold the ford and block the backdoor to the Federal right flank. The right of the Federal right was already left of the army's hospitals—Rosecrans' army had shifted that far left of positions originally envisioned. Sheridan's Division, like those of Johnson, Davis, and Wood, was caught in the scramble to the left as Rosecrans scooted his line north to counter Bragg. In time, that scurry became a by-worded event of the war. George Yuncker of the Fifty-First referred to it as "the memorable move of line to the left" (National Tribune, August 30, 1883). L. W. Day called it "the side-step toward the north" (p. 156).

Map showing roads from Crawfish Springs to Lee and Gordon's Mills to the Widow Glenn's to the Viniard Farm

Until early afternoon on the 19th, though shifting left, all of Sheridan's brigades were in reserve at the south end of the Federal line, first at Crawfish Springs and then at Lee and Gordon's Mills. As Yuncker noted, Bradley's Brigade was the rear-guard of that memorable move; and, it looked as if the division might remain unengaged, on guard duty, south of the fighting. Bradley recalled a moment in the pre-fight hours of September 19:

At the battle of Chickamauga my command was in reserve for a short time. I was changing position in the afternoon and was watching the brigade coming into line, when I noticed the Twenty-Second Illinois on the right with broken ranks and in great confusion. I rode down there and said to the Colonel, "What's the matter here?" Col. Swanwick answered, "Yellow jackets, sir, we've got into a yellow jackets' nest." I said, "Damn the yellow jackets. Get your men into line, we may move any minute." But, we couldn't get them into line. They were hopping about like a lot of lunatics, swinging their hats and slapping their legs, without regard to orders or anything else. We had to form four companies some rods to the rear before they would stand quiet. An hour later we went into the battle, and this same regiment lost 95 men in thirty minutes without flinching.9

At 1:45 p.m., from headquarters at the Widow Glenn's, Rosecrans ordered Major General Alexander McD. McCook, commanding (after a fashion) the Twentieth Army Corps, to move Sheridan from reserve duties on the far right "this way"—i.e. left towards Rosecrans' headquarters. An hour later, at about the same time Buell's Brigade (Wood's Division, Crittenden's Corps) was forming for battle on the Lafayette Road at the Viniard Farm, Rosecrans sent further orders to McCook: "The tide of battle sweeps to the right. The general commanding thinks you can now move the two brigades of Sheridan's up to this place" (OR 30/1, p. 67).

The regiment resumed its march. Couriers raced back and forth between headquarters staff and Bradley and Sheridan, in order to bring the brigade into the fighting quickly and at the optimal place. The march took a zigzag course that reflected the shifting fortunes of the right wing and Federal command's attempt to hold it. Sylvanus Atwater wrote, "Three different times our brigade took a position on the right of the road, to await the approach of the enemy" (Aledo Weekly Record, October 13, 1863). The brigade fronted thrice to the right, to wait for the teamsters to hurry the corps' wagons along within the zone of safety and for the eventuality of the Confederate left pushing around Barnes on the extreme Federal right south of Viniard's; hence L. W. Day's lyric, "[Sheridan] came with rapid strides up the main road, helped Barnes upon his feet as he passed, fell like a withering curse upon Robertson... (Story of the One Hundred and First Ohio Infantry, p. 165).

Colonel Jonathan Miles of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois reported, "...then marched a mile to the top of a wooded hill, where we halted and lay in line of battle a half hour, when we again moved, and in an easterly direction, at a double-quick, about 1 mile to an open field, where we were placed in position, in which, however, we remained but a few minutes, when we were again put in motion, and marched 1 mile in a northerly direction (during the last half mile wounded men were continually passing us to the rear), which brought us in close proximity to the fierce battle then raging." Allen Gray of Company K, Fifty-First Illinois, commissary sergeant at the time of Chickamauga, wrote in his diary of the regiment's penultimate move, "We double quicked over a mile by the road to the Widow Glenn's house - then by the right flank through the woods..." Right flank through the woods—down the slopes of the Glenn hill, marching south, through heavy but not impossible woods—guided more by awful sound than sight (Abraham Lincoln Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois).

Edward Burns of Company K of the Fifty-First, an hour from his death-wound, gave his private's view of the rush to fight, "March in the dust and smoke as both sides of the road was on fire... nearly choked us ...order came and double quick 3 miles and made a charge on the rebs." Sylvanus Atwater, Twenty-Seventh Illinois, wrote, "...such dust as I never saw... the doublequick was enveloped in a cloud as dark as night" (Aledo Weekly Record, October 13, 1863). Edward Crippin wrote in his diary, "Clouds of dust almost choke us as we hurry to the front amid the confusion of booming rattling musketry & orderlies flying in every direction" (p. 281). It was a black and red, ghoulish afternoon of war-eclipsed light, of smoke and fire, burning air and hurtling danger that Federal and Confederate soldiers prepared for each other and themselves.

An Old Fight. In his "Reminiscences" Bradley wrote, "My brigade was ordered into action at Chickamauga about four o-clock on the afternoon of the first day. The rebels had turned our right and captured Estep's battery. So, it was an old fight and a pretty hot one. Sheridan ordered me to drive back two brigades—Trigg's and Robertson's of Longstreet's Corps, which had made the trouble on our right, and re-capture Estep's battery.... We had a monkey and a parrot time of it" (Luther Bradley Papers, United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania).

Indeed it was an "old fight". Confederate forces had crossed the Chickamauga on the morning of the 19th and throughout the morning were aligning divisions and brigades for battle. The brigades of Trigg, Robertson, and Gregg were lined up from south to north opposing the Federal right—or, what was becoming the Federal right. Still as of noon, John Wilder's Brigade was the only Federal presence at the Viniard Farm. At noon, Viniard's was still a farm and still the home of Tabler and Ann Viniard and their eight children. The Viniard Farm had only been the "Viniard" Farm for six or eight or ten weeks—long enough to enter into Civil War lore. Before that the Viniards lived several miles to the west and before that, for most of their years, in Tennessee where Mr. and Mrs. Viniard were born. Viniard's was an ambitious farm, with a double-log farmhouse, with stables, with an orchard to the south and a grove of trees to the north, fences around the yards, farm buildings and a washhouse across the road. A dooryard adjoined that to the east, and it had its own small dense grove of trees.

Wilder's Brigade, on horse and foot, had crossed the fields a time or two and there had been the sounds of battling the evening before, and soldiers had been moving along the road, and the air was sizzling with hostile intentions and there was fire to the north. Toward noon Wilder's skirmish line, over half a mile east of his position in the woods at the western boundary of the west Viniard field, skirmished with the skirmishers of Trigg's Brigade at the southeast corner of the Viniard's east field. Around 2:00 p.m. the war came to sit atop the Viniard Farm: Hans Heg and William Carlin's brigades of Jefferson C. Davis' division advanced east across the Lafayette Road, Heg on the left through the woods just north of the Viniard Farm, Carlin on Heg's right with Carlin's left advancing through the woods and his right through the east Viniard field. They ran into the pickets of Gregg's Confederate brigade. Heg was soon embroiled in war in the woods. Two of Carlin's regiments advanced 700 yards across the east Viniard field (soon becoming trampled corn stalks) and into the woods that lay beyond the eastern boundary of the east Viniard field. There they were countered by the brigade of Jerome Robertson.

At 3:00 p.m. or shortly before, Confederates forces mounted a counter attack and Gregg's, Robertson's, and Trigg's brigades began driving Heg back through the woods and Carlin back through the east Viniard field, back toward the Lafayette Road. Sidney Barnes' Federal brigade entered the battle at the Viniard field. He approached obliquely from the southwest, with a view to hitting the Confederate left flank, and came to the fight where Carlin's regiments were engaged—and utterly without coordination, for his brigade interposed itself between the right of Carlin's line and Carlin's enemies such that the right of Carlin's line was rendered useless. Amidst this tangle of Federal regimental lines, the attacking momentum of Robertson and Trigg struck Carlin and Barnes.

As the Confederate attack pushed westward toward the Lafayette Road, both north and south of the Viniard house, two brigades of Thomas J. Wood's Division, arrived at the Viniard Farm from Lee and Gordon's mills to the south: Charles Harker's Brigade intended at first to replace Heg's Brigade, rushed further north to staunch the flow of Confederates across the road at that point (a mission that dematerialized without demanding Harker). The second of Wood's Brigades, that of George P. Buell, formed its two lines at the intersection of the Lafayette and Viniard-Alexander roads, the first line east of the Lafayette Road, the second west of the road. The location of the brigade line was roughly the same as that of Carlin's Brigade formation an hour before, the left regiment facing into the woods, the right regiment facing into the east Viniard field. Just as Buell's Brigade initiated its advance, Carlin's Brigade was pushed back to the road on top of it—and Carlin's men, after an hour struggle—now becoming a losing battle—intent on crossing back across the road and down below the rise of the rising ground, ran over and through Buell's lines. Panic and chaos spread and much of Buell's force was carried back across the road and down to the ditch with Carlin's, thus a whole fresh brigade of reinforcements was rendered ineffective for the time being—except that their abortive charges inflicted casualties on the Confederate forces, thus weakening them, while at the same time being weakened themselves by their own horrendous casualties. To the north, Heg's Brigade was finally driven back across the Lafayette Road.

Confederate forces, lately strengthened by Benning's Brigade having joined the attack, crossed the road and into the west Viniard field. Their objective was to push through the west field, overrun Wilder's men and the several batteries of artillery, and gain the Federal right. But, Benning (like Robertson before him) had pushed too far into the Federal defensive strength. Wilder's men in the woods and behind the barricades at the western boundary of the field—and the men of other commands taking shelter there—pinned Benning's men down in the ditch. Artillery guns enfiladed the ditch, making the shelter a death trap. Benning's men gave up and fled east, back to the (relative) safety of the Viniard trees, the woods across the road in the vicinity of the log school house, and the backside, the downside, of the rise in the east Viniard field.

Benning was pushed back, but the Federal right was slipping; each Confederate attack loosened its grip. Confederate forces had gained a thousand yards on it, and they were preparing yet another attack. By the time Bradley was brought into battle enemies had pushed the front from a line east of the east Viniard field back west to the Lafayette Road, which by 4:00 p.m was more Confederate than Federal. Bradley came into line 300 yards to the west of the road, in the woods bordering the west side of the west Viniard field, whereas Buell ninety minutes earlier had formed on the Lafayette Road.

There was considerable confusion in the movement of brigades on the Federal right all afternoon. Bradley's Brigade was committed to the fight in a fairly premeditated way, and with an understanding of the Confederate threat and the disarray of the Federal right. One might say that this last initiative on the Federal right was the first and only one that was semi-well-coordinated, the understandings on which it was based not already obsolete before it began.

Wilder, Heg, Carlin, Barnes, Buell: Their Men

This background synopsis gives little time to the men of Carlin, Heg, Barnes, and Buell's Brigade. Heg and Carlin's men fought stubbornly throughout the afternoon, under attack and counter attacking, suffering and inflicting terrible casualties, winning and losing, dying and killing, and shouldering the burden of killing. The Twenty-Sixth Ohio on the front left of Buell's brigade line lost more than half the men of its five left companies. Young, in command of the Twenty-Sixth Ohio, wrote of those first moments of encounter, "...Lieutenant Burbridge, Company H, and a number of men being killed, and Captain Ewing, acting major, with perhaps 30 to 35 men, too badly wounded to get away, being left on the ground. This conflict was short and bloody... Again the enemy was closing up on my left flank not 30 yards from it... I still hoped ...there was some support on the left... depending for support for my right upon a rally that was being made around some old buildings 250 yards distant... as well as upon a few brave heroes scattered along the fence between me and those buildings." Every regiment could tell a similar story. J. L. Abernathy of the Eighth Kansas of dead Heg's Brigade wrote, "We again advanced...sometimes driving the enemy and in turn being driven by them, until we had fought the ground over and over again, and almost half of our number lay dead or wounded upon the field" (OR 30/1, p. 532).

The Eighty-First Indiana of Carlin's Brigade assumed a half impregnable position at the southwest corner of the east Viniard field and—except for one brief hiatus—held it all afternoon, damaging or threatening to damage the left flank of any Confederate advance through the east Viniard field and providing for hours an anchor on the right for any Federal movement in the east Viniard field. The story of the Eighty-First Indiana began like that of Fifty-First Illinois and other regiments, who shared fate of the right wing: "We were engaged at Chickamauga after having marched nine miles on the morning of the battle and, without halting, we went at a double-quick into action." Peter Kingery. Co. F, 81st Ind. Vol. Inf., "A Compact History of the 81st Indiana Volunteers," The National Tribune, October 11, 1883.

The National Tribune of September 23, 1882 summarized the fighting with nearly total truth, "Here had occurred a series of brilliant charges and counter-charges, none of any account except that in them hundreds were slain." There was, to tell the rest of the truth, some brutal account to it, in that over the bodies of these slain hundreds, the antagonists weakened their opponent, wounding them, killing them, capturing them, scaring them to death, to gain advantage for the next counter-attack, the next day, the next battle, the rest of the war.

We (the King and I) think the summary conclusion drawn by Steven E. Woodworth in his phrase "Wilder Saves the Union Right" is overdrawn (Chickamauga: A Battlefield Guide with a Section on Chattanooga, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999, p. 24). No Federal command was more ubiquitous or effective in defense of the Federal right on September 19. One might well argue that without Wilder the Federal right would not have been saved that day (to be given away the next), but it is rather a leap from that argument to the conclusion that Wilder "saved" the right. The hours of fighting by Carlin's Brigade—first in the east, and then back and forth across the west, Viniard field—and of Buell's men and Heg's Brigade, and various artillery commands slowed, sometimes repulsed, and especially severely weakened Confederate advances—let the life-blood from Confederate force on their left. And by all this, they played their part in saving the Union right.

Wood's Advance: "Our Little Line".
(We discuss Wood's advance so as to understand the time and place and ongoing action that was the context of the Fifty-First's engagement in the late afternoon of September 19. The fate of Wood's line was the initial karma of Bradley's.)

As Bradley's Brigade headed across the west Viniard field, it was not alone in defending the Union cause on the right wing. There was no lull in the fighting, no between-desperate-rounds, while the four regiments of Bradley's Brigade marched. There was a line in front of them. There were comrades, fighting, trying to stay alive, and hang on to terrain across the road. Who were those men, worn out with fighting, with whom Bradley's men were now to make coalition? Twenty minutes earlier division commander, Thomas Wood himself, pulled together the remains of his own regiments of Buell's Brigade and as many of Carlin's men, of Davis' Division, as he could. In this frantic army building—the Federal right and the well-being of the Federal army was at stake—he was assisted by Carlin, Buell, and various of their regimental commanders. Wood's line was make-shift, and it's difficult to identify its components and their relative placement. The Twenty-Sixth Ohio, at half its three o'clock strength, formed the left wing. The Twenty-Sixth Ohio was the left of Buell's formation at 3:00 p.m. It was on the left now again at 4:30 but considerably right of its first position, the old left of 3:00 p.m. Lieutenant Colonel William Young, commanding the Twenty-Sixth, called Wood's formation "our little line", and identified those making common cause with him on the left: a few men of the Thirteenth Michigan and another fragmentary regiment, he wrote, "...of, I think, Davis' division, and a few brave spirits of various regiments under the immediate command of General Wood" (OR 30/1, p. 671). Major Charles Hammond reports the presence of his regiment the One Hundredth Illinois in the little line (OR 30/1, p. 659), and the "fragmentary regiment" was the Thirty-Eighth Illinois of Carlin's Brigade, which now joined some few men to the line that was returning to the Viniard farm, where the regiment had been incinerated for two hours. That was Wood's new left—except for the extension of it that would, as we will see, come forward with Sheridan (pp. 533, 529).

Embree of the Fifty-Eighth Indiana reported that he formed into line of battle with the Eighty-First Indiana of Carlin's Brigade on his right. Calloway, commanding the Eighty-First Indiana, at its anchorage on the rise in the east Viniard field, reported too that the Fifty-Eighth Indiana "came up on our left" (OR 30/1, p. 524).

Thus, the right of Federal line, as Wood pieced it together, was held by Calloway's Eighty-First Indiana, already in position. Next was Embree's Fifty-Eighth Indiana, which advanced with Wood. Calloway observed Carlin, his brigade commander, "still to the left of the Fifty-eighth Indiana Volunteers, most fearlessly moving forward a body of troops I then supposed to be the remainder" of his brigade (OR 30/1, p. 524). The Twenty-First Illinois, of Carlin's Brigade, placed itself, a remnant, in the little line. Chester Knight, the senior captain of the Twenty-First Illinois, reported that the regiment advanced with the Fifty-Eighth Indiana on its right and the Thirteenth Michigan on its left. Calloway misidentified some of the units involved in the back-and-forth on his left (for example, crediting solely the One Hundred First Ohio with recovering Estep's guns), but he was no doubt correct when he identified the Twenty-First Illinois in the line to the left. He was, after all, the major of the Twenty-First, in command of the Eighty-First Indiana only for the two days of Chickamauga. We can give Wood's battle line at least a hazy sequence then: Buell's Fifty-Eighth Indiana on the right, Buell's other regiments on the left, remnants of Carlin's units in the middle. (The regiments of Buell's Brigade had suffered varying fates, the brigade having split in two. The Fifty-Eighth Indiana, advancing after the other regiments had been pushed back, had moved to the right and rear along with a part of the One Hundredth Illinois to support Cullen Bradley's Sixth Ohio Battery. For an hour they had done so. Embree reported that the rest of Buell's command "seemed to have formed in some other part of the field not far distant [OR 30/1, p. 662].)

The line was built, the line was cobbled. Away they went, agonized for the outcome—against hope hoping to protect the flank of the army. Lieutenant Colonel Young wrote, "Under the immediate command of General Wood, we charged across the [west Viniard] field." The line waxed as it went; Young wrote, "We were joined as we charged by many brave fellows who had staid in the ditch, and a few others who had remained by the fence" (OR 30/1, p. 671). Now as Wood's line reached the road and the east Viniard field, the Twenty-Sixth Ohio's center was "at a point where the Eighth Indiana Battery had formerly stood"—the Viniard door yard.

Carlin said his men—"due to want of regimental organizations", never made it beyond the road (OR 30/1, p. 516), but some of them did, and ground was regained and Wood's little line crossed the road (not Wood's horse though, which was shot once, then twice, and killed in the crossing). Again Estep's battery crossed into the east Viniard field, 100 yards (Estep, p. 677) south of its first position, its 3 p.m. position at the Viniard door yard. Wood had an infantry line and a battery in the east Viniard field. The Eighty-First Indiana was in its strong afternoon position at the south edge of the east Viniard field, giving Wood a post to tie his line to.

Note to File: When Bradley Charged...

In reading Cozzens' This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga, one gets the impression of Wood's little line being repulsed, Estep's guns being captured on the rise, Robertson's skirmishers advancing to the road, the Federal line falling back across the road and the west field, and then some reconstructed regimental units (e.g. the Fifty-Eighth Indiana) falling in on Bradley's flanks as he advances across the road, recaptures Estep's guns, and holds.

This is understood diffently on this page: in the advance of Wood's line—the last advance before Bradley's charge—Estep's Eighth Indiana battery advanced to the crest of the rise and was supported by the center of Wood's line. Bradley advanced and came in behind that line, or the remnants of it. Colonel Jonathan Miles of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois, which was on the right of Bradley's first line, reported that Estep's gunners were still firing when his regimental line took position on the rise. "The artillerymen worked their guns for a few minutes after our arrival, but they soon entirely abandoned their pieces, although my regiment was at the time supporting them in an unbroken line." Thus, there were no Eighth Indiana Battery guns in Confederate hands awaiting recapture. Rather, while Bradley, under attack, held the rise, Estep's gunners left their guns as that attack grew hotter and began to look doomed on the left. Panicked horses dragged a caisson across Miles' men, who by Bradley's order were fighting prone. Estep reports merely (p. 677) that the enemy charged "en masse...yelling like devils", and that "three of my pieces were left on the field, but the enemy was again charged by our troops, and my pieces retaken." Hubbard's little article in the June 6 1907 National Tribune entitled "The Capture of the 8th Ind. Battery" is primarily about the capture of the battery's guns (or most of them) the next day—hence its subtitle "The Dreadful Confusion Following the Breaking of the Right at Chickamauga."

Wood reported that Bradley came up in the rear of his line. Commanders of the regiments in Wood's little line reported the same, or that Sheridan's men relieved them, or passed to the front. Emphatically, this is not to say that scattered groups of Heg, Carlin's, and Buell's men did not move forward with Bradley. Elsewhere on this page, we see that they did.

There was constant back-and-forth struggle, so many pulses and repulses, of small to middling signficance, that reports do not, and often do not try, to distinguish them. Buell's report does not clarify the later action except to depict its chaotic ebb and flow. He says that, after retreating to the woods at the west of the west Viniard field, his men (1) after rallying "200 yards across a field in our rear" charged forward and retook the lost ground and three pieces of artillery lost in the first part of the action—he does not refer to them as Estep's pieces and indeed they could hardly have been, since Estep advanced with the little line, with Buell's men (report of Cortland Livingston, p. 851, mentions capture of guns), (2) after being forced back a "short distance", his men again retook the same position, and (3) the enemy came forward "a third time" but were repulsed (p. 655). Numbers 2 and 3 above were sub-pulses of the Number 1, which was the advance of Wood's line, and show the fate and struggle of the little line in the east Viniard field. Thus, Calloway commanding the Eighty-First Indiana said that the Fifty-Eighth Indiana was twice driven from its position on his left—and he assigns Bradley the same fate—recoiled, rallied "and returned to our assistance" (OR 30/1, p. 524).

The pendulum swung, and swung again. Even as Young's left wing crossed the ditch west of the Viniard farm yard—even before crossing—Confederate fire from a hundred yards away was killing the men of his color company. "Our little line staggered for a moment under the concentrated fire opened upon it from the woods" wrote Young, but it crossed the road and entered the woods where the left sections of Estep's guns had stood at 3:00 p.m. "and nearly parallel to our original line" (OR 30/1, p. 671). Instead of fronting straight east, the line had a slightly oblique angle, fronting also with a bit of north—to meet Confederates in the woods, who came from east and north—the woods at the school house were not secure—and because the whole line stretched at an angle across the east Viniard field with the right of the line, where it tied to the Eighty-First Indiana, further east. The line fought its way into the woods, but was hit by a "rapid cross-fire on" Young's left flank. Young changed formation ninety degrees so that his line faced north and backed up to the fence which ran along the Viniard-Alexander road, north of it. There the line held—by shooting into the face of advancing Confederates.

But Confederates in the woods, were not the extent of the Confederate hostility. East of the east Viniard field another attacking line stepped off, intent upon again gaining the road. Wood reported, "Scarcely had the lost ground been repossessed than the enemy emerged from the woods on the eastern side of the corn-field, and commenced to cross it. He was formed in two lines, and advanced firing. The appearance of his force was large" (OR 30/1, p. 633). Against this line and the Confederate forces in the woods to the northeast stood Wood's little line—single, a thin blue line, strung across 250 yards of front. Young, noticing the "new" Confederate line "500 to 600 yards" distant, changed front to the east again, and had his men lie down. Young, trying to hold the left end of Wood's line, was in a unique position to see the gathering coordinated storm of the Confederate attack: Robertson and Trigg advancing, primarily across the open field from the east, and Benning from the northeast in the woods where the Confederate force was already close enough to thwart Young's advance and force him to adjust his line.

In the face of this coordinated Confederate counter, which operated on two fronts and now pushed ahead in the east Viniard field, Wood's advance stalled. Once more the Federal right was in the dire strait of renewed attack around the Viniard farm. Wood's line was not able to advance beyond the crest of the rising ground in the east Viniard field. Calloway's adopted Eighty-First Indiana still anchored the line on the right, but on the left where the Confederate pressure came both from the field in front and from the woods on the left, Young had pulled the line back to the road. Estep's Battery was still on the crest of the rising ground firing east and northeast, across the field and into the woods, but the supporting line of infantry was punctured—by the rifle fire of Confederate line advancing from the east—and starting to leak rearward, pushed by the momentum and awesome aspect of the Confederate attack. Estep's gunners still operated their guns but were starting to look to their own safety, keeping an apprehensive eye on the weakening left that would allow enemies to come in behind them. Confederates in line in the woods around the school house continued yet to deny, by rifle fire, the eastward advance of rallied groups of Heg's (now Martin's) Brigade. For the first time in the afternoon Confederate artillery got south far enough to help Confederate infantry in the Viniard fields though it was weak in comparison to the power of the conglomerated Federal batteries (Report of Cortland Livingston, OR 30/1, p. 851). As Bradley's Brigade formed hurriedly 400 yards to the west, the contest in front of them was just turning, again, into a losing battle.


Going in to the Fight

Crossing the West Viniard Field

The approach thru the west Viniard field (click for larger view)

The "Historical Memoranda" of the regiment recounted that Bradley's Brigade "was hurled right into the face of the enemy" (Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois). Henry Weiss of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois wrote, "We go to where the din is loudest. Ah! the wounded meet us at every stride. Men with all sorts of wounds are lying or leaning against trees on every side. We meet with refugees from the field, parted from their commands." Marching through the woods to the west Viniard field, the men of the brigade came up in the rear of Wilder's position, up behind Wilder's barricades, the Viniard's west fence, and the suffering flotsam of regiments that had fought, been attacked, and counter-attacked throughout the afternoon. George Juncker of the Fifty-First, without benefit of the Official Records, knew they were entering the battle behind Wood: "I say this," he wrote, "because we had passed by wounded men who said they belonged to that division."

For the men in line, there was "a strange thrilling feel, a feeling that you were standing near the verge of the grave. There was fear that you could not endure the terrible ordeal, dread that you might not be able to do your whole duty... They open their cartridge boxes and there is a moment of suspense. The faces are all white as death along the line; there is a sinking feeling of the heart, a catching of the breath..."14 Allen Gray, with the cat that adopted him at Tullahoma perched on his shoulder, stooped to take the rifle from a wounded man—commissary sergeant, he had none of his own. (Photograph: where regiment formed, west Viniard Field)

The Crossing: The First 90 Seconds. Bradley's Brigade formed its lines just west of the western edge of the west Viniard field, behind Wilder's position—"in the thick underbrush," wrote Sylvanus Atwater of the Twenty-Seventh. The Fifty-First formed into battle line "on the right by file [Yuncker]," a common oft-practiced maneuver for the purpose of moving quickly, sequentially, company by company, man by man, from a marching column into an advancing line (an animation depicting on the right by file). The Twenty-Second Illinois filed into position in front on the left, the Twenty-Seventh Illinois in front on the right. The Fifty-First Illinois formed the second line on the left. The Forty-Second formed the second line on the right. The Fifty-First, being on the left rear, was the last to pour into line—and its left companies, the last of the last. Lt. Col. Raymond's After-Action Report reported that the Fifty-First was still completing formation when the command "Forward!" came. The brigade and the regiment moved. The men of the three companies of the Fifty-First on the left broke into a run—through "timber and underbrush and over a rail fence"—to keep up with and complete the regimental line. Raymond was thus still dressing his line when the brigade moved into the west Viniard field. Atwater wrote home, "The word forward was given; we scaled the fence and charged them with a shout which had not been repeated since we had used it with such success at Stone's River."

Four hundred yards to the east, unknown yet to them, lay the end-point—the high ground of the east Viniard field—of their hurried march. The rise in the east field is visible from the western edge of the west field (one looks from relatively high ground across the shallow "valley" of the ditch to relatively high ground); the smoke from the furnace of battle obscured the further distances, but the men of the regiment could see the trees around the Viniard place, and the discharges of Estep's guns on the rise punctuated the distant smoke with fire. The two-regiment brigade front extended 175 yards, a tenth of a mile left to right, as the brigade crossed the field. The first line was 65-75 yards in advance of the second. At double-quick time, it would take the brigade two minutes to reach the road (165 steps/minute, 300 yards).

As the regiment came out of the trees and over the fence, Yuncker's limited view in the battle line caught sight of "a field in front and a battery or part of one on the field. The rebels in the edge of the opposite timber were in plain view," Yuncker's enemies in control of the Viniard grove to the north of the farm buildings and likely of the farm buildings themselves. Sheridan and Bradley on horseback were "in front of the right of my regiment (Fifty-first Illinois)." Sheridan was "watching the enemy through his field glass." As they moved forward at "shoulder arms", Sheridan "personally" gave them the weary admonition to "keep cool and fire low" while trying to kill and stay alive.

The brigade moved across the west Viniard field. Crossing the field discovered a bedlam to the brigade—the sequentially layered residue, the martial strata, of two and one-half hours see-saw fighting—dead and wounded men of Carlin's Brigade, dead and wounded of Buell's Brigade, dead and wounded of the Confederate brigades. There, officers rallied men to reform units, Federal artillery fired across the field into the woods and fields beyond the Lafayette Road, wounded Federal and Confederate soldiers sought shelter along the ditch. Ambulance crews retrieved wounded men. Killed men lay on the ground. Young of the Twenty-Sixth Ohio described being in hell at the ditch, "Many wounded had already sought this as a place of refuge from the storm of musketry, grape-shot, and shell now sweeping the field from the edge of the timber on both sides. Many others had also rallied here from the troops that had retreated over my line.... Many of my own men had rallied here when the line first fell back and were fighting bravely from the imperfect cover the shallow ditch afforded... [My line] was flanked and raked with murderous fire. Many of the wounded were again struck, even the second and third time" (OR 30/1, p. 671). Such was the ditch—teeming with injured life, a hiding place, a first aid station, a staging ground, a last rite, a morgue—as Bradley's men crossed it. Bradley's officers worked to keep the lines dressed, to maintain intervals, to prevent the individual retreat to the rear of individual soldiers. The two flags of each regiment were out in front in the hands of the color bearer and the care of the color guard. The lines, the movement, the cheers, the colors, the quick steps of the charge hastened the men across the field despite their trepidation—despite the blanched faces, despite the bodily suspense. A few men gave up, their fear stronger than their forward intention, and fell back—or tried to fall back. Some were turned back to the front and hurried to catch up with the line, but a few eluded officers, the encouraging admonitions of their line-mates, and the file closers, and found their way back into the woods at the west edge of the field. Henry Weiss of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois named two men of his company who sought safety at the rear, James Rutherford and Joe Brown. There were others throughout—men not quite able to bite back every rising qualm and let go the world of relations—but except for Rutherford and Brown they are nameless.

On the brigade's left, 150 yards off, Heg's men were rallying and trying again to cross back across their northern portion of the west Viniard field, north of Lilly's battery. Mons Grinager of the Fifteenth Wisconsin reported that "Sheridan's division advanced on our right... We twice tried to recross the field, and succeeded the second time in getting as far as the log-house on the south side of the field" (OR 30/1/, 533. Grinager swaps north-south with east-west).

The Crossing: The Last 30 Seconds. Once descended into the marshy ground at the ditch and to the ditch, Bradley's 1300 marching men could no longer see beyond the road where they were headed. In front of them was the incline up to the Viniard yards and orchard and the road, the incline steeper at the left of the line than at the right. Four hundred yards to the east, advancing westward through the east Viniard field toward the Lafayette Road, coming up the rise from the opposite direction, the double lines of Confederate forces came foward, closer, firing. Between that double line and Bradley's double line, Wood's little line was engaged, trying to hold back the Confederate advance and protect Estep's Battery, so his guns could remain engaged.

Though Bradley's men had, for the moment, some cover to the front, they had little to the front-left where Heg's men were struggling to gain the road, Young's Twenty-Sixth Ohio was in search of a position that it could maintain. this line of cover to the front left was necessary to protect the Federal line—whether it was Wood's line or Bradley's line— from being flanked on the left and having to make war on two fronts. The Twenty-Sixth Ohio, at the Viniard farmstead, braced itself for the clash. Young reported that Sheridan's men came up behind and started firing into his position from the rear. He went on, "I promptly moved back to the fence and awaited the onset;" (OR, 30/1, p. 671). The Twenty-Second Illinois and Fifty-First Illinois on the left, began to feel enemy fire from the trees to the north and east of the Viniard Farm. The left wing of the brigade formation suffered more as the first line neared the ditch. As yet, none of Bradley's men had fired a shot. Confederate men of Benning's Brigade, withdrawn from their advance in to the west Viniard field, pushed forward again and filled it where Young pulled back. They hid in the Viniard farm grove east of the road and lay secreted behind the fence and trees and in the streambed, to the north of the east Viniard field, holding their fire. The brigade's first line crossed the marshy stretch of the ditch. The men of the left and center companies of the Twenty-Second Illinois, struggling to maintain its line, trudged up the incline—steeper at the left of the line than at the right—seventy-five yards up to the Lafayette Road. The Fifty-First Illinois, in the second line, following at double-quick time, traversed the ditch. In some stretches the ditch deepened to a small stream; there men had to leap to cross the water. The charge maintained its pace and rhythm, despite the first casualties in the Twenty-Second Illinois—and soon the Fifty-First.

At this critical command moment, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Raymond's black horse, presented to him by the citizens of Chicago, (sensibly, and now filled with premonition) took fright and galloped crazily off—carrying Raymond—seeking shelter from the storm. Raymond soon returned to the fight—in time for the black horse to be killed underneath him—but for the nonce Major Charles Davis and Captain John McWilliams of Company E, the regiment's senior captain, commanded the regiment in its advance. Bradley was everywhere keeping the brigade aligned as it moved forward. Moments after Raymond's horse abdicated, as the Fifty-First rose the incline west of the road—the Twenty-Second Illinois, ahead in the front line, already at the road, already with men down in the road—"advancing over that open field under the withering fire from the enemy in the woods," as John Johnson told it, "we began to falter"—Bradley galloped up in front of the regiment, shouting through the din, "Forward 51st! All that don't are cowards." With that, Johnson wrote, the regiment "went forward as if touched by the magic wand of Aladdin" (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, Illinois).

Allen Gray marked off the advance of the regiment and the brigade, " the right flank through the woods - over a marsh - up a ridge - past Vinyard's log house - crossing the Lafayette road into an open field...strewn with the dead and wounded of friend and foe." The cadenced forward movement of the brigade prevailed—despite fire from the groves to the left—in the charge up the incline, across the road, and into the east Viniard field. Bradley's men gained the crest of the rising ground with the first Confederate line in the cornfield still 150 yards off. But, already the Federal coalition line in the field was in serious danger from Benning's men,"lying down in the woods,"as George Estep reported; he was firing on them, but they were killing his horses and wounding his gunners with their fire. Estep decided to pull back across the road OR, 30/1, p. XX).

Bradley's line came up with Wood's now even littler line, which was giving back"edging back toward the road"under the attack of the Confederate lines from the east. Wood wrote merely, "Fortunately reinforcements were at hand." Some of the regimental commanders in Wood's line said they were "relieved" by Sheridan and Bradley. Carlin, of Davis' Division, wrote in his report, "A brigade of Sheridan's division took the front." (Carlin also reported that the brigade was soon driven back, which was not the case, OR 30/1, p. 516; Carlin's "Military Memoirs", National Tribune, April 16, 1885, repeated this). Sylvanus Atwater of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois wrote that Wood's line was giving way. Jonathan Miles, colonel of the Twenty-Seventh, reported that at the time the Twenty-Seventh advanced into the east Viniard field, the infantry line supporting Estep's battery "...had almost abandoned the position entirely." Estep thought so. His gunners were leaving the guns and heading back toward the Lafayette Road. Some of the men of Wood's line fell in with Bradley's line and moved back across the field. Others, relieved, vanished back through Bradley's formation across the road. Some reshuffled themselves in the line—pushed back, they pushed back forward. Calloway, major of the Twenty-First Illinois and in temporary command of the Eighty-First Indiana, said sixty men of the Twenty-First Illinois—among them, Eaton, Gross, Russell, and Jones—"rallied upon the Eighty-First Indiana" in the end phase of the east field fight (OR 30/1/, p. 524)—thus was Little Gibralter strengthened and thus did Carlin's men, without Carlin, work out their own salvation, and for that of the Union. Into this melee marched the Fifty-First Illinois and its three sister regiments. The line in front of them was breaking at the left and losing men rearward at the center; diehards were moving to the right to hang on with the Eighty-First Indiana.

There were casualties in the Twenty-Second Illinois and the Fifty-First from the time they crossed the ditch eighty yards west of the road, and more the further they advanced. Besides casualties on the left, Confederate bullets were taking their effect all along the front line. There, in the Twenty-Seventh Illinois forty-five men were wounded; two were killed. Jonathan Miles, in command of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois, in the front line at the right, had his horse killed underneath him. Nonetheless, despite the casualties, this first Federal charge across the road and onto the crest of the rising ground was achieving its purpose. Atwater wrote, "The enemy at first gave way in the open field." Miles wrote that his regiment climbed "up a gentle slope, where it met a fierce fire from from the advancing enemy, whose advance was checked and they repulsed" (OR 30/1, p. 597). The front line of the Twenty-Second and the Twenty-Seventh, despite casualties in the Twenty-Second, along with the oblique fire of the Eighty-First Indiana and the men of the Twenty-First Illinois who stuck to them, delivered a hot enough fire to "check" the Confederate advance and drive their lines back. They drove all before them, Raymond reported, until they passed a skirt of woods on their left.

Viniard's Grove: Until We Passed a Skirt of Woods on the Left. Period maps show a stand of trees, a grove, across the road from the Viniard house in the east field. The grove lies just south of the intersection of the Viniard-Alexander Road with the Lafayette Road. H. V. Boynton, who commanded a regiment at Chickamauga and who played a pivotal role in the creation of the national military park, wrote in the first park guide, "The grove in the field directly east of Viniard's was dense, and extended from the present eastern limit to a point on the La Fayette road opposite the house. There was also a strip of timber along the west of the road in the vicinity of the Heg Monument" (H. V. Boynton, The National Military Park Chickamauga-Chattanooga. An Historical Guide, With Maps and Illustrations. Cincinnati, Robert Clarke, 1895). (Click: Map with Viniard's Grove) The Viniard grove extended along the Lafayette Road as far south as the house. It was just to the front (east) of this grove that Buell, at 2:45, first aligned the center of his brigade to advance. Perry L. Hubbard of the brigade battery, George Estep's Eighth Indiana Light Artillery, recalled, "On Sept. 19 we were moved to the left and took a position on a ridge in the door yard of a double log house" (L. Hubbard, 8th Indiana Light Battery, National Tribune, June 6, 1907, "The Capture of the 8th Ind. Battery.").13 (Buell, "The Twenty-sixth Ohio and a part of the battery were in heavy timber, while the other regiments and remainder of the battery were in open ground," OR, 30/1, p. 654; also Estep's report, "left half o my battery resting in woods and the right in an open field," p. 676.) When Embree's Fifty-Eighth Indiana advanced through the grounds of the Viniard farmhouse, the left of the regimental line moved through the dense Viniard grove. Chaplain John Hight of the regiment wrote, "The right of the 58th was in the open space, the left Companies advancing in a little skirt of timber" (p. 181). The "skirt of timber" was the Viniard Grove. It stretched north-south along the east side of the Lafayette Road north to the Viniard-Alexander Road. It was fifty yards in breadth from west to east and was bounded by fences. This was the skirt of Woods that lay off the Fifty-First's left as they advanced and which figured in Raymond's after-action report.

The line of the Twenty-Second and Twenty-Seventh Illinois regiments advanced to the crest of the rising ground. The Fifty-First, trailing the Twenty-Second, had advanced across the road into the east field 25 to 35 yards. The brigade fought; only the Forty-Second Illinois, in the second line on the right, was largely spared in these initial moments in the east field—largely but not altogether for the Forty-Second also suffered casualties. Suddenly there was a fierce increase of gunfire from the left, from the woods north of the Viniard-Alexander Road, and, closer to the Fifty-First, from the Viniard Grove, south of the Viniard-Alexander Road (40 yards distant). Atwater wrote, "As we advanced they got a flanking fire on our left wing". The fire was close and intense, "murderous and enfilading," Raymond called it. Especially, the Twenty-Second suffered as it was under attack from front and left, but the rate of casualties in the Fifty-First was almost equally heavy because of the close fire from the Viniard Grove.

The vulnerability of the Federal line from the Viniard Farmstead to the log school house was exposed. In the east Viniard field the Confederate forces had to fight their way forward and were almost powerless against the right of the Federal line held by the Eighty-First Indiana—and its allies—in its lair of terrain. But in the wooded ground around Viniard's and in the woods north of the Viniard-Alexander Road, Confederates were strongly positioned facing west toward the Lafayette Road and south toward the Viniard-Alexander Road. The left of Wood's little line was forced back at least to the Lafayette Road there and Heg's units were trying to maintain a toehold at the school house. By marching into the east Viniard field Bradley's Brigade uncovered itself and marched into a flanked position. The right of the Federal line was strong, by position and relatively in numbers over against their Confederate enemies at the south side of the Viniard field. The left, on the other hand, was weak, with a Confederate salient lowering in the woods and able to bring greater numbers to bear at the intersection of the roads near the Viniard door yard—Benning, Trigg, Robertson.

In the Fifty-First, Companies G and K were on the left of the line, and men were soon down. The line there crumpled and became a tangle of the dead, the wounded, and the still fighting. Lieutenant Henry Buck, in command of Company K, was hit in the forehead and died without uttering a word. Lieutenant Albert Simon, at the left end of the line of Company G, was shot dead. Charles Trust, William Patterson, and Robert Stack, all of Company K, all fell dead within minutes. Edward Burns was severely wounded in the leg. He crawled 250 yards toward the rear, dragging his broken leg, across the road, down the incline, toward the ditch, far enough to be safe from rifle fire. Charles Wagoner, Thomas Cooper, John Cochran, Archibald Cook, Thomas Robinson, and Christian Wagner of K were all struck down, wounded. Wagner had only a few days to live. Calvin Edwards, Frederick Thompson, and Clark Wicks, Herman Schubarth, Julius Gesche, and John Sauerman were hit. Sauerman lived on for another several months (the angel of death, patient, waiting for him at Atlanta). Company K went into the fight small in number, and after a few minutes of fighting, only eight men of Company K were whole.

In Company E, toward the center of the Fifty-First's regimental line, Richard Bilby was killed. Another dozen men of the company were wounded. Mathew Romine was shot with buckshot in the chest; the shot penetrated his right lung. He lay on the ground, bleeding. "Pale and sick, he begged to be helped off the field." His friends told him to wait until the fighting lulled. John Johnson wrote, "A small Irishman, Pat Ferril [Farrell] of E, while making this charge, was struck in the forehead. We were told by some of our comrades that they saw him on the field, his brains oozing out."


More Fighting

Lie Down! - The Death of John McBride. Bradley, seeing his brigade damaged by wounds and death, ordered the four regiments to lie down. John Johnson of Company E recalled, "Col Bradley shouted. 'Lie down!' We did, without any special persuasion. He sat there receiving the full fire of the enemy, reminding me of the pictures I saw of the first Napoleon Bonaparte, in my boyish days."4 Bradley was too easy a target for the Confederate shooters. He was struck twice and was fortunate to escape becoming a dead man. His assistant adjutant general Otis Moody was wounded at the same moment; the wound shortened Moody's life down to another eight hours.

John L. McBride, known among friends and family, for his eighteen years, by his middle name Lucian, was killed just after Bradley ordered the men to lie down. "He raised his head and as he did so a ball struck him in the forehead." A comrade or two crawled to him and dragged his body back toward the road to a "log"—an orphaned fence rail—where they could find him later, once the bullets stopped. They came for him, seven months later.

And so the swell of injury rippled through the companies of the regiment, and they fought back, shot back—keeping close to the ground, rolling onto their backs to load, rolling over again to fire, inflicting as much damage as they took. The 400-500 rifles of the two regiments drove Benning's Brigade back deeper into the trees. The fighting—the mutual slinging of minie balls, the mutual destruction of enemies—continued. It lost slightly of its sting with the Confederates more distant in the woods and the Federals flat on the ground. Yuncker wrote, "We lay flat, loading and firing at will for some time. All seemed to go well, though the bullets flew thick and close, and many an officer and private fell." Mel Follet of the Forty-Second Illinois, which was in the second line and on the right, wrote in his diary, "We drove them a short time." Despite heavy casualties in the Twenty-Second and Fifty-First the brigade stalled the Confederate attack and was pushing the enemy lines back.

It had been ten minutes since the brigade crossed the road.

Enemy attack energy was hardly expended. There was a lull, but then enemies in drab—Benning's men—loomed up out of the woods, in a counter-charge. In a trice they were over the fence and crossing the Viniard-Alexander Road, falling with bullets upon the brigade left. Mel Follet wrote in his diary, "...they rallied, gave us fits." (Follet was wounded in the left leg.) Atwater wrote, "The enemy charged in turn from a piece of timber on our left." Estep reported that the Federal infantry was "charged by the enemy en masse who came yelling like devils." The gunners left three guns behind and fell back across the road. Yuncker recalled, "A yell of triumph from the rebels caused us to look to the left, where we saw our line falling back and the rebels directing an oblique fire into our left flank. This, added to the storm of bullets from the front, made it seem as if the air was literally filled with zipping, shrieking minies and bullets, and we hardly dared to breathe for fear of inhaling bullets, though we laid low and as flat as soldiers only can do when necessary."

The conflict flared, as the Twenty-Second and Fifty-First faced the Confederate charge; the fighting was fierce, with the enemy lines visiting many, many casualties upon each other. "In proof of the severity of the action on the 19th," the Illinois adjutant-general capsule history of the Twenty-Second recorded, "the Regiment lost 96 men in less than ten minutes, most of whom were down." They held on. Some of the wounded worked their way back toward the right of the Fifty-First, which was busy to its left, shooting left-oblique. The Twenty-Second, which was sturdy at Belmont and Stones River, was sturdy now. Despite horrific casualties, they did not stampede back through the line of the Fifty-First—indeed, most of the wounded men were "down", as the capsule history put it—down and therefore able only to go at a crawl.

Before the Confederate charge could be checked and beaten back, men of the left company of the Twenty-Second found themselves on the wrong side of the Confederate line. Confederates came from the left and in behind them, between the Twenty-Second Illinois and the Fifty-First. Atwater wrote that the enemy "succeeded in capturing nearly a whole company of the 22d Regiment Illinos Volunteers." Atwater's estimate is an overstatement, but certainly the Twenty-Second had a company's worth of men taken captive during the two days of Chickamauga—more even but not an entire company, whole. Company C had a high proportion of captives to killed-and-wounded; it may have held the left of the line at the time of the Confederate charge (Lieutenant Robert Clift, "List of Killed and Wounded in the 22nd Regiment," Alton Telegraph, October 16, 1863). The fighting was very close, so close that the lines were tangled. Bradley's Brigade, too, plucked prisoners from the Confederate fighters.

[A Parenthetical Placeholder: Falling Back on the Left. The key to the last fight at the Viniard farm on the 19th, the fight Bradley engaged, is what happened on the left of the brigade line. When the brigade advanced into the field either there was no support on the left or, more likely, soon after the advance into the field the support on the left was driven back under pressure from Confederate forces in the woods around the school house and across the Viniard-Alexandaer Road north of the Viniard dooryard. Young said that, as Bradley's Brigade came across the west Viniard field, he, aware of the two-pronged attack that threatened, pulled his men back to the fence, but, in the absence of the map his report referred to, it is difficult to know which fence the Twenty-Sixth Ohio moved back too. Young further said that shortly thereafter a Kentucky regiment—of Sheridan's Division, he thought—was moving obliquely across his front and was driven back into the Twenty-Sixth Ohio. Young does not say whether the oblique movement was moving northeast or southeast. Sheridan, of course, had no Kentucky regiment in his division—though the Fifty-First Illinois might well have moved obliquely across his front, if, that is, Young had pulled back his forces at the Viniard Grove, but indications are that Young was north of that, slightly further up the Lafayette Road. Did Young refer to one of Sheridan's Illinois regiments or was it Heg/Martin's Kansas regiment, which might have been moving southeast across Young's front? Neither Harker's Kentucky regiment nor Barnes' Kentucky regiment could have been in front of Young.

This whole matter matters because the support, or fading of support, on the left determined the fight that the Fifty-First and Twenty-Second Illinois regiments fought. —]

The First to Reach the Ditch. The Twenty-Seventh Illinois, in the front line to the right, south, of the Twenty-Second, maintained their line unbroken for the thirty minutes they inhabited the brigade's forward line on the crest of the rise. But the lines of the Fifty-First and Twenty-Second were no longer unbroken. The left wing of each of the regiments was laced with casualties, but they still held their ground. The Twenty-Second was beleaguered with war on its front and left. The Fifty-First had to contend with Confederate skirmishers who were still firing from the Viniard Grove. The regiment was ordered to fall back across the road to rebuild its line at the ditch with a view to clearing out the skirmishers and extending the line to the left.

John Johnson heard the order to retreat passed down the chain of command:

It was not long till he [Bradley] was wounded. He gave orders to retreat. I was lying flat on my back loading my rifle. I finished loading before starting to the rear. Just then I saw no need of great haste. On raising to my feet, changed my mind, found the boys had considerable start. Think I outran every man in the Reg but one in the race back to the ditch. Got over the two fences on either side of the road. Could never remember getting over those fences. Only time in 13teen battles I was in that I did not know all I did and what occurred around me. The man that outran me, in the race, was Mat Romine, Co. E. ....When we took to our heels, Romine sprang up and was among the first to reach the ditch.

Sheridan, who had advanced with his staff out toward the ditch at the southern spaces of the west field, where he could look to the northeast and see the action in the east field, turned and headed back for the safety of Wilder's barricades, in case his, Sheridan's, lines should be pressed back and the deadly action come back across the ditch.

George Yuncker recalled, "When at last orders were given to fall back, there were but few of the left wing who had legs able to carry them back." But Romine, gunshot to the lungs, who had lain on the ground and begged for help, now with some sort of extramundane battlefield energy, found his legs and was first to reach the ditch. When Yuncker himself, though, tried to get up and go, he couldn't. "After several unsuccessful efforts to run, I was not a little surprised to find a hole in my pants covering my left thigh, and found that I had no feeling in the leg and foot. I had received a couple of wounds in my right arm and hand before that cross-fire, but felt confident of the ability of my legs doing their duty when the time should come." Johnson, Romine, and the rest of the ambulatory of the regiment were in a safer space when they crossed the road and down the slope toward the ditch. The lull in the fighting even allowed for two men to help George Yuncker back to the ditch; others too. The officers hurried to rebuild the regimental line, companies shuffled their positions. The line was shorter now. The men had friends dead, and too wounded to move, 125 yards to the front, out in the east field. Many of them were hit by enemies in the Viniard Grove. The regiment's own fire and artillery help had thinned out the Confederate presence there, but it was still a source of flanking danger. As the regiment prepared to advance again across the Lafayette Road, Raymond and McWilliams and Davis, conferring, sent a small mission of three men to work their way around the Viniard farm buildings to the left. The lot fell to Pratt of Company A, who was put in command of the detachment, the short straw to Charles Nelson of the same company. We have no record of the third man's name. And, we have very little record of what happened to the three men after they entered the grove. The exchange of fire was sporadic, then hot and killing, then there was silence. The Confederate men forsook the grove and pulled back into the wood across the Viniard-Alexander Road. Pratt and his colleague returned carrying the body of Charles Nelson. By then, the renewed regimental line was moving back across the road, increasing their speed to double-quick step.

Raymond reported, "We again charged forward, and gained the fence lining the west side of the woods which skirted the crest of the ridge and maintained our ground in the front." It's not yet clear to us what woods and what fence Raymond referred to, and it's possible that he has his directions confused. His report might refer to the fence along the road at the western edge of the Viniard Grove; then, Raymond's directions are right and west is west. His report might refer to the fence along the Viniard-Alexander Road, in which case Raymond's directions are not right. This latter possibility is less of a possibility since Raymond wrote that they "gained the fence", and it's unlikely that the Fifty-First "gained" the fence in the sense of positioning their line along it. Be that all as it may, the advance of the regiment, its fire to the left, and the supporting artillery fire put a stop to the Confederate advance from the woods on the left. Raymond reported that the regiment maintained its "ground in the front, while a battery in our rear drove the enemy advancing from the woods on our left. I was compelled to crowd my left toward the right, as the fire from the battery passed through it, killing and wounding several. I also directed what remained of the left wing to fire 'left-oblique,' and in a few moments the enemy were flying from our front in great disorder."

Men of Robertson's Brigade fighting west through the east Vinaird field, taking advantage of the diversion caused by Benning's charge, got close enough to attempt capture of the Eighth Indiana Battery. Atwater wrote, "The gunners of the 8th Indiana Battery were run away from their cannon by the close shots of the enemy." Edward Crippin of the Twenty Seventh Illinois wrote in his diary, "We have an eye on the battery and go for it double quick... We arrive at the battery while the rebels are seventy five yards off, pouring a volley in to them that makes them waver. We drop to the ground, not a moment too soon for a volley from the Rebs sends a sheet of lead flying over." Nearly every Federal unit within a hundred miles claimed to have saved—or, in years later, to have recaptured—the guns of Estep's battery. The claims were compounded by the fact that Estep's battery, or part of it, was rescued more than once—and Estep's were not the only guns requiring rescue. Probably, almost every regiment in the east Viniard field lent hands to the effort of dragging the guns off the rise and back across the road—and Lieutenant Potter of the Twenty-Sixth Ohio was run over by one of the guns (Young's report, p. 677)—and the Twenty-Seventh, who had its own injured victims of the panicked horses, played a central role. Calloway, commanding the Eighty-First Indiana Infantry, gave credit to the Hundred First Ohio for the rescue of Estep's guns though the Hundred First made no such claims for itself. L. W. Day of the regiment assigned the "recapture" of the guns to Sheridan's men. The after-action report of the Hundred First Ohio makes no mention of the guns (OR 30/1, p. 527). Interestingly, Captain Mons Grinager of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Infantry, Heg's regiment, reported in his after-action report that the regiment "retook a few pieces of artillery" (OR 30/1, p. 533)—adding another regiment to the coalition of regiments close enough to lend hands to preserving Estep's battery to the Union. Though Bradley years later referred to orders ordering him to recapture Estep's battery and though historians who have concerned themselves with the event in later years write in terms of recapturing a captured battery, it is quite clear that, at this juncture of Bradley's advance, the guns never quite fell into Confederate hands—though the guns were abandoned by the gunners and the infantry support of Wood's "little line". Colonel Miles of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois reported, "The artillerymen worked their guns for a few minutes after our arrival, but they soon entirely abandoned their pieces, although my regiment was at the time supporting them in an unbroken line." The diary of Edward Crippin and the letter of Sylvanus Atwater support that sequence of events.

The Forty-Second Illinois, which was due to be incinerated the next day at the base of the Widow Glenn's hill, was blessed yet on September 19. In the second line, south of the Fifty-First, they were largely sheltered from direct Confederate musket fire by their position, most distant from the left flank fire and most distant from the front fire, especially after the men of the four regiments began to carry on the fight from prone positions. Simonds of the Forty-Second wrote, "We come near being repelled but stand our ground." And, so it was. The left of the brigade line was weakened and bent back, but the Confederates withdrew into the woods again. The fighting continued, now smouldering, as compared to the conflagration of a few minutes before. Less than thirty minutes had passed since the brigade stepped onto the Lafayette Road.

This Was Splendidly Done: The Second Line, Now Becoming the First. Nathan Walworth of the Forty-Second Illinois, who replaced the wounded Bradley in command of the brigade, reported, "I had command of the second line, and seeing that the first line wavered under the deadly fire of the enemy, who were posted along the whole front and in the woods to the left, I ordered the second line to pass the first. This was splendidly done, and I retired the first line to the shelter of the rising ground."...Colonel Miles of the Twenty-Seventh said his regiment had held the eminence for a half hour, "when it was retired some 15 rods [approx. 82 yards], just under the crest of the eminence".

The brigade reformed; the Forty-Second passed in front of the Twenty-Seventh on the right and the Fifty-First passed in front of the Twenty-Second on the left. Brigade wounded, especially of the Twenty-Second Illinois, which had fought in front and been exposed on the left, ran or crawled toward the Lafayette Road; friends helped wounded friends toward the rear. Walworth told Raymond that he, Raymond, must hold the fence "at all hazards". He did. For the Fifty-First this second advance brought a new round of casualties, as the regiment took the fore on the crest of the rising ground. The men who were wounded in this advance were doubly unfortunate for some of them would be left on the field. Henry C. Trent, second lieutenant of Company H, was next to Thomas Gregg, a friend of his from Port Byron, Illinois. Trent recalled, "He had raised his musket and was in the act of discharging it at the foe, his right arm bent with his finger on the trigger...he was hit by musket ball from the enemy in the right arm...above the elbow joint." Gregg sank to the ground. Trent yelled over to him, "Tom, are you hit?" Gregg put his left hand to his right elbow and, bewildered, answered, "I think I am." Trent told him to go to the rear. Just yards away, Hugh Donnelly was killed.11. A few moments later Trent himself was severely wounded by gunshot to the leg. He, along with other severely wounded who were not able crawl back down of the rise, "lay between the contending lines and the battle was fought over him."

Sylvanus Atwater of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois, "This was Longstreet's Corps, formerly Stonewall Jackson's, the flower of the Eastern army, and they did a little closer and lower shooting than we ever experienced before; but when we rallied they had to give us the ground."


Night of the 19th: Assisting the Wounded and Watching the Rebs

David Christian of Company D was the regimental carpenter of the Fifty-First. He was at work at the division hospital at Crawfish Springs throughout the afternoon of the 19th. Late in the afternoon he heard that the regiment, against his expectation, was fighting. His first thought was for his nephew Lucian. He hurried north looking for the regiment. He hurried against traffic, meeting ambulance after ambulance and the broken shards of soldiers, like Edward Burns, shot through the leg, jouncing along, or helping themselves along on foot, like Thomas Gregg, cradling his arm, or being helped by others. Christian reached the environs of the Viniard place. The fighting had ceased and the high vigil begun. "I was there sometime before I dare inquire about Lucian. You can imagine how I felt when I heard that he was shot. I started to try to get the body but found the rebels had possession of the ground. I was told if I attempted to go any farther I would be shot" (John L. McBride Letters, Mohler Family Papers, Lincoln, Nebraska). Lucian kept to his one-log house, without visitors.

The Confederates held their position in the woods to the north and in the field to the east. Edward Tabler of Company K, Fifty-First Illinois, wrote in his diary on September 20, "The 51st Regt. lay on the battlefield all night assisting the wounded, and watching the Rebs." The Forty-Second Illinois extended the watchful line to the right, south, in the east field. The second line, comprised of the Twenty-Second and Twenty-Seventh Illinois, was eighty yards to the rear, to the west, "just under the crest of the eminence." This would put the second line at the Lafayette Road. Colonel Jonathan Miles wrote that the men of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois spent the night, "which was freezing cold... lying upon their arms and without fires... [they] suffered severely."

Woods' after-action report stated, "The troops were posted in a strong position to resist a night attack, the brigade of Sheridan's division and Buell's brigade being in juxtaposition, the former on the right and the latter on the left. Harker's brigade was held as a reserve in the edge of the woods on the western side of the road" [Official Records 30/1, p. 634. Wood's Brigade commander Buell reversed the order, putting Barnes on his right and Bradley/Walworth on his left, p. 655]. Lt. Col. William Young of the Twenty-Sixth Ohio (Buell's Brigade) reported that he detailed a lieutenant and ten men "to go carefully over the battle-field" where they safely could to see that all the wounded were gathered up. The detail found "many who had been overlooked by the hospital attendants" (OR 31/1, p 672). There was sporadic shooting between vigilant skirmishers, when one side violated this informal status quo. Wood reported that "just after nightfall a sharp fire ran along the line," but the threat of a Confederate advance did not materilize—"It proved to be nothing more than a picket demonstration" (OR 31/1, p. 634). Wounded and dead men of the brigade, other brigades, and of the Confederate antagonist lay between the lines, up along the crest, in a no man's land; from the Fifty-First: Buck, McBride, Bilby, all dead, Trent with a compound fracture of his left femur. Trent now had a bit of fortune. His pre-war friend from Port Byron, Illinois, Louis Genung, still whole, stole through the near-dark and helped him drag himself rearward far enough to be picked up by stretcher bearers for the ambulance journey to the field hospital.

"There was but little comfort that night. Many of our comrades, brave and true, had left this life" (William Carlin, "Military Memoirs," National Tribune, April 16, 1885).

Sheridan received orders at 11:00 p.m. to move his brigades "left", mostly west and a little north, to take up a position at the Widow Glenn's house. For several hours in the middle of the night after midnight, Sheridan's three brigades and many other Federal units were engaged in the gingerly exercise or pulling back while seeming to remain in strength at the front. Sheridan reported, "This was successfully accomplished by strengthening the picket lines and moving the brigades from right to left until the point designated was arrived at. The picket lines were then withdrawn" (OR 30/1, pp. 579-80).L. W. Day of the One Hundred First Ohio of Carlin's Brigade wrote that Sheridan moved his units in a kind of stealthy leap-frog. "He moved his right Brigade (William Lytle's) back and along the rear of his other two Brigades, which remained in line and came into position on their left; then taking his next Brigade he moved it back and to the left in the same manner, always keeping two Brigades in line.... While doing this, he left his picket-skirmish line undisturbed" (Story of the One Hundred and First Ohio Infantry, Cleveland, 1894, p. 168).

By 4:00 a.m., the Federal right was realigned. Bradley's Brigade and Laiboldt's Brigade along with the rest of the right were pulled back a mile, to build a new line, a new right for the 20th.

The Wounded of the 19th on September 20

Colonel Luther Bradley, his adjutant Otis Moody dying, and his sergeant major Timothy Casey mortally wounded, along with others, Lewis Hanback of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois wrote, were housed in "a miserable log hut" adjacent to one of the field hospitals [Remember When Auctions Auction Catalog #4 (1999)].

Mel Follet, Forty-Second Illinois Diary
September 19: "We drove them a short time when they rallied gave us fits. I soon fell being hit in the left limb at the knee and here I am among the wounded. My wound is doing well."
September 20: "Was taken prisoner today by the enemy. So we may expect a trip through to Richmond as soon as we get able to be moved. So far they have treated us with respect. Our captors belong to the lst Ky. Cavalry. We are living on sow belly and hard tack."

Edward Burns, Co. K, Fifty-First Illinois Infantry
September 19: "...thare I got wounded and crawled about 40 rods into a ditch then put into an ambulance & took to shelter and on the ground - all very cold."
September 20: "This morning taken to the doctor  had my wound dressed,   about four oclock rebel cavalry came and captured the Hospital, guarded us all night, came into the tents and took ksacks rubbers and canteens from the wounded."

William J. Dean Twenty-First Wisconsin Diary
September 20: "After breakfast, I went down to the Brigade Hospital. When I arrived, I found that the wounded had been sent away. Dr. Reeve ordered four of us to bury three of the dead. Before we got half through the rebels drove us back and we were compelled to leave. Then I went to Crawfish Springs, when I arrived, I found our cavalry were formed in three lines of battle and that all the wounded who could get away were ordered to Chattanooga. I marched until late in the evening, and laid down by the side of the road, tired and weary."

and Ambulance Train

When Edward Burns of Company K, widower and father of two, in the east Viniard field, was hit in the upper leg and suffered a fractured femur, he crawled two or three hundred yards back beyond the Lafayette Road and waited there until he was picked up by an ambulance. Click the little picture at left to see an example of Burns' conveyance. The picture shows an ambulance demonstration in the Eastern Theatre of the war. An ambulance train eventually carried Burns, Follett, Simonds, Henry Hall, Alexander Jack, and a hundred others of the Fifty-First Illinois, many others of Bradley's Brigade, and many, many others of the right wing of the Army of the Cumberland to hospitals in Chattanooga.

In the field the Regimental Hospital department was allowed two small tents for the officers, medicines, etc., another small tent for the kitchen department and supplies, and a larger one for the sick. This last, known as the hospital tent, was about fourteen feet square and was capable of containing eight cots with as many patients. In the field we almost never had sheets and white pillow cases, but made use of army blankets that were made of the coarsest, roughest fiber imaginable. In warm weather the walls of the tent were raised, which made it much more pleasant for the occupants. However, the policy that obtained was to send those who were not likely to recover quickly to the base hospitals, though this was not always to the patient's best interest, for those larger hospitals were oftentimes centers of infection of one kind or another...

There was an emergency case, about the size of a soldier's knapsack, and, indeed, intended to be carried on an attendant's back like a knapsack. In this emergency case were bandages, adhesive plaster, needles, artery forceps, scalpels, spirits of ammonia, brandy, chloroform, ether, etc. This emergency case, or hospital knapsack, was always taken with the regiment when the firing line was about to be approached, and where the First Assistant Surgeon was in charge and was ready to render first aid to any who might be wounded. This first aid, however, never went further than staunching bleeding vessels and applying temporary dressings. Thus attended to, the wounded were taken to an ambulance, and in this conveyed to the field hospital in the rear, generally out of musket range, but almost never beyond the reach of shells and cannon balls. Arrived at the larger field hospital the patient was cared for by the surgeons and male nurses. The wounds were examined and dressed, but never antiseptically, for no one knew the importance of antisepsis or how to put it in practise...

The only light vehicle in the regiment was our hospital ambulance,... a four-wheeled vehicle with bed on springs and covered with strong ducking. The rear end-gate opened with hinges at its lower part for the convenience of putting in and taking out very sick or severely injured patients.... For service about the hospital men were detailed from the regiment to serve in the several capacities of nurses, cooks, and ambulance drivers, etc. Service of this kind was known as "special duty," and not a few came to have no little aptness in their new duties. Especially was this true of the men who cared for the sick, some of whom developed quite a little insight into disease, and were frequently able to make tolerable diagnoses and prognoses.

From Charles B. Johnson, Muskets and Medicine, or Army Life in the Sixties, Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Co., 1917.

Tending the Wounded (Surgeon Thomas Magee of the 51st Illinois)
Thomas Magee, the Surgeon of the Fifty-First Illinois treated the wounded all through the afternoon of the 19th, the night of the 19th, through the capture of the Federal hospitals on the 20th until he and the men he tended were sent to Richmond as prisoners of war. Magee was released by exchange in November 1863 and returned to the regiment. He left little written trace of his participation in the physical horrors each side visited upon the other. Surgeon William B. Graham of the 101st Indiana, who was captured along with Magee at the hospitals at Crawfish Springs, left a brief memoir of his experience at Chickamauga. During the fighting on the 19th, Graham said he was first stationed in a small ravine in the rear of King's Brigade of Reynolds' Division. He gave immediate care to the wounded, saw to it that they were put in ambulances and sent to the field hospital. The Federal line collapsed and Graham had orders to get the wounded back to the hospital as quickly as possible. Graham himself escaped on horseback, and was eventually sent to the "general hospital" at Crawfish springs. He wrote, "It was evening, and I found the whole neighborhood covered with wounded and dead. At 4 o'clock in the evening of the 20th, we saw the ragged rebel line of cavalry charging towards the hospital as fast as their horses could carry them. The air was full of that familiar rebel yell that we had heard so often, and their old sabres were swinging and jingling by their sides, and altogether the outlook was anything but encouraging."

General Joseph Wheeler's report stated merely, "About dark we also captured five large hospitals, with a considerable supply of medicines, camp equipage, and a great number of wounded prisoners, besides over 100 surgeons" (Official Records 30/2, October 30, 1863, p. 521).


The Fifty-First on September 20

At 4:00 a.m. on the morning of September 20, the Fifty-First Illinois along with the other regiments of Bradley's Brigade and the other units of the right wing of the Federal army were pulled back to the west across the west Viniard field to the area around the Widow Glenn house. Lytle's Brigade joined the other two of Sheridan's brigades, Laiboldt's Brigade and Bradley's Brigade, now commanded by Nathan Walworth of the Forty-Second Illinois. Walworth's Brigade (22nd, 27th, 42nd, 51st Illinois regiments) was toward the very right of the Federal right wing. Only Wilder's Brigade lay further to the right. The line of battle of the Federal right was, then, from the very right, the furthest south:

  1. Reynolds' Division: Wilder's Brigade
  2. Sheridan's Division: Laiboldt's Brigade, far right; then Lytle's Brigade, Walworth's Brigade (with 51st) in reserve behind Laiboldt and Lytle
  3. Davis' Division: Carlin's Brigade (on Lytle's Left); Martin's Brigade (Heg's until Heg died during the night), in reserve behind the main line
  4. Wood's Division: Buell's Brigade on the right; Harker's Brigade on left
  5. Van Cleve's Division: Barnes' Brigade, Dick's Brigade in reserve behind Connell and Croxton
  6. Brannan's Division: Connell's Brigade on right; Croxton's Brigade on left

Brannan and Reynolds' divisions belonged to General George Thomas' Fourteenth Army Corps. Davis and Sheridan's divisions belonged to General Alexander McCook's Twentieth Army Corps, and Woods and Van Cleve's divisions belonged to General Thomas Crittenden's Twenty-First Army Corps. The brigade pieces of disordered divisions indicate the jumble of the right wing, caused largely by the stop-gap-measure fighting of the afternoon of the 19th—only Sheridan's Division was "together".

The first Confederate attack of the morning had fallen on the Federal left, against Thomas' Fourteenth Corps. In response to the threat of Confederate success on his left, Rosecrans began to shuffle his brigades and divisions; his objective was to strengthen Thomas, by pulling in and compacting the Federal right. The center of gravity of Rosecrans' line would thus shift to the left, while the right maintained its integrity and strength. There was risk to thus shifting because it left the Federal right in greater danger of being flanked and attacked on multiple fronts and because Federal units would be moving and shifting position at the same time the lines were under attack (and the air was on fire with chaos).

Something else than Rosecrans' best-laid (but hasty) plans happened. Thomas Wood, obedient to a counter-logical order of Rosecrans and aware of its illogic, pulled three brigades—Buell's, Harker's, Barnes—out of line and headed north to fill a nonexistent gap in the line. At this very same time, Walworth's and Lytle's brigades of Sheridan's division were put on the march, behind the lines, northward, to the left to come to the support of Thomas. The order to send his two brigades left came to Sheridan just after 11:00 a.m. The regimental history of the Seventy-Third Illinois summarized, "So, while our right wing was being shortened and weakened, the enemy's left wing, confronting our right, was being lengthened and strengthened" Regimental Reunion Association of Survivors of the 73d Illinois Infantry Volunteers, A History of the Seventh-third Regiment of Illinois Infantry Volunteers, 1890, p. 235). At this juncture—Wood pulling three brigades out of line and Sheridan marching two brigades to the left—Confederate forces of Longstreet's corps hit the Federal line at the gap opened up by the departure of the three brigades. Poor Carlin's Brigade was just to the right of the gap in the line. Even poorer Martin's little brigade (Heg's decimated brigade of the 19th) was brought forward to fill the three-brigade gap.

The gap became a gaping hole when Carlin and Martin were not able to stop the torrent that hit their front and left flank. It was about 11:15 a.m. The Fifty-First and the other three regiments of Walworth's Brigade, following Lytle's Brigade, were on a double-quick march toward the Federal left.
The Crisis at Chickamauga
Gates Thruston, an active participant at the crash of the Federal right, wrote a lucid synoptic account of the crash, "The Crisis at Chickamauga". The link links to the abridged version taken from Volume 3 of Battles and Leaders.

The article errs only in being too kind to key participants. Thruston never says that Rosecrans lost his battlefield acumen and his intuitive grasp, in the midst of chaos, of battlefield position and relative strength of the antagonists over against each other (command capacities that served him well at Murfreesboro); he says that McCook and Davis made a gallant but vain resistance rather than that they made desperate shot-in-the-dark decisions that had chaotic results—and squandered the fighting resources they did have. He uses an interesting phrase—twice—that Sheridan was "without faith". That lack of faith—his feeling that no resistance availed—and his anger at having his brigades ordered around by others were probably the two key factors in Sheridan's failure to provide leadership once the Confederate force had carried the field and cut the army in half.

A well-informed, extremely critical view of Sheridan on September 20.

Thruston wrote at a summary level—and engagingly. He wrote, "Pouring through the opening made by Wood's withdrawal, [the Confederates] struck his last brigade [Buell] as it was leaving the line. It was slammed back like a door, and shattered." What exactly happens to the men of a brigade that is slammed back like a door, and shattered? Or, when a division is "routed"?

Maps: The Fifty-First, Walworth's Brigade, & the Federal Right on September 20

Map: September 20
51st at Widow Glenn Hill

Map: September 20
Walworth & the Federal Right

Map: September 20
Walworth, Close Up

"The rebels seemed to be all around us and it was difficult to tell which was the front and which the rear—in fact it was front in two or three directions at the same time." Wilbur Hinman, The Story of the Sherman Brigade, Vol. I, p. 420.

If we take Raymond's after-action report of the Fifty-First on the morning of Sunday, the 20th, and parse it into pieces in time, we get this:

  1. Early, early morning: left Viniard farm, moved to rear and formed new line on crest of Missionary Ridge hills (across the Lafayette Road, north, three-fourths of a mile)
  2. 10:00 a.m.: fighting began on Federal left; regiment and brigade moved south, down the hillsides to the Lafayette Road, formed behind Lytle's Brigade of Sheridan's Division, Fifty-First formed in first line of Walworth's Brigade on the left of the Forty-Second Illinois, the Twenty-Second and Twenty-Seventh behind, in the second line.
  3. Move back north further from the Federal line of battle along the Lafayette Road—to the foot of the Missionary Ridge hills. Sound of battle coming nearer.
  4. 11:00 a.m.: Move by the "left flank", double quick, following the Twenty-Second, toward the left to support Thomas. Raymond wrote in his after-action report, "To accomplish this my men were put upon the run and were thus moved down into the timber toward the point of action". The regiment and brigade were thus marching along behind the Federal line of battle, in column, their right shoulder to the (presumed line of battle). Shortly after the brigade was set in motion to help save the Federal left, the Confederate left, came through the Wood-made gap in the Federal right. The regiment was enveloped by a tidal wave of chaos. The brigade, to be of fighting use, had to shift its front to the right to meet foes, but they were in the middle of that when bedlam washed over them. Raymond wrote, "While thus moving and before we had time to halt and form we were met by our retreating forces, hotly pursued by an eager foe, who poured into us a deadly fire on front and flank."

Nathan Walworth, in command of the brigade, covered the same ground in his report:

I received orders from General Sheridan to move the brigade rapidly toward the left. I moved it at once by the left flank at double-quick, and when nearing the position of Lytle’s brigade we were assailed by a heavy fire of musketry from the right. I immediately ordered the Twenty-second Illinois, which was in advance, to face the enemy and check them if possible, but the numbers were too great for our line, lengthened as it was by a flank march at double-quick, and they were compelled to give ground which they contested strongly until their left flank was exposed by the movements of the troops on their left, when they were compelled to retire up the hill. The same remarks apply to the Fifty-first Illinois, which was immediately on the right of the Twenty-second. The Forty-second Illinois was ordered to advance by General McCook and General Sheridan immediately on the right of the Fifty-first Illinois, although I had sent orders for them to form in rear of where the Twenty-second Illinois were fighting, intending them, together with the Twenty-seventh Illinois, to form the second line. Moving to the right I found them gallantly fighting, refusing to give ground after the regiments on their left had given way. The loss which they here sustained, which was nearly one-half of the force engaged, is evidence enough of the numbers with which they had to contend. The Twenty-seventh Illinois was posted to the right of the Forty-second Illinois, and suffered but little, as the force of the attack was more to the left, and they were protected somewhat by buildings.

For the Confederate army this was a martial daydream come true—through the enemy's line, into the rear where the field hospitals are, where the generals have their headquarters, where the reserves are idling, where troops move about thinking they are protected by their line of battle—suddenly, confronted by only shocked turmoil as the Federal enemy tried to pull together some resistance, to manage something other than running for dear life and dear freedom—or falling uselessly captive.

The Right Tries to Fight Back.
Despite the chaos, despite the Confederate wave, despite the absence of commanding officers with an intuition of the situation, there was considerable resistance on the part of Lytle's Brigade of Sheridan's Division and Walworth's Brigade of Sheridan's Division. Wood, culpable at least in part, had pulled the brigades of Buell, Harker, and Barnes out of line and moved them to the left in search of a gap to fill. To the Federal right of the gap Carlin's Brigade was in line and Martin's Brigade (both of these brigades belonged to Davis' Division) was in reserve. Even as Wood pulled his brigades out of line, the Confederate brigades of Manigault, Deas and Anderson were coming across the Lafayette road in Carlin's face. The Confederates fought briefly with Buell as he pulled out of line. Davis ordered Martin to take his brigade into the gap left by the three of Wood's brigades. That was futile, and bloody, and Carlin and Martin were pushed back, assailed on front and flank. The regiments of their brigades disintegrated and headed to the rear.

Laiboldt Wasted. Davis and McCook (Commander of the 20th Corps and therefore the right wing) ordered Laiboldt's Brigades (sister to Lytle and Walworth's brigades of Sheridan's Division) to staunch the Confederate flow through the Federal line where Carlin, Heg, Buell, Harker, and Barnes had been. Laiboldt moved forward, encountering many of Carlin's men moving backward through his lines. Laiboldt forgot, in the moment's hot heat, to order his artilllery support Captain Mark Prescott's Battery C of the First Illinois Light Artillery, into action with him. McCook bossed him into the gap in column, not even allowing him to form in line of battle; his column was flanked on both sides as soon as he moved (Peter Cozzens, This Terrible Sound, pp. 381-2). Prescott brought his guns into battery on his own initiative; he reported, "...reserving my fire until I was sure that I should not fire into our own line, which by this time had become badly broken up. I fired some 8 or 10 rounds, when the line in front was so badly broken and the men were coming through my battery in such a confused mass that it was impossible to fire wihout killing our own men." The "showers of bullets, from both my front and left flank" convinced Prescott to pull back off Lytle Hill and move back to the "next hill in rear of the present position" (Official Records 30/1, p. 600). Laiboldt had not even a snowball's chance in hell. Major Arnold Beck, in command of the Second Missouri Infantry of Laiboldt's Brigade, reported that they were ordered to "advance with charge bayonets", that they advanced about 1,000 yards to the edge of the woods in their front and then were "received by a terrific fire." The Second Missouri was in the rear of the charging brigade and therefore "had no chance whatever" to return the fire of the enemy. The regiment's "bearers and entire color guard were shot down at once", and Second Missouri lost two of its flags. Colonel Joseph Conrad of the Fifteenth Missouri Infantry reported that the charge of Laiboldt's Brigade focused the disparate Confederate attacks on the front and flanks of Laiboldt—and naturally so. Conrad wrote that he retreated when the force was nearly surrounded and the alternative was either "to get killed or be taken prisoner". When they retreated up the hill, "the rebels had an excellent opportunity to do us much harm... Their bullets swept the hill from three sides, and many of our brave men fell there, or were wounded and taken prisoners"(Official Records 30/1, p. 593). Laiboldt reported his brigade's fight in a single sentence, "Thrown in confusion by the fleeing troops (of Davis' Division) and finally exposed to the scathing fire of the enemy in front, as also a fire in the flank, my troops gave way, and after rallying them once more, but not being able to hold a position, I fell back to the mountains" (p. 590). Thus was Laiboldt "routed"—sent on a fool's errand, one brigade making a charge, in column, down off a defensible position into the face of a triumphant rushing foe in search of new targets. McCook and Davis of course did not know what they were faced with. Intuition and expedients failed them. They sacrificed Laiboldt and thus weakened their wing for the fighting of the next hour.

Lytle and Walworth, Next. Just at this time Lytle and Walworth's brigades were moving in column, past the Widow Glenn's house, branching off the Dry Valley Road, along a small road, down the slopes, angling east northeast toward the Glenn-Kelly Road that would take them north in support of Thomas. Raymond reported that " men were put upon the run and were thus moved down into the timber toward the point of action." Sheridan and McCook diverted them from their mission in support of Thomas on the left to a mission to hold the right together. Not until after the war did most of the men of the Fifty-First and its sister regiments know that they were supposed to be running north to support Thomas. Their quick march toward the Glenn-Kelly Road was taking them closer to the fighting; they assumed that they were rushing to support a compromised line and were being hurled hastily and clumsily into the fight.

Sheridan ordered Lytle to the summit of the modest hill that came to be known as Lytle Hill, the spot from which Laiboldt had descended to make his futile movement. Lytle brought his four regiments up the western side of the hill, his movements hidden from the Confederate enemy pushing ahead from east to west. Lytle was given essentially the same mission that Laiboldt had had—one brigade trying to stop whatever Confederate break-through had broken through. For a while, remarkably, Lytle held. Walworth's Brigade, perhaps 500-strong after the bullet holes of the 19th, was following in column to the right and somewhat to the rear of Lytle. Walworth hurried his regiments in order to close with his left on the right of Lytle's Brigade. His four regiments were stretched out from the lower southern slope of Lytle Hill—the Twenty-Second, on the left reaching for Lytle—obliquely southwest, to the Widow Glenn hill, when, as John Johnson of Company E wrote, "the rebs hit us with their masses". Walworth reported the beginning of the shooting clash, as he tried to get his brigade, marching double-quick in column, into the fight. Walworth wrote that, as he and his men neared the position of Lytle’s brigade, "we were assailed by a heavy fire of musketry from the right. I immediately ordered the Twenty-second Illinois, which was in advance, to face the enemy and check them if possible, but the numbers were too great for our line, lengthened as it was by a flank march at double-quick, and they were compelled to give ground which they contested strongly until their left flank was exposed by the movements of the troops on their left, when they were compelled to retire up the hill."

At this point, neither division commander Sheridan, nor corps commander McCook, nor Army of the Cumberland commander Rosecrans knew what kind of breakthrough they were confronting, that it was not merely some passing Confederate salient but was rather Longstreet's forces coming through a division-size gap opened in the Federal line, not opened by hard fighting over a grinding period of time but by Wood's turning and marching away, leaving the gate to the Federal rear open. Now at 11:30, when the Federal right began to fall off its hinges, McCook, Davis, and Sheridan, thought perhaps a brigade would put an end to the trouble. Davis cajoled Laiboldt (Sheridan's Division) into the gap. Laiboldt's brigade was quickly forced back, having to meet a Confederate onslaught which had as of then barely been given pause. They put Lytle in the hole next. He held for a while and then his lines began to break, and the men to fall back. The choice was to fall back or be taken captive in rear of the advancing Confederate lines. Now Walworth cherished the forlorn hope that the Twenty-Second Illinois, half bled to death on the 19th, might "check" the enemy.

Walworth's Defense. The Confederate attack on Walworth came in the form of the Ninth, Tenth, and Forty-First Mississippi of Anderson's Brigade to the front and left-front and the combined Tenth-Nineteenth South Carolina of Manigault's brigade on the right-front. The initial attack on the Twenty-Second and Fifty-First found them in an awkward position, on the march in column. They had therefore, as Walworth said, to turn and face the enemy and create some kind of line to check the Confederate flood, to shoot enough and well enough to kill, knock down, and alarm enough Confederates to disrupt their advance. Something like the opposite happened; the numbers and moving battle formation, the weight and momentum, of the Confederate units enabled them to bludgeon the Twenty-Second Illinois, killing, knocking down, and alarming enough of them to cause the Twenty-Second to fall back, starting with the left-most companies, which were assailed on front and left flank, so that Confederate forces would not get completely around and behind them—at least that. The right of the Twenty-Second tried to keep touch with the left of the Fifty-First as the both backed up over the field, their uneven line extending northwest to southeast (Twenty-Second left to Fifty-First right). Once the two regiments fell back off the road, they were fighting in wooded terrain, which made it difficult to keep touch with men in line on the right and left. Raymond described how the men retreated from their first line, across the contested ground. The captains and lieutenants frantically built a new line in the trees and the din. When that second line could not be held, officers cobbled together another line further up the slope. And so it futilely went. Raymond wrote, "A second and third line was thus formed and likewise repulsed."

With the Twenty-Second and Fifty-First backing through the woods, the brunt of the Confederate attack in Widow Glenn sector fell on the Forty-Second Illinois. At the time of the Confederate attack on the Twenty-Second Illinois, Walworth sent orders to the Forty-Second to cross behind the Fifty-First and form a second line behind the Twenty-Second, intending that the Twenty-Seventh would then form behind the Fifty-First. But, McCook and Sheridan, without coordinating with Walworth, ordered the Forty-Second forward to immediately attack the enemy in their front. When Walworth, who had been tending to his endangered left, came back long his lines to the right, he found the Forty-Second "gallantly fighting, refusing to give ground after the regiments on their left had given way. The loss which they here sustained, which was nearly one-half of the force engaged, is evidence enough of the numbers with which they had to contend." Better had Walworth effected his intended dispositions, instead of continuing the Chickamauga practice on the Federal right of hurling units, piecemeal and single, at threatened points, thus ensuring that adequate force would not be brought to bear at any point, and that Confederate forces could wreck the Federal right, piece by piece. The Twenty-Seventh Illinois was both situated, as the trailing regiment, in better terrain (Colonel Miles) and more out of harm's way—to the right of the Confederate thrust. Colonel Miles of the Twenty-Seventh said his regiment was never dislodged from its position. If Walworth had been allowed to strengthen his left, shorten his line, and anchor his right where the center of the Twenty-Seventh was strongly positioned, he could have fought a better fight. Naturally, such a position would have been a tiny gain, allowing Walworth to escape better, suffer less men taken captive, and count less men killed and wounded in the Forty-Second. It would hardly have created a self-sufficient left for the cut-off Federal right. And so, the Forty-Second wasted itself.

Peter Cozzens summed up the brief fight of Walworth's Brigade, "In a stand no less poignant than that of Lytle, Colonel Walworth had fought the left regiments of Anderson's brigade and the right regiments of Manigault's brigade to a standstill for nearly twenty minutes until, flanked on both the left and right, he was forced from the field. Nearly half the brigade had fallen; the rest retreated through the woods toward the Dry Valley road, which lay three hundred yards behind them" (This Terrible Sound, p. 389). The brigade already on the 19th had suffered 250 casualties at the Viniard farm. Now it was halved on the 20th. We know a few things about the Fifty-First Illinois and Walworth's Brigade as it was "forced from the field"—a few things but not much. The senior captains of the regiment on the 20th were John McWilliams of Company E and Albert Tilton of Company C. We have tiny glimpses of them on the afternoon of the 20th. Tilton knew when to take himself and his company out of the fight. McWilliams overstayed and was taken captive with a little band of his company-mates. Lieutenant Osman Cole, commanding Company H, sometime on the slopes of September 20, was shot in the face, and Confederate troops advanced beyond him before comrades could rescue him: he was captured. Tilton wrote:

Five lines deep they came swinging around our flanks. The odds were too great. No men could stand it. The fire was tremendous, the noise deafening, the crack of musketry, the booming of cannon, the shouts of officers, the frantic terror of riderless horses combined with the shouts & yells of either side as the other would waver for the moment—was the most terribly grand scene I ever witnessed. My company fought like devils. I shouted till my mouth was parched as dry as a husk & I was so hoarse I could hardly speak. I cut imaginary rebs into a thousand pieces as I waved & whirled my sword in exhorting & rallying the men. But it was too much for human nature to bear. We fell back & reformed on the brow of a hill about half a mile to the rear, but the rebs did not follow us..." (Letter to Mother, Oct 11th 1863, Chattanooga, Tenn, Tilton Family Papers, Library of Congress).

As for Captain McWilliams we know, from his compiled service record, only that he "was taken prisoner with flag staff in hand trying to rally his men." The regiment did not lose its national or regimental colors at Chickamauga, but it did lose the company flag or guidon that McWilliams wielded in the final moments of resistance. He rallied his men longer than he should have, then found that the Confederate line had moved up the hill behind him—he and some of his men were captives. McWilliams showed himself to be a brave man and a tenacious leader under fire but went "missing" for all his effort. Most of the men of the Fifty-First who were captured on the 20th, were captured when the regimental lines came apart as the officers backed the regiment up the wooded slopes.

Pockets of Resistance.

The Dry Valley Road ran north and south, roughly parallel to and three-fourths of a mile west of the Lafayette Road. It would be the road of retreat for the units of the Federal right wing. This route was not ruptured by the Confederate breakthrough and therefore allowed the Federal right to back up to the west, in order to move north, to the left, to reconnect with the rest of the army. From the terrain between Lytle Hill and the hill south of the Widow Glenn house, where Walworth was first attacked, back west to the Dry Valley Road, which would be the road of retreat for the right wing, was about one-fourth of a mile—more for the Twenty-Second Illinois which had advanced the furthest on a diagonal course between the Widow Glenn's to the foot of Lytle Hill, less for the Twenty-Seventh Illinois, the trailing regiment of the brigade, which had advanced the least distance and was still near the Widow Glenn house, but down the hill from the house itself. The path of retreat back to the Dry Valley Road was sloped upward to the road and was covered with trees. A half mile to the left (north) lay Laiboldt's Brigade, men regrouping, men helping wounded men, men streaming to the Dry Valley Road and beyond. The men of the Fifty-First could not have seen that far and would not have known what they were looking at if they could have. The only clear piece of terrain, where one might orient oneself was the hill and cleared ground south of the Widow Glenn house.

And, still, in the midst of the disintegrating right, there were things that had not quite disintegrated. Wilder's Brigade, which was on the right of Walworth's brigade, with its repeating Spencers, kept Confederate units from getting in the rear of the now detached Federal right and protected the detached Federal right, crushed on front and left, from getting crushed as a whole from its right.

The Fifty-First was pushed back by Anderson's Brigade on the regimental left and Manigault's Brigade on the regimental right, the retreat of men on the right carried them back up the Widow Glenn hill, and they were eventually separated from the left wing of the regiment that retreated, likewise to the west, but in the hollow between Lytle Hill and the Widow Glen hill toward the Dry Valley Road. Benjamin Smith of Company C, on detached service as an orderly for General Sheridan, encountered the lieutenant (Cummings) in command of Company D at the top of the Widow Glen hill. Cummings already had "a few men in charge", and there were two guns of the First Missouri Light Artillery, Company G, at the apex of the Widow's hill; Smith said the battery had "no ammunition except one charge, a shell". Smith, on horseback, collected yet more men from the stragglers coming out of the woods, men ready for a way to continue the fight. Cozzens identifies the motley group as elements of the Twenty-Seventh Illinois, the Fifty-First Illinois, and the pickets of the Twenty-First Michigan (who had been left behind when Lytle's Brigade quicked to the left and up the backside of Lytle Hill to face the Confederate break-through; report of Major Seymour Chase, Major, Twenty-First Michigan Infantry, Official Records 30/1, p. 586). Smith wrote:

A force of two hundred was then collected on the knoll, and put themselves under [Cummings], who directed them all to lay low and await events. If they would stay together there was a fighting chance to escape. The battle was raging fiercer than ever North of us. The whole forces on both sides were in the struggle. Having our little force in hand none to soon, for we had caught sight of a rebel force coming from their main army no doubt sent back to gather the many stragglers from our army; they were about equal in force to ours. Marching towards our knoll, they could see only our two cannon and the men who were in charge, the artillerymen, and myself, I being mounted, and just back of the infantry who were all concealed by laying down. Boyd passed the word among them, to keep down until he gave the word. On the rebels came, and letting off a yell, they charged on a run; reaching the foot of the rising ground, they fired a volley. Sitting on my horse side ways to them, my horse dancing a jig in his excitement, the bullets flew all around me, one passing through my hair on the back of my neck. The artillerymen wheeled the gun around, and fired their last shot. [Cummings] sprang up with his two hundred men, who sent a volley at short range, and ordered a charge; the rebs were taken by surprise, and scattered in all directions. Down the hill we went, and so close to us were they, that we captured a squad of prisoners, including their color guard and flag. They proved to be part of the 24th Alabama regiment. [Cummings] tore the flag from its staff and folding it up, put it inside his blouse (Benjamin Smith, Private Smith's Journal, Chicago, 1963, pp. 98-9. Smith, often imperfect on details, exchanges Cummings of Company D with Boyd, once of Company D but no longer so due to failing health]).

The Fourth Line: Leaving the Battlefield. The Fifty-First retreated from the field in pieces, small pieces and rather large pieces—and no doubt as individual soldiers who had given up the fiight individually, hurrying from the field, intent upon escaping capture and Confederate prison. Raymond reported, "We fell back to crest of the Missionary Ridge hills and formed the fourth line, which was not penetrated by the enemy." [more]

Wood, McCook, Rosecrans. John Beatty, one of the brigade commanders at Chickamauga, assessed the commanders of the Army of the Cumberland. "McCook is young, and very fleshy. Rousseau is by far the handsomest man in the army.... Wood is a small man, short and slim, with dark complexion, and black whiskers.... Major General Stanley, the cavalryman, is of good size, gentlemanly in bearing... McCook and Wood swear like pirates, and affect the rough-and-ready style....Rosecrans is an educated officer, who has rubbed much against the world... McCook is a chucklehead... Major-Geneal Thomas is tall, heavy, sedate... puts on less style than any of those named.... McCook has a grin, which excites the suspicion that he is either still very green or deficient in the upper story." (235-6) Writing in July, 1863, as the world devolved toward Chickamauga, Beatty wrote that McCook "looks, if possible, more like a blockhead than ever, and it is astonishing to me that he should be permitted to retain command of a corps for a single hour." (294)

Simonds, Foster, Mott, Palmer, Edmonds, Sunder & the Forty-Second, Company K. On Sunday, the 20th, all of Walworth's brigade were caught in the chaotic fighting—the Fifty-First and Twenty-Second already cut to half strength around Viniard field on the 19th—but the Forty-Second Illinois especially suffered heavy casualties. Merritt J. Simonds of Company K of the Forty-Second told of being wounded in the bedlam, "...about 11 o'clock when we have to go into the fight on the double quick. The fight rages with fury... I am struck in the right leg just above the knee. Shatters the bone some. I try to get off the field but cannot. Captain Foster is wounded in the face. The rebs help him off the field. William Mott is wounded in the thigh. Frank Sunder is wounded in the right leg below the knee. The rebs help him off. George Palmer and John Edmonds are killed. We all lay here together. God only knows how many more fall after this. We are repelled and driven back. I lay here until night. The rebs promise to take me off but do not" ("Diary of Merritt James Simonds," Typescript, Sycamore Public Library, Sycamore, Illinois; original diary in the Regional History holdings, Founders Memorial Library, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois).


The Near Aftermath

Taken Captive
Numerous Federal soldiers were captured on September 19, the first day of the Chickamauga fighting bodies of troops were cut off in the shifting back and forth of the lines; wounded of the 19th were captured on the field when the Confederate lines advanced beyond where they fell. Since the Fifty-First and Bradley's Brigade, at the end of the day, held the ground where they fought, they suffered few casualties as missing captives on the 19th. The men of the Fifty-First who were captured by Confederates were captured, with an exception or two, on September 20 and in one of two ways: (1) A number of wounded men were captured when the Federal right collapsed at mid-day of September 20 and Confederate cavalry took control of some field hospitals and the division hospitals of the 14th, 20th, and 21st Corps, which were located at Crawfish Springs (see maps linked on this page) and especially in and around the Gordon-Lee mansion at Crawfish Springs. There was a rush to move as many wounded men as possible to safety, but many were too late or in too bad physical condition to get away. Their attendants—doctors, hospitals stewards, ambulance personnel, musicians working as litter-bearers and hospital help—also often fell into Confederate hands. William Mee of Company H, who later died at Andersonville, was a musician tending the wounded; Charles Tower of Company K, age 16, was a drummer, engaged in care of the wounded; he also later died at Andersonville. William Lindy (wounded, face), Alexander Jack (wounded, leg), David Reed (wounded, leg), all of Company H, and numerous others of the regiment's wounded were taken captive when the hospitals fell into Confederate hands. (2) Other men were captured in the early afternoon of September 20 in the chaotic fighting as the Federal right collapsed and was overwhelmed. Raymond said he lost 31 men "missing" on the 20th. The compiled service records of the men of the regiment often do not clearly distinguish on which day the wounded or the wounded-and-captured were wounded and/or captured. The chaos of the two days would not allow for that; casualty lists lump the two days together. Captain John McWilliams of Company E and a small band of his company were captured on the 20th as McWilliams tried to hold his men together to hold the regiment's position. He could not.

(Martin V. Riley, lucky to have survived the conflagration that engulfed his Company K on the 19th, was unlucky enough to be taken captive on the 21st under singular circumstances, "On Monday, the 21st, I was detailed with a squad of men to convey some of the wounded soldiers to Chattanooga as the arm was retreating to that place. While crossing a field, we met a rebel soldier marching along with his gun; he said he was going to the rear but I put him under arrest and took his gun; in 20 minutes we were overtaken by the rebel cavalry and carried off as prisoners, and the same prisoner I had been guarding took his gun, also my gun and was placed as guard over me" [see Riley's account of Confederate captivity on these pages].)

Men who were wounded and fallen in the collapse of the Federal right on the 20th, on Sunday, fell in dire straits. Their units and their friends were pushed off the field by the Confederate advance. The fallen wounded, like Merritt Simonds and those of the eighteen casualties of the Fifty-First who could not help themselves or were not helped by their friends from the field—and the dead—lay where they fell. They were prisoners of the Confederacy, bedded on the ground. Martin Riley wrote of his first moments of captivity, "We were taken back over the same battlefield on which we had fought the Saturday and Sunday previous, and a fearful sight met my view. Many of the soldiers that had been wounded or shot were still lying there in their terrible suffering without any attention having been given them. Their agony was beyond description. "

Gordon-Lee Mansion/Hospital at Crawfish Springs (Click for the Mansion Then and Now)

The luckiest of the captured were those captured on the 19th who had leg wounds (which would heal without amputation) and were not ambulatory. Most of them were paroled within ten days, and Bragg sent them back through the lines to Rosecrans. The walking wounded and the not-wounded were less fortunate. Most of them were marched 20 miles to the railroad, hauled to Richmond and incarcerated there, and, in the early spring, ended up in Andersonville, where nine members of the regiment ended altogether. Some of the dead at Andersonville suffered no wounds at Chickamauga but became casualties of the battle months later in the Andersonville summer of 1864. It was a blessing to be a captive with a leg wound, or less-than-fatal critical wounds, rather than a healthy, or lightly-wounded, ambulatory captive.

Wounded Captives on Battlefield. Those who were wounded and captured in the hospitals spent eight to ten more days on the battle ground. Mel Follet and Merritt Simonds of the Forty-Second Illinois and Edwards Burns, dying, of the Fifty-First Illinois left behind diaries of their days immediately after being wounded on the 19th. Follett and Burns, both wounded on the 19th, were tended still by Federal physicians and hospital stewards and musicians of the regiment—and by Stephen Allen of Company H who was awaiting court martial for desertion and was put to work tending the wounded.

The men of the brigade, who were the wounded fallen of the 20th, were in dreadful circumstances. Raymond reported that he had 18 wounded on the 20th. We don't know how many of the 18 were unable to get away from advancing Confederate lines. The brigade did not hold the terrain where they fell and they were cut off from the main hospital, miles away at Crawfish Springs, which anyway soon fell into Confederate hands. We have no record left behind by men of the Fifty-First who were wounded somewhere between the Widow Glen place and Lytle Hill, but Merritt Simonds of the Forty-Second and an unknown diarist, which fought on the right of the Fifty-First, helps fill that gap. Simonds, wounded on the 20th, lay on the battlefield where he fell. The unknown diarist unlike Simonds could still walk despite his wounds. He wrote:

At nine A.M. this morning I was wounded and captured by the rebels. I was hurried to the rear as fast as possible, with quite a number of our wounded. We were taken to Steward's Hospital, which is situated some three miles from the battle-field. We were put out upon the ground, with no shelter whatever... There were some eighty of our wounded at this place... Toward evening, all that were able were marched off" (in Henry Steele Commager, ed., The Blue and the Gray, Two volumes in one. New York, Fairfax Press, 1982, p. 689).

On the 21st, Simonds wrote, "The rebs carry off their wounded and bury their dead, but do not take us off. we lay here suffering from the sun and for water. The rebs give us some blankets and water." On the 22nd, Simonds wrote, "We passed a restless night, do not know whether our enemies intend to take us off or not. God help us to endure it. His will be done whether we live or die." The staff tending Burns, Follett, and the other wounded in the hospitals was short-handed and diminishing. Burns wrote on the 22nd, "Surgeons are busily engaged amputating limbs and nurses burying dead". Follet, shot through the knee, wrote in his diary on September 23, "The enemy took all but the eight or ten men with them of the nurses so we are short of help." On the 26th he wrote, "There are so many of us here that the surgeons cannot get around to all each day."

Simonds ordeal continued. "We have lain here now three nights and nearly four days and no signs of relief. Although the rebs continue to promise us. We have to lie on our backs all the time which makes it very hard on the rough ground," he wrote on the 23rd. On the 24th, Simonds and his comrades were visited by "some of our men and a Doctor"—captives of the Confederates who were allowed to visit wounded on the field. They were left yet on the field but at least were moved away "from the dead bodies around us". On the 25th, he wrote, "Still alive... We get some soup and coffee from the Hospital and the promise of being taken off tomorrow." On the 26th, "The morning dawns and two are taken from here. Myself and the 42nd are here yet. We patiently wait until noon and no relief comes." But, finally, Simonds and the other members of the 42nd around him, on Saturday the 26th, were brought off the field and tended to.

(Simonds died of his wound on October 29, in the Chattanooga hospital of Sheridan's Division. In his last letter home, written to his father on October 27, Simonds wrote, "The Drs say I cannot live more than two days... I would like to have my body taken home and buried beside my Mother." Simonds friend and company-mate George H. Wright informed Simonds father in a letter of October 30, "He died last night. I cannot make it seem that he is dead... How much he anticipated...returning to his dear friends at home." Simonds' father was not able to grant his last wish—and Simonds is buried in Chattanooga National Cemetery in Plot 234.)

Food became scant at the hospitals. Surgeon Thomas Magee (himself a captive) of the Fifty-First wrote that the division hospital had only enough rations to last to "the fourth day of our capture". Magee was at the division hospital; there were other field hospitals and there rations were even shorter. On the first day of capture, the 20th, Follet wrote that they had sow belly and hard tack to eat. On the 22nd Burns wrote, "This morning nothing of importance and nothing to eat of much importance." On the 23rd, Follet wrote, "About out of provisions and the Rebs say they cannot furnish us." On the 25, Follett recorded: "We are living on boiled wheat that being all that we can get. How the boys suffer. The Rebs furnish us nothing to eat." Magee, soon after his release from Confederate prison, wrote, "We had to resort to the use of boiled wheat, stored in the building we occupied; and this was the only thing between us and starvation... I can see now the Adjutant [Henry Hall] eating his boiled wheat from a tin cup, with an iron spoon, inter-larding the exercise with pertinent remarks, which would set the whole ward of wounded men in an uproar of laughter" (Thomas Wentworth Higginson, ed., Harvard Memorial Biographies, Two Volumes, Cambridge: Sever and Francis, 1866, Vol. 2, p. 137). >Burns wrote that a Federal ambulance train came in on the 27th with some rations—"a very good breakfast nothing more". On the 28th Follet wrote, "We are living on boiled wheat and corn meal."

The numbers of wounded exceeded the shelters of the division hospitals, the Gordon-Lee mansion, nearby cabins, and the hospital tents. Men were quartered on the ground. Follett wrote on the 24th, "Had an awful night of it last night. We are lying on the naked ground and I became so worn out that I thought I could not live until morning. Smith of my company is on my left and he discovered that he was completely covered with maggots. Poor fellow how he suffered." Burns wrote on the same day, "This morning three men died in this tent."

Captured comrades who could walk were marched away, heading for Confederate prisons. On September 26, Follett wrote, "Some of the slightly wounded will leave here today to try the realities of prison life in Richmond." On September 29 these men arrived in Richmond and in March and April the survivors among them moved on to try the realities of prison life in Andersonville.

The days passed with rumors and hopes of parole for the wounded men, and parole finally came for some of the wounded who were still living—Bragg had no particular interest in holding captive those who couldn't walk and those who were so severely wounded that they required significant medical attention. Bragg's dispatch to Rosecrans on September 27, 1863, read in part, "Every possible care and attention in our power have been bestowed on your wounded found on the field of battle.... Such as can bear transportation (to be selected by your medical officers already on the field) will be paroled and sent to your lines, provided you will send the neessary transportation..." (Official Records, Series II, Volume 6, p. 323).

Follett Paroled; Foster Not—Off to Prison. Follet, Adjutant Henry Hall of the Fifty-First, and numerous others of Bradley's Brigade were paroled on the 28th. Burns was paroled on the 30th. Both Burns and Follet made the jolting ambulance trip to the Federal lines on October 1. Follet wrote, "Were put in ambulances before daylight but did not start until 8 o'clock. Hauled about six miles when we halted for the rest of the train. I never knew what pain was before. It seemed at times as though I must die. We did not arrive until 10 o'clock at night. Got stuck in a pond hole and could not get out for two hours and then were helped out by the 10th South Carolina Regt." At this same time Merritt Simonds was paroled; his diary stops at Saturday, September 26. The unknown diarist and Captain Foster of the Forty-Second Illinois and numerous others—probably not wounded seriously enough to merit parole—continued in confederate hands in their hospital-on-the-ground. Their hopes for parole were high. On October 2, the diarist wrote, "We expect to leave here today"; on the 3rd, "No signs of leaving yet. Dr. Story [Confederate] is doing his best to make us comfortable, but we have no bandages to dress our wounds with"; on the 4th, "Today is every cold. we have no blankets... Our rations have run out, and taking all things into consideration, it would be hard to embitter our condition." On October 5 the bad news came that there would be no parole, "and that we would have to take a trip to Richmond." On October 7, the sufferers drew rations of flower, and Captain Joseph Foster of the Forty-Second Illinois, face wound and all, was "baking bread" as the diarist wrote in his diary. On the 8th, they were put in lumber wagons and hauled to Ringgold and from there they traveled by train to Dalton. On the 9th, they traveled, again by train, to Atlanta where they came under the care of their own, but undersupplied, doctors. The extant diary does not continue far enough into October to record when the men moved on to prison in Richmond.

U. S. Grant, after Rosecrans' departure from the Army of the Cumberland, provided this tabulation of the wounded released on parole to the federal commissary-general of prisoners, Colonel William Hoffman: "1 major, 11 captains, 39 subalterns, and 1,691 enlisted men" (Official Records, Series II, Volume 6, p. 511).

Casualty Counts
The Adjutant General's regimental history states that the regiment, on September 19th, lost 90 of 209 men engaged. Perhaps, but neither figure seems high enough.
Raymond's after-action report gives separate counts for the fighting on the 20th. The regiment, he said, lost 4 killed, 18 wounded and 31 missing on the second day.
The casualty list for the Fifty-First Illinois, compiled by Acting Adjutant Lieutenant Albert Eads and signed by Lt. Col. Raymond on September 30, lists 149 men, killed, wounded, and missing.5
Henry Hall, the regimental adjutant, wrote home that the regiment lost 93 men—Hall himself, with a severe gunshot to his left leg, was one of the 93—in 30 minutes (and the chaos of September 20 had still to be endured.)6
Lewis Hanback wrote to his future wife on September 26, "Our Brigade went into the time to check the Enemy who were driving back General Woods' troops... drove the Enemy off the Field losing in 30 minutes 273 killed wounded and missing."7

Captain Albert M. Tilton of Company C of the Fifty-First wrote that Saturday "... was the hottest day of the two for us but only lasted about 30 minutes. We lost 96 men in that time. We went in on Saturday with 314 men & officers & in the 2 days fighting lost 160, over one half."8

Five Months Later, February 1864
Edward Burns of Company K was dead, having succumbed to the fevers and agonies of his wounded leg. Mel Follet of the Forty-Second Illinois had survived the battlefield, the federal hospital at Nashville, and been furloughed home as a still paroled prisoner. Van Buren, Lindy, Mee, Farnham, Jackson, Gravel, and a small host of regimental others were still Richmond prisons; Andersonville was getting ready for them. Colonel Bradley and Adjutant Hall were recovered enough to be out of Nashville and St. Louis hospitals and back in Chicago among friends; Hall was a paroled prisoner and had been ordered to report to Chicago on recruiting service. There were others who were at Benton Barracks in St. Louis as paroled prisoners: Jack, Reed, Trent, all of Company H—three of many. The regiment had reenlisted at Blaine's Crossroads, Tennessee and embarked on the trip home to Chicago from Chattanooga on February 10. The Chicago Tribune of February 28, 1864 carried this article:

Some two weeks ago, Capt. Barber, of the 1st Battalion Ohio Sharpshooters, proceeded with his command to the field of Chickamauga, for the purpose of giving interment to the remains of soldiers who fell in that context and were left unburied by the enemy. The publication of the following memoranda, collected by the Captain, will prove of interest to Illinoians who had friends in that memorable contest:
- Graves in the field near Widow Glenn's, Crawfish Springs, of soldiers buried by our surgeons who remained on the field -- Corp. Andrw J. Ashmore, E, 21st Ill.; Corp. B. F. Read, D, 21st Ill.; Corp. Thomas Cole, C, 39th Ill.; Lieut. J. F. Weitzel, K, 21st Ill.; C. Wilt Wilson, H, 21st Ill.; James Emmons, I, 21st Ill.; D. B. Hanking, K, 38th Ill.; A. J. Kendall, D, 25th Ill.; Peter Hulwick, I, 21st Ill.; Capt. Thomas Cole, 38th Ill.; H. Shanestock, F, 21st Ill.; A. Sandreth, B, 36th Ill.
- By little frame house near Widow Glenn's — Capt. J. A. French, 22d Ill.; Sida A. C. S., C 51st Ill.; Lieut. A. Moody, 51st Ill.; Sergeant Major Curry, 51st Ill.
- On flat right of road leading to Crawfish Springs, one-quarter of a mile from it — B. D. Perkins, E, 100th Ill.
- Grave east of Sharpshooter's camp, under oak tree, left of road, marked W. W. W., C, 84th Ill.
- Unburied soldier found enclosed by a rail fence, on second hill west of Widow Glenn's house, on west side of girdling, and an envelope by his side, marked "James A. Andrews, 21st (or 27th) Illinois.

We can help with correction of the names of those buried by the little farm house near Widow Glenn's: Captain Milton French, Twenty-Second Illinois; Albert C. Simons, Company G, Fifty-First Illinois; Lieut Otis Moody, Company K, Fifty-First Illinois; and Sergeant Major Timothy Casey, Fifty-First Illinois.

Seven Months Later, April 1864
The regiment, after 30 days of furlough in Illinois, was back in Chattanooga, heading to the front and the spring campaign. Van Buren, Lindy, Mee, Allen, Gregg, Romine, Powell, Goffinet, Farnham, Goldsby, Jackson, Gravel, Farrell, Edwards, Tower, and others had been transferred from the Danville prison to the Andersonville one. William Lindy of Company H and French-born Peter Goffinet of Company D were feeling their health spiral downwards. Wounded men were rejoining the regiment from hospitals and home furloughs. A few wounded paroled prisoners of war were being formally exchanged and coming back to the regiment.

A small troop of men from the regiment—some officers, some privates—climbed Lookout Mountain to have their picture taken.

There was yet another somber task to finish before marching out Chattanooga heading for a place to fight. While on furlough officers of the regiment had read The Tribune article about Captain Barber's mission to reinter some of the sloppily buried Chickamauga dead, but the article only mentioned three of the Fifty-First. Members of the regiment concluded to make their own regimental visit to the Chickamauga fields. On April 21, "A party from the regt visited Chicamauga battle field and recovered the bodies of Lieuts Simons, Buck & Moody, Sergt Major Casey, Corporal Nelson of Co A & Private McBride of Co. D & Bilby of Co E. The bodies had been so poorly buried by the rebs that subsequent rains had exposed the remains. Lt. Buck's body was identified by a pair of his shoulder straps and the gold filling in his teeth, Bilby by his red hair and the others by finding them right where they fell in battle or where we left them. All were reinterred in National Cemetery at Chattanooga." A deadly detail: digging up the dead for reburial.

Moody, Buck, French, Simons at Final Rest

Five Years Later: Romine—Fainter Day by Day
We take up the narrative of Matthew Romine of Company E again. He was shot in the chest on the 19th and escaped the field by his own battle-rarefied energy. He was captured on the 20th when the hospitals were captured. From there, J. S. Lothrop continues the story,

He was taken to Richmond; thence to Danville, Virginia; thence to Andersonville, Georgia; thence to Charleston, South Carolina; thence to Florence, South Carolina; thence, December 7, 1864, after more than one year of captivity, to the Federal fleet of Charleston Harbor; and was discharged, February 14, 1865, for disability. In 1865 he entered the Chicago Law School, where he prosecuted the study of the law with earnestness and zeal, and was admitted to the bar in 1866; and commenced practice in the town where he was born [Champaign], the year following. In 1867, he was appointed United States Internal Revenue Collector, for Champaign county. In the Spring of 1868, he was elected Attorney of the city of Champaign... During all this time, however, the rebel bullet which had crashed through his body, was fast doing its work; weaker and fainter, day by day, the emaciated form of Mathew Romine drew nearer the portals of that narrow house to which thousands of his fellow-victims had gone before him. He died Aug. 10, 1868, lamented and mourned by all who knew him.12



1Fifty-First Illinois File, Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia: from diary of George Martling, 87th Indiana Infantry, Indiana State Library. Parks, of the Ninth Indiana Infantry, was a friend of Martling's.
2Luther Bradley Papers, United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
3Copy of Burns Diary in Fifty-First Illinois File at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
4Onstot Papers, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, Illinois.
5Fifty-First Illinois Regimental Books, Volume 3, Record Group 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
6Henry Hall to Nathaniel Hall, 3 October 1863, Henry Ware Hall Papers, 1851-1876, microfilm edition, 1 reel (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1990), reel 1, Massachusetts Historical Society.
7Remember When Auctions, Auction Catalog #4 (1999).
8Tilton to mother, October 11, 1863, Tilton Family Papers MSS84497, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
9Luther Bradley "Personal Reminiscences of the War of Rebellion"; Luther Bradley "A Narrative of Incidents in the Civil War", Luther Bradley Papers, United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In his brief handwritten "Reminiscences", Bradley says "10 minutes". In his brief handwritten "Narrative", Bradley says "30 minutes". Given the thunderclap nature of the fighting and the fact that the Twenty-Second was front and left, the figure of 10 minutes is probably closest to the actual lapse of time.
10Follett Diary on the web at
11Trent: Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County Illinois, Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1885, p. 302. Gregg: The National Tribune, October 23, 1884.
12J. S. Lothrop, J. S. Lothrop's Champaign County Directory With History of the Same, and Each Township Therein, Chicago: Lothrop, 1885.
13There's the renowned Whitman poem, when flowers last in the dooryard bloomed, but other than that I have few hints as to what a "door yard" is as distinct from other yards. If you mention a door yard in another part of the country chances are they will not know what you are referring to. With the extended farm buildings there were three yards: the front yard by the parlor where special guests were greeted, the barn yard where the men did their farm chores, and the door yard by the shed or summer kitchen where women did laundry, planted and tended their kitchen garden and did other woman's work. Sometimes we still hear the term "door yard call", and now you know the origin - you wouldn't want to disturb someone for any length of time while they were working so you just stop for a moment on your way by for a quick hello in the yard -you made a "door yard call".
"The War As It Was," an address by Colonel John T. Bradley, Osage City, Kansas, National Tribune, July 5, 1883.