- Jul 12, 2015
Some of this is a little off. On Dec. 15 Cheatham's Corps was on Hood's extreme right, not left. That's correct that Bate was ordered to the left late in the day and he may have initially formed near the Franklin Pike but he was ordered further to the left and then formed his division (or some of it) on the hill due north of Compton's (later Shy's) Hill, facing due west but got pushed off by Hatch's 5th Division. This was 2 miles west of the Franklin Pike. That may be correct that his artillery had a difficult time keeping up as there were few roads and the fields were very muddy and soggy from thawing out. That's correct that the 5th Co. W. A. only had two guns left after having two overrun and captured at the Battle of the Cedars. The 5th Co. was not engaged on the 15th. On the 16th they were not placed along the main line and were on the big hill due south of Loring's Division near the ordnance wagon train. They threw a few shells at the enemy but because of the distance, the smoke and haze they really couldn't see what they were firing at. They got caught in the traffic jam on, I think, today's Overton Lea Rd. None the infantrymen would stop and help them and they spiked their guns and abandoned them. They had four 12 pdr Napoleons during the Tenn. Campaign and lost them all. This is from that excellent book The Pride of the Confederate Artillery: The Washington Artillery in the Army ... By Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr.1863
January 2: The 5th Company, with Adam’s Brigade, re-crossed the river to participate in a series of desperate charges which captured the Federal’s position on high ground, but Federal fire from across the river forced them back. The 5th Company losses included two men killed and two men wounded.
January 3: Bragg’s Army began pulling back to Shelbyville, Tennessee that night. Shelbyville is south and slightly west of Murfreesboro, approximately half the distance between Murfreesboro and the Tennessee - Alabama border.
July: Grant’s Army had already moved below Vicksburg, Mississippi where they crossed the river and, in May, had temporarily taken Jackson, Mississippi before marching west to lay siege to Vicksburg. Joseph E. Johnston brought Confederate troops to the Jackson, Mississippi area in an unsuccessful attempt to join General John E. Pemberton before Pemberton was sealed in at Vicksburg. Later, Breckinridge’s Division would join Johnston’s forces, moving from Tennessee through Mobile, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi. Vicksburg having surrendered to Grant on July 4th, the Confederate forces assumed a defensive position at Jackson. Federal General William T. Sherman brought elements of three Federal Corps to lay siege to Jackson.
July 8: The 5th Company set up opposite the Lynch House in Jackson, Mississippi and waited for the Federal troops.
July 9: The battle of Jackson, Mississippi would begin this date. The 5th Company was moved to a new position astride the tracks of the NOJ and GN Railroad on the south side of the city. After taking that position, the 5th Company used a piano from a nearby abandoned house to accompany their singing. Reports indicate that the singing halted only during the firing on July 12th, but the music resumed after the Federal forces had been repelled.
July 11: The 5th Company opened fire on the approaching Federal forces and held them.
July 12: The right flank of Sherman’s forces, Lauman’s Division, made an assault on the 5th Company’s position, but they were repulsed by the 5th Company with heavy losses. This firing continued through July 16th.
July 16: Having fired daily from July 12th into the evening of the 16th, Johnston withdrew the Confederate troops from Jackson, moving eastward. 5th Company losses were six men missing, two horses and a mule killed. They had fired 211 rounds. Johnston authorized the 5th Company to inscribe "Jackson 1863" on their flag soon after this event. Johnston’s army removed itself to Morton, Mississippi, about thirty-two miles east of Jackson.
September: As a result of Bragg’s evacuation of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Breckinridge’s Division (of which the 5th Company was a part) evacuated Morton, Mississippi to join Bragg, passing through Rome, Georgia.
September 18: Breckinridge’s Division, which included the 5th Company, left the area of Pigeon Mountain and moved to the east bank of the Chickamauga River, stopping near Glass’ Mill.
September 19: The battle of Glass’ Mills and Chickamauga began with 5th Company having six officers and one-hundred twenty enlisted men. The unit now had two James rifles which were positioned on a high bluff above Glass’ Mills, and the other four cannons - all twelve-pounder Napoleons at this point - accompanied the infantry across the river. Their initial success was short-lived as the heavier Federal artillery drove them back. Some of the 5th Company’s pieces had been damaged by the Federal’s fire.
September 20: Dawn found the 5th Company five miles north of the previous day’s position. By mid-morning, they had advanced virtually unopposed with Adam’s Brigade to the Chattanooga Road until they could turn 90° to the south to attack down the Chattanooga Road. Numerous exchanges of artillery fire took place which finally allowed Adam’s Brigade to charge the Federal position. The Federals, having superior numbers of artillery and infantry troops, refused the attack of Adam’s Brigade.
A Federal attack on Slocomb’s Battery of the 5th Company at the Glenn Orchard was driven back, and Adam’s Brigade formed around the Battery. Slocomb then reported that the battery was badly "cut up" and in need of rest, so the Battery was ordered to retire. Two hours later, the Battery reported for duty again.
Adam’s Brigade was placed four hundred yards behind General Liddell’s Division which was under artillery fire from the Federal forces, and Adam’s Brigade joined an attack just before dusk which advanced the Confederate line beyond the Chattanooga Road again. The Confederate victory resulted in the Federals withdrawing to Chattanooga.
5th Company losses included the deaths of eleven men, twenty men wounded, and fifteen horses killed. The six pieces fired a total of 562 rounds.
September 27 to November 27: Assigned to Cobb’s Battalion of Artillery of Breckinridge’s Division, commanded by General William Bate, in Hardee’s Corps, the 5th Company was separated from Louisiana infantry units for the first time. By late November, Bragg established a line of entrenchments at the base of and in the area of Missionary Ridge, while Hardee’s Corps manned the upper part of Missionary Ridge and Breckinridge’s Corps held the lower part.
November 25: Bate’s Division was ordered to move from the entrenchments at the base of Missionary Ridge and re-locate to the summit, a task of more than five hours’ work that exhausted both teams and men. Federal troops attacked the Confederate forces at the base of Missionary Ridge, and the 5th Company fired upon them as they began to form together at the base, but distance made their firing all but totally ineffectual. The Union soldiers overran the base positions, continuing up the ridge and forcing the Confederate forces to flee.
The six pieces of the 5th Company were divided into two sections, each firing on advancing infantry while receiving incoming fire from captured Confederate cannons turned on them by Federal troops only a few hundred yards away. Federal infantrymen crossed over the ridge, cutting the supply route so that only one limber chest could finally be brought through to replenish already-low ammunition supplies. A Federal shell struck and destroyed both limber chests of the Napoleons on the right section of the 5th Company. The 5th Company retreated with the four pieces which could still be limbered, but they became mired down on the steep slopes of Missionary Ridge. Unable to get help freeing the pieces from retreating infantrymen, the cannons finally were unlimbered as Federal troops were within forty yards of them, and most of the men and horses escaped capture.
In retreat, the officers and cannoneers of the 5th Company came across several abandoned cannons. Putting them into position, and with support from some infantrymen still in the area, they opened fire on the advancing Federal troops and halted the advance of the Federals on that part of the battlefield.
November 26: Having had to abandon their cannons, the 5th Company moved with the Division trains to Ringgold, Georgia, and then to Dalton, Georgia. In the report of the battle, seven men were listed as missing and wounded, and the 5th Company’s four Napoleons and two James Rifles were listed as captured.
December 17: By this date, the 5th Company reported that it had 118 men with 93 men fit for duty, and had been outfitted with two six-pounders, two twelve-pound howitzers, and about 142 rounds per gun. The 5th Company was now a four-gun battery. Bragg had asked to be relieved of duty as commander of the Army of Tennessee, and had been replaced by General W.J. Hardee; Hardee was then quickly replaced by General Joseph E. Johnston by this date, all of these changes taking place in about a three-week period.
March: By this time in 1864, the 5th Company was in a Corps commanded by Hindman, Hood, or Hardee.
April: A report listed the battery as having four twelve-pounder Napoleons and forty-eight serviceable horses. Cannoneers considered the smoothbore brass Napoleons to be the best all-around gun for firing shell with fuze, solid shot, grape, and canister. Accurate up to a thousand yards, the claim was that "in the hands of Corporal Alex Allain, Charlie Fox, Oscar Legare, or other gunners, we faced many a Parrott rifle in artillery duels with confidence."
April 30: The 5th Company was reported as being in Cobb’s Battalion of Bate’s (formerly Breckinridge’s) Division of Hardee’s Corps of Johnston’s Army of Tennessee.
May 6 to 8: Sherman’s forces assaulted Dalton, Georgia, seeing action at Rocky Face Ridge and Buzzard Roost Gap (Mill Creek Gap). Bate’s Division, being part of the defending forces, almost certainly took part in the defense of these places, and the 5th Company, as part of Bate’s Division, would also have been involved in the fight. However, records were lost during the later retreat from Nashville, so there is a gap in the official record. We do know that three men of the battery were killed in the two-day battle, one by a cannon shot near the wagons and the other by an enemy skirmisher; and eight men were wounded. During this time, sharpshooters began taking a heavy toll of cannoneers, which led to cannoneers experimenting with heavy wooden shields toward the end of the War.
May 25 to June 4: A series of engagements took place in the vicinity of Pumpkin Vine Creek (Dallas and New Hope Church, both near the creek). Three men were killed, two mortally wounded, and two wounded at Dallas, Georgia. No injuries or fatalities were recorded at New Hope Church, but one man was wounded at Golgotha Church. Dallas was later recalled by the men as an artillery duel which resulted in heavy destruction. Johnston shifted east to take positions on Lost, Pine, and Kenesaw Mountains, all of which the railroad passed on the way to Marietta, Georgia. Slocomb’s Battery of the 5th Company was positioned on Pine Mountain.
June 14: One man was killed on Pine Mountain.
June 15: Pulling back to Kenesaw Mountain, five men of the Battery were reported missing.
June 27: Hardee’s Corps was positioned at the center of Johnston’s line when Sherman attacked. The battle of Kenesaw Mountain resulted in the deaths of two more men of Slocomb’s Battery, and seven men were wounded.
July 4 to 9: Johnston pulled back to the south side of Peach Tree Creek at the edge of Atlanta.
July 15: Penned by C.E. McCarty on July 15th, 1864 in Atlanta, Georgia, a song titled "Song of the Fifth" and subtitled "Written for the 5th Company - Washington Artillery" first saw paper. Although it is not known to what tune McCarty put the stirring words of the song, its meter is most appropriate to the melody of "Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"
July 17: Johnston was replaced as commander of the Army of Tennessee with General John B. Hood, a move unpopular with the army.
July 20: Bate’s Division opened the attack on Union General Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland. The Union was able to bring up reinforcements, and the Confederates suffered heavy losses in a series of charges. Slocomb’s Battery had three fatalities with one man wounded. Hood moved the troops back to entrenchments in Atlanta.
July 22: Federal General McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee shifted obliquely to approach Atlanta from the Atlanta-Decatur Road; most of his cavalry had been dispatched to Decatur on a mission. Hood ordered Hardee to march his troops (which included the 5th Company) fifteen miles in order to attack McPherson’s exposed army on its left flank, which they did the night of the 21st. They attacked about mid-day on the 22nd, catching the Federals by surprise. However, nearby Federal reinforcements soon arrived and the attack was ultimately unsuccessful. Estimates as high as twenty-five percent of Hood’s troops were claimed as casualties. The 5th Company reported two men wounded in this fight.
September 2: The Campaign for Atlanta was over, for all intents and purposes, as Federal troops entered the city.
September 18: Hood’s army was encamped in the area of Lovejoy Station, Georgia, while Sherman’s forces occupied the region in and around Atlanta. Hood was to move his army toward Nashville, Tennessee in the hope of being able to sever Sherman’s supply lines. By this point, General Cheatham had succeeded Hardee, making the 5th Company part of Cheatham’s Corps. Hood moved his troops twenty miles west and struck camp at Palmetto.
October 2: Hood’s Army mobilized to attempt to establish a position north of Atlanta across Sherman’s supply line. At the same time, Sherman was moving his headquarters to Kenesaw Mountain. Bate’s Division followed the Army’s northward route along the railroad. Fighting took place at Altoona with skirmishes at other points along the way.
October 13: Bate’s Division left to cut the railroad at Mill Creek Gap (near Dalton, Georgia) as part of the advance guard. Mill Creek Gap was protected by a timber-and-earth blockhouse with four-foot thick walls and a water-filled ditch surrounding it. The 5th Company was ordered to open fire on the blockhouse when the Union occupants refused to surrender. Soon the blockhouse surrendered with twelve of the fifty Union soldiers killed or wounded, and the railroad had been torn up for three miles. The diary of a soldier in another division made note of the fact that the action there lasted two days with considerable artillery fire involved. No record exists of the Washington Artillery’s involvement in that fighting.
November 13: Hood was ordered to continue toward Nashville in the hope that his troops, along General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s, would be able to isolate and defeat Union General Schofield’s army, then in the vicinity of Pulaski, Tennessee. Bate’s Division, as part of Cheatham’s Corps, crossed the Tennessee River at nearby Florence, Alabama on this date, marching through sleet and snow toward Columbia, Tennessee about eighty miles away where they would find almost two Corps of Schofield’s troops.
November 26: Arriving at Columbia, Tennessee on this date, the Confederate Army bivouacked on Shelbyville Road.
November 27 to 28: Light skirmishing took place on the line around Columbia, Tennessee.
November 29: Following Cleburne’s Division, Bate’s Division crossed the Duck River on a pontoon bridge four miles east of Columbia, Tennessee, moving toward Spring Hill, Tennessee. Their intent was to cut off Schofield’s forces as they withdrew from Columbia. Bate’s Division, unlike Cleburne’s, did not participate in any of the sporadic fighting which took place along the way. Schofield’s troops were not blocked, and went on to Franklin, Tennessee.
November 30: Late in the afternoon, Hood’s troops attacked Schofield’s forces in Franklin, Tennessee which were supported by artillery. The Confederates were repulsed, and the Federals pulled back to Nashville, Tennessee that night. Franklin is on the list of engagements in which the Washington Artillery fought, but no record has been found detailing the nature of their participation. One member of the battery was captured at Franklin.
November 31 to December 3: Bate was ordered to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to destroy the railroad there. Arriving at the end point of the Wilkinson Turnpike, seven miles from Murfreesboro, Bate learned that the town was occupied by a large Federal force under the command of General Lovell Rousseau. Reporting his findings, Bate was instructed to continue as ordered, and to expect that Forrest’s cavalry would soon arrive to reinforce him.
December 4: Arriving at the intersection of Overall Creek and Murfreesboro - Nashville Turnpike, over five miles from Murfreesboro, the 5th Company opened fire on a blockhouse built to protect the railroad bridge. Bate’s troops tore up the railroad tracks while the blockhouse was being bombarded.
Federal troops arrived during the afternoon, but were repulsed by fire from the Washington Artillery. Later that afternoon, more Federal troops arrived, this time with artillery as well as more infantry. Union cavalry crossed the creek to the left of Bate’s position and charged the Battery, but were driven back when the battery fired double charges. The official report noted that the "...Battery...acted with conspicuous and effective gallantry." Bate moved his troops back to Stewart’s Creek to prevent the Federals from outflanking them in the night. This action appears in the Washington Artillery records as Overall Creek. One man was killed and three men were wounded.
December 5: The Confederates destroyed the blockhouses at Stewart’s Creek, Read’s Branch, and Smyrna. Forrest arrived with cavalry and infantry and took command of Bate’s Division, moving the entire force to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to attack the Federals.
December 6 to 7: The 5th Company was engaged at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the action being referred to as Second Murfreesboro. On the 7th, the Union Army attacked, pushing back the Confederate forces, resulting in the loss of two cannons from Slocomb’s Battery because the horses were killed, stranding the pieces. The Battery reported one man killed, one man wounded, and one man captured.
December 8: Bate’s Division rejoined the Army of Tennessee at Nashville, Tennessee, returning to Cheatham’s Corps.
December 15: Having sustained heavy losses at Franklin, Hood’s Army of Tennessee was depleted physically and materially. Hood’s troops assumed a defensive posture. The morning of the 15th, Union General Thomas attacked Hood’s left where Cheatham’s Corps was located. Late that evening, Bate was to move his Division to the left. Forming a line of battle with his right on the Franklin Turnpike, Bate realized that the firing had fallen off as the night progressed; his Division moved further left to Sky’s Hill. The terrain prevented the Confederate artillery batteries, except for two howitzers, from accompanying Bate to the new position.
December 16: All morning, Federal artillery batteries pounded the Confederate position. By afternoon, the Union troops were in position to the rear of Bate’s line, so Bate ordered the artillery to shift to the right of the Franklin Turnpike, the only line of retreat still open. Federal artillery fire drove out Bate by a rear attack, the scattered forces joining the retreat in progress on the Franklin Turnpike. The 5th Company apparently had only two pieces during the battle. Some accounts indicate that the Battery, unable to pull the pieces through the miry clay fields of Tennessee, spiked the guns and left them on the field. They began their retreat to Corinth, Mississippi by way of Pulaski, Tennessee.
December 25: Crossing the Tennessee River on Christmas Day, the Battery reported their numbers as including "forty-five bareheaded and half-clad men." By war’s end, the bright brass uniforms buttons would have to be replaced with crudely hand-carved buttons made by the men themselves, men who were "bareheaded and half-clad". Quite a contrast to the description of the 5th Company on April 1, 1862, when "[t]heir uniforms were fresh," and from the day in 1861 when President Jefferson Davis would say of the Washington Artillery, "Don’t they look like little game-cocks?".
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