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1864 August 13: The 22nd Wisconsin Infantry at Peachtree Creek — “the engagement was for a time doubtful”

August 16, 2014

Reports from various Wisconsin regiments appeared in the August 13, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  We made each report its own post because of their length.  This post is a letter from the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry.  The Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought on July 20, 1864, near Atlanta, Georgia.  The following Wisconsin regiments were in the Army of the Cumberland: 1st, 3rd, 10th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 26th, 31st infantry regiments, and the 5th Light Battery.

Company C of the 22nd included many men from northwest Wisconsin, especially Hudson and Spring Valley, and other northwestern Wisconsin men were scattered in other companies of the regiment.  The 22nd Wisconsin was in the 2nd Brigade (Colonel John Coburn), 3rd Division (General William T. Ward), XX Corps (General Joseph Hooker).  John W. Geary and Alpheus S. Williams led the two other divisions in this corps.

Further from Sherman’s Army.

⇒  The  Battle  of  Peach  Tree [sic Creek.

Honor Won by Wisconsin.

A Letter from a Kentucky Hospital.

DOINGS OF A WISCONSIN BATTERY WITH SHERMAN.

AFFAIRS BEFORE PETERSBURG.

From the Capital of Arkansas.

Slanders on the 35th Refuted.

divider
From the Twenty-second Regiment.

Its Part in the Battle Before Atlanta—How it
Won Honor at the Front—Praises of Officers
High in Command—Mention of Other Wisconsin Regiments.

HEADQ’RS 2D BRIG. 3D DIV., 20 A. C. }
THREE MILES FROM ATLANTA, July 21. }

EDITORS STATE JOURNAL :  Yesterday there was a general advance of the whole army.  The 3d Division, 20th Corps, crossed Peach Tree [sic] Creeka deep, narrow and muddy branch running nearly east and westat 9 o’clock, Gens. Geary’s and Williams[‘] divisions having crossed the day before.  The 3d Brigade formed on the left and joined the 4th Corps, the 26th Wisconsin being next to and on our left.  [John W. Geary and Alpheus S. Williams]

The 22d Wisconsin was ordered on skirmish and advanced across an open field which was divided by a deep ravine forming two parts of hills with the ground sloping toward the ravine gradually.  The rebels gave signs of uneasiness and soon advanced to the edge of the wood that bordered the field, and half a mile distant.  Our line of battle was yet behind the high ground where it had first formed, when the word came that the rebels were advancing.  The 22d Wisconsin held its line, skirmishing with the advancing foe.

A critical moment had arrived.  Our flank was in danger, and could the rebels have broken our line here, our whole force would have suffered awfully, as an impassible creek was behind us and no woods to shelter our retreat.  The 22d was now pressed so hard that they could hold out but a short time.  The left of their line was already flanked.  The order came to advance.  Quickly and silently the division moved forward, onward and upward until the crest of the first hill was reached by the 2d Brigade in the advance of the 1st and 3d.  The 22d fell back and formed in the line.  The rebs came on en masse.  Our batteries on the right and left opened and followed by the roar of musketry told the beholder that heavy work was being done.

The engagement was for a time doubtful.  Geary was pressed back.  The 1st Division of the 4th Corps was driven behind its third line.  In our front it was raging.  Now our men fell back to the ravine, having advanced once beyond, driving the rebels, who were reinforced by another line, and came up on double quick.  Once in the ravine, our center was protected from their fury, while the battery on our right and also the one on our left mowed them down.  On they came down the slope, when our men received them as soldiers do.  Like grain before the reaper they fell, filling the road and covering the hillside.  They waver, then rally and fire.  Our line then advances and drives them back nearly half a mile and holds them there.  Ammunition was brought up, as our second line had now but fifteen rounds to the man.  The guns were so hot that I saw many with their hands blistered by handling them.  Had the rebels reinforced come upon us, they could have driven us back.  But so severely had we punished them that they gave it up.  Our line advanced and capture their wounded.

Three hundred of their killed lay upon our ground and from 70 to 100 wounded,, all severely, were brought in and laid beneath some shade trees to wait their turn for transportation to our filled hospitals.  Our men were cared for first.  The 2d Brigade captured 200 prisoners, and I am told that a great many were captured by the other brigades of this and other divisions.

Just at dusk, when the fighting was still heavy, Gen. Sherman sent word that Schofield and McPherson’s armies had got to within two miles of Atlanta in the rebel rear.  When the news was announced, a shout arose that was distinctly heard above the din of battle.  [William T. Sherman, John M. Schofield, James B. McPherson]

At 9 o’clock the firing ceased and the wounded heroes were cared for.

Gen. Hooker compliments Gen. Ward for the conduct of his division, and Col. Coburn is complimented for the conduct of his brigade.  Gen. Hooker, after learning what the 22d Wisconsin had done, praised its conduct and said that no regiment over did better, and that Col. Bloodgood was deserving of great credit for his persistency in holding his line so long.  And he deserved it in behalf of the brave regiment he commands.  [Edward Bloodgood]

Our regiment is quite small now, only about 250 men for duty.

The rebels lost several field officers, and the report is current that Gen. Hood was killed.  Our men have been busy all day burying the rebel dead.  Their loss is estimated at 25,000 killed and wounded in the engagement.  [John Bell Hood]

Our 2d brigade lost 201 men killed and wounded.

The 26th Wisconsin lost severely and fought well.

The 3d Wisconsin was not engaged.

The 31st Wisconsin arrived here this morning in good health, and is assigned to the 3d brigade, 1st division.

There is some skirmishing on the lines today, but no heavy firing.  The 14th corps on our right was not engaged much yesterday, but there is an indication of a fight there as I write.

Our wounded are all well cared for.

Our lines are strengthened and we propose to whip out Mr. Johanies.

Yours in haste,               FAIRPLAY.

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