Thursday, December 4, 2008

How they fought at Chickamauga

Here is another account describing the way soldiers fought at Chickamauga, similar to what we have posted before, but with more descriptions of what they were using for breastworks. Enjoy.

From an account of Chickamauga of Lt. Col. Henry Davis, 82nd Indiana Infantry;

"Our father was doing everything in his power to strengthen the line by forcing stragglers who were streaming past, singly and in groups, to lie down in line with his men, and by urging the men to pile up rocks, rails, logs, chunks, and anything and everything they could find for defensive breast works, when a general officer on horseback rode up to him (our father), leaned over, put his arm round our father's neck and with an oath said, "Old man, I love you". This happened between the charges of the enemy, and while preparing for their return. Our father did not know who this officer was nor his rank, except that he was a general officer, but I have always believed it was Pap Thomas himself."


Kraig McNutt said...

Nice quote from an Indiana boy. I had over twenty relatives in the 58th Indiana (all Company A). They fought at Chickamauga under Crittendon's Division, Buell's Brigade. They faced a lot of action at Viniard field.

Just took my first-ever (hate to admit) tour of Chickamauga. Awesome. I'll be back there soon.

Nice site. I'll be checking back more often and looking into your archives too.

Kraig McNutt
The Civil War Gazette
The Battle of Franklin

Patrick Lewis said...


Nice to have you aboard! Glad you enjoyed your trip to Chickamauga, we all love it when folks really connect with the place.

Christopher Young said...


I must echo what Patrick said! Viniard Field is a special place. In fact, Patrick and I spent quite a bit of time down that way this summer.

Wayne Fielder said...


I look at your reading list and wonder if there might any references to any of the regiments in Stevenson's Division of Kirby Smith's Army.

I'm looking into the actions leading up to and including the Federal retreat from Cumberland Gap in 1862. Finding Federal primary sources has been like drinking from a water hose. Finding Confederate primary sources has been abit more difficult.

If anyone is interested in passing along some information please drop me a note.

Patrick Lewis said...

Well Wayne, my first instinct was to go to Brian McKnight's recent Contested Borderland that covers the war in the Gap region as well as anything I know of.
Only found one reference to Stevenson, but that's not a guarantee that some of his men aren't finding their way into the footnotes and I'm just not aware of who to be looking for.
Fellas, anything else?

Christopher Young said...


Daniel R. Hundley, the Colonel of the 31st Alabama, part of Stevenson's Division, wrote a book entitled "Prison Echoes of the Great Rebellion." I don't have this book, but Hundley was the original Colonel and wasn't captured until Big Shanty in 1864. I bet he might have something to say about Cumberland Gap in his book.

Wayne Fielder said...

Mr. McKnight's book is on my reading list just haven't managed to pick it up yet. I have another book written by a Judge Lewis Nicholls called "A Masterful Retreat".

Looks like I'm going to have to either drive to Huntington WV or maybe get an intra-library loan from Marshall University as that is the closest I can find Col. Hundley's work. ;)

I've had some GREAT luck with Google Books. I don't know if you guys have looked around there. If not, you might give it a look. I've found full copies of several regimental histories including the 42nd OH and the 4th TN (US). I've also found several collections of "remarks" made to those memorial organizations\societies that popped up everywhere after the War. I can send some links to the books I found if anyone is interested.

Thanks for the suggestions thus far!

Lee White said...

Kriag,Welcome, hope you enjoy what we have been trying to do here.
Wayne, I had ancestors in the 39th Georgia, part of Cumming's Brigade of Stevenson's Divison, have you checked Gerald Hodge's 39th GA website, ? I am aware of a couple of lengthy accounts, one is Reminisceces of Robert Magill, but I cant recall if he has anything on that time frame.

Wayne Fielder said...

Mr. White,

Thanks for the 39th Georgia website! That's going to come in handy.

My information has the 39th Georgia with BG Cummings at Vicksburg. Before that, at Cumberland Gap, they were under BG Reynolds, 4th BDE, under BG Carter Stevenson's 1st Division, Department of East Tennessee. I haven't verified this information with primary sources so...YMMV and corrections are welcome.

Daryl Black said...


If you have the opportunity to do so, you might want to take some time and head to the Chickamauga NMP HQ and take a look at a collection of letters from a soldier in the 34th GA. Don't recall if there are references to Cumberland Gap but the letters are quite good for the regiment's later actions.


Wayne Fielder said...

Mr. Black,

I have been down there once and it was raining so hard I couldn't really do what I wanted on the field without drowning. Need to get back down there. My GGGrandfather was in 8th KY, Barnes BDE, Van Cleve Div, Crittenden's Corp.

Do you know if they have their research collection indexed? Is it something I could call and get from them?

Christopher Young said...


Don't mean to jump in for Daryl here, but the park's files are indexed by unit. Meaning, the 34th Georgia has its own file folder containing all the information pertaining to the unit. Most of the time, the information is specific to Chickamauga and Chattanooga, but that is not always the case. We do have information from units spanning the entire war. I would suggest setting up a time to come to the library to do some research.

Patrick Lewis said...


Interesting about the 8th KY. They are one of my favorites; I have done a couple of programs featuring them at both Chickamauga and Lookout. Their regimental history is one of the best I've read in terms of its social and political content.

The papers of the captain who led the detachment up to the point of Lookout are at UK, nothing spectacular, but fun to look through.

Wayne Fielder said...

I have the Thomas Wright history of the 8th and thoroughly enjoyed it! My father grew up in Irvine and never even knew about Estill Springs beyond it being a hotel. At the time he was of age to remember the Springs had long since been covered or altered in some way such that it wasn't used.

Tell me, does your version of the 8th Ky History include some strange passages that repeat? Mine has complete sections of the book that repeats. Not like repeating pages but paragraphs within pages would be repeated elsewhere.

I have some pictures from reunions of the 8th if you are interested. ;)

Patrick Lewis said...

I would first like to point out that by now the comments have eclipsed the post length about 5 times over...

But Wayne, I actually don't have a copy, but instead took notes out of a 1st edition at UK. It's been about a year since I looked at it, but now that you say it I do seem to remember some oddities like that. Strange.

Sounds like we need to team up and do a 8th KY post!

Wayne Fielder said...


heheh...more comment length than post length and I'm responsible, I fear, for hijacking the topic. My apologies gentlemen. ;)

Back in the day I had posted something to some genealogy lists looking for folks with known ancestors who served with the 8th Kentucky. I got LOTs of information from these folks about their ancestors and confirmed their information against the Adjutant General's Report and the muster records. I have some fabulous stories about how some of these guys came to join the 8th and their post military lives.

You can see it at Go to ROSTERS and select the 8th. I built that system many MANY years ago and there are MANY improvements I should be making is what it is for the moment.;)

I'll try and extract the information that I have and make it a bit more palatable. I can also make that history available to you should you wish. it's public domain and my copy is a photocopy of the original.

I wouldn't mind a bit working on an 8th Kentucky post! It's been a while since I've worked on the 8th information. The past several years I have been working on the 7th Kentucky (thus my interest in Cumberland Gap). In 1863 when the original Colonel of the 7th, T.T. Garrard, got his star, the Lt. Colonel of the 8th, Reuben May, took his full bird with the 7th.

Drop me a note at and I'll get you the information and pics I have of the 8th Kentucky. said...

Here is item on how they fought at Chickamauga, from a letter that my great-grandfather wrote home:
" All the colonels of our and the First Brigade have complimented highly for the manner I have acquitted myself. The soldiers have given me several nicknames, one, Old Fire Eater, another, Old Land Pirate, because I used my Revolver to drive the cowards to the front who were running away. This was the largest contract I ever had on my hands as I had many officers to drive as well as men. I told a good many lies to keep the men up to the front, yelling at the top of my voice “Burnside is here, hold on boys, the day is ours, Steadmans division coming up on our right.” I really believed Burnside was there. Having no troops of my own all I could do was to run up and down the line rallying and encouraging the others. The horrible sights and scenes. Only think of men fighting on each side of a fence, the guns crossing each other, shells tearing the trees to pieces, great limbs falling, shells Bursting over head, under feet men falling, screaming, groaning, on every side. The yelling and cheering of the Rebels as they charged up to our very lines, the loud cheers of our men as they wold fall back, the deafening continuous roar of Artillery. This terrible uproar lasted for four of the longest hours I ever experienced. Like Wellington at Waterloo I longed for sundown or Burnside to come. Sundown at last came and the devils fell back. We was looking for another last and desperate effort and I had passed along our whole line telling every officer and man to prepare and be ready at the sound of Bugle to pour in his lot shot, spring on the Barricades and charge home with the Bayonet, that the battle wold be ended and the victory ours. Our last cartridge was loaded, but the Rebs were satisfied they could not take the hill and had left us for the night. I had emptied the cartridge Boxes of all the dead and wounded I could find,, even the Rebel wounded. As soon as it got dark we was ordered to fall back on Rosswell some six miles. My horse being shot I had bin on my feet all day. I had to foot those six miles. When I got there I was without overcoat or Blanket, the night very Cold and no place but the bare ground, just such ground as the middle of the street before the door to sleep on. I hunted around and found an old broken cot. I tore some rails of a garden fence to make a fire and started for the Brigade. In passing a group around a fire I noticed it was General Thomas and staff, the Great General who saved the Army of the Cumberland that day from destruction. He was lying on the bare ground with a log under his head sound asleep. I immediately offered my Cot, which was accepted with many thanks. I spread out my rails and lay upon them."