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

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An Artilleryman’s Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones

November 24, 2013

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


Mission Ridge, Tenn., Tuesday, Nov. 24. Marched to our position of night before last, unhitched and unharnessed. Laid down till 1 A. M. when we were awakened and ordered to hitch up. No noise allowed to be made. The pontooners marched by on quick time with axes, etc. Cogswell’s Battery moved out and took position in the front. We soon followed in breathless silence, entered an open field and followed it up nearly half a mile, when we came upon the column of infantry moving along in close order and very fast. Not a breath could be heard, nothing but the grating of their feet on the gravel was to be heard. Never did a more earnest or thoughtful column move to meet the enemy. The column proceeded to the river, and we went into battery in the field thirty rods from the bank. The infantry were ferried across in the pontoon boats. One division was already across. Contrary to all expectations not a gun was fired, and we could hear nothing from our position of the advancing column. The out-post guard were gobbled up by surprise and sent over on this side. One escaped and carried the alarm that the Yankees were coming, which was not believed. But the officer of the day with seventeen men reconnoitered the grounds, and they too were “taken in out of the wet” and taken across and put in charge of the guard of the 5th Wisconsin Battery, they being stationed in a bastion on the bank. The out-post very innocently told the story that upon hearing a rustle in the brush which he challenged with a “Halt! Hush you d fool you, the Yankees are right here upon us.’ The fust thing I knew you ‘uns hed me.” While our Division was crossing, long trains of pontoons came up there with a, long line of snow-white ambulances which caused the anxious question—”Who will be obliged to be borne in these from the field of battle?” Then came the hospital train, a wagon for each regiment in the Division, loaded with stores to establish a Division hospital.

6 A. M. . Two divisions were safely across and a more beautiful scene I never witnessed. Through the gray dawn a long line of infantry could be seen drawn up on the opposite banks a mile long, while the waters were covered with boats busily going and coming, loaded with men, the regimental colors standing in the center of the boat. The bridge was now covered, boats brought up, anchored in line, and the floor laid without any delay, the 4th Division marching in the boats and the artillery covering the field. Fires were allowed, to be built now and we soon had coffee. It commenced raining, as cold and disagreeable as the day could be. A steamboat was due at 4 A. M. to take us across, but did not come till 6:30 A. M. (an old rebel boat, but rebuilt). Taylor’s Battery crossed the river first, and as we were not pressed we waited for the bridge to be built. It was very disagreeable, and I felt almost sick; late hours and irregular meals having brought on diarrhea, etc. A large constellation of stars were gathered on the bank, watching the progress of the bridge, among which were Sherman, Blair, W. P. Smith, chief engineer, etc. The line on the other side in one hour had a line of breastworks up and advanced out of sight to form another.

12 M. The bridge completed and we crossed it, being the second battery to do so. The dread of crossing had passed. Halted at a corn crib and the cannoneers got as much corn as they could, but the infantry was formed and advanced in column of division at secure arms, it raining very heavy. This savage-looking column moved forward with caution, crossed a forty-acre lot and halted. The skirmishers went out but not a gun was fired. Advanced again, the batteries were in column of sections. An occasional gun shot, but we advanced until we were directly under Mission Ridge. Not a reb seen and our infantry soon climbed it. Our line formed on the brow when the artillery moved up. Battery D, 1st Missouri was the first up and soon opened fire on them from the right. Our Battery started for the left. The “smooth bores” were left on the other side of the river for want of horses, and we had four teams on a carriage, but the hill was too steep for us and two more teams were put on the pieces, and caissons left behind. A detail of two hundred men were sent to our aid with axes, the enemy sending shells over us quite thick. 1st piece failed to advance with the horses. Ropes brought forward and it was hauled up by hand, we following with all haste. By this time a very brisk skirmishing was going on right to our left and rear quite close, and General Matthies came down at the head of his Brigade on double quick, the old general on foot, making fine time. Captain Dillon ordered the howitzer section and Cogswell’s Battery to the rear in all haste. The extra teams were unhitched and the pieces unlimbered, and with great difficulty we made a left about, the hill being so steep that it shoved our horses down amongst the infantry that were pouring down. But the cannoneers fastened a rope to the axle-tree, and down we went in good earnest. Halted at the R. R. crossing in a complete jam of infantry, artillery and ambulances near General Smith’s headquarters, who knew nothing of our movements and demanded by whose orders we came down. A flank movement by General Longstreet was apprehended, and we were to guard it by order of General Sherman. We stood there in the cold damp evening for half an hour, got a feed of shelled corn from an out-house close by, when we moved back into the first field above General Matthies, and came into camp alongside of Cogswell’s Battery and the 2nd and 3rd Brigades of our Division. Unhitched but did not unharness. Our rations were entirely out with the exception of coffee and some cornmeal picked up, so we ate hastily of unsifted mush and coffee.

Three drivers from each piece sent after sheaf oats for horses. I was on the detail and we rode back nearly three miles toward the river. Found the oats all gone, but plenty of good tame hay, of which we took as much as possible. Returned to camp by 9 P. M. I was nearly exhausted from cold and loss of sleep, having been up since 1 A. M. Lay down in cold and wet blankets.

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