Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for An Artilleryman’s Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones

An Artilleryman’s Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones

November 23, 2013

An Artilleryman's Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones, 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery.

Near Chattanooga, Monday, Nov. 23. I had just completed writing last night when an officer rode up (Sherman’s staff) and inquired for the commanding officers. The boys were immediately called up, harnessed up and returned to camp. The upper pontoon broke so as to prevent the 4th and 1st Divisions of the Corps from crossing the river, which rendered it necessary to postpone it for twenty-four hours. Arrived at camp and pitched our tents. This morning cloudy and smoky, indications of rain. Ewing’s Battery passed towards the river. Eight batteries passed by last night. Had we crossed this morning, they would all have met on the other side, which would be undoubtedly a lively time. Morgan L. Smith was to cross above us and form his line, meeting on Chickamauga Creek, and our left on it. The infantry drew shovels last night and were ordered to take possession of the heights and then fortify. A team sent to headquarters at 7 A. M. to go to Kelly’s Bend for forage. One sent yesterday evening. Neither of them yet returned. Completed my letter to Thomas.

3 P. M. Heavy volleys of musketry are heard in the direction of Chattanooga, which is said by a correspondent passing by to be a reconnoitering party to ascertain if they are evacuating, which is supposed to be the case. But I don’t credit it.

5 P. M. A fierce engagement is in progress. Since my last writing the well-timed volleys soon grew into a continual rattle, and the cannonading fell heavy and fast. I climbed the bluff as soon as possible to take a better view. Here I found the summit covered with spectators, and every tree loaded as with grapes. The lines most of the time were enveloped in smoke, and we could not discern which were the gainers. The firing commenced well on to the right in the rear of Chattanooga, but fast crossed over toward the left. The artillery’s roar, reverberating through the valleys and from mountains, made a deep and impressive sound as though the whole country was in convulsion. From Lookout the heaviest guns were fired. The flash could be seen as it vomited its load of destruction twenty-two seconds before the report arrived, and its echo was answered by half a dozen smaller guns from Moccasin Point in quick succession; but it was so much lower I do not think it was of much effect. Two distinct charges were made (I know not by which party) and the musketry fire unceasing, and heavy columns of fresh smoke arose, a pall for those departed to their eternal rest. As I sat upon the brow of that eminence I could think of the many groans that were now uttered on the field of strife, where friend and foe lay as an equal in the gore of their own blood, while many more lay with the ghastliness of death upon their features, that but a few hours before beamed with life and animation, and whose hearts melted with love and hopes in the future. Sad! sad! But it does not stop here. How many hearts will bleed. How many mothers’ hearts will be heavy in anguish when the news will reach them of the fate of their offspring and object of their care and love. How little is this realized by the crowd surrounding. Their thoughts are light and trifling; they think not of death or futurity. Removed from all destruction, accustomed to look at death as of minor importance, they feel not the due importance. But such is war. Although a soldier and inured to meet the foe with determination and calmness, I must say, Oh what a cruel and wicked thing is war! A deer ran along the mountain and the attention of the masses was drawn from the conflict and gleefully passed to the animal. This was not in keeping with the state of my mind, and I left and returned to my tent, the musketry having nearly ceased.

Previous post:

Next post: