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1864, October 1: The Battle of Jonesboro and the 12th Wisconsin Infantry

October 3, 2014

The following reprinted letter appeared in the October 1, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  Company A of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry was the Lyon Light Guards from Prescott.

The War in Georgia.

What Our Army is Doing in Atlanta.

Sherman’s Movement and Victory.

What Wisconsin Artillery Did.

History of a Wisconsin Battery.

A Soldier’s Views of Politics.

From the Twelfth Regiment.

Sherman’s Flank Movement—The Battles Near Jonesboro—
How the Rebels were Hoodwinked and beaten—The condition of Atlanta—
Present situation of the Army—Recent Losses of the Twelfth

Correspondence of the State Journal :


As you will have heard long before this reaches you, of the fall of Atlanta, the battles of Jonesboro, the defeat and demoralization of the rebel army, and the brilliant strategy by which Hood was coaxed out of his strong defenses, his army dismembered and beaten in detail, and this protracted and severe campaign brought to a successful and glorious close, I shall not attempt to describe these things.  Abler pens than mine have preceded, and so saved me the trouble.  But, as the old 12th has “gone the rounds,” and done its share toward bringing about the present pleasant state of things, I shall very briefly sketch the adventures of said regiment, since last letter.

In it I told the engagement of July 28, and of our taking up a position on the line, extending on the east side of the doomed city.  That position we held for one month, making three lines of work, each nearer to the enemy than its predecessor, driving the enemy back finally into his main defenses, and sending our shot and shell over his head into the city behind, doing great damage to it.

During the night of the 26th of August, the whole army began to move.  The 20th corps remained with its centre on the railroad north of the city, the rest moving rapidly and quietly right, abandoning their works and pressing southward down and near the river at Sandtown during the 27th, turning to the left, and striking the Montgomery Railroad about 16 miles south of Atlanta on the 28th.  The three corps, composing the Army of the Tennessee,¹ marched in three columns, wheeling into line at the railroad, throwing up breastworks and destroying about six miles of the railroad pretty effectually, taking all night, and next day to it, burning ties, bending and breaking rails, and filling up deep cuts with trees and dirt so that it will be found almost impossible to restore and clear them out again.

The enemy had hitherto failed to discover our locality and intentions, but the 20th corps having fallen back to the river, concluded that we had been compelled to fall back across the river, and were about to abandon the siege (?) [italics and question mark are the newspapers’] and fall back upon our base of supplies.  With this idea, Hood issued congratulatory orders to his army, and prepared to have a big pow wow over the event, but was cut short in his jollification by the astounding intelligence that the Federals were in his rear and rapidly approaching the Macon Railroad, his last and only source of supplies.  The Confederate Army was at once rushed out, taking position on and about the railroad, a little north of Jonesboro.

By a masterly movement, the 23d with the 4th and 14th corps,² pierced the rebel’s rapidly advancing column, completely severing it.  The 23d was halted across the railroad, as well as the 14th, only facing in opposite directions, while the 4th corps was thrown beyond, and attacked in front, the 14th attacking on the right flank of the rebels, the 4th in their rear.  Under these circumstances were fought the battles of August 31st and Sept. 1st, resulting in the capture of, at least, 18 guns and 2,500 prisoners and complete rout of the enemy, who escaped, by a failure in the 4th corps to swing round past the rebel left to join ours, and surround it completely.  During the battle of Sept. 1st our corps was changed from the left to the right of the Army of Tennessee, and did its full share toward obtaining and securing the victory of the day.

Our regiment was under fire most of the time, repulsing several attempts of the enemy to demonstrate on the right, without, however, losing very heavily itself, thanks to its skill in maneuvering and rapidly getting under the cover of good breastworks and barricades.

Our army drove the enemy through Jonesboro, and about four miles beyond, into a very strong position, heavily fortified some time ago, capturing some six hundred severely wounded rebels in the town.

During the night of the 1st September the rebels destroyed four engines and eighty-one cars loaded with ammunition, just outside of the city, and they abandoned it to us.  Gen. Slocum, with the 20th corps, advancing from the river, occupied it on the 2d inst.

Three times the rebel soldiers, smarting from defeat, and on the point of abandoning, have sacked the town, each time being suppressed with great difficulty, and only after several had been shot.  Shot and shell have left their marks upon almost every building, while several large storehouses and many dwellings have been reduced to ashes by our steady and accurate cross-fire.

In the city were captured 500 prisouers [sic], all of whom, with hundreds of others, are herded in the “bull-pen” built and used for the confinement of “Yankee hordes” and “Lincoln hirelings,” and where the rebel guards used to amuse themselves by cursing and spitting upon their unfortunate prisoners.

And now, Messers. Editors, Gen. Sherman and his gallant army having given the lie to all the rebel and copperhead boasts that the city of Atlanta could not be taken by us, and disabled near 40,000 of the rascals since crossing the Chattahoochee river, we propose to rest on our laurels for a brief period, get rested and reorganized, and prepare to go on conquering and to conquer “until the last armed foe expires.”  Our army has fallen back a little and is to have say 30 days rest, be paid off and thoroughly refitted and refurnished.

The army of the Tennessee is encamped and fortified on the railroad between Atlanta and East Point, the Army of the Ohio on the Augusta Railroad near Decatur, while the Army of the Cumberland locates in and about the city.

The following is a list of our casualties since the action of the 28th July :


Killed—Benj. J. Humphrey, Aug. 11.
Wounded—Alonso Miller, slight, in face, Aug. 31 ;  A. S. Beardsley, scalp, slight, Sept. 5 ;  G. S. Miles, in right arm, Sept. 5.


Wounded—Albert Seldon, in leg, Aug. 20 ;  Lt. C. G. Higbee, contusion of foot by bullet, Aug. 20 ;  M. B. Long, in knee, Aug. 31 ;  J. Hornbeck, bruise from fragment of shell on shoulder, Aug. 31.


Wounded—Thomas Wilson, slight in abdomen, Aug. 11 ;  H. Jones, in neck, Aug 17.


Wounded—Byron Fairbanks, in hip, August 26.


Wounded—Lt. J. H. Thayer, severe in throat, Aug. 14 ;  Anson Wright, in face, September 8.


Wounded—J. Alberg, across wrist, Aug. 4 ;  W. E. Hurst, in leg, Aug. 22 ;  H. Bartels, in head, Sept. 8, since died ;  E. R. Wilson, in back and down to thigh, Sept. 2 ;  J. Bundy, in elbow, Sept. 3 ;  Octave Pleasure, in thigh, amputated.


Killed—Joseph Robarg, Aug. 12.
Wounded—R. Streeter, shoulder, excised, Aug. 31 ;  N. P. Philips, left nates, Sept. 3.


Killed—C. Shadacker, shot through heart, Sept. 4.
Wounded—C. Peterson, bruise from bullet on shoulder, Aug. 12 ;  W. Clark, bruise on penis from bullet, Aug. 12 ;  Serg’t M. T. Brown bruise on cheek from bullet, Aug. 17 ;  J. Roe, in thigh, scrotum and nates, Aug. 31 ;  J. Gun, through right breast, Sept. 2 ;  M. Hagersty, bruise on knee, Sept. 4 ;  R. M. Wright, in thigh, Sept. 5.


Killed—Benj. Foster, shot through head, Aug. 17.
Wounded—S. Mallett, bruise on shoulder from bullet, Aug. 16 ;  Israel Munger, bruise on abdomen, Aug. 18 ;  H. Strong, in elbow, amputated, Aug. 31 ;  G. Churchill, across the axilar, Sept. [_] ;  S. P. Bon, in thigh, Sept. 2.


Wounded—H. Schofield, bruise on left shoulder from gullet, Aug. 16 ;  J. Racks, scalp, slight, Aug. 22 ;  O. T. Nash, in leg, Aug. 23 ;  G. H. Marston, thigh, Sept. 2.

Respectfully yours,               W.

1.  The Military Division of Mississippi, which is what General Sherman’s army was called, consisted of the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Tennessee. The later had three army corps—the XV (General John A. Logan), the XVI Corps (General Thomas E. G. Ransom), and the XVII Corps (General Francis P. Blair). Blair’s XVII Corps had two divisions—the Third Division (Charles R. Woods) and the Fourth Divisioin (Giles A. Smith). Each division had three infantry brigades and an artillery.  The 1st Brigade of the Third Division of the XVII Corps contained the 12th and 16th Wisconsin infantries (plus four Illinois infantries), under the command of Colonel George E. Bryant.
2.  The Army of the Cumberland consisted of the IV Corps (General David S. Stanley), the XIV Corps (General Jefferson C. Davis), and the Cavalry Corps (General Washington Elliott).

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